Many Indian parents believed the over-hyped media coverage on the Australian attacks and persuaded young students bound for “elite and safe” Universities to drop their plans over the last nine months. The fact is that some of these students were indeed NOT the “workers” going as “students” to be exposed to risky occupations such as “taxi driving” and were actually choosing serious academic courses at “secure” campuses of “elite” Universities.
I am doing this blog as an alumnus of once such University: Bond University on the Gold Coast, which clearly lives up to its reputation as a “Rolls Royce” amongst institutions. A beautiful custom built campus with students mostly staying on campus and with 24×7 security.
The tragedies that I will refer to are pertaining to students considering Bond as their study destination and will be backed by links giving the details.
Tragedy 1: Ashar Mendon
India’s most reliable TV channel, NDTV, reported on July 8, 2009 (see link):
Ashar Mendon was all set to study in Australia.
But now, the 18-year-old’s dream has died with him.
Ashar, the son of a garment exporter committed suicide by hanging himself in their flat in Colaba on Monday.
The reason: his mother scared by the racial attacks on Indians in Australia forbade him to go.
Just days ago, Ashar had got admission at the Bond University in New South Wales for an undergraduate Information Technology course.
The report does get it wrong on the location of Bond University but it is a fact that he had applied to Bond University indeed (Student ID 13089319 and for Sept 09 intake). He had also been issued an offer of admission.
Tragedy 2: Anindee Dhar (along with her brother and other friends)
Anand Bazar Patrika, on 15th Feb, reported that Anindee Dhar, a student at Pune, who died in the blast, was actually intending to study in Australia but once the media reported the attacks, the family changed the plans and she went to Pune. Due to the fact that she was in Pune, her brother who lives in Mumbai and her friend from Mumbai would travel over to Pune to meet her. They all died in the attack. What an irony indeed that in trying to escape the “reported” violence in Australia and met with death in India itself.
My gut feel is that she would have been safe and sound at the institution that she was intending to study in Australia. What a co-incidence indeed once again, the institution that she was being counseled for was Bond University, my alma mater and the course being Bachelors in Communication.
I want to share and put on record the article that has appeared in INDIA TODAY GROUP’S Mail Today newspaper, this day (see link):
KOLKATA GIRL HAD PICKED ‘ SAFER’ PUNE
HAD SHE pursued her dream of studying in Australia, 19- year- old Anindee Dhar may have been alive today.
Anindee and her brother, 24- year- old Ankik, were killed when a bomb ripped through German Bakery in Pune on Saturday.
IIT Kharagpur alumnus Ankik had come from Mumbai to celebrate his promotion at JP Morgan with his sister. The siblings were joined by friend Shilpa Goenka ( 23), who was also from Kolkata and who too was killed in the blast.
The three, along with two other friends, P. Sundari ( 23) and Binita Gadani( 22) — who were also killed in the blast — were munching on strawberry rolls when the blast snuffed out their lives.
Early last year, Anindee had approached the Salt Lake branch of Global Reach with her mother for counselling on which Australian university to apply to.
Sugata Das, the manager of counselling at the branch, remembered Anindee as a “ very lively girl”, who came in saying that she wanted to do her bachelor’s in arts Down Under.
A shocked Das said, “ She was such a good communicator that I advised her to apply for a bachelor’s in communication at Bond University, Gold Coast in Queensland, which would help her land a good job.”
Anindee’s mother, Das remembered, was very concerned about her daughter’s safety. “ I reassured her that Bond is one of the safest campuses in Australia with on- campus accommodation,” Das added.
The Dhar family was also making enquiries about sending their younger Aishik, to study in Australia once he finished school.
Anindee’s parents were in touch with Global Reach till May on Anindee’s education prospects in Australia. That’s when reports of attacks on Indian students Down Under hit the headlines.
“ These reports scared them, and they decided that they didn’t want to send Anindee to study in Australia,” Das said.
Anindee’s mother is now in a state of deep shock.
Global Reach MD Ravi Lochan Singh said the irony is that “ no student of Bond University drives taxis”, referring to the recent reports of attacks on Indian taxi drivers in Australia.
It was these attacks that had led to widespread fears of racist violence targeted against Indian students there.
Anindee, who was a photography and trekking enthusiast and a voracious reader, applied to Fergusson college in Pune, instead.
She excelled there as a student of English literature, topping her college’s internal exam.
Just a day before she died, Anindee had discussed threadbare the interpretation of death while reading Robert Frost’s poem, Stopping By Woods on A Snowy Evening in class.
It was the last poem she was destined to speak about in class.
As the one who established the Indian chapter of Bond University Alumni, I find it so unbearable to read about the two tragedies. Both these students would have done really well to proceed on to Australia for their UG degrees. Bond is the University that is chosen by several protective parents including the Sultan of Brunei for their children and there is no doubt that many other Universities would offer similar safe and secure study environment. Almost all attacks that have been reported have happened to those who have actually travelled to Australia on “student visas” though with clear intention to be “workers”. Almost all attacks have taken place in risky circumstances. And almost all the attacks have had little to do with University students. Further the recent deaths were not of students at all (Both Nitin Garg and Ranjodh were not students) and while Nitin’s killers are being hunted, Ranjodh’s killers turn out to be Indian brethren. The Racism theory stands challenged also when Jasbir was found to have engaged in self-inflicted injury in hope of “insurance claim”. Indian High Commissioner has certainly raised the need for increased security in the state of Victoria especially in certain parts of Melbourne. Both the above mentioned students would have been miles away in Gold Coast, a city that lives on tourism from all over the world. This is not to say that students in Melbourne especially at the Universities are in anyway unsafe. The University students are overall safer in Australia as compared to all other destinations and this is confirmed through various international studies and surveys including one that has been released today. FOUR Aussie cities including Melbourne and Sydney continue to be listed amongst livable cities and in top 10 worldwide while Mumbai stands at 117th rank.
Violence is unacceptable in any society but at the same time the incorrect and hyped picture of violence in Australia makes certain over-enthusiastic TV anchors and commentators unwitting accomplices in these tragedies. What is written and what is broadcasted using the LIVE medium has deep impact on the parents of these students in ways that require us to be even more responsible and careful about what we utter.
May the soul rest in peace of these young children of our country… May there be no more deaths… Will the Indian Media take some lessons?