Indian-Australian students violence: Barbecue plan leaves Rudd, Rotary Australia red faced

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New Delhi, Nov.14 (ANI): Rotary Australia has taken on Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for apparently promising barbecues to Indian students in his country while on a visit to Indian capital New Delhi, saying barbecues were not an ideal welcoming gesture as most Indians are vegetarian.

Rudd's reported announcement came moments before Thursday's press conference here over criminal attacks on Indian students in Australia.

The Age quotes Rudd as claiming that inviting Indian students in Australia for barbecues with Australian families was a Rotary Australia idea, but the latter says the plan came from Rudd's office.

A press release was distributed on Thursday night announcing the barbecue proposal, entitled: "Home for Dinner: Australian Families Offering Hospitality to Indian Students." The document was then quickly withdrawn.

Speaking on 3AW yesterday morning, Rudd said the program was a Rotary initiative.

"We're just backing them in. As I understand it, they're going to be putting all that out later today," Rudd was quoted as saying.

Rotary Australia president Frank Pezzimenti said the idea came from Rudd's office.

"The PM had the simple idea of inviting Indians to Australian households to show that we're nice people. [His office] said to us, 'What do you think?' "

"Someone suggested a barbecue and I said, 'No, no, most Indians are vegetarian.' I wrote to their office yesterday, but it must have been too late."

He said he had no idea why the release was withdrawn, but he was aware of a "major typo".

The program would likely go ahead as a dinner rather than a barbecue, he said.

Amit Menghani, president of the Federation of Indian Students of Australia, said the proposal was a nice gesture but would do little to deal with "serious problems" faced by students in terms of safety and education.

The former president of the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria, Shabbir Wahid, said a barbecue could cause further tensions. (ANI)

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