Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It is Australia Day!

The news media is full of reports from Australia; and the stories have a link with India. Of course, the stories and the laments have to do with the abject manner in which the Indian cricket team has been surrendering to the Kangaroos. But come January 26 and we will probably forget our humiliation in Australia and celebrate Republic Day by mostly saying nice things about ourselves; our success as a democracy and our ability to bounce back from crisis after crisis. Thousands of children will probably railroaded towards India Gate to watch the pomp and prowess of the new India.

But some of us know that Australians will be doing the same thing on January 26. Just as Indians celebrate Jan 26 as the Republic Day, the folks down under celebrate Australia Day. A British ship " discovered" Australia on this day about 250 years ago. From those humble beginnings, Australia has emerged as one of the more exciting countries of the world. The moment you talk Australia, you talk about sports and athleticism. It is not just in cricket that Aussies ruled the world for so long. They excel in swimming, tennis, rugby and much more. Australians have not lost the irreverence that is a product of their legacy. In its early years as a colony of Britain, Australia was the place where criminals were packed off to. Virtually all white Australian can trace his or her ancestry back to some such poor should who was dispatched permanently from the mother country. No wonder, the Australians celebrate like mad when their cricket team demolishes England; and mourn when the reverse happens, as it has been happening recently.

There is something about the Australian spirit that you have to admire. My colleague Saibal recently wrote a blog for this web site where he talked about how Michael Clarke declared even though he was batting on 329 and could have taken a shot at Brian Lara's record of 400 runs in a test innings. Clarke was more interested in team success than personal glory. Many years ago, Mark Taylor who was captain of the team declared even though he was batting on about 333. He then said that he wanted Australia to win and didn't want to break the record held by Don Bradman for a highest test innings by an Australian. Saibal also wrote about how many Indians we're up in rage back in 2004 when stand in captain Rahul Dravid declared even though our God Sachin Tendulkar was playing on 194. The idea was- how dare Dravid deny Tendulkar his double century? That is indeed the difference between India and Australia. We seem to be happier applauding personal achievements and milestones even as we collectively fail while Australians pay more important to collective success rather than personal milestones. Ironically, even without chasing personal milestones, Australians seem to excel even at the personal level.

That sums up my admiration for Australia as it celebrates Australia Day. But let me also point out two less charitable aspects of Australia on their founding day. The first is linked to the European push into new lands beginning the 15 th century. Like in other places, the natives or the aboriginals in this case were virtually massacred as the whites pursued new lands, pastures and opportunities. So an entire continent that is so much larger than India became home initially only to whites. Remember, India adds an Australia to its population every year!

The second aspect is the really deep flaw in Capitalism in practice; and the reason why advocates of free markets are being hypocritical when they advocate free trade and open markets. Capitalism means free movement of both capital and labour. Since the 20th century, we have a situation where the whites love free movement of capital but refuse to accept free movement of labour. Did God-of whichever religion- decree that vast lands like Australia have been reserved predominantly for whites? Why can't non whites- brown, black and otherwise have the freedom to go and work in places like Canada and Australia whenever they feel like it? That is the fundamental tenet of Capitalism isn't it?

Still, many congrats to the Aussies as they celebrate their day of 'founding'!


No comments:

Post a Comment