Thoughts on economics and liberty

Tag: Racism in Australia

Fully agree with Brumby on this

I thought I'd post this to express my support for John Brumby's article in The Australian today (

And while I find Greg Sheridan's views often useful, the article cited (in The Australian) was misconceived in many ways. Among other things, he referred to an anecdote about a taxi drive of his, and used it to blame all Victorians. The reality also is that every day in the morning, I'm acknowledged as a valuable member of this society by total strangers walking on the streets who wish me well: "G'Day mate, Good Morning".

This is a POLITE COUNTRY. A DECENT COUNTRY. Anyone who clubs the lumpens of Melbourne with the average decent Melbournian is totally misrepresenting this city and its outstandingly cultured people. Yes, I have come across two bad people in the last nine years here: two potentially violent bullies. In one case a small road rage event, and in the other a threatening bully who thought that he must dominate the fast lane in the swimming pool and those with lesser talent did not have a place there. Both events passed without harm, and the swimming pool bully was startled to get what he gave me, back. That's shut him up and he hasn't squeaked since then. But such things are no greater than what one would come across in any other place or country.

But anecdotes are irrelevant. Data is. A high quality statistical analysis that controls the many confounding variables involved in the outcome (violent crime against Indian students) is urgently required. An expert econometrician with a lot of critical thinking and broad based understanding of causality is needed. The debate has simply gotten out of hand because a really good study has not yet been conducted.

There is also a more basic philosophical issue involved here: Why is a government responsible for anyone's racism? Racism is a social problem, not a problem for the government to resolve. As far as a government is concerned, its job is to prevent violence within the resources it possesses. The Australian governments forbid racism by law, and identifies and punishes racism and violence. What else is it supposed to do? It is not a social reformer.

References to my other write-ups on this issue – some far more extensive than this.

a) The Indian media need to show restraint.

b) Amitabh Bachchan's baseless generalisation about Australia

c) How justified are India’s beliefs about Australian racism?

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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.

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!

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: 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.

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.



How justified are India’s beliefs about Australian racism?

Amitabh Bachchan's baseless generalisation about Australia

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Amitabh Bachchan's baseless generalisation about Australia

Continuing on my previous blog post on a similar subject (which I don't want to clutter with other things) two things become clear:

a) The media in India has vastly over-reacted. While SMK may not have called these recent assaults 'racist', the media very clearly has, and continues to do so. E.g. "Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan has reacted to racial attacks on Indian students in Australia by rejecting an honorary doctorate offered to him by an Australian university." (see Express India, 30 May 09)

b) Amitabh Bachchan has generalised without basis re: the entire country. "I mean no disrespect to the Institution that honours me, but under the present circumstances, where citizens of my own country are subjected to such acts of inhuman horror, my conscience does not permit me to accept this decoration from a country that perpetrates such indignity to my fellow countrymen." (same article above).

Mr Bachchan, I respect your work but I think you've misconstrued the situation pretty badly. Do not libel an entire nation. It is not Australia (nor Australians as a whole!) but a few stupid louts who have attacked a few Indians. Crime happens. Others too get attacked. Please check out the crime scene in Melbourne. It is not crime free! It is broadly safe, but not crime free.

It is REALLY bad logic to generalise from incidents which are likely ordinary crimes, to the entire country. I urge you to take back your decision and ask your advisers for evidence that there has been a disproportionate harm inflicted by goons and criminals in Australia on people of Indian appearance. Don't listen to the Indian media and TV. These guys are out of their mind!

Sanjeev Sabhlok
31 May 2009

PS. Australia has dramatically reduced its levels of racism over the past 30 years. But crime is a different matter.

Thus, out of the roughly 90,000 Indian students in Australia, some will inevitably get caught in crime. The only proof of these incidents being caused by an increase in racism (or being motivated purely by racism) will be to demonstrate statistically that the crime rate experienced by people of Indian origin in Australia is HIGHER than that experienced by the rest of the Australian population, after controlling for place of residence or work. Indian students tend to live in high risk and high crime areas and work late night and return back by public transport, walking on empty streets, or driving taxis that collect all kinds of weirdos, drunkards, and drug addicts at late night. For someone with that residence and work profile, I don't think Indian students are experiencing a particularly higher crime rate, ie. the are not being discriminated by the louts and criminals of Melbourne. But I'm not the expert on this and will leave it to the Police to investigate and tell the people what is going on.

PS 2 (added on 2 June 2009). A sensible article in The Agetoday

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How justified are India’s beliefs about Australian racism?

[I've also got two other blog posts on this subject: here and here]

[Addendum, 6 June 2009: This blog post has received a lot of visits and many comments. Going by some of the comments posted by readers, I suspect that some of them have only read parts of this post. But most importantly, probably none will spend the time to read my draft manuscript 'The Discovery of Freedom' – which is over 500 book-pages long – that I have cited as reference, and which contains extensive discussion on 'racism'. There is therefore great potential for readers to misunderstand what I am saying. Therefore, let me make a few comments upfront:

(1) Biological fact: Genetically speaking, we are ALL – each and EVERY human on earth – essentially BLACK North African brothers and sisters. The white skin emerged as recently as 5500 years ago. We ALL have one COMMON great-great–grand mother, with some of us having a few harmless mutations of skin colour that arose to help us adapt better to low sunlight and snow in the higher latitudes. So welcome to this post, brother, sister. (If you don't agree with this biological fact, you may be a part of the problem. Read up biology and become a part of the solution!). And consider this simple fact: I have donated blood in India, USA and Australia. My blood has therefore gone into the veins of people with all skin colours and helped them live, or even saved their lives. So please, before considering this issue further, let us be clear that we are a single species which is surprisingly homogenous given its vast spread across the world.

‘It is impossible to look at people’s genetic code and deduce whether they are Black, Caucasian or Asian.’[1] ‘Modern human genetics … deliver[s] the salutary message that human populations share most of their genetic variation and that there is no scientific support for the concept that human populations are discrete, non-overlapping entities.’[2]

[1] Henderson, Mark, ‘Gene tests prove that we are all the same under the skin’, Times Online, October 27, 2004, []

[2] Lynn Jorde and Stephen Wooding of the University of Utah, cited in Henderson, Mark, ‘Gene tests prove that we are all the same under the skin’, Times Online, October 27, 2004. []

(2) Racism violates equal freedom. Racism is not merely discrimination against others on grounds of their skin colour, but also on the basis of nationality, state of origin, caste, and tribe. I condemn all forms of racism as these are both false in their underlying logic and violative of equal freedom for all. Everyone should be treated on merit, not on a prejudicial basis.

(3) Individual justice, not paint-brushing entire collectives. Freedom demands individual accountability. (My comment of 4 June says it thus : It is individuals who must be accountable for their actions, not entire communities. There is a serious error of analysis in jumping to collectivist conclusions and generalising beyond the particular incidents. Such errors of analysis, if uncorrected, can themselves become the cause of future problems.)

(4) The challenge of explaining the causes of crime. A hypothetical multivariate equation explaining the incidence of crime would look like:

Incidence of crime = f (availability, opportunity, motive) + Delta, where 

availability = f (availability of victim, availability of criminal), being in turn, a function of (place of residence and work, time of the day, level of drugs use and unemployment in society )

opportunity = f (level of isolation, level of police or other surveillance, level of use of knives and guns in society)

motive = f (greed, hatred – including racism, fear, revenge, etc.)

It is very hard to distinguish the racist element from the ordinary statistics of crime.

5) Why do Indians have to leave India in the first place?

This is a vital issue. It must be noted that the Indian education system is broken, its governance, its police etc. are broken. Its residents continue to flee India because discrimination is rampant, corruption is perhaps the only way to prosper, and because life and property are in constant danger. Its rich live in walled houses and cities, with guards and dogs to protect them from chronic crime. A major part of the solution is to fix India. India needs leaders who can take it out of its mess. I encourage you (if you are from India) to look at the Freedom Team of India and consider whether you are willing to lead India to greatness, so that others will come to India, and Indians not have to leave India for simple things like good education.

6)India own crime rates are sky-high but no frenzy seems to emerge:

At least 6,000 (and up to 25,000) women are killed (not just injured) each year for bringing inadequate dowry. These are called dowry deaths. But there is stunned silence in the media and TV about it. Thousands of murders and thefts, of which very few get reported because the police will not lodge a report without a bribe. Why is the Indian media silent about it? Not to diminish the attacks against Indian students outside India, but to ask: why this frenzy? Why is there no balance in the Indian media reports?

7)Read the report on Overseas Student Education Experience Taskforce (Victoria) chaired by Marsha Thomson:

Addendum 22 July 2009. Complexities involved, including data: Visa crackdown will hit numbers (Australian 22 July

Now Read On!

An Indian student was recently attacked in Melbourne. This is not the first such time. S M Krishna, India’s Foreign Minister said he was appalled by the racist attack (SIFY headline: "SM Krishna condemns 'racist' attacks on Indian students in Australia" or Economic Times: "India on Wednesday expressed shock over the racist attack on four Indian students in Melbourne and asked Australia to take steps to prevent such incidents on Indian students.")

NOTE added on 31 May 2009: I now gather that there has been serious misreporting in the media on this issue, and that SM Krishna's written statement does not allege racism as the motive. See statement of SMK As a result of the new information, I'm deletingthe paragraph of this blog posted yesterday that read: "I agree that more can be done to ensure the safety of Indian students. But I am personally outraged at the unsolicited allegation being made about Australian racism by the Indian Foreign Minister (and India’s High Commissioner as well). This amounts to the pot calling the kettle black. Look into the skeletons in your own cupboard, SMK, I would ask!"I should have done due diligence and checked original sources. However, I continue to have the strong impression from many sources that many Indians see Australia as a particularly racist country. And so the rest of this post is still relevant and will remain broadly 'as is' except for minor editorial tweaking {1 June 2009: I've taken part of a comment I posted below into the main text now, and reshuffled the order of the post to make the flow of logic more evident. In addition, I've brought part of the text of my other 'sister' post on this subject here as well, to better substantiate a statement made earlier}The rest of the post should now read thus.

I agree that more can be done to ensure the safety of Indian students.(Addendum 4 June: Here's a write up by Miranda Devine in today's Age that points to the need to beef up Police more generally in Victoria, a matter on which I have no expertise.) (Addendum 5 June: There is plenty of violence going around in Melbourne on an average night.) Let the criminals who perpetrated these crimes be brought to book, and let various steps be taken to improve security of all citizens in Australia/Melbourne. I have nothing to say on that.

But if India tries to use the
'race card' in this debate, it enters deep waters. The allegation of the Indian High Commissioner that there may be "a racist element in some of the attacks" is perhaps unexceptionable although unsubstantiated. But unsolicited allegations in parts of the Indian media about Australian racism are quite excessive. Yes, there is some racism in Australia (and I'll touch upon it below), but we have to be very cautious either about claiming that racism was a causal factor in these attacks or, worse, generalising about a society that has done so much about this issue over the past 30 years.

Indeed, beliefs that attacks on Indians in Australia are racist raise many significant issues.

1) Proof needed that this (or these) attacks are driven primarily by racism

Addendum, 9 June 2009. It now appears from the police chief that there is proof that at least some of the attacks are racially driven. See here. "Some of these crimes are racially motivated; however I also believe that many of the robberies and other crimes of violence are simply opportunistic." Except for white supremacists, other crimes can be easily muddled with racism. The loafers and louts of a society will obviously use foul language that can be construed as racist. But I would suggest these crimes are still largely (not entirely!) opportunistic because of the vulnerability of Indian students who live in crime-infested places.

Crime happens. Others too get attacked. Melbourne is not crime free! It is broadly safe, but not crime free. (Addendum: The violent street culture in Melbourne is significantly on the rise – The Age 16 July 2009). India must prove (apart from getting its own house in order first) that racism is either rife or increasing in Australia; AND that racism was involved in the recent cases. If not, it should treat this as a regular criminal matter and stick to non-inflammatory language. Particularly the Indian media.

Mixing crime with racism is bad statistical analysis. The vast bulk of crime in Australia is 'white against white' crime. Drug related crime, robbery, etc., happens to everyone. All kinds of weirdos exist in all societies. The local Police investigated this particular matter and I recall reading somewhere that they believe that the current incident was not race based.[Addendum 3 June: a news report confirming my hypothesis: "police believed that Indian students had suffered disproportionately because they were more vulnerable. Many needed to take jobs, often at late hours, to support themselves, and they used public transport heavily, often at times when few other passengers were travelling."Addendum 8 June 2009: Came across this article from The Age today ("Indians an easy target for cowards lurking in shadows" by Anson Cameron) which tells a different story to what the Police have been publicly saying, and seems to confirm that Indians are being disproportionately attacked. Apparently the local Police told the author of this article informally that "it's usually Indians or Asians who are targeted because they're small and non-aggressive."If true, and if the Police at senior levels are aware of this, then this is a matter of great concern: a) First, because the reported incident was from Port Melbourne, an otherwise wealthy area with presumably low crime [which means the earlier argument doesn’t apply]. b) Second, the informal argument of the local Police doesn't make sense because there are small and non-aggressive people from all nationalities and 'races'. Are all of them equally vulnerable? Why are small and non-aggressive people of Asian and Indian origin being singled out for attacks? If evidence of this sort is confirmed, I may need to partially change my views and agree that 'race' – if not racism – is perhaps a factor underlying some of these attacks. Addendum 25 June 2009: Indians safer in Australia: Rudd,The Hindu, 25 June 2009. Addendum 4 July, 2009. Some issues with death data Age 1 July, Age 4 July. ]

Although louts and ruffians will always use foul language which can be construed to be racist, ordinary crime should be treated as crime. Period. Except for white supremacists who are genuine racist criminals (and these are seriously curbed by the Police), the rest of the criminals are just that – plain louts. Melbourne has had a spate of stabbings of all kinds of people: not just Indian students. It therefore doesn't behove the Indian media to characterise one of the most multicultural societies in the world as racist. Racism (to the extent it does exist in Australia and in the West) operates more at the economic level. Racists are not, as a rule, criminals who will use violence. Criminals who use violence are usually a totally different category altogether.

The only proof of these incidents being caused by an increase in racism (or being motivated purely by racism) as claimed in the Indian media will be to demonstrate statistically that the crime rate experienced by people of Indian origin in Australia is HIGHER than that experienced by the rest of the Australian population, after controlling for place of residence and work.

It is important to understand that out of the roughly 90,000 Indian students in Australia, some will inevitably get caught in crime. Indian students are particularly vulnerable to crime because they tend to live in high risk and high crime areas and work late night and return back by public transport, walking on empty streets, or driving taxis that collect all kinds of weirdos, drunkards, and drug addicts at late night. For someone with that residence and work profile, I don't think Indian students are experiencing a particularly higher crime rate, ie. they are not necessarily being discriminated by the louts and criminals of Melbourne on the ground of their 'race' . But I'm not the expert on this and will leave it to the Police to investigate and tell the people what is going on.

Addendum 10 June: "According to Victoria police officials, in 2007-08, there were 36,765 victims of crimes such as robberies and assaults in the state, of which 24,260 were Caucasian victims and 1,447 victims were people of Indian origin" (here). This is disproportionately high in relation to the population of peole of Indian orgin. But this data could do with some further analysis. I recall reading somewhere that the Police cluster all kinds of Indian-looking people as people of Indian origin, including Philipinos, so the robustness of this classification needs to be confirmed. Second, the relevant control variables which need to be factored in are: place of residence and work, time of attack, kind of attack (ie. group bashing or simple robbery), nature of occupation, whether around public transport, whether around taxi, etc. Addendum 1 July 2009. Here's some more data [The Age 1 July 2009] that shows possibly higher rates of death of Indian students, but it could well be from higher accidental drownings or suicide – ie. analysis is incomplete.Addendum 14 July 2009. The Australian, today outlined the possibility of high rates of suicide in this group given the complex interaction of corruption in India and expectations of parents.]

2) Pot calling the kettle black

But far more problematically, using a blanket 'race' card for all of Australia amounts to the pot calling the kettle black. Yes, there are racists in Australia. No doubt about it. But look into the skeletons in your own cupboard is what I would ask those who make wild statements about Australia or allege racial motives to what does not appear to be (as reported by the Police) race-based crime. And even if it were, the whole context would need to be seen: history, comparisons over time, and so on and on…

India is currently, in my view, one of the world's most racist countries. A fair skin not only gets you a better spouse (higher status husband, higher dowry from the wife, etc.) but a better job. Even in elections the fairer candidate generally receives higher votes; hence posters of candidates paint them almost pink no matter what their real complexion! Fair and Lovely creams do brisk business. But that is only the cosmetic element, no matter how deep rooted in the Indian psyche. [Addendum 25 June 2009: There is only one test of racism (or its lack of): How many Indians will marry a pitch black African from Somalia or allow their son/daughter to marry such a person? My guess is less than 1 per cent. Accordingly I deduce that 99 per cent of Indians are racists. On the other hand there are a good number of such marriages in the West now. Indeed, Obama is a product of one such marriage. Addendum 29 June 2009: Similarly, Indians have imported 1000 totally untalented British actresses to work in Hindi movies, whereas none from dark Africa. – See this article in The Age.]

The worst form of racism relates to the caste system which is in many ways based on historical differences in skin colour. Tens, if not hundreds, of people are brutally beaten/killed in inter-caste violence each year in UP and Bihar. Roughly half the population in India (if the rural people are included) deny merit a chance and give preference to someone based on caste in jobs. Tribal racism in the North East is rife. If you are a non-Khasi in Meghalaya your risk of physically being attacked by Khasi ruffians increases quite substantially, and so on across almost all parts of India. If you are a Bihari you can be beaten up in Assam, and vice versa (horrendous incidents of this nature have occurred not so long ago). And if you are a Bihari in Mumbai, then expect to be beaten up at whim (at least that is what they were threatened with not so long ago).

The media in India of course loves to highlight residual Western racism (which, as I said, is real). But it fails to point out how small it is in comparison to Indian racism. Yet India remains a horribly racist society. [Addendum 21 June: Here's an article that shows just one aspect of it – Diepiriye Kuku: 'India Is Racist, And Happy About It'. Addendum 29 June: Our True Colours, Outlook, 29 June 2009]. Racism is embedded in its Constitution through the recognition of the caste system. Why would caste matter to a government? India needs its governments to crack down on all kinds of racism including casteism and parochial xenophobia within India and stop worrying about the residual racism in the West.


I have discussed racism at great length in The Discovery of Freedom (draft available here)

a) Race is biologically a non-existent concept hence those who believe in it are totally ignorant. That is our role as the educated people: to eliminate this myth of ‘race’.

b) Modern racism started around 300-400 years ago. Before that, where it did exist, the ‘whites’ were looked down upon (except in India, of course). Ie. modern racism has an economic basis.

c) Most of the famous liberal philosophers were racist. They couldn't see the contradiction in their views. Even Lincoln should be considered racist if his comments are read carefully.

d) Racism was very strong in the West till about 50 years ago.

e) Gandhi played the most pivotal role in reducing racism in the West (through his actions in South Africa and further actions in India, plus his influence on Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela).

f) Racism has declined dramatically in the West over the past generation (30 years) and is extremely low today (not non-existent). With Obama's election, even US could be potentially declared racism-free in the next few decades. My estimate in DOF, based on analysis of various studies, is that roughly 7% of the Western population is currently racist – in terms of actually acting on their racist beliefs. This is a serious blemish on western liberal societies that they need to get over, the sooner the better.

g) Racism has NOT declined in India during this period, making India the last bastion of racism in the world. It was the world's oldest racist society (with its caste system) and remains so even today.

Exploring the journey of Australian racism

Australia has changed very rapidly in the last generation. A very significant percentage (perhaps a quarter) of Australians today comprise new migrants who have come to Australia in the last 50 years from predominantly non-British countries: South Europe, Middle-East, South Asia, South East Asia, etc. Immigration has speeded up even further in the last ten years. Melbourne citizens come from over 144 countries. Australia doesn’t really care much if they get Indians, Chinese, or Vietnamese. Not the policy makers anyway. Anyone with skills who meets the point system can get in.

The Indian media is therefore completely wrong on this one, about calling Australia racist. In my experience, the most racist people I have met in Australia (and I've now been here for 9 1/2 years if you count my earlier stint of 1 year in '92-93) are many of the Indians who live here, not the old Australians. I have close friends among all so-called racial groups, but I have been badly shocked to find Indians speak to me in Hindi in front of their fellow workers about these 'Goras' in a derogative manner, or about 'Chinis', etc. Similarly, in USA I was shocked to find PhD students from India talk derogatively about 'Kallus' (American blacks). Indians who live abroad have this huge chip on their shoulder – racism.

How racist are Australians in giving jobs?

Most Indians who leave India are treated on merit and become successful and well-settled. That is why Indians are among the wealthiest single group in USA and Australia, among other places. On the other hand, in India they face caste and region discrimination their whole life. Or they must bribe their way to "success". So many have left that mess, happy to work in junior roles in the West where at least merit is recognised.

But there does remain a strong tendency among Indian migrants who don't get jobs in the West to classify their new home country as racist in conversations with fellow Indians and with Indians in India. I agree, there may well be a bit of it (7% or so, as I’ve pointed out above). But the work requirements here and work relations are so dramatically different to those found in India that very few new migrants who have worked in the past in India can demonstrate that they understand how to work in teams and demonstrate the relevant language skills. The poor language skills of many Indians show up in the resumes itself, and yet they complain that they were discriminated against due to race. Merit cuts both ways. You are good: you get in. You are not so good then you do other things. The huge number of Indians and Asian graduates from Australia recruited into public service and other jobs shows that employers are looking for skills-match, and are not bothered about ‘race’.

In Breaking Free of NehruI have written thus:

"The best people among those who apply are recruited, irrespective of their age or where they come from. Yes, there are periodic reports in the press in Australia about stereotyping of new immigrants based on misconceptions or generalizations about their language skills. It is said that some highly qualified candidates do not always get a foothold. Another problem is when potential employers do not care to contact referees from other countries. But in the same vein, elderly Australians and women also find it harder to get jobs in this system. Making detailed applications for tens of positions, including addressing selection criteria in great detail, can also be a very painful process for migrants and older candidates. But if one prepares well for a well-selected role, there is a good chance of being successful.

“Let me give my own example. Had I migrated to India as an Australian citizen at age 41 (the age at which I came to Australia), I could never have entered government service at all for two reasons:
• no open recruitment is undertaken in India at that age; and
• non-citizens are not allowed to work in government in India anyway (in Australia, non-citizens are able to work in state government departments).
However, not only did I get a research job based on my technical statistical skills (nobody would consider me at the management level at that point!), but I was able to move into a management role after about three years."

[Addendum 19 June 2009: Andrew Leigh's research shows there is some racial stereotyping at the entry level jobs in Australia. This is consistent with similar studies in USA and elsewhere in the West, and confirms that a certain amount of economic racism is definitely prevalent in these societies as noted earlier. The Australian, June 18, and actual research here. Similar stereotyping is also experienced by women and the elderly. In other words, being a person of a non-Anglo background acts as a slight disadvantage in terms of job entry and earnings. Despite this, at the end of their career, people of Indian origin generally figure in the top income brackets in USA and Australia due to their ability to rapidly progress once they get an initial foothold. It is quite possible that reverse racism, against 'Anglos' takes place where Indians are owners of a business. ]

[Addendum 8 January 2010I know of Indian friends who have lived here for many years, even decades. These are no
t new immigrants. They have much local experience. But they are almost without exception convinced that many (not all!) Australians are racist. These views are made on the basis of (claims of) being discriminated against in relation to jobs and promotions. I have personally seen and experienced this at work in a (very few) cases. I know that MOST people here will literally salivate when they come across someone has relatively junior experience in the UK but will ignore even the most highly experienced person from India. I also know that it is, however, not in the interest of good managers to discriminate racially since then their own performance suffers. Those who discriminate will under-perform and will therefore (ultimately) be removed from the marketplace. In any event, this irritating type of racism is ’soft’ racism. Such racists don't (generally) behave badly or offensively, leave alone injure others or kill.]

Yes, racism is not defensible. All racism must be criticised and addressed though equal opportunity laws and through better education. Let Indians claim, by all means, that a few racists do exist in Australia. But please do also acknowledge that there are 5-8 times (proportionately) that many racists in India. Let there be a balanced and truthful coverage of racism, no matter how fictitious this concept.

THE TASK OF OUR GENERATION: to demolish the concepts of race and caste

It is up to our generation to demolish these shameful concepts. I speak forthrightly thus not to condemn India or Indians generally but to set the facts straight and to ask what gives the Indian government the right to its arrogant belief that it can preach to Australia and others about racism. Express concerns about the safety of Indian students, sure! But to preach to Australia about racism. That's a total joke! Fix your own house first is what I'd recommend to India. Don't make a fool of yourself on the world stage given the huge amount of racism practiced in daily life in India today.

If hearing the truth about Indian racism hurts people who are racist or casteist, so be it. Being told the truth might make them reflect. In any event, I'm not here to pander to wrong ideas, no matter whose these may be, even of my fellow Indians. The politics I stand for (yes, I will be entering Indian politics in the coming years if various things that are currently under way make headway) is not related to power and begging for votes. I'm not into power. I'm into freedom and truth. Let us crush this evil of racism entirely across the entire world. Join me in condemning all racism everywhere.

Addendum 28 June 2009: One of Australia's greatest journalists, Philip Adams, wrote in passing in The Australian yesterday (weekly magazine) about his teenage daughter Rory: "She and her friends can't understand all the fuss about homosexuality and are mystified by racism". The world is lucky to have this new generation of kids: the MTV generation, where blacks and whites sing together, where blacks are now the world champions, heroes in song and movies, world best in many sports including golf, where they have now have produced a black president of the world's most powerful nation. These kids today (and I see my kids mingle daily with all 'races' here in Australia) have simply outgrown the concepts of race. They can't understand it. Therefore there are many 'mixed race' (noting that race is not a biologically viable concept) couples on Melbourne's streets.

I hope that the internet, media, and honest self-reflection among the current jaded Indian generation of 'elders' will bring about the revolution of heart that is needed to abolish racism (including casteism) from the face of the earth.

FREEDOM TEAM. Join the Freedom Team of India if you wish to change India.


Don't believe the media hype: racism is often a two-way street, by Akash Arora, Age, 2 June 2009

The views of the Dalai Lama on this issue, Times of India, 10 June 2009

No, we are not racists, by Neil Mitchell, Herald Sun, 11 June 2009

‘After 17 years of living here, I am made to feel like an outsider’Hindustan Times, 10 June 2009 regarding the racism and prejudices in New Delhi.

'Street violence to blame, not racism' – the view of former Australian Medical Association president Mukesh Haikerwal, The Age, 14 June 2009

See no evil by JOSH GORDON in The Age, 17 January 2010. [this one has some interesting and releavant statistics – don’t know the source of these stats – needs to be pursued]

Other related issues:

Indians high-risk violators of visas, The Australian, 20 June 2009.

Indian students violate their visa conditions: Hours late and long danger to students, The Age, 23 June 2009.

Australia has the highest proportion of foreign born people: Paul Sheehan Migration: the true story, The Age 2 November 2009.

Follow up comments (based on the issues I have raised in this post) raised in Facebook:

Some research papers on the subject of prevalence of racism in Australia

Police Chief's analysis of data in The Age, 6 Feb 2010.

The regular crime scene of Melbourn:

ADDENDUM: CASTE DISCRIMINATION IN INDIA (BLOCKED BY CASTE, ECONOMIC DISCRIMINATION IN MODERN INDIA: Edited by Sukhadeo Thorat, Katherine S. Newman; Oxford University Press, YMCA Library Building, Jai Singh Road, New Delhi-110001. Rs. 750)

Racism is reproduced through children, who show colour bias

Country 'drifting back to racism The Age June 16 2010

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