Recently, four Tanzanian students were assaulted after a Sudanese student’s car ran over a local woman sleeping on a footpath in Bengaluru. Among the four students was a woman who was stripped and paraded by a local mob. According to the Deccan Chronicle, when she tried to escape on foot and climbed a bus, she was thrown back to the frenzied mob. When someone offered her his T-shirt, he was beaten up too.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When the woman went to the cops, she was told they’d register her case only if she brought the driver from the hit-and-run accident to them, even though she had no connection with that incident or the culprit except for, perhaps, a shared ethnicity.True to form, politicians or authority figures have either said stupid things or stayed quiet. Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara summed up the nation’s attitude to these incidents by claiming it wasn’t a racist attack. At a press conference, he said, “Had the Sudanese man not killed someone in the accident maybe this incident wouldn’t have happened. There are 12,000 foreign students in Bengaluru, their protection is our duty. These kind of incidents should not happen. This is not a racist attack; this is just a response to an accident. Bengaluru doesn’t have such kind of attitude. Sometimes foreign students overstay even when their passports have expired, we will pursue such cases.”Of all the things that could’ve been possibly said, claiming it wasn’t a racist attack, talking about foreign students overstaying and linking it to the earlier accident were the worst things that could be said and the Karnataka HM managed to say all three together, because that’s who we are— racist and proud.This is just the sort of reaction we had from BJP leaders who termed the Dadri incident an ‘accident’, because of the slim chance that Mohammad Akhlaq might have been eating beef.Why are these Africans here? Let’s get this straight, despite the existence of a myriad diversity in our culture for more than three millennia (or is it four?), our acceptance of other cultures doesn’t extend to those whose skin tone is darker than us. Somehow, the notion that Africans might be human beings is completely absent from our national conscience as we tend to think of them as either drug dealer or rappers.The racism can be observed every single day. For example, in Mumbai local trains, it’s not uncommon to see people refusing to share a seat with Africans. During the Ebola pandemic, many actually stayed on the other side of the compartment, as if being African was a perquisite for being a carrier of the Ebola virus.People I’ve met in Africa, have often described the blatant racism that they’ve faced in India. Students from African countries have been blatantly asked “Why are you here?” or “Go back to your country”. Can you imagine a Caucasian facing this kind of prejudice? You can imagine the outrage if a brown-skinned Indian facing similar situations in Western countries made news.Over the last few years, we’ve often heard about incidents of violence against African nationals, like the time when AAP leader Somnath Bharti allegedly forced Nigerian women to pee in public, or the time in New Delhi where three Africans students were seen being relentlessly beaten by a mob shouting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ (Long live Mother India) at Rajiv Chowk for allegedly harassing a woman.During the Commonwealth Games in 2010, African athletes alleged that their requests were being denied and not taken seriously, even as the hosts pulled out all stops for athletes from the UK, Canada and Australia.Similarly, there was a lot of hue and cry, when BJP’s Giriraj Singh had said that the Congress would never have accepted Sonia Gandhi (white and Italian) as their head if she had been Nigerian. The truth is for all his lack of articulation in expressing this matter, Singh’s remarks are probably true.To the average Indian, underexposed to the outside world, the black man’s presence is an aberration. When we see white skin, we remember our colonial rulers and despite our hatred for them, there’s a subconscious respect and the need for their approval.Whether it’s a Priyanka Chopra making waves in Hollywood or Amartya Sen’s pre-eminence as an intellectual, we hail those who find acclaim in the West, craving acceptance from a part of world that is largely white in our imagination.On the other hand, Africa barely turns up in our consciousness. As far as we know, they’re worse off than us and poorer than us. In most of our movies, they’re either bouncers or drug dealers, and no fate can be worse than having consensual sex with an African man!Even the Father of our Nation, a man the entire world respects now, has been accused of racism in his days in South Africa, where he apparently complained that Indians were treated little better than the ‘Kaffirs’.In an open letter to the Natal Parliament in 1893, he wrote, “I venture to point out that both the English and the Indians spring from a common stock, called the Indo-Aryan… A general belief seems to prevail in the Colony that the Indians are little better, if at all, than savages or the Natives of Africa. Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir.”Do we care? Now if anyone has followed how media and politics work in this country, they would have known that this incident wouldn’t be cause for much outrage. Not that there has been no outrage at all, but it will probably get less attention, similar to how global media covered the Paris attacks and terrorism in Nigeria. One is mentioned as an earth-shattering event while the other is mentioned in passing, as if it was meant to happen.From a diplomatic point of view, Tanzania is neither a global superpower or even an upcoming ally and soured relations with them is unlikely to make a dent in our national economy.The Tanzanians, or even the entire African student community, doesn’t constitute a vote-bank. Nor do the millions of Indians who vote care much about their well-being. Perhaps this explains the silence or the almost reluctant protest that comes as an afterthought from politicians who are best described as the anti-Modi brigade.The likes of Arvind Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi, Asauddin Owaisi and Derek O’ Briek are largely silent on the issue or have expressed their displeasure in the quietest, least obtrusive way possible.While the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has spoken about the issue, our Twitter-happy PM is silent, as are most other politicians from the BJP, who are usually far more eager to pounce upon mistakes made by a Congress government.Not part of either mainstream narrative The same can be said about the media. An anchor, best known for commiserating with victims of terrorist attacks and family members of jawans, who was last seen conducting a dance-off between a top politician and actor, is unlikely to get meet the Africans students.There are two dominant media narratives in this country. One is the anti-Modi brigade, waiting with bated breath for the government to either slip up or for any of its ideological brethren to utter something stupid. All they want is proof that the era of right-wing fascism is upon us where everything will be painted saffron.The other media narrative is the right-wing nationalist media, whose raison d’etre is to condemn criticism of the government and paint dissenting individuals as anti-nationals. They’re the ones who turn up and see poppy seeds being grown and think that it’s for drug cultivation instead of a popular local dish and claim the area is becoming another Afghanistan!Sadly, this attack fits neither narrative and is unlikely to get the same amount of coverage. It’s sad because this incident is as horrific as the murder of Mohammed Akhlaq in Dadri, Rohith Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad or the 2012 Delhi gang-rape, incidents that have gotten wall-to-wall media coverage.It’s sad because it sends a message to the entire world that one of the most ancient civilisations in the world, known for its inclusiveness, doesn’t care about black lives.