Sunday, May 31, 2009

Australia's image takes a beating

The attack against Indian students in Australia has caused a lot of concern among back at home here in India. Parents are worried, families, too. Suddenly, people are asking whether Australia is a safe place for Indians anymore. The Indian government led by the Prime Minister has made it a big issue and the Australian administration must be feeling the heat. Amitabh Bachchan has refused an honorary doctorate from a university in Australia, saying he cannot accept it when his countrymen are being attacked. I heard the Australian ambassador to India speaking on television last night and he didn’t seem very convincing.

Swaraaj Chauhan, international columnist for The Moderate Voice, based in Australia, says that the Kevin Rudd government is trying to make Australia a multi-cultural country. Australian government, he adds, is known for its generosity in funding diverse cultural institutions and there are a number of such institutions in every Australian city. These should be encouraged to organise regular counselling sessions for students, Chauhan suggests.

What he further says is interesting: “Last year during my six months stay in Adelaide, South Australia, I found that several young people had nowhere to go to sort out their basic problems. Even the reach of the local Indian associations was rather limited. The universities and teaching institutions should open/strengthen cells to provide counselling to students. I taught journalism for a while at the University of South Australia, Magill campus. But I never heard of any racist attack (maybe Adelaide is a different place).”

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