David Cameron has emerged from his tuscan holiday hangover with a classic tory response to crime – zero tolerance; which presumably means that he was tolerant of crime before. Politicians like to posture like this as a sign they are tough leaders. For the past few years Cameron has sought to distance himself from the traditional conservative stance on crime with his concept of the big society. Last week’s riot has seen a pivot towards the old positions. Whether this is a long term change or simple expediency… We will see.
Australia has been a favourite destination of Indian students looking for higher education and more. The country has also been very welcoming to the youngsters from the sub continent and more than 90,000 Indian students study in Australia, today. For Australia, students bring in $12.6 billion a year and that is no small change and for the first time there’s a huge drop in student visa application from India and elsewhere all thanks to crime.
The crimes began slowly and went up to a high of 10 attacks in a single month. While the reasons for the attacks are being called as racist in India, the Australian authorities say they are not and are similar to other attacks on people travelling alone at night like in any city in the world.
The rise in attacks are also as India says – because Indians are seen as soft targets unlike in the UK and the US where as a people Indians are influential and rich.
- Crime against Indians are on the rise regardless of reasons
- There is 46% drop in the number of students opting for Australia for studies.
What can be done to prevent Australia’s reputation from taking a further beating in India? What are the leaders doing for damage limitation?
The Indian Government has now after the latest incident of a student’s death from stabbing issued a travel advisory for its students studying in Australia. Australian authorities continue to state that they are a safe country and none of these crimes are racially motivated.
The fear is building up in India and mums interviewed are saying they are not gong to send their kids to Australia. Both governments are cautious and trying their best to not let things escalate further.
- Even as Australia made an arrest yesterday yet another Indian got beaten up on a beach!
Australian government knows that Indian students are important but there is a feeling in India that maybe the public there are suspicious and even unhappy to share their country’s wealth with Indians. “What the Aussie government should do is educate people about Indians and make people understand that as a people Indians are not takers but givers”, say articles being published in India.
The Indian government should remind people that most Indians living in Australia have never been targeted on a racial basis and friendly ties with Australia is at its best stage. Assure people to not over react and maybe wait for arrests and convictions before calling all the attacks racial.
The problem with this situation is FEAR and what fear can do is, breed distrust and for now Australia’s “safe haven” tag and reputation is fast taking a beating in India and maybe a few arrests and convictions can reassure Indians wanting to live, study and work down under.
Australia needs to go on reputation management overdrive, no country would want to be called racial and this could very well undermine all the good ties being built-up by the two cricket-crazy countries.