Racist Australians? No, Indians students are blamed (Diaspora Watch)

June 9th, 2009 - 9:26 am ICT by IANS  

Amitabh Bachchan By Kul Bhushan
Indian students in Australia are to be blamed for getting attacked - this seems to be the belief of many Indians prospering in Australia. In a flurry of e-mails from Down Under, it is made out that the Indian students invite these vicious attacks upon themselves.

The Australia-Indian community leaders and their religious/social welfare organisations have hardly issued any strong statements against these racist attacks.

During the recent Melbourne protest, hardly any older Australian-Indians turned up to show their solidarity with the Indian students even as the students cried themselves hoarse demanding justice. In fact, some white Australians were seen carrying placards to support them. Reports in the Indian media stated that these well-settled Australian-Indians do not want these events to affect their cushy life or tarnish their relations with whites.

These racial attacks have continued for the last two or three years with a growing number of them now directed at Indian students whose numbers have swelled to about 97,000.

Did the local Indians take any individual or community action to prevent these ugly attacks? On the contrary, when the recent spate of brutal assaults by Australian hooligans hit the headlines, they were quick to point out the reasons emanating from the students.

According to e-mails from Australia, Indian students allegedly do not know English, they display their expensive gadgets like mobiles, laptops and iPods; play loud music, talk loudly in their native tongues, live up to 15 in rooms rented for four persons, make their accommodation filthy, come out to their compounds in their underwear to urinate in the open and display innumerable other uncouth habits loathed by Australians. No wonder they are attacked, say the e-mails.

Many students are frustrated when they find that their colleges are run by Australian-Indian ‘crooks’. “When they go to their class, they find that all the students are from India, and the teacher teaches them in Hindi/Punjabi. They realise that they could have

received a better education at a fraction of the cost and without the problems and pains (in India). Many of our people have opened educational institutions as on-line licensing was so easy here. These people cheated the system by supplying false information. Now many of such colleges face closure, further putting strain on students who have paid so much money to study there,” said one such e-mail.

If the well-settled Australian-Indians have known all these problems for the last few years, what have they done to alleviate the situation? Did they launch any orientation courses in their places of worship to ‘welcome’ the new Indian students every year and explain to them the norms of the Australian way of life? Did they approach their elected representatives to press for starting these orientation courses in India or Australia? Or, urge them to enforce additional measures at the Australian high commission in India, like an oral English test, before granting them a student visa? Did they seek the closing down of these sub-standard ‘teaching shops’ run by unscrupulous Australian-Indians as they attract unsuspecting students through their recruiting agents in India?

“Many students have committed suicide due to pressure from India and their inability to study without tuition as they fail to follow classroom lectures,” says an Indian professional in an e-mail. “They cannot get more funds from India; on the contrary, every relative from India phones them asking: ‘When will you get a job and remit money to repay your loan?’ Students have been committing suicides here and the Indian high commission would not even listen to anything nor acknowledge that there was a problem. Local Indians and students have been arranging for the dead bodies to be sent to India.”

Then the Indian media is to be blamed for highlighting these attacks and giving an unbalanced picture - never mind the fact that most print media have published articles by Indian university professors in Australia or established leaders on this situation and TV channels aired reports by local and ‘citizen’ journalists. They are pained at the reaction from India: film legend Amitabh Bachchan declining an honorary degree from an Australian university; Indian tourists cancelling their Aussie holidays in large numbers; Indian film producers boycotting film shootings; Indian student numbers declining this year; and perhaps, bilateral trade going down as India is the seventh biggest trade partner of Australia.

The established Australian-Indians are unwilling to accept the violent attacks by the Aussie lumpens who demand cigarettes, money and their gadgets and then slash them with knives or pierce their skulls with screwdrivers. They would not comment until the courts decide them. How many convictions have been reported in the last few years? They don’t know. It’s to do with their clothes smelling of curry, so they get ‘curry-bashing’, the local Indians say.

(09-06-2009- The author previously worked abroad as a newspaper editor and has travelled to over 50 countries. He lives in New Delhi and can be contacted at: kulbhushan2040@gmail.com)

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