She left for Melbourne as the first reports of violence against Indian students made their appearance in Indian media. As a parent, I was concerned.
Once she was in Melbourne, each time there was a media report on an ‘anti-Indian student’ incident, I would talk to my daughter about it when next I called her up. In the first few calls – made during the first few days of her stay – she would sound nonplussed. Later, she would laugh dismissively. I stopped talking to her about this issue.
When she returned, we had a long(er) chat about it. My daughter and two (female) colleagues from NID had earned the right to a one-semester exchange program, which is what resulted in their being in Melbourne.
They landed in a strange country, staying in accommodation that they identified and finalized through the Internet.
They completed their registration formalities with ease, opened their bank accounts, found their way around Melbourne – all thanks to the helpfulness and friendliness of local citizens, employees at RMIT and other students at RMIT.
Not once did they face hostility of any kind, using public transport to get around.
All three saved money and decided to discover Australia during short breaks that they got. They visited Sydney, Cairns and Tasmania, traveling, all the time, as a three-woman Indian team.
They felt as safe, as they say, as houses.
The only instance, my daughter says, that they felt uncomfortable was when they were catching a late night train from the suburbs, when they came across gangs of Indian students who were loud, brash, drunk and obnoxious.
Not one instance otherwise.
My daughter is one of many Indian students who have or are studying in Australia.
How difficult would it have been for Indian media to talk to her? She would have been easy to find, studying as she was at Melbourne’s premier university. As would any other Indian student.
So how is it that I saw, read and heard no experience like my daughter’s in Indian media? How is it that I was fed hate and hostility? How is it that all kinds of issues such as racism were dragged into it?
I’m angry. Because Indian news media caused me (and hundreds of parents like me) to be afraid and worried rather than relaxed and happy that my daughter was doing well and having the best five months of her life.
There’s a limit to jingoism. And when jingoism causes a loss of credibility, it will cause media products to lose viewers and revenues as well.
Chew on that.