Australian vindaloo campaign curries favour with India | india | Hindustan Times
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Australian vindaloo campaign curries favour with India

india Updated: Feb 10, 2010 11:53 IST
AFP
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Thousands of Australians will let their tastebuds do the talking when they sit down later this month for "Vindaloo Against Violence", a mass dining event to protest attacks against Indians.

The brainchild of Melbourne digital media designer Mia Northrop, the grassroots campaign started as a humble event on social networking site Facebook but has exploded to more than 10,000 registered participants.

"We were looking for an idea that was the opposite of a boycott essentially, where you can go and embrace community, and this idea popped in my head," said Northrop, 24.

"It was a small gesture of going and dining at an Indian restaurant, but made powerful by the sheer number of people who would do it simultaneously," she told AFP.

Attacks against Indians, including beatings and robberies, have been on the rise in Australia, threatening to damage diplomatic ties and the country's 15.4-billion-US-dollar education export industry.

Media outrage in India has been stoked by the unsolved murder of 21-year-old Punjabi student Nitin Garg in Melbourne last month.

Australian officials had previously downplayed racism as a motive behind the spate of attacks. But Foreign Minister Stephen Smith on Tuesday acknowledged race as a factor and said the violence was "anathema" to modern Australia.

To be held nationally on February 24, the "Vindaloo Against Violence" campaign urges Australians to dine for a day at their local Indian restaurant as a show of support for the country's 450,000-strong Indian community.

Northrop said the idea, which started with an invite to 100 of her friends, had "really touched a nerve" among Australians as a whole.

Restaurants across Melbourne are booked out and schools and companies have registered events.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has even taken an interest, joining the event on microblogging site Twitter.

"The intent of it is really to embrace the local Indian community, and also signal to the Indian media that everyday Australians don't accept racially motivated violence and racism," Northrop said.

"It's really not about the food," she added.

"Going to the restaurants is just a vehicle to tap into the silent majority basically, the people that are never going to go and march down the street in a rally. It's giving those people a vehicle to express how they feel."