Recently, we have seen a couple of racist comments in Australia and NZ which had bothered us. Indians were the targets in these cases.
First was the example of the ill-mannered journo named Paul Henry from TV NZ [National TV of NZ] making grossly offensive comments and laughing at the surname of Delhi chief minister, Mrs Sheila Dixit. Even his colleagues were uncomfortable with his comments. I have no doubt that his comments were uncivilized and racist in nature. It showed quite clearly that his upbringing was less than perfect. Indians and Indian Govt were justifiably outraged with his comments. Indian Foreign Minister, Mr SM Krishna was right to summon NZ High Commissioner to his office and convey India’s displeasure.
That Paul Henry is racist against Indians is evidenced by his further utterances. NZ’s Governor General, Sir Ananad Satyanand is of Indian heritage. He was born in Auckland. Despite that, Henry did not think Sir Satyanand was a true New Zealander. How so? Is he not a true New Zealander because he is not White or PAKEHA as Maori people call White people in NZ? It just makes one wonder about Henry’s thinking.
If this was not enough, a NZ radio host, Michael Laws, made some disparaging comments about the Governor General [GG] of NZ, Sir Anand Satyanand’s body size and mentioned something about India and begging. He too showed his racist thinking. His comments were particularly uncivil as they were about the Head of NZ Government. I would have expected that the GG would be held with high regards by the citizens of NZ.
Look, I have some personal experiences in NZ. While a vast majority of New Zealanders are decent people, I found that a small proportion of New Zealanders are ignorant and openly racist. They have a superiority complex over Non-White people. Is it due to the fact that they have subjugated indigenous people [Maori] for centuries and until recently, they were not used to the people from all over the World who would not allow anyone to treat them unfairly? To such ignorant and racist people, I say “grow up”. They need to be confronted assertively.
While we were fuming over misbehaviour from New Zealanders, we get the news of racist comments by some officers in Victoria Police. They were making insensitive comments via emails on a video depicting electrocution of an Indian man over the roof of a train in India and suggesting that it might be a method to fix Melbourne’s Indian students’ issues. Indians and India Govt were again outraged. Indian Minister, Mr Krishna was right to call Australia’s High Commissioner, Mr Peter Varghese to his office and express India’s outrage. He was right because he was concerned about the behaviour of some from Vic Police force which is supposed to help every one irrespective of the race, gender and nationality of those who are seeking help. Racist views among Police officers will not generate a sense of confidence among people. I was somewhat heartened to note that Victorian Premier and Police commissioner have condemned these police officers, some of whom have been sacked, and some have been fined upto $3000 and placed on a good behaviour bond. Some have quit the Victoria Police themselves, sensing problems in ongoing investigation by Vic Police. Investigation is on against some more. Vic Police and any other Police force must have ZERO TOLERANCE to racism and racist views among anyone who is part of the Police force.
There are many more examples which I can give but the point has been made. The point is that there are some racist people in Australia and NZ. I do say it with confidence however that a vast majority of people are fair-minded and not racist. This is true of Police forces too. I don’t want to create an impression that we are living in a racist society. Unfortunately, we have racist people all over the world. No country is the exception. India is no exception either. Raj Thakeray is a very clear example. We must remain rational and balanced. We must react proportionately. This is very much applicable to Indian media too.
The scourge of racism is not going to be removed from the world any time soon. There will always be mentally sick people who think their race to be superior to other races. We can’t do much about what people think as long as they are not acting on their beliefs. This is obviously not permitted for those who are in the Police and security agencies. Racist beliefs are a big “No” for Police officials. Police agencies should run campaigns among their personnel to educate them against racism and racist views. Police agencies should be on a look out for any such tendency and Police officers should dob racist officers in, simply because decent and fair-minded Police officers [vast majority] must not allow a small minority among them to tarnish their image. I would like to remind people that Police officers are consistently graded as one of the most trusted people in Australia. This image must be maintained and like Vic Police, they should take firm and severe actions if any one is found to hold racist views or acting in a racist manner.
In case of NZ journos, they should be sacked from their jobs by their employers as they are not suitable for their positions. A broadcaster can’t be allowed to behave the way these two cretins did.
I have liked what Minister SM Krishna has done. It was clearly warranted.
As far as we, Indian Australians, are concerned, we should make our concerns and displeasure known in no uncertain terms. We will need to network with other communities and fair-minded Australians [and they are in majority]. We will also need to identify people among ourselves who have a clear capacity to think, lead, network with others, and communicate. These issues are clearly of national in nature and we will therefore need a national structure to deal with these issues. We will need to be more organised. The very same strategy should be applicable for NZ or any other country.
Yadu Singh/Sydney/12th October, 2010
- Police in racist email scandal (heraldsun.com.au)
- Australian envoy summoned over cops’ racist email (topinews.com)
- Australia apologises for racist comments against Indians (thehindu.com)
- Officer quit over racist email (theage.com.au)
- Outrage conveyed to Australian envoy (thehindu.com)