The racist/mugging incidents in Australia have been done to death as an issue by now. I would not like to pass any remarks on the same sitting here in India at my keyboard. That would be too foolish. But there are some things that I want to comment about purely on a personal level. Personal as in if I were a student in Australia what would I expect if such an incident happened to me. I would of course expect the cops to take action, but most importantly I would expect support and diligent follow up of the case by the Indian High Commission staffers. I am told by some cousins of mine studying there that foreign students studying in Australia have their embassies at their beck and call for any problems that might arise during their stay. While the Indian High Commission as well as the Indian Embassies elsewhere are notorious for their absolute apathy towards their people. I am told they function more or less like Government offices renewing Passports, stamping Visas and giving foreign postings to government officials who have greased the right palms, besides some diplomatic overtures of course.
While it is easy to sit here and advice a change and petition the government to make our embassies more citizen friendly, what is needed is a deeper change in attitude by our government itself. For example, the new Tourism Minister put off her visit to Australia presumably due to the current situation there. A government communiqué however made it clear that it was her personal stand and that the government would have appreciated it if she had gone to Australia for the Tourism promotion scheme. While it is understandable that the government is keen to promote tourism and bring in the much needed dollar, it is also imperative that it shows compassion and empathy for its people there along with the eagerness for revenue generation. After all it was elected by the people to look after their well being and not mere revenue generation! Economic governance and people governance cannot be divorced. It has been for a long time in our country which is why our students are going abroad for higher studies and jobs. Which is why our embassies are cold mausoleums and why those Indian students bore up the attacks silently all these years. They have long stopped expecting anything from the government. Aren’t they in Australia because of the same?
The hundreds of failed Garibi Hatao movements are testament to this fact that we have governance without compassion. Rolling our official programmes will not help much if you do not understand the pinch of hunger or the humiliations of constantly living hand to mouth. What we need now is not only a government that can govern well but one that understand the more intimate problems of its people. Like crossing a busy road, getting a license, support when abroad, a seat for your not so brilliant son/daughter or personal safety to name a few. Right now our administrators are cold machinery's distant from the people. They only bother about getting the government institutions running and rules and laws enforced. What they do not realize is that these institutions and rules and laws apply to people and should be people friendly. Cold official governance as opposed to governing with humanness, the right mix has to be achieved for overall and better impact.
And when the government gets it right we will have our public servants falling over themselves to be of service to you. :) Maybe that was being too Utopian. But a visit to a government office is enough to understand how compassionate your government is towards you!