Australia has emerged as a lucrative preferred destination for foreign students in the current year. Last year there were 5 lakh foreign students in Australia. The Indians numbered 90,000. Rs. 10 to 12 lakhs is spent by each Indian student for his education, boarding, lodging & food expenses in Australia. The Australian economy earns a total revenue of rupees 2,000 crores alone from the Indian education industry. But the recent attacks on Indian students in Melbourne & Sydney have wounded the Indian psychic. This has raised eyebrows on law & order in Australia and the future of international students studying therein.
India has experienced wide spread protests in various cities on the reported attacks on Indian students in Australia. The Indian parents of 90,000 students studying in Australia are nowadays anxious, worried & having nightmares. Initially the Australian government was in a denial mode on such racial attacks. But it woke up when the Police Chief of Victoria Mr. Siman Overland accepted and stated that such attacks are racially motivated. Then the true nature of Australian society emerged. Last year alone 1,447 cases of attacks were reported to the police. But many incidents went unnoticed since the Indian students did not want to get involved in police cases unnecessarily. They thought that such actions would jeopardise their study & work visa rules in Australia. So the incidents of attacks rose phenomenally while the attackers went scot free. And the Indian students increasingly felt un-secure and unsafe. The unhelpful attitude of the Australian police also compounded concerns among the students there.
The Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also condemned attacks on Indians and termed them as silly acts. In the Australian parliament Kevin Rudd assured India that the perpetrators of such crimes shall be severely dealt. The Deputy Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Chief Minister of Victoria also condemned these attacks. A hotline was established to hear the grievances of the aggrieved Indian students. The Australian envoy in India John McCarthy in a letter addressed to me stated “Safety of Indian students in Australia is a First Order priority of Australian Govt.” But the attacks are still continuing.
On the other hand the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh assured the Indian parliament that his government is in constant touch with the Australian counter parts. The Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna stated that his government through the Indian High Commissioner, is in constant touch with the local authorities in Canberra. The Indian diplomacy is at work to ensure security for the Indian students. In the Indian parliament there was a proposal to send a all party parliamentarian delegation to Australia. But no action has been taken on the matter as yet.
But the fallacies of the Indian foreign policy came to the fore when the Foreign Minister of India S.M. Krishna advised the Indian students to desist from protesting in Australia and instead concentrate on their studies. Imagine this sermon to the attacked and slighted Indian students studying in Australia from the Indian foreign policy establishment. Till today the Indian government has not taken any tough measures to convey our strong displeasure and protest. And still the Indian students are the oppressed lot there.
Australia and India share friendly relations. But traumatising Indian taxi drivers, burning cars of Indians in Australia and attacking peaceful Indian students studying there is the new form of anti – India bashing. This should be a matter of grave concern for all peace loving Indian diaspora around the globe. In case this issue is not firmly resolved and Indian protests understood by the global community then there shall be re-occurrence of such ugly incidents all over the world. And it shall have serious repercussions for the Indian community.
The Indian government should generate pressure and global condemnation on the issue. The parivar should rise to the occasion. But to provide security to the Indian students is the foremost responsibility of the Australian government. And this shall pave a path for the peaceful solution of the current imbroglio. The need of the hour is to exercise the option of diplomatic pressures, consultations and amicable resolve of the current problem for upholding the Indian honour world wide.
(The writer is an ex-MLA Delhi Assembly & All India BJP Joint Convenor, Overseas Cell, Email: [email protected])