Monday, December 12, 2011

Battle of Races down under

The years 2008 and 2009 brought to light ‘racial’ vilification of Indian students in Australia. Dozens of students were attacked and the Australian Police and the Government turned a blind eye to all the attacks which irked the Indian population spread across the oceanic backwaters and millions back home.

Australia, has a history of racial vilification, where, in the early years, the British settlers marginalized the native aborigines. Throughout the 19th and the 20th century, all other races were kept at bay and for the most part, marginalized by the ‘authentic’ white Aussies.

By the late 19th century, of anyone who was not white was brutally looked down upon by the now predominant white population which led to the ‘White Australia Policy’, set up in 1901. This policy was primarily set up to restrict the movement of ‘colored people’ into the country.

The White Australia Policy took shape and was aggressively pusued through the 20th century and it was not until 1975 that ‘White Australia Policy was scrapped by the government, opening new avenues for people around the world, what till then, many saw was pretty much an alien land with plenty of scope for resource and development.

In this age of globalization when you have a Black president sitting in the White house and Whites, Blacks ,Yellows and Browns living harmoniously in suburban London, the Aussies seemed to have overlooked this aspect of cultural diversity. Ironically, around 95% of  Australians have ancestries that can be trace back from the British Isles and other countries across Europe. Over the past 3 decades, there has been a huge Arab-Lebanese influx as well.

Politicians in Australia have often been the object of ridicule to many a politician around the world. They have often been guilty of living in a bygone era, cashing in on the now defunct White Australia Policy. In 1995, Pauline Hanson, the founder of One Nation’s Party said “I and most Australians want our immigration policy radically reviewed and that of multiculturalism abolished. I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians. Between 1984 and 1995, 40 per cent of all migrants coming into this country were of Asian origin. They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate.”

John Howard’s government, was initially coy about speaking openly about multiculturalism, eventually succumbed to the ‘Whites’ bandwagon. Kevin Rudd, who witnessed these attacks during his governance, was a mere spectator and dozens of these attacks were brushed off as “one-off” and “Crimianlly Motivated” though it would be stupid to brand all these attacks as Racist.

An Indian student who studied in Australia said “A major chunk of the Australian public is not racist and the attacks signal the growing trend of subjugation of one particular race which has been ever present over the last 10 years or so. In the early 2000’s, the Lebanese were targeted by these groups and it looks like the Indians are being victimized after the earlier one lost steam.”

Another Engineering student in the University of Sydney looks at it as an effect of cultural stereotypes that are portrayed in popular culture. She said“I have never witnessed or been subjected to any form of Racial violence, verbally or physically, throughout my stay in Australia. However, I do believe there is an element of racism that lurks within the country. The Chinese, for example, would never be targeted because of the way they are portrayed in movies coupled with the existence of the formidable Chinese mafia. Indians, on the other hand, are perceived as naive and meek”

Under Julia Gillard’s governance, Australia has been relatively quiet in terms of racial tension, even though a couple of regrettable attacks have been reported on Indians. In February 2010, a video of an Indian being electrocuted while traveling on the rooftop of a local train was circulated around the country and subjected to ridicule.

Australia has seen immigrant’s flood into the country in search of greener pastures only since 1975 whereas other developed countries have had a head start in the adoption of multiculturalism as early as 18th century. With a new government in place, the authorities must make sure that tourists, who contribute a huge deal to the economy, despite the recent slump, are protected at the same time; bring these anti-social elements to task, unlike the Howard and Rudd government.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Resurgence of Battleshed Sri lanka

Twenty six years of intense civil war has left Sri Lanka in complete disarray. There are many homeless, war-torn families in the country that are now trying to pick up the pieces and lead regular lives. The Tamils especially have born the brunt of the casualties and the Tamil dominated areas in the country are doing their best to come to terms with their current situation.

Now, in the wake of the parliamentary elections, where the Rajapaksa government won with a convincing majority, there is mounting pressure on the president to ensure that people are able to rebuild their lives. The upcoming budget is one important indicator of whether Sri Lanka is moving in the right direction.

The President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced the budget proposals on November 22. He said that this budget would help develop the country's economy and it was the first time the country had a development budget proposal since the civil war. According to the Daily News, a Sri Lankan newspaper, the Sri Lankan Government has introduced a number of incentives for foreign investments as well as local investors. The Economic Development Minister, Basil Rajapaksa stressed on how the end of the war meant that the country had an investor friendly climate. He also said that the country had a skilled labour force which could be employed in these foreign investment ventures. Basil Rajapaksa also added that the budget had introduced several tax relief measures for investors.

Apart from the budget, there are several other factors that need to be considered when one looks at Sri Lanka and its rehabilitation efforts. One crucial component of this effort is integration of the Tamil community with the Sri Lankan community.  Rajapaksa has been vociferous in his call to Tamil refugees to return their homeland. In an interview to The Hindu, he also said "Of this 17,000 or 18,000 [displaced Tamils], many of them are not in the camps; they go to the villages and come back. But at least 10,000 of them are from areas that have to be de-mined; we can’t send them there yet. But by December, we expect to send back everyone other than the people who wish to stay there [in the camps]." It has to be noted here that the Rajapaksa ministry had turned.

Despite these tall claims by Rajapaksa and other Sri Lankan authorities, the dark, murky reality tells a different tale since the anhiliation of the LTTE.

A Sri Lankan Journalist who didint want himself to be named said " Relief and Rehabilitation camps have been going on in full swing to restore the lives of the displaced Tamils. Having said that, what baffles me is the presence of the Sri Lankan military in these camps. the civilians' whereabouts are constantly tracked and one wonders what this kind of dictatorship-like regimen is doing when the need of the hour is to bridge the gap between the Tamil and the Sinhaleese."This view gives us a complete repudiation of the the kind of positive reports that have been pouring in for the last year-and-a-half.
While there appear to have been certain steps taken to help the country recover from decades of war, there is still a long way ahead for Sri Lanka. There are several reports of countries like India and China aiding these rehabilitation activities. The Sri Lankan government has also praised the contribution of these neighbouring superpowers. China has built a port at Hambantota, while India continues to provide shelter to the refugees.

According to the Indian Express, Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna is planning a visit to Sri Lanka and has been urged by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi to discuss the rehabilitation and resettlement of Tamils and also discuss the devolution of power.
Despite eliminating the LTTE, there is still a lot to be done to ensure that the conflict in Sri Lanka ends. Only time will tell whether this country will be able to get back on its feet.

Aussie Disintergration Follow-up

As cricket's oldest rivalry, the one between England and Australia for the Ashes urn, kicked off on November 25th, we expect a tough, intense battle on Australian soil. The reason being the resurgence of the English team and Australia,on the decline of late, who were impregnable, only two years ago, but  crippled by the retirements of their yesteryear stalwarts like Shane Warne, Matthew Hayden and Glen Mcgrath among others.
Of late,The Aussies have been lacklusture with the loss of an all-conquering generation of players. The recent test series in India where the home team managed to comfortably overhaul the Aussies is a case in point.

At the end of that series, batting legend Sachin Tendulkar's observation hardly came as a surprise. He said "I think England have a good chance of retaining the Ashes.The key members for England will be Pietersen and Morgan, and in the bowling department Swann. Then after that you have the experience of Andrew Strauss, so they can do something special in Australia."

A man to man comparison clearly tips the scales heavily in England's favor, even without being carried away by their recent success wave. The English batsmen look really assured, especially in the top order and the recent decision to even drop the effervescent Kevin Peitersen in the recently concluded series against Pakistan shows the quality in depth that the visitors have at their disposal.

On the other hand,Aussies have a decent battery of pace bowlers who can ruffle quite a few feathers
of any batting line up but statistics over the past year show that the pace bowlers' have been struggling for consistency and will go into the Test series with talented, but unbalanced bowling set-up.

In the spin department, the English will walk in as the better team with Graeme Swann, who is arguably one of the best off spinners at the moment and his proven record against Australia will come to handy.

The Aussies have dropped their first- choice spinner, Nathan Hauritz and will have an untested debutant in the form of Xavier Doherty.

England's Ashes fortunes in the since the mid-2000's though, has been a mixed bag. The last time the poms played on Australian soil, they were hammered 5-0, which again, was sandwiched between two suave, Andrew Flintoff-inspired wins at home.

This is a clear indication of how taxing the demands are to win a series in Australia. It is easier said than done.
The last time England managed to win down under, it was way back in 1985. Even in the recent past, only
South Africa under the leadership of Graeme Smith manged to win in 2008.

What is it that makes so difficult for teams in Australia that they buckle in the dusty outbacks of the southern hemisphere?

Australian 'Mental disintegration'- The Aussies' constant bickering and sledging have had many a player develop a complex and by that, we are talking about the crowds as well which culminated into a then-familiar pattern of capitulation, as , Former English cricketer Angus Frazer points out "It is worse for bowlers because, invariably, it is they who field on the boundary. For hour after hour "fair dinkum Aussies" will abuse you from behind the advertising boards. They will tell you "you're S***", "you're a loser", "you're a busted flush", "you've no heart" and "you're weak as Pi**". They will ask: "What's your wife up to while your here, mate?" and inform you "I hear she cooks a bloody good breakfast". In isolation the stick is easy to take but after a while it gets you down."

It must be noted here that England currently hold the Ashes and even a draw here would mean that the poms retain the holy 'urn'.What perhaps works against the current English team at the moment is the lack of experience playing in Australian conditions.

The British media have been singing praises about how the English are a well-oiled machine this time around and if the recently concluded 1st test match is anything to go by, the Poms are well prepared to match the
Aussies and get the better of them. Top order batsmen Alistair Cook and Jon Trott made mincemeat of the Australian bowling attack but to measure the team's improvement, we will have to wait till the 3rd or the fourth test match to arrive at a concrete conclusion