Despite India’s strong reaction to the murder in Melbourne of the Indian youth, Nitin Garg, it appears that Australia has not taken the matter with the seriousness it deserves. Although one cannot conclude that the heinous crime was the result of racial hatred, a look at the attacks in the past one year makes us suspect a racial motive.
Whether the attacks are opportunistic or racial, the Australian government is bound to protect the lives and interests of foreigners, Indians in particular, in view of the increasing number of attacks on them. While Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese has attributed the decline in the number of applications from Indian students to study in Australia to global recession and frenzied media reporting, it is evident that the lack of safety is a major cause.
Australia’s statement following the latest incident was indeed insensitive and less than helpful (editorial “Insensitive and in denial,” Jan. 8). Let us go by the statistical approach of the Australian government. One wonders how many Australian students were attacked in the past one year. If the number is fewer (as I guess it would be), how come they escaped from the so-called opportunistic attacks? Their numerical strength in colleges is less than that of non-Asians, they moved in groups, they did not carry valuables and they lived in high-end areas?
Nobody has directly blamed the Australian government for the spate of attacks on Indians. New Delhi’s reaction has, in fact, been restrained and dignified. Canberra’s official response betrays an intolerant mindset. It appears that Australia cannot tolerate even expressions of concern and anxiety from a ‘third world’ country whose citizens have borne the brunt of physical violence and murder. Blaming the Indian media for blowing up the issue is not only evasion of responsibility but also immature and hypocritical because the tabloids in Australia and western countries have been known to indulge in worse kind of sensationalism.
Australia’s response is deplorable. The issue of safety and security of Indian students should be taken up at the highest level. It is more serious than the manner in which it is being perceived, and calls for tangible action on a war-footing.
Whether or not Australia is doing enough to stop the attacks on Indians, its envoy in India is doing a good job defending his country. By terming most of the attacks on Indians opportunistic (Jan. 7), he has belittled the incidents, despite the loss of lives. Shouldn’t New Delhi learn a lesson or two from Canberra? It should not mince words while condemning such acts.
It is nobody’s case that the Indians living in Australia should be asked to return. But bringing out statistical evidence to show that criminal activities against a group of persons is of lesser significance as done by the Australian authorities is ridiculous because a life lost has been lost.
Not all attacks on Indians involved larceny and loot. The racial connotation is evident. It is time the Australian government came out of the denial mode to understand the value which Indian students bring to Australia.
Vaibhav C. Ghalme,
Attacks against Indians in Australia are mostly confined to the student community. Other Indians living there seem to be quite safe. The spate of attacks has the potential to do great damage to the reputation of that country as a destination for students. If the trend is not controlled, its image as an inclusive, welcoming and tolerant society will be tarnished.
Enacting and implementing laws dealing with incitement to racial hatred would be the most instructive for Australia. Its reluctance to act against harmful racist behaviour shows it is not serious about combating such behaviour. In countries such as Australia, Canada and America — which share a background of English culture and English law — redressing the harm of racism is, unfortunately, perceived as being of less importance.
K. Suresh Babu,
The attacks on Indians will make an average Indian think twice before opting for Australian universities. The government’s travel advisory for students wishing to go there strengthens the fear. Australia should address this insecurity urgently at the national level.