May 31|2009

Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan has turned down an honorary doctorate from an Australian university for his contribution to the world of entertainment following a string of racial attacks on Indian students there, the actor said on his blog.

The 66-year-old last week agreed to accept the honour from the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, but has now reconsidered his decision. He was to receive the doctorate in July as part of celebrations to commemorate a retrospective of his films to be inaugurated in the city.

“I mean no disrespect to the institution that honours me, but under the present circumstances, where citizens of my own country are subjected to such acts of inhuman horror, my conscience does not permit me to accept this decoration from a country that perpetrates such indignity to my fellow countrymen,” Amitabh posted on his blog bigb.bigadda.com.

The actor has asked his “extended family (EF)” - members of his blog - to decide if his move was justified or not.

“Am I right in thinking so? And if yes, then is my act of refusing the honour justified or not? I shall put this up as my poll question and shall feel obliged if EF can indicate to me their opinion, for me to be able to take the correct action,” he said.

Australia has seen a series of racial attacks on Indian students. The most horrific case was that of Shravan Kumar, an automobile engineering student from Andhra Pradesh who is battling for life after being attacked by two youths Sunday afternoon in Melbourne.

On Sunday night, hospitality graduate Rajesh Kumar received 30 per cent burns after a petrol bomb was flung into his home in Sydney that he shared with other Indians.

Yadu Singh, a cardiologist and community leader in Sydney, said there have been at least 20 incidents of “curry bashing” in his city in the past month but most attacks on Indian students went unreported out of fear.