5,000 strong Melbourne Indian rally against student attacks


Indian overseas students rally outside Victorian Parliament over recent attacks. PHOTO: Neeraj Nanda, South Asia Times

By our community reporter

Melbourne: An estimated 5000 strong rally of Indian overseas students and community today marched to the Victorian Parliament protesting recent attacks on Indian students here. The rally organised by the Federation of Indian Students of Australia (FISA) carried banners demanding end to racial attacks on Indian students. Candles were also lit on the steps of the Victorian Parliament by the protesters.
The rally was addressed by FISA and other leaders. The FISA demanded a multicultural police force for Victoria, an advertising campaign to highlight the contribution of International students to the Australian economy, insurance policy for students covering ambulance, accidents and assaults, increased police vigil at ‘High Risk Zones’, adequate accommodation for all international students and funding for the ‘FISA International Student Integration Program”.
The peaceful rally at the Parliament House later ended with a pledge to continue the struggle against racist attacks and to create harmony in Australian society.
An estimated 95,000 Indian overseas students study in various Australian universities. About 30,000 of them are studying in and around Melbourne.
Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh student who was attacked and was in a coma in the Royal Melbourne Hospital is said to be ‘stable’ but serious. His life support has been reportedly removed.

29 Responses

  1. Australia originally belongs to natives “the aborignials”. And everyone else is a expat here settling over a period of time. If Europeans will go to europe, africans will go to africa, british will go to England then, probably Indians will think about going to India. The country belongs to every immigrant. But, the culprits from whatever background has to be punished for the crimes committed.

  2. “…Indian students in Australia, to even be here they must have come from very wealthy and privilged families. This means high cast, servants, moving in elite circles and so on. As a result, the arrogance and the up yourself demeanour we see in some Indians. This offends Australians quite a lot and might explain some of the problem…”

    Elegance in its simplicity, huh? Well said!!

  3. I feel ashamed of the country I love and proud of suffering the racism against Indian students.

    One of the reasons I love Australia is its egalitarianism, mateship, belief in the fair go, tolerance, democaracy and stability. It is what sets Australia apart from nearly every other country including India.

    To see these racial problems really lets me down.

    The thuggery (an Indian word incidentally)and bashings seems really peculiar to the Indians whilst the Chinese and Vietnamese have more or less settled peacefully in Australia with Doctors and Lawyers for children. Proof that if they stick to it long engough and with hard work can gain respect, honour (such as people like Penny Wong, the Lord Mayor of Melbourne being two of many) The Greeks, the Italians, the Germans, the Afgan cameleers have all eventually settled in.

    So why the thuggery? Firstly it must come from the uneducated of Australia and that will always be a problem.

    Secondly, besides the dark skin of the Indians can the demeanour of some be contributing to the problem? A number a different people have commented as such to me.

    Indian students in Australia, to even be here they must have come from very wealthy and privilged families. This means high cast, servants, moving in elite circles and so on. As a result, the arrogance and the up yourself demeanour we see in some Indians. This offends Australians quite a lot and might explain some of the problem.

    I intend to quietly survey for any substance in my hypothesis.

  4. http://www.theage.com.au/national/india-retreats-from-australian-study-20090730-e31k.html

    And there it is. Asta la vista guys. Nice knowing you.

    New Zealand, America and Britian huh? Yep, you’ll fit in much better over there (you do recognise sarcasm, don’t you?). 😉

    Interestingly to me, and I hope I’m wrong here, but when you guys say you pay 2.5 times what Aussies pay…. WHO do you pay this to? Direct to the school? Or to some Indian agent in India? Interesting… Even that article above mentions an Indian agent in India talking about “clients” which tends to imply you are paying him for something.

  5. Thoughts on insurance…

    I was just reading an article on another site, about the lack of insurance for the education industry (insurance to pay back students who lose money when dodgy schools shut down).

    “Foreign students… could be out of pocket hundreds of dollars… students would be placed in a new school within 28 days, but if unable to complete their studies before their visa expired they would have to pay for a new visa (hence the hundreds of dollars)…”

    I’m sorry, I do feel sorry for you, but… the other side of my mind says “tough luck – people suffer bad luck in life – there is no 100% guarantee on anything”.

    If I break my leg, I have to stay home, I will lose my salary, simple. If my dodgy company closes down I will lose my job, simple. There is no AUTOMATIC COMPENSATION. But I can choose to take personal income protection insurance to cover me in these situations – my choice.

    Indians whinging about a few hundred dollars (in the context of the tens of thousands of dollars you pay for education) is pitiful in my mind. Sorry, but it’s how I feel. Get your own insurance for these things!

    I am not responsible for the dodgy schools, so why should my tax dollars pay you? Just as, how would you feel if you had to pay for my broken leg and lost salary. It’s the same thing. When you say “government must pay” you are in fact saying **I** must pay.

    Ahh, there’s no answers here, or anywhere else I guess. 🙂

  6. “Safety and fair treatment…”. Ok, you tell me, how is that possible without assigning each and every one of you a personal (Hindi speaking) body guard?

    Amit, are you saying my insurance won’t pay me if I am attacked in India?? Well, yes they will! The Indian government doesn’t need to pay me anything – and in fact, they won’t. If I am stupid enough to get into legal trouble in India (off topic here I know) then I can approach the AUSTRALIAN Consulate there and plead stupidity and hope they help – but the INDIAN government owes me nothing. And I wouldn’t expect anything. And if my wallet is stolen, as long as I report it to Indian police (whether or not they do anything is irrelevant) then my insurance company will pay me for that too.

    AND if my travel company is dodgy (akin to your schools) and I lose money my insurance will pay for that too!!

    Anyway, all this is off topic. All I want is for Indians in Australia to benefit from, and enjoy the same quality of life I do. Despite my rantings, I do sincerely mean that.

    But, your problems are not all our fault – that is my point. NO OTHER RACE here has these problems – only Indians. Can you not see that?

  7. Dear John,
    You are right. For damages there are claims and to be protected damages there is something called insurance. But there is also something called assurance. Insurance can be bought, assurance cant. Also, insurance usually don’t cover attacks. The point of safety and fair treatment is an “assurance” that is to be given by the government – in this case it is the Oz gov. For things that are assured and and not implemented, the gov needs to step in – be it Oz or India. For example, tomorrow If you get attacked, your insurance company wont pay u for this incident – The Indian gov needs to do the needful – protect u, treat u, make sure you are safe and sound once again and bring the culprits to justice…
    But still it would also be unwise that Oz isnt taking steps. A few voices like wouldnt make Oz a bad place with bad people.

  8. Amit, you sound like an interesting person to me, would be good to discuss this issue further. 😉

    However, I’m not going to get in to a point-counterpoint argument with you, except to say:

    1) “Damages” here is legal concept. If you have suffered damages then sue someone and get some money. Simple.

    2) Your last point is the most controversial. “Aussie GOVT didn’t even pay for the treatment of those attacked..”. Why can’t you understand, you are no different to me!!!! What gives you (Indians in general here, not Amit) the right to demand this? If **I** was attacked here, the government would not compensate me or pay for my treatment. Why are you different? Or rather, why do you **think** you are different?

    I think this is the point I’ve been trying to make all along. Banging my head against the wall trying to make myself clear.

    This is not India – you can’t just throw money at someone and demand in return. Sorry, it don’t work that way.

  9. So, what is it? What makes us bash you guys (well, not me personally, but you know what I mean)??? – why dont you specify it yourself John.

    John seems to have some kind of deep grudge against the Indians as he doesn’t specify and explain what extra things do Indians demand from Australia? AFIK, they demand nothing more than fair treatment and respect and security to their lives which would make them feel welcome and reassured in Oz.
    But John is right about cribbing over fees. There are a lot of factors that goes in deciding ones fee structure – academics, experience etc. But again, I suspect foul play with Australian commercialized universities, who I believe, are not fair enough.
    “About re-consider your times” – surely they need to, but not without claiming all the damages they have suffered by choosing such a biased country. This isnt about ego, feelings or nationalism – It is just a part of an international trade relationship gone wrong wherein the students didn’t get what they deserved and hence they need to be compensated and their damages paid for.
    AFIK, the Aussie gov didn’t even pay for the treatment of Indians who were attacked. It cant get more ridiculous than this.

  10. Dhana, this is not a personal attack, but you have to admit there is a certain sense of “arrogance” in what you just wrote. THAT is what these low life Aussies are reacting to.

    It’s not that you’re hard working, we all know that. That isn’t the problem. It’s not that you can’t speak proper English (your term, not mine), nobody expects that. As you correctly say Europeans get away with not speaking proper English.

    So, what is it? What makes us bash you guys (well, not me personally, but you know what I mean)???

    Back to your post above: you seem to DEMAND special treatment here – nobody gets more than anybody in Australia. We have no time for people who demand this and that. The Greek and Italian shop owners (your term) don’t demand things – they just fit in with life here.

    I’ve said this before, but if you (Indians) took a good hard look at yourselves, and your shortcomings (and no, I’m definitely not saying Australians are perfect – far from it) you might suddenly start to see what all the fuss is about. Change your attitude! Go look up “you catch more flies with honey” in your dictionary. REALLY think about that idiom.

    Oh, and for the record, you don’t pay 2.5 times what I pay. I believe it’s about 20% higher – and no, I don’t know why that is. But, WHATEVER it is, “it is” – get over it!! It doesn’t entitle you to ANYTHING WHATSOEVER. And if you can’t get that idea through your collective minds, perhaps you (all) should re-consider your times here. 😉

  11. hi, I am an Indian and staying in Melbourne from last one year for study purpose.And I think when I am paying 2,1/2 times more fees than regular ozi student,part of which is goes to Australian gov (that’s why they are encouraging foreign students) at least I deserves basic security from the same gov.what is lacking here is the proper planning before deciding the specific educational policies . To earn revenue ,to improve your colleges infrastructure gov had decided to take foreign student but forgot to educate their own people that how it is important.Also australia doesn’t have sufficient skilled staff required for various businesses ;this is may be because of less population or new generation’s lac of interest in higher education.And so if migrants are coming from India,they are not the only one who are beneficiary.
    But few people here don’t understand that and try to take revenge of their failures by attacking india student who are hard working and trying to achieve something good even in various negative conditions.
    (such as higher fees,completely different social conditions and now these attacks) Also I Have observed here in Melbourne that many Greek and Italian shop owners still can’t speak proper English even though they are staying here from ages; nobody says anything to them but you ask newcomer indian to speak proper english ??
    when you are saying this is migrants country you have to consider that there will be people from non English speaking countries.but still if you are ready to give time to Europeans and not to Indians then how could you say that you are not racist??

  12. I am an Indian Australian living here for well above six years. My experience in Australia has been sort of mixed. Some good, some bad but over all, I would not like to comment upon. Australia is a great place to retire and do some vocational studies but not to build a career as most Indians would think. The country fails to offer much beyond education, hospitality & mineral resources for an Average Indian to hold his interest. Australia is called a land of immigrants but really it fails to offer the kind of life-style one would have in one’s own native country. Being an immigrant is the saddest part. There is a fair chance that you may get exploited by local employer at work, exploitation in obtaining accommodation, financial issues, assimilation issues and so on. There is too much to give in and very less to gain for the pain to migrate to Australia. The good part is the natural beauty, the wide open spaces & warmth the country offers in comparison to other more crowded western counterparts including Europe & America.

    From my perspective, I would not offer fellow Indians an advise to build/make a career in Australia or start business because the ideal fails from pure economic point of view, but its a great place to obtain quality education & for tourism once in a while.

  13. Hi John, Amit and all those who have written here…

    I am a senior journalist working with CNN-IBN in India..I am travelling to australia tom to cover this very issue which has raised such a heated debate on this forum…I would really apprecite if a few of you could share these thoughts with us…if you are interested, please email me ASAP at divyaiyer82@gmail.com and I will get in touch with you. It would be very helpful if you could leave your contact number…and where you are based in Australia. Many Thanks!

  14. hey ppl,
    im Indian and have been raised here in Australia and i reckon that racism is in every nationality so this is my version of it. I cant help it explain that Indians are very short minded and don’t think about a lot of things b4 they come here. They really need to to learn how to communicate in English before they come to Australia. I think it would also be a good idea for many of them to adopt the Australian culture or values im many differences ways.

    As for Australians i think from day one they have always been jealous of Indians and other black nationalities. Even if they are not aware of it they are jealous of the lovely skin color that Indians have. Unlike the white people they have color to their skin. Another thing that they are also jealous of Indians about is the fact that many of them want to work and are very motivated unlike some Australians who just want to look at the clock as soon as they start working and whinge about the work that they have to do.At last the Muslims i don’t know much about the terrorism in India between Hindus ans Muslims all i can say is that some go out and commit terrorism or serious crimes and the whole Muslims are been discriminated for it. I also agree with ADRIAN on the last reply. Muslims have the whole of the middle east to live and its all fucked up now because they cant learn to live with each other. Sunnis against shiates they’re both bloody Muslims and fighting like cats and dog’s

  15. I am sure that Pakistanis n Indians get along very well…They are aware that they are from the same subcontinent. They might have issues, but mostly they stand united in helping each other outside their countries.
    We can fight our internal differences over a kushti (wrestling) but we gotta save our nukes for bigger threats emerging in the world order.
    The Indians and Pakistanis might not socialize a lot due to cultural barriers but still they are usually not averse to each other unless they are religious fanatics.

  16. Hello,

    I am from India and my work brings me to Australia every 6 months. The chief factor for every Indian migrant to consider is the huge difference in the culture of the 2 nations. Indians primarily are extyremely conservative, courteous and naturally hunt for a fellow Indian migrant to bond with (comfort zone). This makes many Australians feel Indians are submissive, reticent and lack confidence. Whereas most Australians are extrovert, gregarious and have “in-your-face” style of humour. Something that puts a stereotype Indian migrant on the backfoot.

    As Indians are migrants in Australia, it is our need to understand the Australian local culture, make many Australian friends and assimilate in the mainstream.

    I have had many good & not so good experiences in Australia. But it all depends on how you take it. If you have the “racism-vicitim” attitude, chances are you will most likely feel like one.

  17. Talking about racism,The Aussies are the best in practicing Multi-Culturalism,the Indians and Chinese residents in Australia are the most Racist people,see them in the trains,trams or buses they dont even want to sit close to other nationals they are very racist.
    About the Student Victim,my sympathy to him.

  18. Hi

    I agree with u Vin fully. Every individual or family is 100% responsible for living here in australia. We decided to have a better life and one has to accept the changes that come with. The biggest problem with the migrants (whoever it may be ..Indians,chinese,africans etc) is that we all isolate ourselves from the mainstream of the country ( be it US ,australia or any other )and do not mix up with the nationals of the country we decide to make our home.
    This fact applies to all migrants who have decided to make Australia their home, that as citizens of this country you should not let anyone abuse the system. Abuse of the system is rampant especially by the students due to lack of finances and family support locally. Australian system even now in certain areas in federal n state govt office trust you fully for the information imparted.
    Students should not forget that they represent a nation, a community which is quite well respected in this country. They should behave well publicaly and try to enhance the image n character of the country they come from. Everyone comes by choice..they should not forget that. I have witnessed very disgusting n cheap behaviour of indiviuals n groups in trains n other public places. People of Indian origin living as respectable citizens of this country for decades should come forward and ensure that the students display better attitude n behaviour in public, respect and follow the system. Their security n welfare also should be taken care provided the students have made a sincere effort to be a part of the system .They should not forget that they would be a part of the same community n country one day.

  19. Hey Guys,
    Lets not forget we are talking about a country that carried on a whites only policy for immigration long after other developed countries, racism doesnt disappear, and the obvious physical difference is a taunt to some who cant make it even though they’re white, but far be it for an Indian to complain about racism
    I am from India, I took the chance to come here for a better standard of life, I made the choice , and I am ultimately responsible for the risk it entails.

    What we seem to forget when we point the race finger is that India is the most racist country ever, we still discriminate on caste, any matrimonial website will affirm that, we are fascinated by white skin, even a person with skin like chocolate will describe themselves as wheatish. We comfortably vote along caste lines , and treat fellow Indians from other states a lot worse than most Aussies do.
    Australia is not perfect, but tell me one place that is…

  20. This is for all the people who are a part of this discussion. All I need to say is that incidents like these actually make things difficult for all of us. We are here in a same community living together and going to college together, working together and we all know people from different racial backgrounds who are our friends and our colleauges. A few people are there who might try to imbalance this harmony and peace that exists here but are we really that weak that we are going to let this happen. Whatever has happened to Indian students in melbourne is sad and we expect victorian and federal govt to take some stiff action against it. And again it would not be right on part of the indian community to paint whole australia as a racist country. Yes there may be people who are like that but that doesn’t define a nation of over 20 million people. An effort needs to made from both the sides. We are coming to a new place and a new society and we need to make an effort to be a part of it but at the same time acceptance has to be brought in from our aussie fellows that we are a part of the community and we are here to stay.

    And some initiative must be taken to make people aware in australia about india and indians, that there exists a different side which is not projected by anyone here. People need to look beyond what has been foretold. That is the only way of changing the perception and making things better for all of us.

    Regards to all.

  21. Hi John,
    I too accept your apologies although you are not to be blamed at all.
    It might be a difference in view, but for me, staying numb when a crime is committed adds to supporting the criminals. If you are scared, you can at least walk away but try to inform the police or somebody else and notify them of something wrong going on.
    Regarding the “billions of dollars” – it is not a small amount – neither in your country nor mine, I guess. It will hurt us both. Its not just for education as there are many other countries like the US, Canada, UK that can compete with Australia, But Indians prefer Australia for many other reasons including good education- its like a package – a chance for many to stay back and build a new life, some some to enjoy the beauty of Australia and so on….
    I don’t think India is asking for “personal security guard” – we can just live as good brothers and just be a bit concerned about each other’s well being…maybe its like a bit of self policing and taking care of each other and making sure you stay as a close knit community and stay safe. Let me know if there are problems with integration and I will try to give you hints of what can be done to resolve this if it can help.
    One more thing: I guess most Indians are more emotional then the average and they easily vent out their feelings – atleast they are honest, unlike some Australians who till now haven’t even accepted this to be a racist attack.

  22. I unconditionally offer my heartfelt apologies for the racist attacks here. I sincerely mean that. It is un-Australian and just plain cowardly and wrong.

    I suspect though that this will be no comfort to anyone. If I had a way to stop this I would, but, alas, I don’t.

    Nor will I step in to stop an attack if I see one – but I wouldn’t do that for any race, including my own. It’s just not worth my getting injured. Cowardly attitude? Maybe. But my aim is to stay safe at any cost – this is the point I was trying to make above in my replies (they do come across as a bit of a rant, sorry about that).

    I remember with vivid detail the newspaper articles and Indian reaction when the police first mentioned to keep a low profile, speak quietly etc. The sad sad fact is Indians completely misconstrued that. As I said before, everyone gets that advice, it’s just AT THAT TIME THE ONLY PEOPLE WITH PROBLEMS WERE INDIANS and that is why the police remarks were directed to you. It was not a random police remark out of the blue. Yet you all scream “police racism”. Get my point?


  23. Hello John,
    I agree with many things with you but nevertheless It is most important to first accept what has been done and apologize for it – Accept that the attacks were racial in nature and that there was a failure to help those Indians hurt at the right time and bring the culprits to justice.
    Advise was taken in wrong sense coz it was given only for the Indian community although it was a right advise. Solution: Advise must have been given as a general advise to all public to avoid such disasters.
    damage to buildings: I strongly condemn it but disrupting public transport not when 5000 or 10000 people gather for a cause.
    Surely working together is the way out and also not all Victorian police are racist. I surely agree with this but we cant simply say a few non-performing police to be good just to soothe their egos.
    Taxi drivers who stink to hell – Terrible!! Send them to a reorientation on public hygiene.
    Can’t speak English – This is no excuse – only those who score requisite grades in IELTS are allowed to come to Oz for studies and again need to show their grades for obtaining PR.
    can’t find their way around
    So surely working together can lead us a way out.

  24. Oh and one more thing, with all due respect…

    You may well be paying billions of dollars for education here, and you are getting that – education! You are not “owed” anything further, so stop waiving that as a threat in our faces.

    You are not entitled to personal security guards, nor are you entitled to demand universities rebuild to allow you to live on campus (you should’ve considered that before you came here – I did when I studied overseas).


  25. I do not condone the actions of the few narrow minded Australians attacking Indians at all, however Indians need to realise a few things:

    – Australians don’t travel alone at night, let alone on trains, carrying valuables. The advice given to Indians is the same for the rest of us – we accept it, and are safe, yet you take offence to it…

    – Demonstrating, disrupting public transport, roads, and damaging land mark buildings will not get you the publicity you were hoping for. Work with us, and we will work with you.

    – Police the world over are more or less egotistical, deal with it! If you want their help then saying “all Victorian police are racist” will most certainly NOT assist you in that regard.

    – Stop and think why you might be hated so much! Taxi drivers who stink to hell, can’t speak English, can’t find their way around. Call Centre staff who read scripts in accents a mother couldn’t understand… Look around the net – you are hated in most places you go. How about taking a good hard look at yourselves before criticising everyone else around you.

    And finally, you’ve had my support for years, until recently. You may have rights here, but you are going the wrong way about exercising them.


  26. hi amit i agree with every word you said and you know wat else can you expect from a police forc e which get beaten up by kids of 15-17 years of age,yes i hv seen police being beaten up by a a group of school kids in melbourne,their cars damaged and beer bottles thrwon at them,so its a no law country,they only know how to drink beer,not work,take dole from centre link and on top of it have the audacity to send a message to indians that they shud not speak loudly,cary more than 20 dollars etc in other owrds “we are useless(the police force)and cant protect nobody.

  27. Despite India’s prime minister taking to the Aussie PM, they haven’t even accepted that the attacks were racist, so its unlikely that we can expect anything concrete to be done by the Australians to protect the Indians out there.
    The Aussie police in an interview tells that Indians must not stay alone or travel alone at night and keep a low profile, not to keep more than 20$ in pocket, not to carry gadgets like laptops, cellphones etc instead of accepting that a crime has been committed and taking steps to curb such incidences in the future.
    In such a case. a few steps that India could take in case Australians doesn’t wake up to the horror:
    1. Issue travel advisory to Australia warning people of racist attacks and a threat to their lives.
    2. Sanctions on imports of all Australian products.

    Australian police officer is to travel to India to brief prospective students on avoiding street violence in Australia – “safety strategy tips” that Robb would give his own daughter if she was going overseas”
    Well, let a few Aussies get bashed up in India and then we too will send some officials to teach the Australians to avid street violence? Is this what they want?
    Instead of owing up to the mistake and apologizing, they are supporting racism outrightly. Its disgraceful. They must rather support with all they can and provide security to Indians out there and make sure that such an incident doesn’t occur again.

    “Australian police have argued that Indian students are often simply in the wrong place at the wrong time as they travel home late at night with items such as mobile phones and portable MP3 players.” – This is what an australian news says – http://www.news.com.au/story/0,,25563954-1702,00.html

    They don’t even have the courtesy to cover such a major crime in their news. I had to literally search for this piece of information. Extremely shameful on behalf of the Australian media too.

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Neeraj Nanda

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