Sydney, Jan. 15 (ANI): While politicians, police and the media in Australia and India are busy debating racial attacks on Indian students, a single refreshing note of clarity has been sounded by India's Minister of State, Shashi Tharoor, who has sought to focus on what is at the heart of the matter.
While speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Tharoor made two important points: first, that Australia has a crime problem in the suburbs that it must attend to, and second, that India is within its rights to speak out when its citizens face danger.
"The whole racism issue has really coloured this debate in an unhealthy way, because when our media either seizes on that, or the Australian media in turn respond critically, we are essentially dealing with not black or brown or white, but red herrings," he said.
Despite the Victoria Police announcing the lack of evidence for a racial motive in Nitin Garg's murder in a Yarraville park early this month, Australian politicians have been saying that the country is a safe destination for international students.
Indian politicians and media are of the view that Australia is either in denial or avoiding the issue.
External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna said Garg's death was a "heinous crime against humanity" that would have a bearing on bilateral relations.
But Tharoor advised Australia to deal with its internal crime while saying that bilateral relations would not suffer because of these incidents.
"We value our relationship with Australia, it's a friendly country. The truth is this is a problem of law and order, one that Australia is dealing with and needs to deal with internally. But it cannot but affect us when our citizens are reported to be suffering," he added.
In a few elegant words, Tharoor cut to the heart of the issue.
"For an Indian mother to hear that her son has been assaulted in Australia, it little matters to her whether he was assaulted because of his race, or because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, or because he was the wrong colour or the wrong height, or was carrying an iPod. She doesn't want her son to be assaulted," he said.
"It's a very common human feeling and that's essentially what this is all about," he added. (ANI)