Friday, 29 May 2009

Won't you come into my parlour said the spider to the fly....

I am sick to my stomach seeing images on TV of Indian students being brutally attacked abroad by racists. That these countries continue to seek out foreign applicants to their educational institutions and make a profit by charging them fees that are more than what the the local students pay, is discrimination enough, and then to turn a blind eye to the repeated incidents that are life threatening and dehumanising, is in fact criminal. Politically correct statements are paraded via the media by these nations regarding these shameful acts, but nothing that rectifies the problem ever gets implemented.

I too have studied abroad and know the agony of racism first hand. There were many instances, but the two that impacted me the most is when, on one occasion, I had plastic bags of human urine hurled at me and the second abuse was being knocked to the floor on a subway train, and being kicked in the ribs repeatedly by skin heads. The humiliation of such attacks stay with you forever and the pain you feel over the injustice of it all, is not something that can never be described or shared with another. Ultimately for your own dignity to survive, you just have to dig really deep into your inner self and find the way out of that dark tunnel of despair on your own.

The appalling fact remains that what can be done by authorities to provide safety to foreign students is often not considered a necessity by them, and harassment and targeting foreign nationals becomes an amusement and pass time for the lumpen elements within the youth of countries like Australia and the United Kingdom, where racism has a history.

But then we in India are no better with the ragging on university campuses and in educational institutions such as boarding schools, where perverse means of degradation become accepted ways of welcoming new students. Must death and bodily harm become the wake up calls that finally bring our attention to the parameters that we need to establish as acceptable codes of conduct within a civilized society. The golden rule should be to treat others as we would want to be treated. I don't know why this is such a difficult thing to do.

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