Indians Down n Under in Ozstralia

Over the past year and a half there has been an alarming increase in the rate at which Indian students have been targeted down under. Every second day the dailies flash headlines of such attacks. This is a perturbing fact and has raised several questions. What has led to sudden rise in negative intensity towards Indians? Are these racist attacks? Does it have something to do with the growing superiority of Indians in the job market? Is it merely looting for fun and money? Well whatever the reason or cause be it has created waves in the Indian and Australian media and is affecting the ties between both the nations.

The controversy has gone through several twists and turns from both the ends. The Australian government assured Indian students and government that they will employ stringent methods to stop the attacks. Australian High commissioner called these as criminal acts but did not completely deny that it involves racist intentions too. Nothing noticeable has yet been done to curb the attacks. In fact the latest development in the case has been the Victorian Police Chief Simon Overland’s advice to Indian students living in Australia to “try and look as poor as you can.”

Rightly so the Federation of Indian Students of Australia (FISA) has condemned the advice. Giving such advice will only lead to the Australian government’s $3.5-million campaign to attract Indian students-in an effort to combat recession to go down the drain. It will in no way help to solve the real problem. Currently close to 1, 50,000 Indian students are studying in Australian universities. Many of them are returning to India as they fear being attacked. Parents who can afford are transferring their child’s admission to universities elsewhere in spite of making losses as heavy as 20 lakhs. Quite a few of them are also cancelling the admissions even though the students are mid way through the course.

Finding the measures taken by the Australian government inadequate Indian students in Australia have taken it upon themselves to shield each other and stand up to these violent acts by forming protective groups. Even the reactions in India have been quite strong from all fronts. The Indian media has lamented the growing number of attacks and questioned the security lapses. The casual attitude of the Australian government has not been appreciated. The effigy of Australian PM Kevin Rudd has been burnt and protest march organized outside the Australian Embassy in New-Delhi. Even though Australia is a very attractive option for students to study abroad and get a residency many students are thinking twice before taking admissions. Shiv-Sena has gone to the extent of demanding a ban on Australian Cricketers playing in the IPL- Season 3.

The current scenario presents a dull picture but things can still be brought under control. The Australian government and students should organize rallies with messages of peace and support for Indian students to ensure that they stay back and also fear setting in amongst people in India dose not reach peak heights. Indians too have to realize that burning of effigies and a ban on Australian cricketers is only going to worsen the situation and is not by any means a solution. Cricket can in fact be a successful way to spread the message of harmony and prevent animosity from rising. But if things continue in the same fashion as they are it does not augur well for the future ties between nations.

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