Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Racist's – Australian for Character?

With 6 cases of Indians students in the last 22days being at the receiving end of racist attack in Australia it has been a serious issue for the Indian Community and the Indo-Aus ties. The Indian student Shravan Rao from Andhra Pradesh is the unfortunate student to have been worst injured and still fighting for his life, when a group of Australian fanatics put a screwdriver through his brain.

The Indian diplomats have expressed their deepest concern and doing all that is possible to ensure security of Indian students studying in Australia. The Indian actor Mr. Amitabh Bachan has politely refused to accept an honour from the Queensland University in Australia to show the Indian solidarity against this serious issue. The Australian Govt has lately taken critical steps by putting into action a new Special Task Force headed by former elite soldier Duncan Lewis to co-ordinate a response to the assaults and the perception they are hate crimes. They have also passed a law to ensure more stringent punishment for those who are guilty of such crimes.

Racist Australia

This has been the talk of most news channels in India and around the world in the past week. Like every issue even this has its group of stakeholders:

Australia: The Indian students studying in Australia is around 90000 which constitute over 18 percent of the foreign students in Australia. The number students in the fiscal year 2008-09 who have gone to Australia for higher studies has doubled as compared to 2007-08. The revenue from this amounts to a sum of over 2 billion Australian dollars ($1.6 billion) to the Australian Economy. Hence if this issue is not resolved it could badly affect the Australian economy, moreover this could even result in students from other foreign countries not considering Australia as a favourable destination for education.

Indian Students: A cheaper alternative to getting international exposure while going for further studies as compared to the US and UK

Political parties in India: The political parties in the opposition have as usual tried to make use of this by blaming the ruling government, and have tried to create a bad public opinion against the ruling party.

Australian Fanatics: They find themselves losing out on opportunities to Indian students in their own country owing to the recessionary phase around the world, hence lesser jobs and more demand for admissions into Universities. They cannot digest the fact that Indians are far more skilled and have a more developed intellectual capacity hence making them tougher competitors to beat. This is what draws questions on the competitiveness of the Australians. Are they losers or racist? Is a question that is doing the rounds.

How long will this pointless racist intolerance against Indians continue is something that cannot be decided by one person or a handful of people! Such issues require fundamental changes by educating the Australian citizen on how to deal with and accept different cultures. Sure the Australian cricketer Bret Lee has shown interest by going to a couple of universities and has tried to counsel students regarding this, but will this continue and how seriously the Australian government’s initiatives be implemented is a question that only time will tell!

Till then we can only pray for the security of Indian students and stay united for this cause.

Jai Ho!

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