Manipal, India - At least 12 Indian students have been attacked in Australia in half that many weeks. This has put at risk not only the country’s multibillion-dollar education industry, but also Australia's image as a tolerant and inclusive country.
The Victorian police have deliberately refrained from releasing details of the attackers, but the odds are that most of the attacks were carried out by youths of Eastern European background. Given the post-war economic chaos and political stunting in these states, the only "distinction" that migrants from such countries have clung to has been their absence of tanned skin.
Many migrants from Eastern Europe to North America and Australia are horrified at the increasing number of immigrants with duskier complexions than theirs. This sentiment was personally witnessed by this columnist during a visit to the United States in 1992, when a group of Eastern European migrants expressed their shock at the number of non-whites admitted to a country they had been taught to regard as a white bastion. These individuals were clear that such migration ought to be banned forthwith.
The same sentiment was expressed this year by those who attacked Indians for being different from Australians. The attackers seemed to be unaware that Australia is almost entirely a country of migrants, albeit mostly from Europe until Fortress White Australia began to be dismantled during the 1980s – almost entirely by white liberals in that country
Although professing to be a liberal, Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has never concealed his subliminal contempt for India, a country which he equates with Pakistan and similar powers, rather than one that is at least the equal of France and the United Kingdom. Like fellow "liberals" in the United States, such as Hillary Clinton, Rudd has been an aggressive backer of sanctions against India, and of dismantling the world's largest democracy's tiny stock of nuclear weapons, intended as a deterrent to nearby nuclear-armed powers.
Even after the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group permitted near-normal nuclear trade with India, Rudd has been adamant that not an ounce of Australian uranium will be shipped to India. This stance is at variance with the extreme generosity his government has shown to China.
It was therefore to be expected that Rudd would immediately adopt a posture of denial toward the racism that motivated the attacks, which have shocked the 97,000 Indian students in Australia.
At least one apologist for the attackers claimed that the students brought it on themselves "because they flashed their IPods." This is surely an interesting explanation for the motivation behind a hate crime.
Although this columnist has no direct knowledge of Rudd's country, the odds are that Indian students are not the only ones using IPods
Although regarded at present as a European hero, ultimately former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl may earn a place in history as the statesperson who began the long, painful decline of European competitiveness. His generosity toward East Germany when the two countries united proved too much even for his wealthy country.
Subsequently, the pell-mell expansion of the European Union to include most of the countries of Eastern Europe – long before adequate social and economic changes took place – has resulted in the reality that the post-integration generation in Western Europe is the only one in hundreds of years to be witnessing a fall in the standards of living.
The implicitly racist approach of the European Union – exemplified in its “Europe first and last” policy – sits uneasily with a world in which the country with the largest white population has elected an African-American as its president. Many Europeans are openly dismissive of the United States, rather than accepting the fact that it is far, far easier for a non-white to reach the top in that country than in any part of "liberal" Europe.
Hopefully, Kevin Rudd will someday use his considerable intellectual gifts to come to an appreciation of what India is. For this columnist, this was brought home yet again at the reaction to the passing away on May 31 of his mother Kamala Das – who changed her name to Kamala Suraiyya after openly accepting Islam in 1999.
As anyone can see from YouTube or other pathways on the Internet, the Muslim community in Kerala opened its doors to all, allowing Amma's Hindu daughters-in-law to give her a final bath before burial and to join in the prayers at the Palayam Mosque in Trivandrum, her final resting place.
Since the funeral was conducted on June 2, mourners of different faiths – Hindus, Christians and Jews – have been visiting her grave at the mosque. The welcome they have received is testimony to the reality that India exemplifies the harmony of civilizations, rather than a clash. India and the West need to understand that they have a common destiny – something made more difficult by "liberals" such as Kevin Rudd.
-(Professor M.D. Nalapat is vice-chair of the Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair, and professor of geopolitics at Manipal University. ©Copyright M.D. Nalapat.)