Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Weirdly Wired

Trust the Indian mind to reach conclusions based on 'hunches', aka pop-psychology of the Indian variety. Throw in mild esteem issues or just pure defensiveness some cases, and the conclusions and implications are plain absurd and downright reprehensible. TOI / IANS, in their infinite wisdom, bring up, even though it's utterly irrelevant, the issue of 'proper behaviour' among some Indian students. 
Firstly, the worthies quoted as expressing concerns are probably 'embarrassed' by the behaviour (in their perception) of some students who they may see as relatively unsophisticated or even downright uncouth (that is hardly ever the case). This reeks of utter condescension on the part of Indian immigrants or residents who almost recoil at the prospect of being identified with the 'student' crowd. In any case, the whole issue is brought up as if to suggest 'these people invited trouble'. If the argument was for taking a pragmatic view and maintaining a low profile, it may have made sense, but to assume an admonishing tone betrays insecurity and lack of empathy for the victims. No matter that often the worst behaviour comes from 'locals'.
Secondly, there is no question that there is indeed a racial element to at least some of the attacks. Non-whites have had to deal with such behaviour in many predominantly white societies over the years and still do. As in other places, this kind of thuggish behaviour often emerges not from some ideological moorings or brainwashing, but from problems within, particularly in urban environments. But each of the incidents has to be looked at separately and investigations must be thorough. Now that would be a victory for some of the student bodies that have rallied around the issue. I have respect for students who have been bold enough to try and make themselves heard in the face of apathy - bearing in mind, administrations are an end in themselves these days.
Third, Victoria Police have no business telling people to not speak in their 'native language' or loudly (a lot of Indians are actually quite soft spoken). The problem is the thugs who commit these acts, and if the police really wanted to do something, they had better go about it instead of throwing subtle hints at how people ought to conduct themselves. Practical tips are useful but they ring hollow when not backed by action.
Lastly, for emphasis, none of the victims was ever an aggressor - these were unprovoked incidents from what has been reported so far. They deserve commiserations, not a judgmental tone.
- NK

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