Questioning the choice of Australia as an education destination by
Indian students, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Thursday
asked Canberra to ensure that Indian citizens are safe in that
country while rebuffing Australia’s claim of “hysteria” in India.
In the wake of rising concern over a spate
of attacks on Indian students in Australia, Krishna advised Indian
students not to go to that country to pursue frivolous courses.
“I had my own doubts about Indian students
going to Australia to pursue higher studies. I can understand if it
is at the level of IITs or other such institutes of excellence,”
Krishna told reporters when asked about the recent killings of
Indian students in that country.
“I was shocked to see students had gone to
study there in courses that they don’t need to go for, like
hairstyling,” he said.
“There are any number of excellent
institutes in India - in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. I would
suggest to parents that they should be discreet in choosing higher
eduction institutions for their children,” he said.
Krishna met Australian High Commissioner
Peter Varghese on the sidelines of a book launch here and sought
assurances about the safety of Indian students in Australia.
Krishna dismissed Australia’s contention
that the Indian reaction over the issue of attacks was “hysterical”,
and asked Canberra to step up measures to ensure the security of
“None of us needs to be hysterical but all
that we expect is that Indians, whether they are students or
otherwise, should be safe in the countries to which they go for
pursuing their higher studies,” he said.
He was reacting to reports of the
Australian government asking the Indian leadership not to whip up
“hysteria” over the issue.
However, Varghese has denied the reports
quoting his government’s acting Foreign Minister Simon Crean as
having described the Indian reaction as “hysterical”. “He did no
such thing,” the envoy said.
Reacting to Krishna’s remarks, Varghese
said it was for the Indian students to decide which course to study
and stressed that Australia continued to welcome Indian students.
Downplaying the impact of recent assaults
on Indian students on Australia’s attractiveness as an education
hub, the envoy said there was a decline in the number of
international students, but it had more to do with the global
recession and the rising value of the Australian dollar.
There were an estimated 115,000 Indian
students in Australia in 2009, the highest number after the Chinese.
The envoy underlined that it was “a high
priority” for the Victoria police to track the killers of Nitin Garg,
an Indian student who was stabbed to death in Melbourne last week.
Melbourne is the capital of the state of Victoria.
Varghese added that mobile information
vans were deployed by the Victoria police in the vicinity of the
scene of crime to catch the culprits.
Garg, 21, an accounting graduate, was
knifed in West Footscray suburb of Melbourne while on way to work
last Saturday. He staggered to Hungry Jack’s restaurant — where he
worked — and pleaded for help before collapsing.
He was taken to the Royal Melbourne
Hospital where he died. Garg hailed from Punjab.