Tandoori Knights

It is a sick idea for hordes of Australians to tuck into chicken tikka to express solidarity with the 30 victims of racial attacks that have taken place since May last year.

They even had a name for this one-day project: ‘Vindaloo Against Violence’. Victoria Premier John Brumby got all sagacious when he stated:

“Victoria has been shaped by people from across the world. We come from over 200 countries, speak more than 230 languages and dialects and follow more than 120 faiths. Today, Victoria’s 150,000-strong Indian community is a vital part of modern day multicultural Victoria. Victoria’s cultural diversity is one of our strengths and any attack on our community is an attack on us all. Any attack motivated by race or prejudice is particularly disgraceful.”

All this could have been said in a public address or, better still, at an Indian-run organisation driven by diplomatic initiative. How does it help if tandoori chicken is served at Queensland’s parliament or people patronise Indian cuisine in restaurants? How does vindaloo speak out against violence when some animal has been butchered for it to get to the table? This became one of those herd instinct type ideas where people registered and the word spread and Indian restaurants were booked for lunch and dinner.

Most of the attackers are disenchanted youth who believe in cultural fascism or suffer from some sort of xenophobic tendencies. Would any of their ilk fathom the importance of such a gesture? Is such a gesture important at all? What signals does it really send out? Are those who are participating likely to become more aware of the need for Indians to study and work in Australia?

This dumbing down is quite counter-productive. It, in fact, pins down Indians as being good only with food. Besides, balti cuisine and tikka masala have already gained currency in the United Kingdom and America and in most parts of the world, including Australia. This amounts to further drawing attention to what is probably popular and even those who were not particularly into sharp tangy food will now discover the whole smelly stuff in their backyard as they see pictures of their neighbours relishing the drippy curries. They might not like the immigrant’s sizzling skewers one bit.

Racial attacks are crimes and crimes need to be dealt with legally and not by what’s on the plate. Symbolism has its place if it is backed up with concrete action.

What happens when after a spicy meal, the good Australians have to deal with a not-so-nice morning after? Start a new movement called ‘Peace with the Antacid’?

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