Australia assures India about security of Indian students

Thursday, January 20, 2011

MELBOURNE - Australia Thursday reassured India that the safety and security of the Indian community and students will continue to be addressed pro-actively.

“I have also just met with the new premier of Victoria Province, who had made the law and order situation in Melbourne as one of the major issues of his election campaign,” Krishna said at a reception hosted for the Indian community in that country.

Australia is home to nearly half an million persons of Indian origin.

“Premier Ted Baillieu has assured me that the safety and security of the Indian community will continue to be addressed pro-actively,” Krishna said.

The premier assured the minister that he has already initiated moves to increase the number of police and guards on the transport system, introduce tougher sentencing and improve the system of compensating victims of crime.

Indian students attending university in Australia are feeling confident and secure despite a massive drop in enrolments, he added.

Recalling his last visit to Australia in 2009, Krishna said it was plagued by “anguish and worry” caused by a series of attacks on students from his country. “But on this visit that worry is missing, that anguish has disappeared,” Krishna said while commending the steps initiated by Australia to address Indian students’ safety concerns.

“Indian students feel quite secure and feel quite confident, and they feel that can pursue their studies without any anxiety,” he said.

Krishna contested the widely reported figure of an 80 percent drop in enrolments by Indian students in Australia since the attacks, saying his understanding was that enrolments had dropped by 30-40 percent.

“However, I do note that revised immigration policies have had an adverse impact on Indian students,” he said.

“Here, while we must realize that being a student does not automatically mean entitlement to permanent residency, I have requested for consideration to be given to our affected students,” he added.

“Foreign Minister (Kevin) Rudd has assured me that he will keep our concerns in mind,” he added.

Krishna, who is on a three-day visit to Australia, held a wide-ranging dialogue with his counterpart included intensification of economic ties and a renewed request to urge Canberra to sell uranium to New Delhi.

“We also discussed the uranium issue; I drew attention to our requirements, particularly in the context of climate change and Indias energy and development requirements. We have agreed to continue to discuss this matter,” he said.

Australia, on its part, acknowledged India’s non-proliferation credentials, but did not budge from its stand of not selling uranium to countries which have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), saying “periodic disagreement” could exist in even close relationships.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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