In a separate incident, four students were attacked and burgled by racist elements in Australia. One Suketu Modi, a businessman from Surat, was attacked in train by a group of students when he had gone there for IT business. According to student’s organisations, these racist attacks have been taking place in Australia for quite some time; most of them went unreported. According to a report, about 20 racial attacks on Indians have taken place last month in Sydney alone.
Australia, interestingly, is not the only country where rabid faces of racism have been raising heads. Such dastardly incidents have been taking place in countries like UK, Germany, France and some African and Gulf countries.
This incident has raised a very perturbing question, which every one of us would like to ponder about and like to find consolable if not acceptable answers.
Reasons of such attacks: It is too simplistic a proposition to categorically brand them as acts of criminal or opportunistic activities as uttered by Australian High Commissioner and DCP Melbourne, John McCarthy. The former has, however, not denied that some racist elements might have been involved in what he called Shameful criminal acts.
If not the global society, Indian civil society must quest reasons behind it; after all why Indians are being attacked everywhere? It seems that the existence of these vestigial racial elements even in cultural, plural societies does have other hidden reasons apart from ostensible causes. Chagrin does not prevail in Australia; and even Australian media lamented only after vociferous diplomatic and societal protests at home.
Economic: India has written stories of astounding success in economic fields; thanks to flooded brilliant young brains in fields of science and technology, management and other frontier areas. Our IITs, IIMs, and plethora of business and other schools have produced best brains in the world. The campus selections by MNCs and TNCs over a couple of decades have been a matter of concern to the students of those countries, which have been destinations of our ‘smart English speaking IT-BPO guys’ for obvious reasons. Many of them feel that their job opportunities are being eaten up by Indians. Many guys working in MNCs and TNCs in countries like the US, the UK, Australia, Germany and a host of other such developed countries have faced similar acts of discrimination. Many of such incidents go unreported for simple reason; as the victims have to run from pillar to post once FIR is registered.
Student community particularly do not like to be involved in legal wrangles because they think that they have come here not to fight legal battle but to complete their studies and make careers. They are also tormented by the lackadaisical, callous and sometimes, ignorant attitude of police. For instance, in Australia, the police did not act till the matter was blown out of their capacity to hold. According to Forbes; about US$ 13 billion is spent by Indian students abroad annually. Australia alone has a US$ 15.5 billion business with foreign students and as many as 1 lakh Indian students study in Australian at present.
According to an estimate about 8.3 lakh Indian students are studying in countries like the US, the UK, Russia, France, Australia, etc. Needless to say, those going abroad for higher studies belong to affluent class of the society. The number of High Net Income (HNI) individuals in India has swelled for some years. Like many other areas, the lopsided development in the field of education has created a dangerous in-equilibrium. The affluence of these students studying abroad or working guys, who earn handsome salaries in MNCs, betrays in their lifestyles and attracts opportunistic activities by teens, who have been already suffering from a sense of inferiority complexes. These complexes find expression in such opportunistic acts blended with racism.
Sociological and educational: With the passage of time, the colonies have gained independence from colonial powers. The European countries are finding their erstwhile colonies rubbing shoulders in gatherings at International forums. The sense of hatred unconsciously precipitates in their mind and find expression in such abhorable acts of racial attacks. History has tough us to be proud of our past. Their past had been excellent but future is full of intense competition which extra-individualistic. In the present global financial regime, every one, may it be individual or nation, has to find a place for itself not on the basis of its past but on the basis of its present.
The economic hegemony of the US is all set to nosedive. The American Tsardom in financial market is likely to be over. The global financial crisis (GFC) has bashed the US, the pain of which is still emanating. Asian giant China has purchased US$ 1.3 trillion worth US Treasury Bills. A sense of chagrin prevails in USA, what a travesty; once lender has become a borrower. The Chinese export juggernaut into the US has changed the entire economic power structure. Protectionist measures taken by the USA and host of developed nations have these social and psychological dimensions also. The sense of frustration is obvious in younger minds because their economic future is not as secure as it had been decades ago.
Ethical and moral: There is no denying the fact that economic development in India has changed our lifestyles and cultural traits to a great extent. Still then, our social, family, and religious ethos, which have deep roots, have not eroded to the extent of disappearance. Religious tolerance and non-violence are still way of our lives. When our boys go abroad we preach them to be adherent to these ethos. In spite of state of attacks, students in Australia decided to take out a peace march rather than taking to streets. Normally such incidents meet violent backlashes. But the kind of restraint, which has been showed by Indians in Australia and abroad, is suggestive of the fact that ethos of non-violence and satyagraha are still alive in our soul and the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi are inculcated in our way of life. These characteristics of ours have been taken by many nations as timidity and cowardice. After all, what explains when two teen attacked four students and went un-retaliated, physically they could have not only been overpowered but thrashed also.
Progress and affluence of students studying abroad do manifest in their lifestyles, which tempt these racist elements to attack that serves twin purpose; on the one hand they snatch something from them and on the other it satiates their hidden desire of inferiority complex.
Role of embassies: The role of embassies in this regard has particularly been callous. According to reports available in public domain, hundreds of such attacks have taken place on Indian students in different parts of the world. When the students approach the authorities in embassies, they are treated with callous and cool attitude. This has emboldened the morale of such lumpen elements, who indulge in acts of such vandalism and at the same time, it leaves students at the mercy of their fate. In this case also, the Indian Embassy could take up the issue only after matter was reported in Indian media and the prime minister and External Affairs Minister talked to Kelvin Rudd and Julia Gillard in strongest possible diplomatic over tune and conveyed their frowning over the issue. This approach of our diplomatic babus needs to be changed.
To sum up, we can say that these incidents are rooted in sociological, economic, historical and ethical soil of developed cultural, pluralistic societies. The lasting and amicable solution therefore can only be found in the roots and not in stems.