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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2679

Identity politics, economic insecurity responsible for curry-bashing, say experts

By M Rama Rao, India Editor, Asian Tribune

New Delhi, 03June (Asiantribune.com): As pressure from Indian government and Indian groups has increased for ‘positive’ action against the guilty of indulging ‘ curry-bashing’, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told the Australian Parliament the attacks were a part of much larger malaise facing the country. “The attacks are a part of much wider problem of urban violence in some cities”, he said even as experts familiar with the Australian scene have diagnosed the problem as ‘identity politics and economic insecurity’ in a country affected by global meltdown.

Rudd, nevertheless, assured the Indian community that the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice.

‘I speak on behalf of all Australians when I say that we deplore and condemn these attacks,’ he said. His Government is committed to developing a stronger, closer relationship with India, Rudd stated adding, ‘I said to Prime Minister Singh that the more than 90,000 Indian students in Australia are welcome guests in our country’.

The Australian Primer Minister went on to say that his government would work closely with the states and territories ‘as a matter of urgency’ to work on ways to help international students feel safer.

Oz Opposition’s Critique

The Australian opposition doesn’t appear to buy Rudd explanations. According to an opposition leader in Victoria Ted Baillieu, attacks on students were going on for three years without any government intervention. ‘Sadly, the issue is not new; we’ve been raising these concerns for nearly three years and the problem’s got worse, not better’, Baillieu was quoted as saying.

Trade Minister Simon Crean also said Indian authorities had raised concerns about students being targeted more than a year ago.

Another opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull cautioned that the attacks on Indian students could damage Australia’s reputation. ‘These students are guests in our country and this recent violent behaviour has the potential to do great damage to the reputation of Australia as a destination of choice’.

Pressure On Delhi

In Delhi, A delegation of Young Congress MPs from Andhra Pradesh, led by Y Jagmohan Reddy, met the Minister for Overseas Indians Vayalar Ravi in Delhi and asked told him that India should put pressure on Rudd government to ‘rescue our people’ in Down Under from racial attacks.. A student, Shravan Kumar from Andhra Pradesh is among the first victims.

Ravi shared their concern and assured them that Delhi was doing its best to secure protection to Indian students. He declined to get into characterize attacks as racial. ‘It is difficult to say whether these attacks are racial or not. That will be clear only after an inquiry’, Vayalar Ravi, whose political baptism was through student politics, told this visitors. He told them that Indian diplomats in Australia were directed to extend all assistance to injured Shravan Kumar.

Genesis Of Attacks

The 'peace rally' organized by bodies like Federation of Indian Students in Australia (FISA) and National Union of Students started from outside the Royal Melbourne Hospital, where Kumar is in a critical condition in the intensive care unit after being stabbed by a screwdriver by a group of teens on Sunday last.

From the hospital, the marchers proceeded to the Victorian Parliament in Spring Street, carrying placards with messages like 'Save our Students' and 'Stop Racist Violence’.

Economic insecurity and the fact that the Indian students have practically no support systems are contributing to ‘curry-bashing’, opines Rahul Mishra, a fellow of Australia- India Council (2007-08).

‘In all the incidents of curry- bashing, part-time working students, salesmen and taxi-drivers have been attacked rather than skilled professionals. Clearly, students who do menial jobs are the most vulnerable. Much like the recent violence in Mumbai, this kind of identity politics is symptomatic of economic insecurity among locals’, Mishra, who is with the Centre for School of International Studies at the Left leaning Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), says

Fakes Galore

A major problem any Indian students interested in studies in Australia faces is the presence of fake Universities and colleges. Melbourne itself had around half a dozen such institutions till the authorities woke up to their menace and forced them to shut shop. Bogus universities are not an exclusive problem of Australia. India has its own quota of such troubles. Both India and Australian government should work together in guiding the students and in saving them from the fakes.

-Asian Tribune-

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