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Is attack on Indian students in Australia racism?
The recent attack on Indian students in Australia has created a lot of hue and cry in India and the action is being termed as racist. However, it would be nonsensical to term these crimes by some ruffians as racial discrimination.
"MY ADVICE to every Indian student now, who wants to come to Australia, is please don't come and there's no life here." This statement of Baljinder Singh, a victim of the recent 'racial' attack on Indian students in Australia, is quite justified. Particularly in the light of his horrific ordeal he recounted: "I was very scared to see the knives. They asked me if I had any money. I told them to hang on, as I looked for my purse in my bag, which was very messy... In the first five seconds, one of the guys stabbed me in my stomach. I just fell down on the floor." He said one of his friends from Karnal had got a visa to Australia, but "is very scared to come here now."
Baljinder himself is very likely to admit the outburst as irrational and illogical when he gets well in a couple of days. Even his "friend from Karnal" will not succumb to his scare. The boys might not have experienced the hate crimes that Sikhs were subjected to across India in 1980s, but would sure have heard about them. They cannot be unaware that the criminals, who indulged in indiscriminate arson, looting and killings are 'honourable' lawmakers in India even now. But, the media has made a huge outcry, culminating in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh "expressing concern" to his Australian counterpart.
The fact remains that the PM, apart from not having the face to express outrage, is incapable of doing anything more. There are close to 1 lakh Indian students in Australia according to the statistics of Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry – about half of them in Victoria alone. That more than 30,000 Indian students throng to Australia every year, willing to spend a fortune away from a country that boasts of "world's largest pool of technical and managerial manpower", speaks volumes of the horrifically discriminatory educational system back home. Of course, India has many institutions of excellence, but to get into them is like a windfall in Lotto raffle.
A student, who hails from Chennai, ridicules the talk of racism that fiery patriots are accusing the Aussies of. "What racism? In Australia, you may sometimes get openly beaten up by thugs. But in India you will be silently cheated because of politics and big money."
It is just impossible to pursue a career of one’s choice in India if parents are incapable of being crooks or politicos. The line between them is becoming less distinct by the day and such worthies have not hesitated to opine: "It's better that all students be called back to India!" Of course, India's neta-babu nexus is capable of such no-brainers.
Fortunately, a committee has been formed to rationally address concerns about the welfare of students, who had been lucky to flee India and get to Australia. Its chief, Yadu Singh, estimates that the number of attacks in the last one year may have crossed the 100 mark. "There is a term 'curry bashing' for such incidents... and it is used as 'let's go curry bashing'. They (local ruffians) are targeting these students as they are easy targets," Singh said.
It would be nonsensical to term these crimes by ruffians as racial discrimination, as Indian media, including the state-controlled ones, has sensationalised. Of course, there was a time when Australia was dominated by racial fanatics, worse than India's 'pure breed' Brahmins, in the last century. It is a fact that most of the white Australians are descendents of prisoners, who had been branded as "dreaded criminals" and banished by regimes in Europe to go ‘Down Under’. They entertain an age old dislike for white Europeans to the extent of rejecting the English Queen as the head. That is partly a reason for the preference to Indian and Pakistani immigrants over Europeans to settle in the country and prosper. As for ‘racism’, it cannot be denied that the white settlers committed horrendous abuses against native aboriginal tribes, wiping out their identity in the guise of integrating them to society. But, things have definitely changed.
John McCarthy, Australian High Commissioner in New Delhi, was not exaggerating when he admitted the reality: “Any country in the world has an amount of racism. We think, however, that our record is a good one. We have about 200 different nationalities in Australia. To be a tolerant country, to be able to handle different races, that's what we are about. But, like anywhere in the world, we have to manage racism – we have laws against it.”
More importantly, they do implement the laws and some six ruffians are already behind bars. Also, the total number of international students in Australia is four times the Indian students and foreign education is a multi-million dollar industry. The responsible government is aware that increasing cases of attacks on foreign students are sure to hit the industry.
Most students would agree that bullying and manipulation by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in the ‘racial discrimination issue’ involving cricket star Harbhajan Singh may have contributed a lot for the hate towards Indians, leading to increased attacks on Indian students. Rather than gracefully admitting to Bhajji’s deplorable behaviour, it sent celebrity lawyer Vasha R Manohar. He is known for his extraordinary talent to let his guilty clients get off lightly by twisting and distorting facts.
Manohar famously hoodwinked Appeals Commissioner John Hansen to bale Bhajji out. The legal eagle made Hansen to believe that Harbhajan used only the derogatory reference in Hindi to the chastity of the adversary’s mother – not a serious matter in India – and not the racial abuse detested by aboriginals, ‘big monkey’. Also, ICC was forced to hide earlier offences by the cricketer, which would have led to his ban. The hanky-panky has surely sunk the image of all Indians.
It is now the turn of another celebrity. Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan has tried to take political mileage out of the exaggerated outrage. The actor had accepted an honorary doctorate for his contribution to the world of entertainment offered to him by Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. Such doctorates have only to honour distinguished guests, who are not supposed to use the prefix Dr and he was to be the guest of honour during celebrations to commemorate a retrospective of his films.
Big B has grandly ‘rejected’ to be honoured as “my conscience does not permit me to accept this decoration from the country” where “citizens of my own country are subjected to such acts of inhuman horror.” The movie celebrity was in news last year for his unsuccessful attempt to grab land near Mumbai by claiming to be a farmer. He has probably forgotten the ‘humane’ treatment the people of one region of his country received in another after the attempted land grab. The actor seems to be keen to be in the news again but it can do more harm than good to Indians looking for education, jobs and better life in Australia.

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