Spanning Scanning                                                                              15 January 2010


The recent attempt to detonate explosives by a Nigerian terrorist on a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines plane will mean additional random checks and full body scans for air passengers.  As a person of South Asian origin, I have had the opportunity of being selected at random almost every time I traveled by air.  Once, while waiting in line for the security check, a security attendant, conducting a thorough screening of a passenger with his electronic detector, tried to lighten the mood of the nervous traveler by suggesting that the traveler imagine the body check as a free massage.  It would be wishful thinking to hope that full body scans will do away with the current requirement of having to remove all keys, coins, watches, belts, metallic objects, jewelry and footwear.  Due to tighter security regulations, full body scans will probably be in addition to, and not a substitute for, the existing litany of checks.  Future travelers are in for a total out of body experience, however well the security personnel try to massage the message.


What’s Up Down Under?                                                                    12 January 2010


Indian students have been attacked in several Australian cities resulting in the death of one student.  An Indian cab driver was recently attacked by his passengers.  There are more than 70,000 Indian students in Australian universities and the international student sector is Australia’s third largest export totaling almost 13 billion Australian dollars in 2007-2008.  There has already been a drop of 20% in the 2010 enrollment of Indian students in Australian universities negatively impacting the Australian economy by 78 million Australian dollars, based on one estimate.  Australian authorities have stated that the attacks were committed by opportunistic miscreants and are not bias-related crimes.  While there is a slim possibility that bias was not a factor, all the victims of the attacks have been Indians and continuing attacks on other Indians strengthens the case for the Indian population who say that these are racially motivated crimes.  If the assailants are not arrested and / or further attacks continue, Indian students will stop enrolling at Australian universities and the loss of billions of dollars will be a costly education for Australia on the need to provide a safe environment to guests who are aiding the host economy.