The Paradox of Safety

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They say, ‘Every year an Australia is born in India’, i.e. the growth rate of Indian population is equivalent to the total population of Australia. Recently, Australia has become the most sought after destination for Indian students to pursue higher education. According to the 2008 census, there are 93,000 Indian students in Australia who contribute a whopping Rs. 7,500 crore to its economy.


However, in the past six months, the Indian students have not had a very agreeable time with their Australian counterparts. There have been some 60 attacks on the Indian students alone in Melbourne.


The recent and the most grotesque attack on an Indian is the stabbing of Sravan Kumar in the head in a party in Melbourne. This attack has raised questions regarding the safety of Indian students in Australia. The incident has taken a political shape involving the governments of both the countries. India has labeled it as ‘racist’ attack. BJP leader, Mr. L.K. Advani comments,’ Racism is a blot of humanity. In the past, it was a tool of colonialism and gave the rulers a false sense of supremacy over the subjugated. It is unfortunate that this accursed relic of the past has been allowed to survive in Australia’


A situation taking a political turn is always an advantage for India. It can lay blame upon the foreign governments regarding the safety of Indian students and form an image of the utmost concerned government. ‘People living in glass houses should not pelt stones’. Is India very safe for foreign students? Well it is a question often ducked away by most authorities. There have been numerous cases of foreign student abuse in India in the past and are still happening at a steady rate. The recent case of the foreigner studying in the prestigious TISS was gang raped by a group of boys.


An Anglo-Indian girl pursuing graduation from Delhi University was found murdered in her flat last year. The matter was hushed up calling it a case of suicide. There are uncountable such incidents of abuses faced by foreign students in India, either these issues are muted on a local level, or if it reaches the spotlight of the media, it is in news for some weeks and eventually dies a natural death.


The Australian government is willing to provide security to the Indian students. The Education ministry of Australia has roped in cricket player Brett Lee (who happens to be very popular in India) to ensure the students of safe studying environment. The Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has issued a public apology to the Indian community in Australia and has condemned the attacks.


The attitude of both the governments has become transparent. The Indian government seems to be resting happily when the Indian image is tainted with the allegations of sexual harassment of foreign students.


However the work of the government after the attacks is heartening for Indian students aspiring higher education in Australia. The government back home should also start a ‘no-tolerance’ campaign against foreign student abuse so that India once again becomes a hub for foreign students to explore the quality Indian education.


Garvita Khybri

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