Curry bashers beware

Australia appears to be unaware of how serious a risk the attacks on Indian students poses to its economy

The Australian’s Greg Sheridan weighs in on an issue that has—despite its economic and political significance–received unduly little coverage in the Australian media.

The recent spate of bashings of Indian students in Melbourne is an appalling episode in this nation’s history. It is a serious social, educational, diplomatic and probably economic crisis that no one is taking seriously enough. The performance of John Brumby’s Victorian Government has been pathetic. It has stumbled from bland denial to belated symbolism, never acknowledging the gravity of the problem or its own culpability and not taking any serious action to confront it.

The Rudd Government’s response also has been belated, but there is a better sense in Canberra of the problem’s dimensions.

It seems astonishing that you would have to argue with anybody that a big outbreak of racist violence in an Australian capital city is a first-order problem.

Last financial year nearly 1500 assaults and robberies were committed on people of Indian origin in Victoria, up by nearly one-third from the year before. But what has rightly gained international attention is the many assaults on Indian students.

Brumby and his Police Commissioner Simon Overland at first were inclined to deny the problem was racial at all. Eventually they came to admit that some attacks were racial, but still cling to the idiotic defence that most of the crimes are opportunistic, as if it’s impossible to be opportunistic and racist.

In making these assertions, Brumby and co must be the only people who believe them. Certainly the victims of the crimes don’t. [The Australian]

Mr Sheridan’s piece is worth reading in full. As a Australia-based commenter on Atanu Dey’s blog says, Indian students are aggrieved that both the Australian authorities and the media are not treating the matter with the seriousness it deserves. It is wrong to think, as some Australian politicians seem to, that more cricket will somehow repair the damage to Australia’s reputation these incidents have caused.

Related Links: Niranjan Rajadhyaksha and Atanu Dey draw attention to the need for India to liberalise its education sector.