A possie in Aussie

September 3, 2009

In India Gillard bears gifts, Crean wags a finger; in Australia Indian students march

Thousands of overseas students marched in Sydney and Melbourne yesterday, watched by by-standers, riot police and an international television audience.

Indian and Chinese media followed the marches across Australia, airing the grievances international students have over safety, accommodation, visas, shonky institutions and travel concessions. Denial of equal rights brings students to the streets

Meanwhile, Julia Gillard is in India, on what Amanda Hodge of the Australian calls a five-day Indian charm offensive. Gillard announced a 300,000 rupee ($7300) donation for the purchase of school books to the ASHA foundation, as she ‘tiptoed her way good-naturedly over open sewers and smiled at bare-footed urchins’.

Additionally, the Australian Deputy Prime Minister launched a new Australia India Institute, and a collaborative online teaching program at the Indira Gandhi National Open University. Gillard bears gifts for slum-dwellers.

The Australian Treasurer is also in India, but was somewhat less charming than Ms Gillard.

“Let’s be clear, we are offering a quality education in a safe environment,” Mr Crean said yesterday. “The quality of our education is what we are promoting, not the visa attached to it.

“For this to succeed, we also need the co-operation of the Indian government. The fact that politicians in both countries have been forced to focus on the issue improves the odds of coming up with a better system.” ‘We’re selling education, not visas’

Rupakjyoti Bora at Online Opinion, who formerly lived in Australia, recommended pre-departure briefing for Indian students.

“Indian students should also make sure they undertake proper enquiries before going to Australia to pursue courses at some of the lesser-known universities and institutes.

Some of the recent attacks may well be racial in nature, but such incidents have happened in other countries too, including India (remember some spectators in India taunting Andrew Symonds, or for that matter targeting Lewis Hamilton?). It would therefore be unwise to brand Australia as a racist country. There will always be some bad apples (in both Australia and India), but they should not be allowed to spoil the barrel.” Rebuilding trust between Australia and India


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