Academic says Australia in state of denial over assaults on Indians

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Melbourne, Jan.13 (ANI): An internationally respected Australian academic has told a major conference in Switzerland that Australia is in a state of denial on the racially motivated attacks against international students, including Indians, and has failed to deal with the issue.

Melbourne University professor Simon Marginson, delivering a keynote address to the World Universities Forum in Davos, said the Australian government was trying to spin itself out of crisis following this month's murder of Indian accountancy graduate Nitin Garg in a west Melbourne park.

"The Australian Government is in denial," Professor Marginson told the high-powered meeting of academics.

"Racist targeting is involved (in the attacks). Indian students do have a special problem. And there isn't enough official and civil concern about international student security in Australia," he added.

Garg's unsolved murder has sparked diplomatic, government and public protests in India, further weakened one of Australia's most important education export markets and prompted a defensive response from Australia's political leaders and Victoria Police.

Foreign students are Australia's third-largest source of export revenue at 15 billion dollars a year.

Professor Marginson, a professor of higher education and a globally recognised expert on international education, called for the establishment of a "cross- border agency" to help safeguard international students globally.

Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna has warned that continued violence against Indian students could damage relations and called for an immediate "corrective action" by Australia.

This followed a decision by the Indian government to issue a travel warning advising expat students to take precautions while living in Australia generally and Melbourne in particular.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said he had talked with Krishna, and "both agreed this was an issue we did not want to disturb or get in the way of what the External Affairs Minister described as an excellent relationship."

In a statement released after their conversation, Mr Krishna "reiterated the need for immediate corrective measures, pointing out that the issue had consistently figured in our parliament". (ANI)

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