Even as I watched the Indian-Pakistan encounter in WC Semi-finals, Times Now kept flashing the breaking news that WIKILEAKS CONFIRMS THAT RACISM WAS BEHIND ATTACKS ON INDIAN STUDENTS IN AUSTRALIA. It did disturb me a bit but I had an urge to cross check the cables myself. Khoda Pahar and Nikli Chuhiya. What turned out to be was more noise and less substance. The cables are saying nothing new:
The Australian High Commissioner to India is quoted to have said that “race may have been a motivating factor in SOME attacks” (which he openly stated as his position even at that time and there is nothing new),
Let me quote the DNA newspaper that picked parts of the report only to claim that “Wikileaks cables seek to tear Austalia’s race mask” :
US officials noted, often with amusement betrayed by colourful headlines, how Australia was forced to engage in “band aid” diplomacy to save its education industry — its third-biggest foreign exchange earner.
Melbourne consulate of the US sought explanation of the attacks from Birrell. “Dr Birrell believes racism has indeed fueled the student violence issue,” a cable from the consulate in February last year said.
Birrel explained how lack of affordable housing pushed Indian students to farther-flung suburbs with high concentrations of immigrants fromSomalia and Vietnam.
“While solid data is hard to come by, Birrell points out that perpetrators of many of these crimes are not white Australians, but other first- or second-generation immigrants from these ‘tougher’ countries,” the cable signed by US’ Melbourne consul general Michael Thurston said.
It also described some plain speaking by Indian consul general in Melbourne Anita Nayar, who said she was beginning to look over her shoulders while walking around the city’s central business district.
Is there anything new here… And is it backing the headline of the article?
The “pick and choose” “selective cut and paste” job is the concern. Let me also share that the wikileaks cables also indicate that the Indian Consul General IN Melbourne, our very own Anita Nayar, also laid the blame on the mischievous reporting on part of Indian media and this bit is not quoted in the DNA article.
Cables quote the US Consulate: Ms. Nayyar was more candid with her views on the Indian media and the coverage of the issue. She told U.S. diplomats that “a visiting contingent of Indian journalists had already written their headline story, ‘why they hate us,’ even before landing in Melbourne for a week-long tour. She went on to say that the Indian press was still enamoured with this story and has paid interviewees well for their stories of woe.”
LET ME SHARE THE FULL DETAILS AND THE LINKS TO THE WIKILEAKS CABLES HERE AND YOU CAN MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND. I BEG TO DIFFER WITH TIMES NOW AGAIN WHEN THEY CLAIM THAT “AUSTRALIA LIED TO INDIA”. THEY DIDNOT AND THERE IS NOTHING NEW IN THESE CABLES. DIG MY BLOGS OF THAT DATE AND IT IS ALL IN PUBLIC DOMAIN.
Published: March 30, 2011 02:00 IST | Updated: March 30, 2011 18:52 IST
Australian diplomats saw attacks on students as racially driven
PTI The fallout of the attacks against the Indian students in Australia was not limited to the student community, says a U.S. Embassy cable.
Even as Australian Ministers, politicians and officials were taking the position in public that there was no racial motivation behind the spate of attacks on Indian students in Australia, chiefly in and around Melbourne in the State of Victoria, Australian diplomats were quietly acknowledging to their U.S. counterparts that it was indeed a likely factor. Also, the Australian government’s efforts, in their opinion, had only a limited impact on cooling tempers (230335: confidential, October 20, 2009).
The cables were accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks.
The number of Indian students enrolling in Australian universities had steadily grown over the past decade. In 2009, according to international student enrolment data in Australia, about 120,000 Indians had enrolled as full fee-paying international students, making Australia the second most popular educational destination for them after the United States. However, the situation abruptly changed in 2010, when incidents of attacks on Indian students, which had rapidly increased since 2008, reached a crisis point.
A cable sent from the U.S. Embassy in Canberra on January 7, 2010 (242815: confidential), five days after Nitin Garg, a 21-year-old Indian student, was stabbed to death in Melbourne, observed that Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard (she is now the Prime Minister), while condemning the murder, “stopped short of apologizing or referring to racial motivations.” Opposition leader Tony Abbott, the same cable pointed out, had also rejected any such suggestion. However, Peter Varghese, the Indian-origin Australian High Commissioner to New Delhi, seemed to think otherwise. He acknowledged that race “was likely a motivating factor is some attacks.”
The fallout of these attacks was not limited to the student community. “Former Australian Consul General to Mumbai and prominent Melbourne businessman, Shabbir Wahid, noted that concern over the issue was beginning to reach Melbourne’s older and better established Indian communities, with some saying that they are reevaluating their long term plans to stay in Australia.”
To Anita Nayyar, the Indian Consul General in Melbourne, the fear of an attack was a personal one.
She confessed that she now “looks over (her) shoulder” while walking around Melbourne’s central business district” (248490: confidential, February 12, 2010).
To the Australian government, the worry was two-fold. It had to redeem its battered reputation and image. The loss of revenue on account of fewer international students choosing the country as their destination was the other concern.
Higher education was then Australia’s third largest export-earner, behind coal and iron ore, and for the State of Victoria it was the single largest item. In 2010, a U.S. Embassy cable from Canberra (242815: confidential, January 7) noted that Australia’s Tourism Forecasting Committee had estimated that the number of students enrolling in Australian universities would come down by 20 per cent compared to the 2009 figures. And this would amount to a loss of $70 million in revenue.
A U.S. Embassy cable (248490: confidential, February 12, 2010), in an interestingly titled section “Press Wranglers Wanted,” noted, citing observers, that the “Victorian government has completely failed to manage the press on this issue” and that “sensationalist press accounts are exacerbating what would have otherwise been a very manageable issue.”
Ms. Nayyar was more candid with her views on the Indian media and the coverage of the issue. She told U.S. diplomats that “a visiting contingent of Indian journalists had already written their headline story, ‘why they hate us,’ even before landing in Melbourne for a week-long tour. She went on to say that the Indian press was still enamoured with this story and has paid interviewees well for their stories of woe.”
The cable noted that matters were only made worse by unfortunate public comments including one by Victoria’s police chief, Simon Overlander, that “the streets of Melbourne are safer than those in India.”
(This article is a part of the series “The India Cables” based on the US diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu via Wikileaks.)
MY REQUEST TO MEDIA IS TO UNDERSTAND THE CANDID REMARKS OF THE PAKISTANI CRICKET CAPTAIN AT THE PRE-MATCH PRESS CONFERENCE WHERE AFRIDI HAD POINTED OUT THAT THE SENSATIONALIZING ON PART OF MEDIA IS THE CAUSE OF ANIMOSITY BETWEEN FRIENDLY NATIONS. IF THE ENGLISH MEDIA IS HAVING DIFFICULTY IN UNDERSTANDING AFRIDI’S ENGLISH, HE WILL HAPPILY TRANSLATE IT INTO URDU OR EVEN HINDI… VIDEO FOOTAGE IS ALSO AVAILABLE!!!