Racism? Mugging?

A friend of mine sent me this link on Outlook about racial attacks in Melbourne. By far, the most balanced article I’ve seen in Indian or Australian media so far.

The Indian media+government have been screaming their heads off calling this racism while the Australian media+government have been playing it down. And we wonder what the truth is.

The Indian media tends to exaggerate, as I can say from personal experience. A couple of years ago when I was still living in Australia, when they found one of the suspects of the Glasgow bombing incident living in Gold Coast, the Indian media reported that Indians were being bashed up in Australia. The truth – no one I ever met was even aware that the guy had been living there. The Australian media picked it up only after a week or so. But that didn’t stop our parents from panicking about the situation and calling us asking if we were okay and how was the situation.

I do agree that GC is not a huge city like Melbourne where there is a little more global awareness. But in my time in Melbourne too, I didn’t see much racism.

People in the above quoted article say that racism has gone up in the past couple of years. Then again, so has the population of Indians and the economic conditions have changed. So what are the facts?

It is a fact that a very small percentage of Indians actually interact with the locals. Most Indians when they get there prefer to be within their own communities. Not just the nationality. The same community. The Gujratis, the Punjabis, the Teluguites, the Malyalis, the Bengalis, the Tamilians etc. They are shy and scared to interact with the locals or with any other country people actually. But that doesn’t stop them from making fun of the ‘goras’. That doesn’t stop them from leching at the girls walking around in skirts and shorts. That doesn’t stop them from saying that the white women are easy, even if they’ve never really been able to score with one. And they feel jealous of a guy who is dating a white girl, and raise eyebrows at a girl dating a white guy.

The Indians become more rigid and more backward when they get to a place like Australia which is laid back and easy going. True, a lot of Indians do come from small towns and cannot speak that great english. But nor do many of the Germans and French who get there. Or the Chinese. That doesn’t stop those people from interacting with the culture and adjusting to it. But we just lack the confidence to walk up to someone and speak to them, to make eye contact.

How does adjusting to a culture mean giving up what you hold special? Why do we keep harping that we are being treated unfairly when we do not step up to the plate? I have known several people who have made Australia their home and are as happy as any Australian.

Now to the Australians – yes, some of them are racist. Like the above article quotes those two parties. Those two parties represents the Australian counter parts of Shiv Sena or the RSS. If Bal Thackrey and either of those ministers got together, they’ll probably end up best friends. Those guys are voting for the ‘white guy’ and let me remind you that Australia is not about white people alone. It is not about Christians alone. Are Indians a threat to ‘white australians’ alone? What about the rest of the country? The Aboriginals, the Africans, the Chinese, the Greeks, the Italians… all those people who have made Australia their home over the years. They are as Australian as the ‘white’ guy, whoever he may be. Australia doesn’t promote one religion or one culture. So the people who say they do are racist.

And such people exist everywhere. People who beat up others because they belong to a different caste/sect/religion or even sex. Can we honestly say that doesn’t happen in India? And it is equally maddening when it happens here. Why should I forgive the Shiv Sena for advocating the ‘Only Marathi’ thing in Bombay? And why I should I forgive an Australian who says it is for white people only?

Australia has a history of racism and they are learning from their mistakes. Most people are easy going and great. And there are some who will push you away because you are Indian, Chinese or African or even French or German. Or English. Afterall, ‘pugs’ is the biggest insult you can hurl at an English guy in Australia. The Australian government needs to work to change those people (however that would be possible).

I met an Irish guy in Australia… and he told me that his boss refused to hire any Indians at all. He didn’t want to. But that doesn’t stop Indians from being everywhere. At all the 7/11s, at the restaurants, the fuel stations, behind the grocery counter. Yeah some of them work illegally and earn too much money. And they spend that on ipods, laptops, fancy phones and such. We do love our gadgets. And that does mark us as good targets for muggers. The Chinese and Japanese held that distinction for a while.

It is perhaps the way a culture grows. You’ll have to ask an anthropologist for that.

But the fact is both cultures need some adjustments. India needs to stop hyperventilating and Australia needs to stop treating this so casually.

And I really wish Indian guys started having a little more respect for women, anywhere in the world. Stop taking pictures of women in skirts and shorts. Yes everyone else does it but most other guys understand a ‘no’ a little easier than Indian guys. Stop thinking that a woman living alone, wearing skirts, drinking and having a mind of their own were ‘easy’.

Maybe getting the woodstock back would be some sort of a buffer to all this hatred.

Song of the day: Bob Marley – One Love

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