However, the hype that Indian media created over all of this was extremely annoying. It is funny when newspaper people are ready with editorials like "Australia-paradise lost?" in less than twenty four hours after the reports. More hilarious are the opinions expressed under them!
I read one such reply to an edit page in some newspaper where the commentator called himself an "ex-Indian" and criticised the 'disgusting' behaviour of Indian immigrants in Australia.
Why are Indians being attacked in Australia?
This question has a lot of words missing. Let me put it in all its perspectives.
Why are Indian males being attacked in Australia?
Why are North Indian males being attacked in Australia?
Why are North Indian males being attacked in Melbourne?
Why are North Indian males travelling late at night being attacked?
Why are North Indian males travelling late being attacked on train stations in Australia?
Let me answer these questions in the reverse order now.
Train stations are not the safest places in Australia. Or anywhere in any big city in the world. Even Australians do not travel late at night. The average Aussie who depends on public transport gets home well before six in the evening. They follow a European work routine from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Women do not travel at night at all. The only people you find on the train after six is students working part time or just gallivanting around the place!
The most recent attack happened at 1:20 AM on a Sunday night. Australia is a weekend to weekend culture. Most of the nocturnal attackers on weekends belong to the group that believes in drinking themselves to oblivion starting Friday night and then going on until Monday morning. Unlike in India where the younger generation does not give in to these kind of temptations in their teens, it is very common in Australia. So on weekends, especially late at nights the trains are full of people who have no money and want more alcohol. So anyone who gets off the train and looks like they might have money is an easy target irrespective of where they come from.
Although Melbourne is a one of the most culturally diverse cities of Australia it is also known for its hippie and junkie population. To an average Indian sitting in India watching "Aaj Tak" this detail is almost never conveyed. Trying to expect cultural compassion from someone who is just looking for his next joint of Marijuana is going a bit far ahead in my opinion. So the easiest way of not getting attacked is not travel at two in the morning when you know you do not live in a safe neighbourhood.
I do not know what it is with North Indians and fearlessness but here whenever I am stuck in the lab late and returning home, it is like travelling on a train in Punjab. My own Punjabi neighbours often return home at 2 in the morning (with their cellphones singing loud Punjabi songs much to our annoyance). Maybe it is safe to travel at night in North India (which I still doubt considering that no one travels after eight at night in Delhi) but anywhere in the world be it New York, Mumbai, Delhi, Sydney, London or Melbourne, travelling at that hour is making yourself vulnerable.
The last question has a simple answer. Women (of any nationality) seldom travel that late or alone. Even before all this hype began, I resheduled all my experiments in a way that I can be out of the lab while it is still light outside. As winter set it, I changed my summer schedule from 8 AM-7PM to 7 AM through 5 PM and this was not because I am an Indian living in Australia!
I do not deny that racism could be a part of these attacks but it is not fair to take that one point and advertise it all over a nation of 1 billion people. There are a lot of other factors that contribute to these kind of attacks and mostly it is being at the wrong place at a wrong time. Moreover, when someone is beating you up at two in the morning for not having money they could steal, you cannot control what kind of (racist) foul language they use. I am pretty sure they have special swear words for white people too!
It has caused a lot of anxiety to people who have their children studying in Australia and it also gives a wrong message to the world.
Throughout my stay in Australia I have met a lot of full-blooded Australians who not only accept Indian people but also appreciate Indian culture. I have met Australians who have spent years learning Yogasanas in Pune and know the Bhagwat Geeta much better than I do. I have met strangers on trains who have made it a point to stay in the same compartment as me just to protect me from other 'suspicious' looking people. I have met Australian bus drivers who got out of the bus just to check if I am getting down on the right stop because it was late in the evening.
Just a couple of days ago, in the wake of these attacks as my flatmate Riju went to get a takeaway dinner, an Australian came up to her and apologised for the problem and even offered to buy her dinner as a gesture!
In a steak loving nation, "vegetarian" Aussies may be in the minority, but so are the thugs!
If I ever fall prey to racism myself, in a situation that can have no other intention, I will fight it with all my strength. However, labelling something that could have a lot of other motivations as Racism is just creating more of it.