Monday

Encouraging signs from Australia

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Last week, two prominent Australians talked openly about their views on allegedly racist attacks on Indians in Australia. In my last post, I mentioned how the Australians are getting their communication wrong and defensive in failing to acknowledge a pattern in the violence against Indians. However, recently Victoria’s Police Commissioner, Simon Overland said that his department was aware of a trend in violence against Indians for two years now and were drawing up plans to tackle the same. He said to ABC radio that Indians were “over represented when it came to robberies” and not so much in assaults. He said that 50% of assaults against Indians were at the workplace and some of them possibly racist.

Similarly, Australia’s former army chief, Peter Cosgrove, categorized the attacks as racist, rejecting the official line and indicated that there were some kind of a “profiling approach to attacks on South Asians,” implying that it is indeed racism. Rather than dismissing them as routine crime, Cosgrove called for some introspection on the part of Australian society. Incidentally Cosgrove was the Australian of the year in 2001.

Coming from two prominent Australians, this line of communication projects a mature approach to dealing with the issue. It portrays a resilient and confident society capable to face the demons within and deal with it. As I said earlier, the debate is not about whether Australia is racist or not; rather the Australians should attempt to confine the debate to whether Australia can deal with such issues or not.

Diaspora’s role

In this entire episode, the potential of the Indian diaspora has not been adequately leveraged by the Indian and Australian governments. Australians should make more efforts in portraying the Indian diaspora as an integral part of multicultural Australia while India could have leveraged the same diaspora for influencing Canberra, and, also for seeking their assistance in mentoring ‘new’ Indians in Australia. It will be good to see something happening on this front.

Suggestions/Critiques welcome.

--Madhur

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