Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard should apologize over the underlying racist attitudes in Australia as exhibited in the recent “no Indians” offensive job ad in Tasmania, says an Indian leader.
An advertisement, reportedly appearing on Gumtree website, announced “positions available for experienced cleaners in supermarket” at a Coles supermarket in Hobart, but added “No Indians or Asians should apply”. Launched in 1914, Coles is said to be Australia’s second-biggest chain with over 13 million weekly customers and over 750 stores.
Rajan Zed, an Indian community leader in the United States, said that it was highly disturbing to note that such racist attitudes still existed in 21st century Australia, a culturally diverse society now. The “others” had contributed greatly to the Australian economy, academia and business despite such apparent “barriers”, he noted.
Rajan stressed that anti-racism initiatives were immediately required in Australia and it needed to do deep introspection of its heart and be kind to immigrants, minorities, indigenous people, and other vulnerable groups. Gillard’s public apology would send a strong message against xenophobia.
Rajan argued that Australia seemed to be lacking in human rights culture and it needed to do a lot to become a fully civilized society and to stay competitive globally. It still reportedly did not have a charter of rights and its human rights framework needed an urgent reform.
Zed pointed out that there had been various incidents of racist violence against Indians in the recent past. In 2011, a popular radio host reportedly termed Hindus’ holy river Ganga as “junkyard” and India a “shit hole”, thus belittling the entire community.
Last year, inappropriate displaying of an image of Hindu Goddess Lakshmi on swimwear at a Sydney fashion event and depiction of highly revered Hindu deities Lord Ganesh, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu in “Ganesh Versus the Third Reich” play in Melbourne caused protests. Hindus and Jews had asked Queensland to treat all major religions evenly in the past, according to whose Education Act, “Instruction…may be given in State primary and special schools during school hours in selected Bible lessons.”
Rajan’s requests to read opening prayers in Australia House of Representatives, Tasmania House of Assembly and Victoria Legislative Assembly in the past were denied, where Lord’s Prayer, a well-known prayer in Christianity, was read regularly.
A report by Australia Human Rights Commission, a statutory organization that reports to the federal Parliament, in the past highlighted “a lack of constitutional protection against racial discrimination in Australia” and talked about “absence of any entrenched guarantee against racial discrimination that would override the law of the Commonwealth”.
Battle against racism would need effective solutions, amends, compensation, rights recognition, public education programs, etc., at various levels besides developing a “bill of rights” as a high-priority, Rajan said.
A highly developed country and with the second-highest human development index, Commonwealth of Australia ranks as one of the best places in the world to live. Sixth-largest in the world, this country of kangaroo and koala is known for its natural beauty and has the longest continuous cultural history. Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Quentin Bryce, is head of state. Ian McLeod is Managing Director of Coles.