• Sunday, May 28, 2023


Ranjeet Rathore, first Indian who became head of UK students’ union, urges to call out ‘systemic racism’

Rathore was the president of the students union at Brunel University London.

Ranjeet Rathore (R) with Rishi Sunak (Photo: Instagram/ranjeetrathore)

By: Pramod Thomas

The first Indian and the first international student to win university student elections in the UK has urged people to call out ‘systemic racism’ in the country to eradicate it.

Jaipur-born Ranjeet Rathore hopes that the future is immensely bright for the exchange of knowledge and business between India and the UK under prime minister Rishi Sunak.

Rathore won student elections at Brunel University London in the UK in June 2018, and held his presidential term till July 2020.

“To battle systemic racism against Indians or anyone, the most important thing to do is to call it out. There are structural problems with race within our communities. A lot of groundwork is being laid to address this issue. The government has formed an Equalities Office, whose entire purpose is to eradicate systemic racism,” Rathore told in an interview with My Kolkata.

In his opinion, decolonising the curriculum, changes in workplace and criminal justice system reforms are the need of the hour.

Rathore, who is now working with the Conservatives in various capacities, said that British Indians face many obstacles ranging from colourism to systemic racism, from mental health being a taboo to housing issues.

“My work to address these issues includes working on a race and equality charter with my university, lobbying for more black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) jobs and making Indians more aware about the resources they have available that can help them succeed,” he was quoted as saying by the media outlet.

He said: “My story is an unlikely one. People like me were never meant to run for elections. For people like myself it was never about planning our path to big universities or even to London. Believing in the Indian teaching of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which translates to “the world is one family”, I was able to get involved in my university and represent the voices of 15,000 students.”

“The news of my victory was met with mixed reactions, as I wasn’t the traditional white candidate running for president. I wasn’t the “obvious choice”, as one would say! On one hand, the international student community was overjoyed with the results as “one of their own” had been elected. And on the other, there were people who had their doubts and were naysayers with respect to the results,” he added while mentioning about the elections.

Now, Rathore, who was a volunteer campaigner for Team Boris, works for charities, youth organisations as well as the Indian High Commission. He also helps Tories at the grassroots with organising and mobilising campaigns to advocating on a large scale when necessary.

He also plans to involve in the UK politics as general elections in the UK are going to take place in 18 months. He is also leading projects for Youth G20 from the UK to discuss and debate global challenges and policy recommendations that people would like G20 leaders to take forward.

The student leader pointed out that Sunak’s leadership will be helpful for India when it comes to collaborating on big projects such as the India-UK Free Trade Agreement.

“I also hope it provides more opportunities to international students, especially Indians, since I’ve always been an advocate for the post-study work visa in the UK for Indian students,” he said.

In August, London’s Horniman Museum agreed to return 72 stolen Nigerian artefacts, including the Benin Bronzes (a group of sculptures made of brass and bronze), taken over a hundred years ago.

Rathore hopes that Kohinoor will be returned to India ‘following the same precedent’.

Eastern Eye

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