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McCarthy not ready to attribute all attacks to racism
He holds talks with Yeddyurappa, Limbavali
BANGALORE: Seeking to reassure Indian students in the wake of the recent attacks on them, Australian High Commissioner to India John McCarthy said the Australian Government had taken serious note of the attacks and initiated measures to protect the interests of Indian students.
Speaking to presspersons after briefing Minister for Higher Education Aravind Limbavali, the Australian High Commissioner said the authorities were trying to bring the perpetrators of the attacks to justice and instil confidence among the student community.
Though Mr. McCarthy described the attacks as “unfortunate”, he was unwilling to attribute all the attacks to racism. He felt that theft could also be a motivation for the attackers. Mr. McCarthy said students of other nationalities like China too had been victims of such attacks.
He later called on Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and briefed him about the steps taken by the Australian authorities to provide security to Indian students in Australia.
The Australian High Commissioner’s visit to Bangalore was part of his tour to eight States across India to instil confidence among the parents of the students studying in Australia as well as prospective students. Karnataka is among the eight States which are on Mr. McCarthy’s itinerary.
A senior official of the Higher Education Department said that Mr. McCarthy shared the Australian Government’s concern over the large number of Indian students joining short-term vocational courses, which come cheap, and putting themselves up in cheap accommodation.
The official felt that the place of stay chosen by such students made them vulnerable to attacks. Also, the students, engaged themselves in mundane jobs like petrol station attendants, taxi drivers and hairstylists. “The local people feel that their jobs are under threat and this makes the Indian students all the more vulnerable to attacks,” the official said quoting a member of the Australian delegation.
In response, the official representing the Higher Education Department suggested to the Australian authorities to keep a check on the admission of Indian students to such short-term and cheap vocational courses. “They have responded positively to our suggestions,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Limbavali expressed his concern over the absence of hostel facilities in a large number of educational institutions in Australia that was forcing the students to look for accommodation in unsafe neighbourhoods.
The meeting between Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Limbavali also featured a discussion on a project to build an online network of libraries in Australia with the libraries in Karnataka. “The modalities of this project are yet to be worked out,” a Higher Education Department official said.
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