Pointing to dissatisfaction among Indian students in Australia in 2009, Das told a capacity crowd at the A.I.I's headquarters in Melbourne that the students' protests about the quality of their education and racism were significant because "they affected the relationship between Australia and India".
Das, who is the Opinion Editor at The Age, said Australian politicians across party lines had a responsibility to provide leadership to combat racism, which allegedly motivated street violence that affected some Indian students in Australia in 2009-10.
“As John Howard and Julia Gillard have demonstrated, political leaders set the tone on country’s debates over issues such as race relations,” she said.
However, Das was also quick to emphasise that racism is not unique to Australia and measures can be taken to eradicate prejudiced views held by some in Australian society.
“Racist attitudes exist in all countries. But a non-racist country is not just one that has no racist laws and whose people do not practise wide spread racism. A non-racist country is one that moves quickly to stamp out racism as soon as it’s identified.
“A non-racist country is one that actively pursues a policy of educating its people and its institutions to be blind to racial difference. A non-racist country is one that tries to spread that message far and wide, beyond its own borders,” she said.