LOS ANGELES: As the gunman behind the massacre at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin on Sunday has been identified as a white supremacist, the incident has triggered fears that such attacks – in the aftermath of 9/11 – on Muslims and Sikhs symbolize the rise of racism in the US.
But Dr Rajendra Desai, 88, who was among the first few Indians to come in the US in the early 1950s, doesn’t think so, though he is horrified by the tragedy.
The octogenarian Desai, who in 1952 was independent India’s first doctor to get the Fulbright Scholarship for further studies in the US, says besides isolated cases perpetrated by individuals American society collectively has become very tolerant.
And he is speaks from experience.
“Today, America is totally different from what I saw when I came here. In 1953, when I was sent for training from Boston to the Institute of Nuclear Medicine at Oak Ridge in the racially tense state of Tennessee, white Americans thought I was a black person because they had never seen an Indian,’’ Desai recalls.
So, the young Indian doctor was also given the racial treatment that was reserved for the black people at that time.