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Criminalization of Indian Australians- A too little surprise

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BS Holla
Indian Australian

In a Trump-style Australia’s first Pentecostal Prime Minister invoked Biosecurity Act at the end of April 2021 to ban the return of Australian citizens from India. It is an example of how “White only Policy” still thrives in Australia. Just a week before, at the national Christian conference held in Gold Coast, the prime minister proudly claimed he was “called to do God’s work as Australia’s leader”.

Under the new dictatorial dictum if any Indian Australian citizen returns from Pandemic hit India will be a criminal with imprisonment of five years and a hefty penalty of $66000.00 The Travel ban of this kind to Australian citizen is the first of its kind to both Australia and in the world. They chose to trial this act with Indians and not with an Anglo Saxon. But it is racially biased, breaches human rights and caricaturing the third world a growing phenomenon in Australia in recent times.

This is the same government some time back on its finest display of friendship with India by uploading sizzling Samosa on Twitter. This is the same government spend millions of dollars to lure migrants, students, investors from India and not to mention having a trade surplus with India.

In 1788 when Australia was conceived as a penal colony, the British Empire had a clear objective. Disregard the native aboriginals and establish a white, Christian country. In the first 100 years of the development of the colony, East India company and British India had a huge role in the supply of goods, livestock and even slaves and so on. This fact is conveniently forgotten by the Australian historians with a purpose and Indian historians with utter ignorance.

In a rare of its kind some section of the political establishments and Australian media questioning the motive of draconian travel ban of Indian Australian citizens. They also perceive it as racist and breach human rights.

Why it is rare? The Australian media which is an extension of the Foreign relations policy of Australia itself is racist, fear-mongering and biased towards a non-western world in general and India in particular. In the year 2020 the Australia media and reputed Lowy Institute for foreign relations run series of articles lambasting the Indian government for snatching democratic rights of illegal Muslim immigrants in India to be a citizen of India. I don’t even remember a single instance where Australian media did not wreck the democratic Indian causes whether it is Kashmir, article 370, covid -19 coverage or Farmers protests. Their double standard is very much evident as Indian Australian citizens don’t even have any travel rights nor being privileged as a citizen of Australia in repatriation.

A sample depiction of Indian during colonial era. (National Library of Australia Western Mail:23/11/1933)

The Australian media created fear among the Australian public after the outbreak of COVID -19 recently in India. The incessant display of funeral pyre which itself is taboo in Australia is a clear violation of journalistic ethics. Instead of interviewing Hospital staff and eminent doctors, they had a chat with Indian voices that are hostile to India. The pattern is very familiar, once public opinion is formed then government jumps into action and hence a hand over of the travel ban to 9000 Indian Australians stranded in India.

India’s vulnerability is thoroughly exposed in this pandemic.  The bureaucracy, poor health infrastructure and lack of governance are on public display now.  The sepoys or middlemen or native informants who are typically westernized English speaking elites of India are more than willing to side with and grab a western platform to denigrate and viciously attack India.

Repatriating Indian Australian citizens is arduous and this privilege of toilsome is reticent to Anglo-Saxon Australians. The Indian diaspora which is as large as 700000 looks like second class citizens of Australia and it is not something new. But on the paper, it is a model minority because they are one of the most educated, taxpaying, peaceful community and distinctly lack a single voice. During the 1800s and 1900s, almost 100% consent was obtained by Australian politicians, intellectuals, media and judges to oust person of colour including Indians to make Australia a formidable white nation. From coolie diaspora to contemporary Indian diaspora, multicultural Australia is still under the shadow of White supremacy. The broader question is how white Australia is going to build a grand narrative for multicultural Australia where its economy is not sustainable without the participation of migrants of all kind.

Australia’s former Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane pointed out inconsistencies in the new law. He noted even in the height of Covid waves no criminal offences were imposed on Australians returning from other nations.

The prominent political commentator Andre Bolt in “Herald Sun” said this new law is so mean and irrational that he should blame Racism.

For Indian diaspora its time for introspection than never. Connecting to the roots and matrubhoomi is more important than ever in this volatile global scenario.

BS Holla

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