Thoughts on economics and liberty

The Indian media needs to show some restraint

I'm posting this to express deep disgust at the cartoon in Delhi’s Mail Today newspaper on Tuesday that depicted Victoria Police as members of KKK.

The Indian Foreign Minister often goes overboard, but some elements of the media take the cake. The credibility of India's media (or at least such papers like Daily Mail) will drop to zero if it continues on this path.

Reference: This article.

==ADDENDUM 15 JANUARY 2010==
This comment was in response to Sushi Das's article here. (I now notice a number of comments from people on my comment, here (SMH).

Indians have a huge collectivist mindset arising from Nehruvian socialist ideology and its super-charged, veering on xenophobic, nationalism. As a result even highly educated Indians often see things in "groups", not as specific events to be individually isolated and analysed. Thus, one group (e.g. Australia) is always pitted against another (e.g.India). Tribal thinking.

Many parts of the Indian media have lumped the whole of Australia racist just because of a few Australian ruffians. Would Indian like to be told that the killing of one foreign Christian missionary by an Indian ruffian was a 'crime against humanity'? Is there no difference between crime and mass-murder?

Sushi you seem to suffer this confusion along with other Indians. It is wrong to cite the White Australia policy in current discourse 37 years after it was shut down! I trust you know the current laws of Australia. It is a crime to be racist. All hate crimes are severely punishable. Please live in the present.

Indians must learn to distinguish between Australian policy and Australian crime. Australia is not a Fairyland. It will always have its share of crime. The Indian government should give its students a realistic picture of Australia and not build a distorted expectation in their minds about perfect safety in Australia.

Second, people should note that **most** (not all) racism is 'soft' racism. It is a primarily a disease of deep ignorance, even self-harming stupidity. Australia has a lot of deeply ignorant people. But please note that not all ignorant people are criminals! are criminals. Please note that!

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Here's a comment I made in response to an email I received in response to my (above) comment in The Age (I'm making note of these things so that one day if I find time I can consolidate all argument systematically into one. As usual, these are unedited comments, being placed here for my personal record, for later use):

In my view the current 'problem' is primarily a consequence of the failure in managing the inflow of Indian students over the past few years.

Not many people in Australian policy circles understand India well barring a very few (Greg Sherdian comes to mind as a relatively perceptive commentator, but he is not part of the government). I notice a lot of superficial "knowledge" in Australian policy circles about India, leading Australian governments to often make reckless decisions about India. Unlike the Vietnamese or Sri Lankan influx, the 'lust' for economic growth through educational exports seems to have over-ridden good sense and prudential risk management.

Australian policy makers particularly don't understand India's modern media which is one of the world's most hyper-active – but also (and this is not known to most) one of the world's most corrupt (exactly like India's politicians). Indeed, some parts of the media take a good amount of money to publish favourable articles! For the main news they prefer inflammatory and emotional language. Yellow journalism is often the bread and butter of the Indian media, given severe market competition.

To reduce this hysteria in the Indian media (and government) the Australian media could help by writing on these lines in the Indian media:
a) explaining (repeating like a mantra) the change in Australian laws since 1973 and insisting that officially and for all practical purposes Australia is the world's greatest melting pot today. Provide data. Provide testimonials.

b) agreeing that some (small amount of) 'soft' racism exists but that it is being slowly rooted out; rooting it out won't be the job of a few weeks or months but of a few generations. Indians in Australia better get used to experiencing a small (very) amount of 'soft' racism for it is not going away in the next 30 years;

c) insisting that the vast majority of the 'soft' racists are not violent. Indeed, they may not be white at all. A good number of persons from other communities have been involved in 'racist' violence. Violence is a prerogative of criminals and ruffians who will, given a chance, attack anyone irrespective of skin colour.

d) noting, as you have, that a "young criminal "cockroach" class has adopted attacks on Indians as a way of creating notoriety". It is a fashion of the month kind of thing. There is significant intra-youth violence in Australia today even in schools. And noting that this social problem won't go away in a few weeks.

e) expressing distress at offensive portrayals of Australia in India and insisting that crime be looked at in a case-by-case basis with no generalisations made about Australia as as whole by anyone anywhere.

The government in Australia could consider get a prominent group of Indians living in Australia to write a strong letter of opposition to the hysterical views expressed in the Indian media about Australia and publish that statement in the Indian media in the form of an advertisement.

It can also diplomatically (offline) indicate its readiness to cool off bilateral relationships if the Indian government doesn't stop making its usual wild statements about Australia and the Australian Police. The same letter can be published in the Australian media itself to assure Australians that Indians living here are clearly against these aspersions cast on Australia. In any event, by accepting these repeated allegations lying down, the Australia media and government are making themselves more vulnerable to bullying by hopelessly corrupt Indian politicians and the often corrupt Indian media.

Other leads to possible solutions (not fully developed) can be built on the material posted on my blog post: http://sabhlok.blogspot.com/2009/05/how-justified-are-india-s-beliefs-about.html. I don't have time to think through the whole thing (that's not my job) but I do know that those who are paid to think through these things in the Australian media/government haven't done their job properly.

===DOT POINTS FOR A POSSIBLE ARTICLE ON THIS MATTER==
I'm mulling over the idea of converting the key points from my previous writings on this issue (more particularly from DOF, which is still a draft manuscript) into a proper article. If I do find time or reason to do so, the points below would perhaps be included:

– What's the problem at hand? Is it one of crime or is it one of racism? The fact that Indian students have a higher probability of being attacked in Melbourne is not meaningful unless all relevant variables are controlled for. Thus, are Indians suffering disproportionately higher attacks in comparison with others who do
similar high risk things: live in high risk areas, work in high risk localities, travel by public transport or walk long distances at night, etc. Only after controlling for these variables would the magnitude of the problem begin to emerge.

– Only once the problem is properly identified can a range of 'solutions' proposed.

– On the other hand, whatever the real underlying problem, the perception that Australia is a particularly racist and violent country is definitely a problem that needs to be dealt with. The solution to this would require extensive education on both sides; indeed globally.

– One species, no 'race', one blood, one consciousness, one feeling, one heart (OK, multiple hearts, but definitely everything else is the same). Anyone who believes there are 'races' needs to get some education. Ignorance of the origin of humans is no excuse in the modern world. Even if (this is merely hypothetical) there were distinct human species, their being sentient would rule out any discriminatory behaviour against them. Racism has no basis. It is a phrase without meaning and no actionable content.

– No logical claim to generalise about entire nations unless (a) strong authorisation by the law (people's representatives), and (b) clear pattern of social/economic behaviour. Example: slavery in USA: clear pattern in southern states, possibility of arguing against the racism of slave owners across USA; authorised by the state, advocated by political leaders in the south. Unlike that (or even later versions of legal racism in the US/West, Australia has moved on considerably and has no traces of official racism.

– Isolated and unauthorised acts by criminals DO NOT represent the nation of Australia.

– Instead of being racist and discriminating against Indians, Australia has been welcoming tens of thousands of Indian migrants over the past decades, more so in the immediately preceding decade. Indians now constitute the largest single source of migrants into Australia (check).

– Not only is there no pattern of official racism, the vast majority of Australians (a) love India and Indian cuisine; (b) welcome Indians to their society. It is blatantly wrong, and very unfair to, to club these wonderful people along with those elements of Australia who have not yet moved on.

– Yes, there is a good amount of perceived (not proven in similar proportion) 'soft racism' (job-related) but those who do so are guaranteed to lose out against those who do not. Rejecting talent is not in anyone's interest. Only foolish Australians do so. Let them do so. No tears need be shed for them. They will learn the harsh lessons of the market. While this is not the point to debate this matter, I believe India practices (in proportion) a far greater amount of racism within India. But the debate is not primarily about racism. It is about violence.

– There is a great common ground between Australia and India that needs to be understood deeply by both sides. Many Australian policy makers are deeply ignorant of India, and so also many Indians about Australia – even those who live here. Both are great liberal democracies, allied with each other today on virtually every major international issue. There is a great need for them to learn more about each other better and to work towards a common market. Cultural and economic ties need to be dramatically strengthened. More particularly, ties in the practices of governance (e.g. good governance principles) need to be significantly increased.

etc.

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MORE INFORMATION ON THIS SUBJECT ON MY BLOG:

How justified are India’s beliefs about Australian racism?

Amitabh Bachchan's baseless generalisation about Australia

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