Tharoor says racial attacks won't sour relations with Oz

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New Delhi, Aug. 3 (ANI): Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor has said that the racial attacks on Indian students in Australia would not harm the relations between the two countries.

"We believe we are on the same side on many issues. We are both constitutional democracies with a free press and a taste for cricket. Why on earth should we let anything come between us?" Tharoos said in his interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.

He, however, said there was no clear evidence that the problem had been resolved.

Tharoor praised Australian efforts to end the violence but said he could not say with certainty that Indians were no longer being singled out for assault in Australia.

"There is only one meaningful yardstick, and that is that if these attacks cease, or become so infrequent that no one, neither students nor the press, can claim that there is a continuing pattern of anti-Indian violence. It's not yet clear that we have reached that point, but I hope we are getting there," the paper quoted him, as saying.

Some 95,000 Indians are studying in Australia after a university publicity blitz targeting the huge South Asian country's growing middle class.

However, a series of attacks in Sydney and Melbourne boiled over into street protests last month amid accusations from students that police were not doing enough to halt racist violence.

Australian authorities have played down any racial aspect to the attacks, saying the jobs that Indian students take on to support their education mean they are often in dangerous areas or on public transport late at night.

Tharoor said interest within India about the attacks was so strong that efforts to "cool down" the issue were undermined every time an attack occurred and the Indian media launched renewed coverage.

Revelations about scams in Australia's international education sector have added to the country's bad press in India, with education bodies reporting a recent slump in interest from the sub-continent. (ANI)

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