BRITISH MEDIA INFORMS: Anuj had originally wanted to study in Australia but Subhash persuaded him not to because he was worried about a spate of racist attacks on Indians in 2009.
BBC adds: Anuj Bidve could have gone to a US or Australian university to fulfil his dream of pioneering new micro-electronics technology. But his parents sent their only son to the UK because they thought “he’d be safer there”.
The point that I am making is NOT that UK is as racist as Australia supposedly is or that US is equally unsafe. But that any place in the world can be safe or unsafe and this includes our own cities in India. Just like our own neighborhood in India, we need to exercise caution and alertness in all large cities. Avoid certain areas after dark and also remember that there will always be some people, even though very few in numbers, who are racist or have a distaste for foreigners. This is a reality and possibly a reality alike how some feel in different parts of India for others from other parts of India who land up in their cities for the jobs. However, this is indeed a very small number and our interaction with such can be prevented if we avoid certain areas at certain hours. Don’t we advise our close ones to avoid certain areas of our own towns in India at certain hours? I am sure we do that.
There are several useful weblinks that give tips on how to carry ourselves out while being an overseas student in a foreign land. Most education counselors (of repute) do conduct pre-departure briefings for their students. I am providing some excerpts from Vancouver Police site, which gives some safety tips… (Knowing that several of this blog readers are students…)
On the Street
Be alert. Walk with confidence. Walk with your head up. Be aware of who is and what is around you, and be careful when someone approaches you with a simple question. Leave strange or uncomfortable situations. Trust your instincts. Always tell your roommate or host family where you are going and when you will be back.
- before going out ask advice for the best routes to events, restaurants or shopping
- change direction if you feel you are being followed; go to the nearest store, restaurant, or pay phone
- do not carry large amounts of money (cash), and do not show money in public; use bank / debit cards instead
- never share your PIN number or let others see it
- keep your passport in a safe place at home; instead carry a photocopy of your passport and other ID
- don’t go out alone or accept rides with strangers; do not hitchhike
- don’t use headphones when walking / jogging; they make it difficult to hear an approaching car or stranger
- don’t carry weapons; they are illegal and can be used against you
- don’t argue or fight if robbed – yell loudly
- fight back to protect yourself if you are attacked; try to stop or distract the attacker so that you can escape and call 911
Out at Night
At night, walk on well-lit, busy streets. Try to be with someone. Walk in the middle of the sidewalk. Avoid isolated areas such as parks where there are no other people around. Carry a whistle or other personal safety device. Scream or yell loudly if attacked.