I have been thinking about it for a while. It moves me to meet students with difficulties. It saddens me to see how some of them face serious exploitation. It saddens and infuriates me to see that some of our Indian businesses exploit them. I consider such behaviour to be the lowest of the low.
They suffer exploitation sometimes in their schools too. Sometimes, they can not find jobs and do not have enough money. Then, of course, some students have accidents or are robbed of their belongings. It is not uncommon that some of them get into a situation when they just do not have any money!
One example will be sufficient to illustrate what we are facing and will continue to face in future too. As you would have known, Rajesh Kumar was injured in Sydney by a Petrol Bomb attack a few months ago. He had no relatives in Sydney. His flatmates were the only ones who were there for him. After this news reached his family in India, his maternal uncle had to come to Sydney to look after him during his treatment at the hospital and at a rahab facility. His maternal uncle had some money but it ran out pretty soon. Sydney motels are very expensive and can not be the place for a long term accommodation. Knowing their desperate situation, the Indian Consulate urged us to help in finding an accommodation which we did with the help of some of our friends. This is just one example and there have been others.
There would always be some situations when they need help from all of us. We need a mechanism to be able to provide the emergency assistance to Indian students.
My suggestion is that we establish an “Indian students’ emergency assistance and benevolent fund” which should be governed by a board of 15 people and should be chaired by the Indian High Commissioner.
The board members must be those who have impeccable integrity and are of good character.
The contribution to this fund should come from;
1. Established Indian Australians
2. Indian Gov agencies
3. Australian Gov agencies
4. Schools and Universities
5. Indian students.
Fund raising can be done in the following manner;
-Every students must contribute a Small amount of money annually through their schools.
-Established Indian Australians should take part in the functions for fund raising.
-Schools and Universities should contribute some money for this purpose.
-Indian High Commission and Consulates should contribute some money and should help in fund raising by participating actively in such events.
-Indian Gov [Ministry of NRI affairs] and Aust Gov [International Education Australia “IEA”] should contribute some money.
-UIA should contribute some money from its takings from its fair.
-Indian media [Radio and print] should actively promote/encourage the fund-raising.
UIA is our most important organisation. It has quite a large number of great people in its Governing Council. It should take an active leadership role in this matter. UIA is a tremendous organisation with vast capacity and abilities which are yet to be fully tapped.
We should get the “Fund” registered as a charity which will allow people to claim the donations/contributions as Tax-effective contributions.
We will need to define the criteria which will guide the disbursement of the assistance.
There is no doubt that we need something like this fund. Indian Australians are doing well in Australia. We ought to get involved in this activity. Students’ bodies like AISA and FISA will need to be involved too.
I also believe that great Indians like Mr Amitabh Bachchan and Mr AR Rahman can do a tremendous job if they agree to help us in our fund-raising functions. I know that they would be willing to do this but someone has to approach them for us.
My ideas are not the only right ideas. Let us share your ideas.