Letters to the Editor
Sir, - Apropos Mr. Bryce Hutchesson's letter (Nov. 29), I would like to say that maybe in certain aspects Australia is not racially biased, but it certainly is in two matters: cricket and visas. Their racial bias in cricket has recently been highlighted and so I shall not dwell on that.
As for the other issue, although on paper their visa process is not discriminatory, I am afraid in practice it is terribly racially biased. Under exactly the same circumstances, I have seen white-skinned applicants having to fill a simple form and getting their visa by return of post and dark-skinned applicants having to produce document after document, attestation after attestation, sponsorship after sponsorship, medical test after medical test, resulting in considerable delay, often ending up in cancellation of the trip in disgust. For instance, when a university in its wisdom invites you for a visiting professorship (even if it is for a few months), a clerk in the visa office will question your (since you are dark-skinned) credentials for teaching in Australia, ask for your educational certificates (if you send your Ph.D. certificate, they will ask you if you have a degree like a B.Sc. and if so send it, in quadruplicate of course, etc). Indeed, all photocopies have to be attested suitably and the attestation attested suitably etc. And you have to go through a whole lot of medical tests - all the tests available at certain expensive medical labs at enormous cost to you - including tests for HIV. I can see that blood tests and X-ray to check for tuberculosis have to be done here since this area is endemic and do not have to be done in the Western world, but the medical examination goes far beyond that.
On the whole, the visa process for dark-skinned persons is harrowing, harassing and humiliating and after a few entirely unpleasant experiences in seeking Australian visa and convinced that the process is quite racist, I have now decided against any more visits to that country.
T. Krishnan, Bangalore
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