With each passing day, I am getting increased contacts from several of you wanting to know as to what is my personal take on the current Australian situation. After having been closely associated with Australia ever since I first travelled to this land in 1990 and thereafter have been holding the Oz flag in Eastern India ever since. The land continues to excite me and led to my embracing the residency in true belief that it is a multiracial nation. Even recently, it has played host to my sister and brother in law(wife’s brother) in their education and employment endeavors.
The article in today’s The Age by Sushi Das makes a very good read. Possibly the first balanced article where the journalist is not taking any side to an extent that the tone is pendulous from one side to another. Shashi Tharoor is fantastic in his summary. See the link.
Times Now is becoming my favorite(!!!) channel and certainly succeeds to activate my imagination. Last night, there were two improvements in the discussion. The anchor referred to 400 attacks on Indians in Australia during last year which is an improvement from their earlier claims of 1500 attacks. Secondly, one of the presenters in his comments did try to state that perception is important and the perception is that the attacks were racially motivated. He also indicated that possibly not all attacks are the same. Though the tone didnot change, this same individual in previous appearances had always been outright in statements that bordered on preset bias. The anchor continues to take sides and this is totally unacceptable for an anchor.
I donot defend the genuinely occurred “attacks” and this needs to be addressed. Nor do I think that the answer to this is simple and the solution a quick-fix. Australia too has learnt several lessons. Vast majority of Australians remain completely disturbed seeing the image of Australia taking a dip in the biggest democracy of the world. The freedom of Indian Media is a lesson for many too. Unlike China, which can so easily gag Google, India, if it wants, cannot gag even the mis-informed anchors on some of its channels. To an extent what they utter becomes the truth. If I try and tell someone that there were only 100 reported attacks on Indians, Indian Government will agree but not the public because they have been fed with the incorrect information that there were 1500 attacks on Indians. Similarly, now even the honourable ministers in several states and industrialists believe that the dead in Australia were Indian students. The fact that all the three reported dead were NOT students and that two of the three may even have been killed by Indians do-not mean much. One TV presenter refuses to believe that attackers can even be non-white.
The fire at the Gurudwara property is totally unacceptable in any society and has possibility of igniting passions. Master Darshan Singh who heads the Gurudwara Committee and his team are sensible people and will not make any loose comments. I met them a few months ago and had the delight of participating in the Langar at the Blackburn Gurudwara. Harvin Dhillon who is a counsellor and from the Sikh community and his wife (who belongs to the first family of Indian migrants) were extremely impressive and the journalists who accompanied me were equally amazed at the community-link programs that they conducted. If we look at the comment of Master Darshan Singh where even after this fire states that he doesnot believe that previous attacks are always racist and hence now when he is certain that this particular fire is with mischivous intent, I have to but believe him. The article from the PTI report in The Telegraph of today is also without any packaging and assuming it to be Natasha’s submission, I accept without any doubt. May sense prevail even right now and the Sikh community leaders donot allow their emotions to be swayed.
In this current situation, I take solace in the comment from our own AR Rahman:
“First of all we need more responsible media. Media is a great tool but it can also be misused and provoke people. Just one piece of wrong news can kill a thousand people. That happened in the past and we have to be extremely careful and strict about the truth. I think, I was speaking to a lot of people, they were saying that some of them are racial and some of them are not, but everything is being painted in the same colour and we have to be very careful about that”
— Music Composer, A R Rahman
Friends, Australian Education brand has been strengthened in our markets by us and we take pride in it. We remain concerned when the right is replaced with wrong. However, we remain hopeful and will remain hopeful.
India, I am confident, has a major role to play in Australia. A few years ago, when I visited Melbourne during the Commonwealth Games to make a presentation, I was truly impressed by the Mayor of the City of Melbourne, a gentleman by the name of John So, from the Australian Chinese Community. He impressed all with his efficient handling of the Commonwealth Games and to me more importantly by the fact that he was popular across all communities. When will and Indian Australia emerge at the same level or higher. Six months ago, when I had chance to interact with leading businessmen and Indian community leaders, I kept looking for the Indian John So. Unfortunately the bickering between the various factions of the Indian community was so disappointing that it reminded me about a “monkey story” where one money pulls down the others. Meeting the Indian (Indian Origin) City Counselors like Tim Singh and Harvin Dhillon was a delight and let me still have hope. Its time that Indian Community donot only work over Indian issues but need to embrace their new Australian identity. Unless that happens, it will remain very difficult. To me honestly, the current Australian High Commissioner in India, Hon Peter Verghese, is the perfect example of the Indian and Australian identities residing side by side in someone who has chosen to settle in Australia. One cannot live in a Little India within Australia.
There is now a need for sensible minds to sit together. The Indian TV audience is getting “less excited” with the “breaking news” and sensible senior journalists have started questioning the role the TV is playing in the process. Still none of the Indian newspapers have a bureau in Australia. Someone needs to facilitate this and take this forward.
Global Reach will continue to champion this direction and will bring all like minded together. Ham Honge Kamyab.