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Last updated: 01 July, 2009
Madhuri Kalyan 20:13 IST

Counteract

Metrolife speaks to Australians in the City and Indians Down Under on the recent spurt of racial attacks

If there was anything that burned more fiercely than Australian bushfires this summer, it was an outrage over multiple attacks on Indian students in Oz.

According to reports, such attacks have been prevalent for the past four years, but came under public scanners recently when a spate of attacks followed in quick succession. Indian students held demonstrations where placards included “Racism is more dangerous than swine flu” and “I pay fees, I pay taxes, I get stabbed in Oz”.

Says Jothi Naidoo, a second-generation Indian and an Australian citizen, “The new group of Indian students who go there work in worst kind of jobs, in graveyard shifts. The situation is bad for everybody. Unfortunately, Indians end up as victims.”

Jothi also feels that that Indians don't make enough effort to blend into the culture of Australia. Komal Kapur, an animation student, studying in Australia, who just came back for vacations, agrees, “Aussies are very chilled, but Indians live in Australia as they would in India.”

But are Indian students specifically targeted? Says Rajan Bhosale, an Indian student in Australia, "It’s true that they are soft targets as Indian students don’t report such events. Many of them come from small villages, they do not know how to fight for their rights. There is a specific group who are mostly into drugs and other bad recreation. They know Indian students are easy targets.”

Says Simon Put, a student in the City, “Australia is one of the most multi-cultural societies on earth, and also one of the most peace loving nations. These attacks are done by a minority of morons who are xenophobic but it’s obvious that we have to overcome racism that haunts us to evolve as a more progressive society. I was very humbled throughout my travels in India, being treated like royalty wherever I went. We need to imbibe that attitude from India.”

So did Indian media help the cause? Says Komal, “The conditions there are very bad, the Australian media hid the facts from us. It was only through Indian media that we got to know the truth. These attacks have grown since the recession, as Indians are getting more jobs and are willing to work at lower wages. All students live in fear as even police is of not much help, The Victorian and Federal governments’ actions appear to be motivated more by Australia’s economic interests than humanitarian concerns.”

But Jothi feels the whole issue is sensationalised by the Indian media, “The Indian media has blown the whole issue out of proportion. And all this bad publicity is just making the situation worse for the Indian students, creating animosity where none existed.”

So what are the repercussions of such violent outbursts in future? Says Rajan Bhosale, who did his MBA in an Australian university, and now works in Melbourne, “It sounds a lot less complicated than accepting that we are a flawed society with important racial issues to address. It is a public relation disaster for the Australian government considering once again Australia’s image is tarnished in the international media as a racist country, but this is not a new phenomenon, only the crime rates have increased.”

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