Friday, June 22, 2012

Dumb, Drunk and Racist

Some out of tune thoughts after watching the ABC2 documentary, called "Dumb, drunk and Racist"..

galleryLast night's episode was largely focussed on graffiti.. "Say No to Burqa" somewhere on Sydney's wall..

It showed very clearly how the artist was racially motivated under the garb of "art"..I will highly recommend it. I think it can also be seen on-line.

galleryI admire the journalists like Joe Hildebrand in Australia. If you saw the episode, you have to admire his guts to sit on the Indian footpath under his banner, "Talk to a dumb, drunk and racist". Even though it makes for great television, it needs loads of moral courage to accept your follies. And his handling of the graffiti interactions in the first episode, were very admirable. Many times I find, those who talk negatively about existing racism in Australia are doing so out of looking "fashionable" rather than a real wish to explore it. Hildebrand looked like he really cares about Australia's image and wants to bring out the truth even if it hurts.

I find we Australians of Indian origin, especially, highly qualified, are pussy-footing around this very critical issue. We generally do not want to "upset" our white friends. We express ourselves only within our circles. Fair enough. But, often that gives a wrong impression. One must learn and have guts to express truth, as we see and feel. Ofcourse, we must do it correctly and in a balanced way. Indeed, sometimes, what we feel as discrimination is not so; but by and large, there is plenty of covert racial discrimination. Overt racism is clearly there, in a very small percentage of people, as we see that in our shop now and again, even after being in the business for over 12 years. Racism is every where, more so perhaps in India. But Indians do not shut their minds to it; they have accepted it exists and have been trying to change. What I believe is wrong down under, is that a few australians (including some politicians), are dismissive about it; don't want to accept it; shove it under the carpet..

In my opinion, people like John Howard, put this country back by the period he ruled as a PM. It is clear to me from the fact that every time there is a discussion about migration, it is inevitably about boat people or those who illegally arrive or refugees. Rarely is there a discussion about plight of skilled migrants and the kind of discrimination they have to face. Infact, I do not remember seeing or reading even a single one in last 17 years I have lived here. The reason to me is this; (I may be wrong). I believe it is because talking about refugees and people in need to get out of their countries, gives Australians a sense of being superior, talking from the position of strength. Feel good about how we are helping others. And that is good. However, dealing with skilled migrant, coming here due to their qualifications and experiences that do not exist in enough quantity in this country, makes them feel like speaking from an inferior position. So best not to discuss that. The real strength of any migration program is the skill brought into the society to innovate and improve businesses/services to be able to trade something globally.

USA's strength is the success of its skill migration program and its ability to give equal footing to those who invested their abilities in their new country. Australia still feels "insecured" about qualified people coming in since its own human resource is unable to cope with it psychologically. A country where you need more marks to get in to a Law or business degree than Engineering has a serious problem!

I reckon in some ways, it is a USA of 60s and 70s. Today, USA is very different. My trips to that country (first one being in Oct 1991), have indicated immense change in that country's acceptance of Asians and subcontinent migrants as compared to europeans. They can now accept that a non-caucasian can be as "smart" as a white person..

Don't miss rest of the episodes. This should win the Walkley Awrd, just for the moral courage..


  1. Good one Deep. I am not quite aware of the situation that prevails down under. But it was definitely discouraging when concerted racial attacks took place against Indians.

    I used to think, it is all bad over there. But a very highly qualified Punjabi friend of mine, now settled in Sydney for 7 years gave a completely different picture and said, it wasn't bad at all. Umesh too has not faced much of a problem.

    A little level of racism or undercurrents of xenophobia persists among all of us and all races in spite of education, globalization and the www. We may never see a world free of racism like a world free of smokers !

    1. Thanks Govind. Much appreciated. To put it in correct perspective, in my opinion, the so-called racial attacks in Melbourne, that Indian media made so much hue and cry about, were never that. More like crimes of opportunity, sad consequences not-with-standing. As for racism, and especially covert, it exists every where, in differing proportions. By and large western countries find it hard to accept since they take a lot of pride in a sense of equality. Indeed their constitutions are built upon that and by and large, laws work in these countries. Australia is going through a massive cultural change. When we came here in 1995, people used to ask us openly, when will we go back?? Even at Federal institutions like CSIRO (The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), after missing out on a job opportunity (in 1999), after fourth interview, I was told that I was not selected since I was over qualified than the internal candidate who was eventually selected. This happened after I continued to press the HR Manager, who told me off record. While some may argue it still does not constitute racial discrimination, what is the chance that if there was another equally qualified as me, white candidate, he also would have been denied? Many older professionals (those who came before 2000) ended up either removing their highest qualifications to get into work force or completely changed the profession. For doctors, issue is different. Since they are in such a shortage here, that even before they clear their exams and residency requirements, they are allowed to work in Govt hospitals and clinics in remote areas. That is how a debarred Doctor Dr. Patel (called Dr. Death here) was allowed to continue to work. Having said that, even after DR. Death, the stock of Indian doctors is still high; they are generally well respected. Australia is changing, but away from main cities like Sydney and Melbourne, that change is perceptibly slower....