I have just returned from spending five weeks in India. The purpose of the trip was to deliver a number of papers and lectures, attending various conferences including the Indian Association for the Study of Australia – a three-day conference looking at the cultural interactions between the two nations.
Leading up to the World Cup, there were obviously discussions about cricket, but the history is a lot more complicated than that, as our nations are intertwined in ways that most of us are ignorant of.
For example, Professor Deb Narayan Bandyopadhyay is researching the way our two countries collaborated during the World Fair in the nineteenth century. Researcher Amit Ranjan presented a personal account of his research into the grave of Australian Alice Garden who died of cholera in Calcutta in 1882: Why was she there? What kind of interactions did she represent?
Another issue that is often raised is the experience of Indian students in Australia - not only the attacks of last year, but the more general encounters between Australians and Indians. In the context of a history that includes the mistreatment of indigenous Australians and the infamous ‘White Australia Policy’, I am asked: ‘Is Australia a racist country?’
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Violence against Indians in Australia is now so out of control that Indians have started attacking each other.
Not that you would know this from reading the hysterical coverage in the Indian press, because the latest case has been deliberately shorn of one key fact so that the white clique which runs this country can be held to account for an Indian bloke beating up an Indian woman journalist.
The ABC did a very thorough job on its AM program this morning documenting the extent to which sections of the Indian media has gone to maintain this beat-up about being beaten up.
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