Racism: A Political or Individual Choice?

Racism against Indians has been a much talked about topic in recent times. Our fellow countrymen who have left their homes in search of a better life abroad are under a constant threat of racial violence. Racism against Indians in Australia has made headlines not only across the country but internationally as well. It has become a major concern for the Indian government especially when the attacks began to be directed on Indian students. The matter seemed to be wrapped up for a while and now again Indian students abroad are again under threat with the killing of Adarsh John in Texas,U.S.

The harassments against Indians around Australia, some of which have led to deaths, have caused a huge out roar amongst the Indian community there. Yadu Singh, cardiologist who heads the Indian Student Welfare Committee in Australia, estimated that there were at least a hundred student attacks in the year 2009. From the 7th to the 10th of June, 2009, hundreds of students and supporters gathered in Sydney CBD and Harris Park to protest against this unfair treatment towards them.

According to police reports the protest was a reaction to an attack on Indians by Lebanese men earlier that evening. In retaliation the protesters attacked innocent Lebanese men and this is believed to be the first violent reaction by Indian students against the violence they were subjected to. In India, rallies and demonstrations have also been conducted by students, political parties and NGOs with regards to this matter. As expressed by numerous students, this reckless violence against Indian students no longer makes Australia a safe place for Indian students.

Our government has also tried to make matters better by appealing to the Australian government to look into this matter which is of immediate political importance. India’s High Commissioner, Sujatha Singh met with Victoria State Premier, John Brumby, in Melbourne on the May 31, to express the Indian government’s concerns regarding the violence. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed similar concerns to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on the June 1, 2009.

Recently, in the U.S. Telegu student Adarsh John, studying in the Texas University, was found murdered by unidentified people on the 12th of this month. Reasons for his death are still not known. Similar incidents have been recorded in the United States. To cut a long story short, Indian students no longer seem to be safe anywhere.

Racism is nothing new. World history is a constant reminder that it is one of the greatest evils of mankind which has hindered human relations since time immemorial. Looking back, Africa has been the biggest victim of racism. The apartheid government in Africa can be seen as the greatest violation of human rights and indeed the Africans have paid dearly for their rights and freedom. Yet this lesson in history still does not seem to teach us anything till date.

Racism is still practiced everywhere, though it would be wrong to say that everyone practices racism. It is only because of those few who are bitter towards the ‘other’ (one who is not like them) that the whole nation is branded as racists. They envy the success that these people, who are not part of their society, are achieving in their own country. This leads to anger and anger leads to violence. It is only a matter of the skin colour that sets the discrimination to motion. Sadly though, we still do not realize that we are actually not that different except for our physical assets.

The question now is how will Indians ensure their safety outside their own country? Indeed there is no complete solution for this problem faced. Safety measures have been undertaken by the authorities on both sides yet complete security is impossible. It would be advisable if precautions are taken by individuals who are targets themselves. Staying out of trouble, including staying in safer areas, not getting involved in disputes, keeping check on one’s own mannerisms and so on would be helpful for their safety.

It is also important for us o also face the fact that even amongst ourselves, we, Indians also practice a level of racism to those who belong to other ethnic and cultural groups. If we are victims of racism outside our own country we should also make sure that we learn the lesson of not committing the same mistake. Perhaps the best solution is to set an example. Violent reactions will not lead us anywhere. It will only make matters worse. Peaceful individual negotiations amongst the parties involved and a friendly atmosphere may help us more than political interference of our governments.

Badakynti Nylla Iangngap