Beware, It’s Australia!

Australia RacismIn 1998, a colleague of mine at the Indian Express Business Publication Division, Mumbai, when asked, told me that he was racially harassed in Australia. He went there to study journalism. As I had already read about racism, marginalization and mass murders of natives at the hands of white men in the land of kangaroos, I was too eager to get firsthand information from a person who ‘lived’ and ‘studied’ Australia. Unfortunately, I until then had no friends or colleagues who could provide information on the Down Under.

Since I was an avid cricket watcher then, I had seen racial slurs spewed by Australian cricketers, not only against Indians, but also against cricketers from other countries in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean isles. One thing is irrefutable true – racism does exist in Australia. The ongoing racial and criminal violence against Indian students in that part of the world is self-revealing.

I sometimes wonder why India as a nation develops cold feet especially in dealing with matters like these. Why the country goes spineless especially when the leadership is required to react and be proactive to situations where Indians are racially abused and tortured under different circumstances.

This apathy and indifference were vividly reflected when minister of state for external affairs, Shashi Tharoor, said, “I think that this (racial attacks) must be seen principally as a domestic issue for Australia to deal with, within their own society, rather than as a bilateral problem between Australia and India.”

When his comments stirred up a hornet’s nest in India, he clarified saying Australia wouldn’t like India protecting its citizens in Australia like India wouldn’t allow Australia to protect its people in India. It sounded sensible. But, how far should this remain just a unilateral affair where only Australia can do something about it? 

Any nation of pride and conscience would have awakened if they listened to what some police officers, reacting to racial violence, had said. One of them warned that the students should learn to take care of themselves instead of complaining. And, they let law to take a sluggish course.

There have been thousands of racial violence cases reported in the last couple of years in Australia. Victoria police have admitted to four Indians being attacked everyday and 1,447 people had been victims of crimes in 2008.

When an Indian student counter attacked, he was immediately caught and the country’s prime minister warned Indian students of dire consequences. He also reminded India of the number of crimes against Australians in India. When thousands protested in the country’s main cities, authorities nabbed their leaders. While, office bearers of Indian diaspora groups advised students not to roam around at night, not to speak in mother tongues, stop going to restaurants and pubs. Is there anything else that the students should not be doing?
 
When Australian universities come to India with their education seminars and road-shows, they lure the students saying Australia is a country of multi-ethnicity and plurality. Of course there are lots of good Australians who are against these racial attacks and want their government to take strict actions against the culprits.

Unfortunately, the government hardly takes steps to curb or contain this violence. Nor do they admit that these are all racist attacks, at least many of them. But, they agree that many of these attacks took place in poor neighborhoods and are related to robbery. Even that confession is enough to hold the government accountable. Be it racist or otherwise, it is the duty of the government to stop violence, be it against foreigners or natives.

There are over 97000 Indian students studying in Australia, contributing over a billion dollars to many of its cash-strapped, under-funded universities. If the Australian administration fails to do something about it, India should play its role. It doesn’t mean India should resort to violent means. It should at least be bold enough to ask the other nation and its leadership why it is happening. And, tell them to put an end to it. There are efficient and internationally recognized means of protest. India should exercise them.
 
Indian government can issue a travel advisory against going to Australia and staying for long. Those who do will do so at their own risk. (Remember, UK issued one such advisory, warning its citizens against going to Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh and Whitefield in Karnataka, the two abodes of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The Baba is allegedly to have sexually molested young Brits and some of them, traumatized, have even committed suicide).

Next, make Indian parents aware of the true situation in Australia, a nation which was until 25 years back a whites-only nation, and have them discourage their children from going to Australia to pursue their higher studies. Other measures include stalling or completely stopping bilateral or diplomatic relations with Down Under. India can even call off its mission in the island nation.

 “Doctor, Heal Thyself”

Let’s be self-critical…

In 2000, I moved to Delhi. One day, while having lunch together with a Manipuri female colleague, she narrated several stories of harassment in Delhi University campus. For their so-called ‘chinky’ features and more western outfits, students from eastern India were easily distinguished and targeted. Female students were surrounded and in some cases abducted and molested. Indians mistreating Indians!

Another group at the receiving end in India is the exchange/UN-sponsored students from poor nations in Africa. During my few years’ stay in Delhi, several cases were reported where these students were racially slurred, calling them ‘kallus’, a derogatory, Hindi equivalent for ‘blacks’

There are frequent attacks on non-Maharashtrians in Mumbai, especially on students from Bihar. Some youngsters were even killed in these attacks!

Is India a racist nation too?  One might genuinely doubt…

Michael, They Haven’t Spared You Yet…

Michael_Jackson-Bad-FrontalWhen you were alive, they despised you. In every humanly possible way, they cooked up stories that maligned you. They teamed up and slandered against you. They continued this act of great ‘generosity’ until the last breath went out of your body. When the coroner arrived, they confused him with stories. At the wake, they would come and grieve over your sad demise. In their speeches, they would describe you a ‘blessed soul’ and your feats ‘great’. May be the ‘greatest’. They were ‘shocked’ and ‘devastated’ when they heard the news of your death. Some ‘couldn’t believe’ it. They are the hypocrites. They are the deceivers of their own conscience.

Those species desperately wanted your fall. They are now more than happy. Delighted over your death, they are now shedding crocodile tears to join millions of mourning fans. Death is the only occasion when they stop slurring and utter good of the dead. Either they are not bold enough to air what they really feel. Or they fear god – they don’t abuse the dead lest that might invite god’s wrath upon them. Yeah, they are hypocrites.

Once they called you weird and bizarre – for your friendship with a chimp, for your high-pitched (neutral) voice and several plastic surgeries. And now, with the same tongue and in the selfsame treble and tenor they describe you ‘King of Pop’ and ‘moon-walker’.

Millions of people all over the world keep pets including pythons, chameleons, lizards, scorpions and so on. Pets are individual choices. Unless it is a danger to the society or other individuals, why should the society bother as to what should a pet be?

While, a person’s voice is natural. Why shouldn’t you sing in your own natural voice? Should you have altered it for the sake of some lumpen elements and morons? 

Then, how about your plastic surgeries? To make up an injured nose, you once got it repaired. So what? Then you went for a series of surgeries for a number reasons including skin diseases. So what? There are so many actors and actresses, CEOs and CFOs, so-called spiritual leaders and religious heads who have undergone such plastic surgeries. Then, why shouldn’t you?

Then came their calumnious attack on you for your preference for the ‘company of children’. Your genuine love (so far it has never been proved otherwise) was misinterpreted and they called you a pedophile. Nobody called St. Don Bosco and great children’s writer Lewis Carroll a pedophile or child-abuser for keeping the company of children.

For his ‘Thriller’, the Church called you ‘son of devil’. You had avowed that your convictions contradicted the occult theme depicted in the album. There are so many Catholic priests and bishops who were/are devil worshippers. Church never called them devil’s sons.

Forget praising, they have never even recognized your musical genius and versatility, innovative and novel dance moves, the messages you carried in your songs, your 13 Grammy Awards, millions of admirers, your magnanimity that donated millions for social causes.

Don’t you think you are more sinned against than sinning?