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Reply: Indian students treated like Guantanamo Bay detainees

by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam

Mr. B.Raman
Former Additional Secretary – Cabinet Secretariat
Government of India
New Delhi

(February 03, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) I refer to your article published under the above title in yesterday’s Sri Lanka Guardian.

I am an Australian and am therefore particularly interested in the issue of Indian Students studying in other countries. As you may know, we had issues regarding Indian students here in Australia also.

It is my understanding that you are upset with the American Government for requiring University students from India, who were under investigation in relation to illegal work arrangements by Tri-Valley University, California, to wear GPS (Global Positioning Systems) anklets.

You state in this regard “The Indian students made to wear the anklets have not committed any crime involving violence.”

One who is bound to the nation by common faith is entitled to better results than one who resides there on merit basis – in this instance as students. After living in Australia for almost 25 years, contributing genuinely to the common values of Australians, I was arrested, listed as a Sri Lankan, charged, sent to prison as a criminal, and labeled a mentally ill person, for peaceful assembly in relation to my complaint of Unlawful Racial Discrimination - at the University of New South Wales. There was no violence on my part and as per my interpretation of the law, the arrest was illegal. I did challenge the authorities in courts – to the best of my ability and then left the rest to God. The University of NSW did suffer much damage soon after it started punishing me and to me that was as per their karma, the return of which was accelerated by my pain and loss. I was trying to balance their negative karma through my work but they insisted on carrying it forward.

Had I continued to expect them to learn and follow the law and more importantly – the value denoted by key words in our National Anthem “Advance Australia Fair” , I am likely to have developed revengeful thoughts. To me that is why we had 9/11 and Bali Bombings. I may never be proven right or wrong – but it is my belief and if I work through my belief, to balance our faith, I would contribute positively to prevent revenge attacks by groups to whom I am naturally connected through faith – for example Sri Lankans and Indians. In other words, by accepting their weakness through my strengths, I believe I have contributed to Peace in Australia.

On the basis of my own experience, I do not feel as upset as you after reading your article – especially because no Indian official came to support me. Swami Sai Baba came to comfort me and support me through the path of Truth and find my own compensations to the extent I needed them. Now, I am able to work the real system through Truth in Australians to which I connect through my own Truth.

In the case of these Indian students, majority of whom come from Andhra Pradesh – the sacred State where Swami Sai Baba also was born – they are less likely than I to effectively work the legal system of America. To me, we would always get the return of our investments of faith – however long it may take. To justly expect the human systems of the country of residence – in my case Australia and in the case of your students – America – to return beyond the total value of our measurable investments, we need to invest far more than the average citizen who through everyday living has invested in common faith that binds that country. This faith component is the component we call ‘sovereignty’. It is the spirit of a nation and should not be interfered with by foreigners, be it Indians in America or Americans in India.

You say ‘The Government of India should take up the matter strongly with the US authorities directly as well as through human rights organizations.’

The Government of India failed to effectively prevent the Government of Sri Lanka – a closer relation than the Government of America – from imprisoning 300,000 Tamils – most of them civilians - during their final effort to eliminate the LTTE. Unless therefore the Government of India is claiming to have deeper faith in Americans than in Sri Lankans, it needs to use global systems – common to all of us and be transparent about it.

In the meantime, I strongly urge you and your government to take measures to keep your weak students at ‘home’ – in India whose educational standards are second to none. To Indians who go to America for the purpose of money – be it as students or permanent residents – these are occupational hazards, similar to those faced by Sri Lankan maids in the Middle East. Unless therefore, they have contributed to the lawful system of employment it would be best to leave the matter to karma.

We have the right to expect from the system we have invested in and not the one that we ‘show’ others. Any special treatment sought by Indian Government for its students needs to be well within the limits enjoyed by American students.

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