By now most people in the UK will have learned about the shooting of an Indian student in Salford which took place in the early hours of 26 December. Anuj Bidve, 23, was walking with some friends when he was apparently approached by a man who then shot him. A horribly similar incident took place on Christmas Day, at nearly the same time on the west coast of Canada, when 27-year-old Indian student Alok Gupta was shot dead as he was working at a local convenience store.
These would have been tragic events no matter who was shot – whether they were Indian students, Chinese students, American students, or British students. But because of the racially motivated attacks against Indian students in Australia in 2009, Indians are bound to feel as though they are being deliberately targeted the world over. Just glance through a few of the reader comments on any number of online news sites, and it’s clear that feeling prevails: “Anuj Bidve’s murder raises safety issues of Indian students abroad once again….” or “How Indians can avoid getting attacked in the UK….”
Tens of thousands of Indian students arrive in the UK each year to study at our universities. India is hugely important to UK institutions, not only for the students it sends, but also for the research partnerships and faculty exchanges it provides. The tragedy in Salford is no more or no less tragic than any number of murders which took place over the Christmas holidays (and, sadly, there were quite a few). But as international student recruiters who rely heavily on student recruitment from India, we should be thinking about the potential repercussions of this one.