Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oz 'racial' attacks: A Low-down


Okay.. so you 'heard' and 'read' much about the 'racist' attacks against Indians in Australia! And obviously, since we Indians have inherited the passion for protests and demonstrations, there had to be a protest planned against these attacks! Protests did take place, unfortunately somewhat Indian way, exhibiting much of rowdiness, indiscipline and loud slogans! Let me make couple of points here.

I saw the clip of the protests of Indian students in Melbourne (the video link featured above) and I was ashamed by the way they were protesting. They crowded on the streets marching away, raising loud, angry slogans, whistling and displaying indiscipline of protest - very much the way they behave in India! For the average Australian, who sort of sympathized with Indian students due to the attacks, this type of 'mob-like' protest was not at all welcome. A sort of bitterness could be seen a few days after these protests. Australians made it blatantly clear that such kind of anger-display wasn't at all appreciated in a country where civic discipline and peace is respected and upheld. I gathered this from my network of people who have been in Australia with their families and working here for many years now. Their Australian colleagues used to ask them whats wrong with the Indian students? Why are they behaving like this? It was very obvious that such actions from Indians like taking to the streets in hundreds, disturbing the civic life and peace, created unpleasantness amongst the locals; even Indian-Australians. But Indian students were far from respecting the culture of the land and were further edged on by the amplification provided by the Indian media, ever hungry to make a mountain of a molehill... Display of uncalled patriotic jingoism like shouting slogans of "Bharat mata ki jai" did nothing but further alienate themselves from the masses. How would you feel if a bunch of Aussies took to the streets in India shouting patriotic slogans about Australia? And if foreigners stay in your country and show the infamous middle finger to your police force as they did during the protest, in front of the Australian media? (see the YouTube clip). It certainly ends in a bad feeling! Now if this happens to further alienate Indians from mainstream Australian culture, who is to be blamed to cause racism? Predictably so, Indian media never highlighted 'how' the protests were carried out!

Let's now come to the point of 'racism' by Australians. I fail to get how can Australia be called racist when there is no such thing as Australian race! Indian can be a nationality as well as a race, but Australian is a nationality. The 'original' Aussies were the aborigines, who themselves were a victim of the European racism. The people we see in Australia have ancestral or parental linkage to different countries in the world - Indian, Chinese, Greek, Vietnamese, Croatian, Lebanese and many others. Hence Australia becomes a nation of heterogeneous races... so which of these would you call the Australian race? The attacks which took place in Harris Park, near Sydney were a result of a feud between Punjabis and Lebanese population there. So if a Lebanese bashes up an Indian, still do we call it racism?

If you say yes to this, what would you say about India then? India is much more racist than Australia is! Temples are still dominated by Brahmin lobby which doesn't allow any other caste to enter their domain. There are bitter quarrels between communities, linguistic groups, states. If a Gujarati is mugged and bashed up on a lonely street of Mumbai, would the newspapers publish the next day that Mumbai is racist?

Now here's a final thought to the series of events that unfolded. Build up on these cues and it is rational enough to view these attacks without being carried away by irrationalities of mass sentiments. Indian students in Australia have a lifestyle that consists of leaving for work or university in the morning and usually returning back home early or late at night, usually in public transport or walking. Since most of them are not rich enough to afford property rents around the city hubs, students prefer to live in suburbs (some of them notorious) where property rates are low and hence they afford rents by sharing with other students. Mostly these suburbs are lonely after evenings and people in Australia don't usually come late from work. The people who can be seen on these streets are mostly Indian students walking back to their homes. In these circumstances, it is but natural that most of the victims of mugging and bashing would be none other than Indian students!

Also it is interesting to note why only 'Indian students' and not 'Indians' were at the receiving end of the attacks which happened. If Australians are racist, believing the media propaganda, then Indians in general should have been the victims, which is not so! That leaves a question unanswered, right? And no one seems to ask that question!