Aussies accused of racially abusing Indian players

A cricket tribunal in Australia’s Geelong city is looking into an accusation that 10 local cricketers racially abused a team with six players of Indian descent, a media report said on Thursday.

The Geelong Cricket Association discussed the accusations till early Thursday morning after learning that players from the Thomson club racially abused members of the Waurn Ponds team during a fourth grade qualifying final on Saturday, The Age reported.

Waurn Ponds team has up to six players of Indian descent.

Cricket Victoria has sent its code of conduct commissioner Ron Beazley to speak to the players before the hearing officially started in Geelong.

Geelong Cricket Association president Ron Dew said it was the first time the association had heard such charges. The association, he said, had been glad to accept Beazley’s expertise.

“He is the most experienced person in Australia to deal with this sort of issue,” he was quoted as saying.

There have been a string of attacks on Indians in Australia since May last year. One of the assaults proved fatal. Nitin Garg was fatally stabbed Jan 2 while walking to his place of work.

Govt allows foreign universities to open campuses

The cabinet on Monday approved a proposal to allow foreign universities to set up campuses, a minister said, in a move that could reduce the flow of Indian students abroad.

Tens of thousands of students head to universities in the United States, Britain and Australia among others for quality education each year.

The long-standing proposal to reform the education sector will now go to parliament for ratification, Road and Transport Minister Kamal Nath told reporters following the cabinet meeting.

Political parties have in the past opposed the entry of foreign universities, saying the poor will not be able to afford the fees.

But experts have called for a revamp of the education system, which focuses on learning by rote.

Goldman Sachs counts the lack of quality education as one of the 10 factors holding India back from rapid economic growth. Analysts say it raises costs, including salaries as firms vie for the best recruits, and reduces firms’ competitive edge.

The demand for graduates over the next five years is likely to be 13.8 million, analysts have estimated. But with only 13.2 million students graduating over the same period, the country will face a shortfall of 600,000 graduates.

India’s large English-speaking population and growing middle class are expected to make the country a desirable destination for top foreign universities.

Fresh attack on Indian, Sri Lankan in Oz

In a fresh incident of violence against Asians in Australia, a Sri Lankan man and his Indian wife were attacked and racially abused by a group of drunken men at their home in Melbourne.

A group of 25 drunken thugs bashed up 60-year-old Ranjit Sahasranaman, who is married to Indian-origin Agalya Sahasranamn, outside his own home in Carrams Down suburb on Sunday morning.

Sahasranaman, a Sri Lankan national, revealed his over two-and-a-half hour ordeal of how he fought back with the thugs till police arrived and dispersed them, the Herald Sun reported on Tuesday.

Sahasranaman, who has lived in Australia for 19 years with his wife and two kids, said he was assaulted and racially abused by the gang of mostly white men who damaged his back fence and gained entry to his yard.

He said he was forced to fight back with a bar when the intruders got within centimetres of his back door.

Interestingly, this time the police dropped home one of the injured offender who allegedly got hurt by Sahasranaman.

“They were throwing punches at me,” Sahasranaman said, adding “they were calling names and told me to get lost from this country.”

The attack came at a time when Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith is in India to discuss with authorities there the security preparation for the Commonwealth Games and the issue of attacks on Indians here.

There have been over 100 cases of attacks on Indians, mostly on students, in Australia since the last year.

Meanwhile, Sahasranaman also alleged that police was slow to respond to his ‘SOS’.

Aus to brief India on actions taken against racist attacks

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has arrived in India for a three day visit to brief the Indian Government on the actions taken by authorities to create a safe and rewarding study environment for Indian students in Australia.

“This is my third visit to India as Minister for Foreign Affairs. My visit to India will advance Australia and India’s bilateral, regional and international cooperation under the framework of the Australia-India Strategic Partnership,” Smith said in a statement.

“During my visit to India, I will also brief the Indian Government on the actions taken by authorities to create a safe and rewarding study environment for Indian students in Australia,” he added.

Smith will meet with Minister for External Affairs S M Krishna to discuss Australia’s and India’s close cooperation in trying to solve the recent problems faced by some Indians in Australia.

The Australian Foreign Minister will also discuss Australia-India education, science and technology links and the importance of trade and agriculture for two countries, as well as discuss the progress in the joint Australia-India Free Trade Agreement feasibility study.

“I will brief the Indian Government on Australia’s recently announced Counter-Terrorism White Paper. I will also seek an update on security arrangements for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi later this year,” Smith said.

India end Australia’s reign as No.1 Test team

India ended Australia’s seven-year run at the top of the Test rankings as they will finish as the numero uno Test team this year (2009-10) after their emphatic victory against South Africa at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday.

India beat South Africa by an innings and 57 runs to level the series 1-1 and also retain the No.1 position in the Test rankings.

It is the first time India have topped the table at the annual cut-off date (April 1) since the rankings were introduced in June 2003. It has been a steady climb by the Indian team as they were ranked sixth in 2004. They were placed third in 2005 and 2006 and finished second last year.

India are at 124 ratings points while South Africa stayed second with 120 points. Australia are third with 116 points.

India will thus retain the Test championship mace, which it received after defeating Sri Lanka last year in December, and will also pocket a cheque for $175,000.

For South Africa, it was heartbreak for the second successive year. Last year they needed a series-win against Australia to finish at the top of the Test table, but lost the home series 1-2 and finished nine ratings points behind Ricky Ponting’s side.

This year, a series win again would have fetched them the top spot.

India and South Africa will fight for the second spot in the One-day rankings during the three-match series starting Feb 21. Australia have guaranteed themselves a number-one finish.

Australian court favours release of teenage duo who attacked Indians

Activists of All India Student’s Association protest against the attacks on Indian students in Australia, in front of the Australian Embassy in New Delhi on Tuesday

 An Australian court on Wednesday favoured release of two teenage brothers, who spent less than a year in youth detention for racially assaulting a group of Indians, even as it termed the attack which left one of the victims with permanent brain injuries as “extraordinarily grave“.

Victorian County Court judge Christine Thornton said that because the two, aged 17 and 18, were “children” she should indicate that they would not be locked up again for the December 2008 incident, according to AAP.

However, Ms. Thornton described the assault as “extraordinarily grave“.

The re-sentencing of the two boys, who served less than a year in youth detention, is set to take place shortly after Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) appealed against their sentences.

As per the appeal system, Ms. Thornton is required to re-sentence the duo, even if she does not increase their jail terms, the report said.

The two brothers carried out an unprovoked attack in an Indian convenience store in Sunshine, where eight men were injured, including one who spent 15 days in coma and was left with permanent brain injuries.

Chief Crown prosecutor Gavin Silbert SC told the court that the older youth smashed 27-year old Sukhraj Singh with a piece of wood, leaving him unconscious and bleeding with multiple skull and face fractures.

Mr. Singh had been told his injuries were permanent and there was a chance he would suffer from epilepsy.

The younger brother is believed to have started the spat, asking the Indian men in the store if they were ‘Singh or Desi’, which the prosecution said was a racist remark.

Mr. Silbert said when the Indian men said they were “Singh boys”, he punched one of them without warning.

A group of four co-offenders, including his older brother, entered the store and caused mayhem, assaulting the victims and stealing a till containing several hundred dollars.

The assault was captured on CCTV and when the judge viewed it she said it was very serious attack.

The brothers were sentenced in the Children’s Court to 12 months in a youth detention, but were released early on parole.

The DPP asked the County Court to re-sentence the older brother to two and a half years and the younger to two years.

“There is a racial motive apparent in this,” Mr. Silbert told the court, adding “the culpability is relatively high.”

He also called the offence as “extraordinarily grave” and said “it was entirely unprovoked.”

“It was committed in company. It involved weapons,” Mr. Silbert said.

The DPP said that a 12-month sentence for the injuries caused were inadequate.

The offenders admitted charges of intentionally and recklessly causing serious injury and theft.

Hairdressing college shuts down; students’ fate uncertain

A hairdressing college in Australia has permanently shut down leaving fate of many overseas students, including from India, hanging in balance.

The Sydney college that charged USD 7000 each as fees and equipment three weeks ago from the overseas students finally announced its closure, apparently due to amended migration skills programme.

A 24-year old hairdressing student Neil Ahuja of New Delhi was quoted as saying that he had paid the college USD 5000 for his first semester fees and USD 2000 for equipment.

“We asked the principal about the academy about the course after the new rules were announced. She told us, ‘Don’t worry you guys are safe’,” Neil was quoted as saying by Sydney Morning Herald.

“They had been pressuring us to pay the USD 2000 for our hairdressing kit, which we could have got for a few hundred dollars. Otherwise we couldn’t do the course. Now we have been left high and dry. I just arrived in Australia and I don’t know what to do.”

Students and staff were locked out of The Edge Academy, whose registration renewal was under consideration by State government authorities.

The closure of the privately-owned college in Sydney’s west is being seen as a result of the recently- amended immigration rules announced earlier this month that delinked certain trade occupations including hairdressing and cookery from permanent residency.