Even BBC gets is wrong!!!
I have grown up in a media-savvy family and we have owned publications. We would often read a variety of newspapers and magazines and my earlier memory of the mid 70s is of a largish Murphy radio which my father used to connect using a fairly large web-like antennae which would allow him to reconfirm the rumours through listening to VOA or BBC during the period of Emergency in India. This Murphy radio did not only occupy a centre-place in our drawing room but a centre-place in our minds.
This was exactly with the same respect towards BBC, I tuned on to the India Business Report yesterday when my father messaged that it is going to be carrying the Australian Attack issue. An extremely high expectation is probably what has got me to write this piece. At my generous best and still influenced by my age-old bias for the BBC World Service, I can only call the coverage as average. It was a hurried job and though a string of reporters tied the story together, the research and authenticity-check that BBC is known for was completely absent.
BBC seems to have fallen in the same trap that led to the Indian media getting misled and referred to the unfortunate death of Nitin Garg as death of a student. The discussions were in the same sequence where the attacks on Indian students were being discussed and its impact on Indian student market.
BBC interviewed Ms Sonal Parekh as an Australian Education Agent in India and she gave some statistics for the number of applications in a year and its drop. She further indicated that the students would go to other countries. Ms Parekh or her company are not certainly a qualified spokesperson for the education agents and I can confidently say that they are not a significant education agent for Australia too. Hence the figures on the number of applications in a year and the drop cannot be relied upon. In my 19 years of working for Australian institutions I have never come across any data that give the annual figures for applications for places at Universities. The reality is that there is a drop in enquiries and the numbers are only guesstimates. The drop is higher in North India and lower in East India. The drop is higher for vocational courses but very low for University programs and the 50% drop in visas is only due to an almost complete shut down on visas for vocational programs at private colleges which earlier had the highest share of the total numbers.
BBC interviewed a FISA representative in Sydney as the only voice from Indian students in Australia. No other current students were interviewed and I am not sure if the person speaking for FISA was a student too. BBC did not even bother to find out the background on FISA and even a simple check would have revealed that it has no real memberships and many University students only got to hear of this association from the Media promotion of the same. The spokesperson for this ceased to be a student almost 8 years ago and most of the office bearers including the President are no longer students. There is no subscription fee for membership and no forms are filled and so it is unknown as to how many members it actually has. Further and more importantly, they are the ones who first carelessly used the description of the attack as “racism” while being interviewed live by an Indian TV channel. Later they changed tracks and said that not all attacks are with racist motive but it did not matter now since all had already given their verdict. A student was also interviewed that claimed to have returned due to parental pressure. However, it was not clear as to what was he studying and where.
AEI was not interviewed. AAERI was not interviewed. NONE of the Universities were interviewed and NO students were interviewed. How can BBC reporters ask questions in a suggestive manner that invited only one answer? Example of one of the questions asked on the program: “Education Agents across India state that the market in India for Australia is over… “. My question is which education agents have said this… Has AAERI President said this or any of the larger agents…
I feel so let down by BBC today. Another publication that missed out on Homework was The Telegraph. In the article Done Asunder Down Under by David McMohan (dated 17th Jan 2010 and provided on the link) they have certainly tried to balance the article well. However they have printed the attack statistics wrong. The data given by the police was not of people of Indian-Origin but of people of Indian-appearance and this was clarified by the Victorian police. This small difference can actually mean a lot. The total number of attacks reported on Indian Origin should be not more than 100-200 which though still a large number is relatively much smaller. Secondly, they have taken the spokesperson of FISA as the comment of the students but that is just not the case for reasons already listed earlier in this article. FISA is not the representative body of the University students and there is no record of any membership or subscription from the University students. Further, the quoted spokesperson has not been a student for about 8-9 years. I however compliment the author of the piece for getting the quote of FISA where they have clearly distanced away from their initial claim that Australians are Racists. Some Australians being racist donot make Australia as racist and some attacks by racists’ donot make all attacks to be due to racism. I was to repeat again and again what Gautam Gupta has been quoted as having said. Gautam had made the first “racism” comment and so when he says the following it is music indeed:
Gupta, too, stopped short of citing racism as the sole cause. “It is not possible to identify race as the motivating factor in every single assault. You can only say things like that in specifically race-related issues as took place in Rwanda,” he said.
“But in my carefully considered opinion, racism would be the cause of a significant minority of attacks on Indian students in Victoria. Indians have so much to offer this state and this country, so let’s not find ourselves in a situation like Fiji. Despite three or four centuries of significant contribution, the Indian influence there is constantly downplayed, but if things are properly handled, Indians could have a tremendous opportunity to shape the future of Australia.”
More than The Telegraph’s article, I continue to feel bitter about the incomplete homework on the part of the BBC for their Indian Business Report…