Just plain scared and racist
A Discriminatory employment advertisement, placed online, for cleaning staff in one of Australia largest retail chains has sparked controversy that Australia is slowly but steadily creeping towards being cagey and racist, especially about Indians and Asians. The advertiser, Coles supermarket, was seeking cleaners for its branch near the Tasmanian capital of Hobart. The advertisement makes it clear that the applicant must speak English and mustcarry a few documents like driving license and then says, ‘store requires no indians [sic] or asians [sic] please’. The ‘please’ has obviously not accorded the retailer much of a leeway after the advert came to light. When last heard, it was pleading not guilty as it claims to have had no knowledge of the advert, which it says was placed by a sub-contractor. Coles officials have reiterated that theirs is a company with equal opportunity credentials. The point is: can a subcontractor insert a line so obviously discriminatory and keep the company innocent about it? In that case, what action is being taken against the sub-contractor? And is there any special fear of Indians that has made the perpetrator, whoever it may be, to specially call upon Indians not to apply for the job.
It has not been long that in a string of incidents, Indian students were repeatedly targeted across Australia in racist attacks. The attacks attracted international attention as well as condemnation for the Australian government which had to issue statements again and again about its commitments towards ensuring the safety of Indian students. But this advert on Sunday seems to have thrown up the disturbing possibility that underneath the civility of governance, underclass Australia still happens to be deeply distrustful of ‘others’, especially those who could undermine their economic prospects. But as per the last census, only 1.4 per cent of the Australian population is of Indian origin which is miniscule com-pared to their presence, say in the UK and the US. May be the incident is not loud enough to make for diplomatic missions but the Indian foreign affairs establishment shouldkeep a watchful eye on the possibilities of racial discrimination against Indians. The Wall Street Journal has reported this incident with quotes from a controversial new documentary that asks Australians: ‘Are we dumb, drunk and racist?’ Not that India will score too highly if it sits down to answer this question but Australians might as well try and answer that one. For their own good.