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'Indian students are soft targets'

Last updated on: May 29, 2009 19:00 IST

We invited Get Ahead readers to share tips on How not to be attacked in Australia. Here we present another set of responses from readers who have lived in Australia.


Bhavik Bhatt

I have been staying in Melbourne, Australia since the last few years and have understood the culture of the people in this country and also their lifestyle.

Kindly read the following carefully before making judgements about racism and attacks:

Drugs and alcohol are easily available anywhere to anyone in this country which makes it pretty simple that anyone under the effect of drugs/ alcohol to behave in a violent or unpredictable way.

Indians tend to work when everybody is enjoying themselves because of the money factor. While students of other nationalities also come to Australia, its the Indians who work on weekends and at night to earn dollars for their fees -- when such incidents happen. The biggest problem I see here is the expectations the parents have from their children to send them money from Australia to support them and also support themselves in this country. This makes them work at unusual times mostly driving taxis which is quick money leading to such incidents at midnight.

Australian youngsters like to party a lot. Moreover there are not enough restrictions on them, except for the police just giving them warnings for misbehaviour.

A lot of youngsters do not carry enough cash for alcohol and cigarettes which makes them ask for such things from local people. Refusing them leads to violence.

The above are some of the reasons why Indians get attacked by other people. Please note that there is no such thing like Australians. Australia does not have its own origin and most of the people in this country are migrants in some or the other way. The only local people which can be defined as Australians are the aboriginal people.

The biggest problem faced by Indians so far is the fear of not getting permanent residency. This is the reason why victims do not report to the police the violence they face. They fear that getting involved in such matters may lead to a police case which might affect thier chances of getting permanent residence.

I would request the all the parents of students studying in Australia to make sure their children are not under stress of getting permanent residencies. Always remember that getting residency is not more important than losing your life.

Also please make sure you don't keep on asking them to send you money. This makes them earn under pressure.

A few tips for Indians as well regarding how to behave when they are in a foreign country:

  • Avoid speaking in foreign language in public places. This annoys the English-speaking people and leads to a negative impression about Indian mentality and culture
  • Try to use 'please' and 'thank you' frequently
  • Be polite while asking for something
  • Avoid speaking loudly
  • Do not react to negative comments
  • Stay away from mobs and crowds of youngsters
  • Travel in cars and do not visit pubs and night clubs

I pray for all those fellow Indian students who have been injured.


Sandeep Kumar

I lived in Australia for more than four years. Right now I have come to India to spend some quality time with my parents.

I will tell you some of the basics things that Indians should avoid when they come to Australia.

  • Always have a friendly attitude with everyone (specially the new students, they are very shy when it comes to talking to people).
  • Always maintain eye contact with a smile.
  • Always greet people (saying 'Good morning' or 'Hello, how are you doing today?')
  • Never ever talk in Hindi or other languages when you are standing next to Aussies. This is a very big humiliating thing to those people. Always talk in English.

It is not that easy for new students to get used to life in Australia. Please take suggestions from seniors in your universities.


Ashwin Nallari

First let us understand why these incidents are happenning and then we can think of plans of avoiding them. My opinion is that these attacks are happenning because of the frustration that their jobs are being taken away by way of outsourcing and We Indians form a strong close-knit group wherever we land. Their educational chances, scholarships etc are being taken away by brilliant students from India apart from that we are also multi-taskers. We pose more of a threat than Chinese students because of our strong English skills which is why Chinese students are not targetted. Now the action plan is:

1. Ministry of external affairs needs to send a strong message to their Australian counterpart that they will withdraw all Indian students from Australian universities if immediate action is not taken and no further students will be sent to Australia. If students do decide to go they go they will go on their personal risk and the Indian Government will not come to their rescue.

2. Deccan Chargers Captain Adam Gilchrist, Symonds, etc all Australian cricketers who have played in IPL have enjoyed the Indian hospitality and they have to endorse the Anti Racial Attack Campaign and should promote brotherhood between Indians and Aussies by way of friendly cricket match and donate the funds to the students who have sufferred in these attacks.

3. Give the attackers a bunch of flowers and ask them to get well soon. This should be started by all Indian Students in Australia. Gandhigiri Zindabad!


Hemant Rathod

The question is not "How to avoid attacks", the question is "How serious Aussie Govt is about saving this $20 million industry".

Today only Indian students are the victims in these incidents, why is this not happening to any Middle Eastern student or any African refugee? It's because these cowards know that we are soft targets. When something like this happens, the community doesn't protest. We just tell students how to avoid these kinds of situations.

The truth is India contributes over $20 million every year to the Australian education industry through these international students. But they don't even bother to show these attacks in the news.

Some tips:

1) Whenever you call 000 make sure you ask the operator about the call reference number and if possible inform him that you are recording this call so at least that operator knows that this call is going to make a difference.

2) We need the Indian government to tell Australian authorities that this is a valuable industry and it's their responsibility to protect these students. India is the 12th Largest Economy while Australia is 3 places behind. We don't need them, they need us and if we don't make them realise this fact nothing is going to happen.

Don't act as an individual, stick together for our people. If someone does not have a strong voice become his/her voice. I have been in this country from last seven years and I agree with some changes in habits but it needs to be reasonable at some level as well.

it is ridiculous that we are discussing how to avoid attacks and not addressing how much the Aussie government is doing about the safety of students. Imagine police saying the same thing about security -- that you have to look after your own security, the police can't protect each and everyone -- to any Middle Eastern guy. They won't dare, because they think the situation is totally different.

A few years back we had these riots between Lebanese youths and Aussie youths and these culprits from the Aussie side caught two Bengali students and beat them really bad. Those poor students had nothing to do with the riots but they became unfortunate targets.

The Indian Government should start a unit which will look after the welfare of overseas students. Even Australian media draws India as a third world country. If you think just by running you can avoid these attacks then days are not so far when you won't be safe in your own home. And if I am not wrong, it did happen when an Andhra student was robbed by some rednecks.

What are you suggesting is that these students should give up their nightlife, their freedom and dreams to just avoid some impotent community? When you travel overseas you always dream that you will enjoy the nightlife and will visit clubs and pubs and now people are suggesting that they should leave nightclubs after 11 pm.

We are from the land of Mahatma Gandhi who fought for our rights and truth. So we will do the same thing, we will fight for our rights. We pay higher fees than anyone else and don't receive any benefits from the government. We are not doing charity, we give them business which makes their economy strong. Someone suggested that students not try to be heroes but I say if you can't fight for your rights then you are not safe in your own country.

I had an incident during my corporate induction when someone made a comment about India and a few people laughed , I protested and left the induction and it was reported to higher management and I was told to apologise for my actions and I refused and told them that without any proper knowledge you have no right to make any stupid comment and mentioned the whole situation and I received personal apology from the department.

So my friends you are fortunate that you are overseas and in indirect ways you represent India, so be strong and fight for your rights. If you can't just raise your voice, approach the media. There are programmes like Today Tonight where you can send your complaints about your experience and show it to the world, and believe me it won't happen again.


If you have studied in Australia and have tips to share with other readers on how to avoid being attacked, please do e-mail us at getahead@rediff.co.in with the subject line Avoiding racial attacks. Your name and identity will not be disclosed unless you want it to be revealed.'