Guwahati, Wednesday, January 13, 2010
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A trouble shared is a trouble halved.

Trouble down under
Disconcerting news of attacks on Indians continue to pour in from Australia, each more gruesome than the other. The latest in a long and continuous string of attacks is the one on Jaspreet Singh, a 29 year old Indian who was set on fire by a group of four assailants in Essendon in Melbourne as he was about to park his car. It was quick thinking on his part in peeling off his burning clothes that saved his life, though he suffered severe burns. Two other cases of fatalities had been reported within the first week of this year itself. A student, Nitin Garg, was stabbed to death in a park in Melbourne by unknown assailants while walking to a restaurant where he worked part time. Three days later the partially charred body of a 25 year old Indian youth was found in Griffith, New South Wales. The Australian authorities continue to maintain that these were random crimes with no racial overtones and should not be construed specifically to be directed against the Indian community, especially students. But there have been too many attacks on Indians in Australia the past year for such a phenomenon to be deemed coincidence and a contrary assumption not to be made. Strong evidence of a racial bias against Indians among a section of white Australians has now almost been established, despite protestations to the contrary by the Australian Government.

Unfortunately, there appears to be no antidote, for neither laws nor law-enforcing agencies can effectively combat a collective racist attitude and put an end to racially motivated crimes. Thus the ritualistic words of condemnation which emanate from the External Affairs Ministry after every attack on Indians hardly serve to mitigate a problem which threatens to persist in the future. That the impulse prompting such crimes stem from raw emotions rather than pecuniary or other motives makes solving them difficult, while the fact that more often then not they are committed spontaneously and are opportunistic rather than pre-planned renders prevention just that much harder. The image of Australia is being tarnished, but this consideration obviously does not weigh on perverted minds propelled by personal biases. Also, Australia is gradually being viewed as one of the least favoured destination for Indian students desirous of pursuing higher studies, which will deprive that nation a slice of a lucrative pie, education being its third highest income generator after coal and iron-ore. The latest indication of this is the travel alert issued by the Indian Government to students intending to undertake studies in Australia, which ironically reads like ones periodically issued by Western nations in regards to third world countries! Clearly, Indians are being made to pay a price for the economic, academic and scientific successes achieved by the nation, for racialism is but jealousy in another guise.