Friday, June 12, 2009

Curry bashing: A view from Down Under

I am reproducing below a comment on my post Australia: Curry bashing and ‘convict stains’ received from Mr. A. Antony, an Indian who has been living in Australia for 15 years. My response to what he has written is also given.

“Many of the 'convicts' who were sent to Australia had only committed minor offences like petty thefts. Contrary to the belief of those outside, Australians are actually proud of their convict heritage. It has paved the way for an egalitarian culture. This pride is sort like the Syrian Christians in Kerala taking pride in being the descendants of Nampoothiris or Arab/Jews). This sense of egalitarianism is often reflected in the Aussie trait of "irreverence". To put it simply, Australians do not show respect on the basis of social hierarchies or on the basis wealth. This has been often perceived by outsiders as boorishness or lack of culture.

Now going back to the attack on Indian students in Melbourne - I do not think that the attacks were in general racially motivated. Most of the Indian students take up part-time work and often travel at odd hours thus making them vulnerable to such attacks. Now I am astounded by the storm kicked up by the Indian media and the wild allegations of racism. White Australians are implicitly accused but the footages from surveillance cameras show a mixture of Whites, Asians and those from other cultures as culprits. I would say that there is an element of racism in every society including India, Europe or Australia. But as an Indian Australian living in Sydney for the past 15 years I can vouch that the racism in Australia is certainly less than that in Europe or in India.

BJP activists burned an effigy of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Mumbai and for me this is an extremely offensive activity. Remember, this was not carried out by some extreme fringe organisation but by the main opposition party that was in power a few years before. Now let us reverse the scenario. If the effigy of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were burned by some fringe lunatics in Australia, let alone by the activists of a main political party, all hell would have been let loose.

As for the quality of education, most of the Indian students go to Australia not because of the dearth of high quality educational institutions in India. They do so for two reasons, either to get a better opportunity to immigrate to Australia or since Australian educational experience in valued by many companies in India or elsewhere. The first reason is ok but the second reason is unfortunate since the standard of a university degree in India is the same as that in any other developed country. Also at the very high level there are many Indian institutions which are comparable with the best in the world. My only complaint about these organisations is that sometimes they tend to look down upon their brethren in the less affluent universities.”

Here are my comments on Mr. Antony’s views:

1. In my post I did not say that that all the convicts shipped out from GB had committed serious crimes. The point is that Australia was considered to be the Penal Colony. The phrases ‘Convict Stain’ and ‘debris of British convictism’ are part of history and not my creation.

2. What is important is that the curry bashing, whether for racist factors or for criminal purposes, continues. The police have not been effective. It could be due to inadequacy of law and that is why the Victoria Government is considering amendments.

3. I should think that burning effigies is quite common in India across party lines.

4. Perhaps the Indian media is creating too much of a hype. But, if a few Australians were being beaten up in India on a continuous basis, what would be the reaction in that country?

5. Some reports say that the recruiting agents for Australian Universities are now offering more soap to prospective students from India.

6. India cannot permit its citizens from being ill-treated in other countries. The Australian Government has to take effective steps to stop curry bashing.


1 comment:

A Antony said...

Just a note further to my comments on Aussie culture. The antics of some of the Aussie cricketers do not represent Australian culture.
People in general don't like sledging. Neither do the drunken behaviour among the cricket crowd. Also the crowds at contact sports are more representative of the Australian sporting public. Suffices to say, "Cricket is a gentleman's game played by hooligans. Rugby is hooligan's game played by gentlemen". There is an addendum though - "Football (Aussie
Rules/Rugby League varieties) is hooligan's game played by hooligans" Ha Ha LOL. Nevertheless the Football crowds are a decent lot and represent the Aussie family culture.