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Australian delegation seeks to allay apprehensions over attacks

Started by sajiv, Jul 08, 2009, 12:06 PM

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sajiv

Australian delegation seeks to allay apprehensions over attacks

AHMEDABAD: A 14-member Australian delegation, currently on a visit to India, has sought to allay the growing apprehension among the Indian parents about the safety of their wards in that country and claimed that Australia still was one of the safest places in the world.

The delegation, headed by the Australian High Commissioner in India, John McCarthy, was in Gujarat on Tuesday and called on the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, and other senior officials of the State government and also had an interaction with some parents whose wards are already in Australia or are planning to go there to pursue higher studies.

The delegation included officials from various universities in Australia as well as from the education department of the Australian government.

Talking to mediapersons here, Colin Walters, head of the International Education Department of the Australian government, reiterated that there was no cause for apprehension about the safety of the Indian students in his country and the incidents of attacks on the Indian students were already on the wane following a series of steps taken by the government.

Mr. Walters held the Indian media partly responsible for the growing apprehension among the people because of the massive publicity given to the attacks but little reportage about the steps taken by the Australian police and the government to ensure safety of the Indian and other foreign students.

Mr. Walters claimed that the most of the cases of attacks on the Indian students had been solved, the assailants arrested and in some of the cases, the trial pending in the courts, but not much of it had been reported in the Indian media allowing the feeling to grow that the Australian government was doing precious little to ensure the safety of the Indian students.

Mr. Walters felt that one of the reasons for the clashes could be the rapid increase in the number of Indian students in Australia which rose from a mere 11,000 in 2002 to over one lakh last year and in a city like Melbourne, they even outnumbered the local and other foreign groups.

Besides, the students carrying expensive gears including computers, mobiles and other equipment were also soft targets of the criminal and anti-social elements, but there was no evidence of organised attacks or involvement of criminal gangs in the attacks on the Indian students.
Friendly ties recalled

Reminding the strong friendly ties between India and Australia, Mr. Walters said a few attacks on the students should not lead Indians to believe that Australia was a racist country.

Most of the attacks were under influence of alcohol or drugs and for easy money and not due to racism, he claimed and pointed out that Australia was the only country in the world which was preparing a "national strategy for international students" as nearly 25 per cent of the population in Australia came from 200-odd countries in the world.

Mr. Walters said the Australian people loved Indian food and were fond of Bollywood films and felt a strong bond with the people of India.

He said the Australian government was working with the government of India and the state governments to give full information about Australia to the students intending to go there so that they could go "better prepared."

Mr. Walters admitted that the Australian government picked up the idea of sending the high-level delegation to various cities in India from a suggestion made by Mr. Modi during his meeting with Mr McCarthy.

During its meeting with Mr. Modi on Tuesday, the Chief Minister reminded the delegation that nearly 20 per cent of the Indian students in Australia were from Gujarat and that the Australian government needed to take steps to stop the racist attacks to create an atmosphere of confidence and safety among the people in the country.


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