Jun 3, 2009

To the Indian media

What happened in Melbourne and Sydney is sad but branding a whole country racist on that basis is stupid and ignorant. The average Indian has never been to Australia and does not understand how multicultural it is so I blame the media for sensationalising the issue and blowing things out of proportion. Every Indian now suddenly has a Rang De Basanti type patriotic flame burning within them without even having a proper perspective on the issue.

Racism technically doesn’t exist in India simply because the majority of our population belongs to the same race. Saying that racism doesn’t exist because Indians are better is adopting a holier-than-thou attitude Indians have no right to. Indians discriminate on the basis of caste, creed, religion, color and wealth; so to say we are not capable of racism is a blind refusal to look at reality. Simply take a look at Bollywood movies that always have something to say about the “goras”. Yes, that is racist too so it’s time we stop pointing the finger and take a look at ourselves too and yes I think history will prove, Indians are just as capable of violence over such issues.

Race and ethnicity are common topics in a country like Australia which is made of an immigrant culture. Yes some people are racist but on the whole the 20 million people of Australia live fairly peacefully and the last time I checked, there were more riots and attacks in India as a result of some sort of discrimination.

The majority of Indian students abroad are clannish and move in packs. Yes it is natural to be more comfortable with people from your own country but making friends from a different culture is the best way to start acclimatising to a new culture. Australians don’t marginalise Indians. Indians choose to stay marginalised because of their refusal to adapt to the Australian culture. “When in Rome do as the Romans do” is obviously not something most Indians have heard of. Had they heard of it, they would quickly learn that the Australian culture is often about cracking a joke on each other. If Indians put their excessive sensitivity aside and take a healthy dose of a sense of humour once in a while, they would understand that the thousands of races in Australia are often a topic for jokes too and a joke about an Australian is appreciated just as much. This is not intended to be racist and usually isn’t.

No I am not saying we must always say the White Man is right and give in to racism. I am simply saying Indians need to adapt to the culture and understand how things work in Australia before crying foul and blame an entire nation for being racist.  If the average Australian has a wrong perception about Indians, the average Indian does not know much about an Australian either. So I think we’ve achieved a balance there. Expatriate Indians cannot expect Australians to adapt to them, they must adapt to Australia. Expecting to create a mini India wherever they go is ridiculous. If you dislike Australia so much, I don’t mean to be rude, but stay at home. Really.

As a journalist, I have always been taught that every story must represent the whole picture but the Indian media has obviously forgotten its journalistic integrity somewhere along the way. Amazingly, all the reports talk about Indians who have “suffered” in Australia. How about interviewing Indians who have done really well in this country thanks to opportunities they probably would have never received in India in the first place? How about explaining Australia’s multicultural identity? How about interviewing Indian students who actually enjoy studying here? There are plenty of each, I assure you.

Indians are not being targetted the way the Indian media would have the country believe, but may be after the burning of the Australian flag and posters of Kevin Rudd, we will be and again, I will blame the Indian media for it.

I know I will be accused of losing my Indianness because I now live in Australia. I don’t care because I don’t need to justify myself. But I do need to make a point on behalf of the thousands of Indians who are very happy in Australia. While the Indian media refuses to look at an issue objectively as journalists should, I thankfully still have my objectivity in place.

P.S. This article in the SMH makes a similar point. Thanks for sharing, Psych Babbler.

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