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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 10, February 27, 2010

Australian Violence Jai Ho!

Monday 1 March 2010, by T J S George

One reason for the continuing attacks by White Australians on Brown Indians is the Australian Government’s refusal to take them seriously, let alone see racism in them. They don’t take it seriously because they don’t take India seriously. And they don’t see any racism because Australian racism is part of a rising tide of racism across the world.

The ultra-Right British National Party has been gaining ground in local and national elections. It is true that these gains have been mostly in the depressed areas of Britain, like Bradford and Essex, but gains are gains in an electoral system. After all, Britain was the home of the vicious Enoch Powell whose “rivers of blood” speech (1968) is a watershed in the history of racism. He had predicted race riots and demanded the repatriation of all immigrants.

After last year’s bailout-stimulus programmes by governments to save failing financial institutions, ultra-Right opinion won popularity in many European countries from Austria and Italy to Denmark and Poland. Radical groups with hate ideologies are still considered fringe parties, but they manage to get 30-40 per cent of the popular vote in several countries.

In the US, the ruling Democratic Party’s town meetings to discuss Obama’s bold healthcare reform were disturbed by Rightwing mobs. As one commentator put it, these mobs showed “many features of historic fascist developments on a scale as yet unseen in the US”. The fact is that Obama’s rise has brought out the ghost of America’s old White supremacists. A notorious TV personality said on Fox News that Obama was a racist “with a deepseated hatred for white people”. At a public rally organised by Rightwing extremists, Obama was described as “a bloodsucking Muslim alien”.

In such a world, perhaps there is nothing surprising if the White supremacists in Australia are riding high. What is surprising is their government’s barely concealed contempt for the Indian Government and Indian opinion. When S.M. Krishna made a typically low-key protest against the killing of an Indian student recently, an Australian Minister quickly responded by saying that Indian leaders “should not fuel hysteria”. Earlier a police flunkey said haughtily that attacks of the kind that were happening in Melbourne were no big deal because such things were happening in Delhi and Mumbai as well.

It is this attitude of the Australian authorities that is really fuelling the racist hysteria in Australia. In effect, the establishment may be encouraging the White thugs as the escalation from beatings to murder seems to suggest. And there is nobody in India to tell the Australian Ministers and police flunkeys that no Australian has been attacked in Delhi or Mumbai, let alone set on fire.

Worse, nothing has actually been done by India apart from voicing mild verbal protests. The Australian Prime Minister’s recent visit to India saw the ground being prepared for free tade agreement, banking and insurance investments and inroads into the mining sector. Did India make one move in any of these areas to show that it has cards to play tough if violence against its citizens continued in Australia? Australia showed it had cards and would play them; it said it wouldn’t budge on not supplying uranium to India, for example.

In this situation, it is a shame that A.R. Rahman not only agreed to perform in Sydney but spoke like an Australian when he said that the attacks on Indians were not racist and that Indian media should be “more responsible”. Did he have to bend that low to get his money?

Conscience has always been an elastic thing in India. It tends to do an Indian rope-trick especially when profit beckons. In the final analysis, spineless India has to blame itself if the world tends to kick it around. It is symbolic of the small slavish minds amidst us that “Jai Ho” prevails over “Jai Hind”.

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