Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Australia and racism – 1 : A media blunder

About the next few posts (on this topic)…

The idea of blogging occurred to me for the first time in 2009, following the “racist attacks on Indian students” in Australia. The subject came under intense discussion on some of the Orkut ‘communities’ that I am a member of. (For those who may not know – Orkut is a social networking site!) I often posted on these communities a different viewpoint and was roundly attacked and condemned for these. The discussions went on and on in circles until I found them too repetitive. Work commitments, leading to lack of time, prevented me from starting the blog. When I did start recently, I realised that the fire generated by those episodes had died out.

Did it really die? During my recent trip to India I realised that the embers still smouldered. I once again faced questions on the topic of racism in Australia. To my utter surprise, I discovered that the idea of ‘racist’ attacks is so deep-rooted that it refuses to die. I was equally surprised to see that often the questions came from the highly educated, professional class. Indian media have truly done a great job of brainwashing – people never speak of ‘attacks on Indian students’, they speak of ‘racist / racial attacks on Indian students’. Such questions almost provoked me into writing about this issue even after two years.

My arguments were, and are, that the Indian media blew the issue out of all proportion, that the picture they created of Australia being racist and Australians being stereotyped as racist was all wrong, and most important, the media and those indulging in mudslinging did not have a faintest idea of the complexities of the situation. The last bit was further compounded by an abysmal ignorance of what Australia really is.

Before writing on the subject itself I must state that I do not believe in blind faith especially in media portrayals of events, and that I like to see in a rational manner all that is positive and negative in any situation. I am Indian-born, have lived in Australia for almost ten years and hold a dual citizenship. It is easy for me to be branded by others as an Indophobe suffering from the NRI syndrome. I just call a spade a spade. I welcome comments, but have strong distaste for emotional fireworks and abuses.

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