Tuesday, August 11, 2009

'Indians' Down Under

'Indian' students in Australia have attracted a lot of attention lately. There has been racist violence --- see this Economist artcle --- as well as fairly dodgy practices in Australia's education exports industry --- see here. Ironically, much of the violence has been perpetrated not by 'Anglos', but by youths of other ethnic groups. And the students are often ripped off by members of their own communities.

Education is a major service export for Australia, and these scandals pose a major risk to the sector. That's why the country's Prime Minister made formal statements in the parliament promising an end to the attacks, sent a high level delegation to India, and received the Indian Foreign Minister earlier this month with much pomp and ceremony.

Of course, attackers don't ask the victims for their passports --- they don't discriminate on which side of the Radcliffe Line their victims comes from: all Desis are 'fair targets'.

The number of young Bangladeshis in Sydney and Melbourne run well into five figures, and they too have faced similar troubles. It's however difficult to imagine the Australian government reacting that strongly if the attacks were solely against Bangladeshi students.

I guess it's about time India's neighbours benefitted from its hegemony.

Meanwhile, when Lateline, a major Australian current affairs talk show, ran a story on this, they got two people who do not subscribe to any form of the 'Indian' identity.