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Cricket is all that matters: symbolism in the Australia-India relationship November 9, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Patil, Tejaswini , comments closed

Tejaswini Patil

The decision by Prime Minister Julia Gillard during her recent visit to India to award the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) to Sachin Tendulkar can be traced to the historical and cultural underpinnings of colonialism. The decision has been met with cautious scepticism in various quarters of the Australian media. Indian newspapers basked in the glory and pointedly noted Australian newspapers had criticised the award. Prime Minister Gillard had three underlying themes: extending economic cooperation between Australia and India, changing the military partnership with the selling of uranium to India, and employing cricket to unite the ties between the countries. Clearly, the decision to grant a cricket icon an OAM is worthy in and of itself, but does the Gillard government seriously think that Sachin Tendulkar has contributed to the fostering of better understanding between the two democracies?

Cricket, a game of colonial legacy, acts as a common thread that connects the social and political histories of Australia and India. The game provides an interesting metaphor for the way the recent relationship between the two countries has evolved.

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Opportunistic crimes or racist attacks? July 29, 2009

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Patil, Tejaswini , comments closed

Tejaswini Patil, PhD student, University of South Australia

The recent attacks on Indian students in Melbourne that left at least two students seriously injured caused widespread outrage among various sections of the Indian community. The media frenzy that ensued, with headlines such as “Australia, land of racism” and “Down under and Down right racist”, further inflamed the outrage. The Indian Government’s reaction was equally strong, with Indian Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna describing the attacks as “appalling” and ordering the Indian High Commissioner to Australia, Sujatha Singh, to visit Melbourne and assess the situation. Even Bollywood actor Amir Khan weighed in, arguing, “It was most disturbing to hear about racist attacks on Indians living in Australia.” The Australian Federal Government and the Victorian Police were quick to condemn the attacks and dispel the notion that they were racially motivated. The reaction to these attacks by state and non-state actors, in terms of managing, controlling and sustaining the post-production discourses raises two important issues:

  1. Does setting up the discursive context of the debate in the language of ‘race attacks’ and ‘racism’ contribute to the understanding of these attacks?
  2. How does the debate reflect on the troublesome aspects of identity and nationalism within the Indian and the Australian contexts?

The responses of the Indian Government, the Victorian Police and the print and electronic media demonstrate clearly how discursive boundaries were established in the wake of the Melbourne assaults. The stance taken by Victorian Police Commissioner Simon Overland was one that strongly condemned the attacks and denied any suggestion of (more…)