Sydney, 2 April, 2017
I am copying an article published by Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) RN. Link: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-25/indian-doctors-immigration-experience-he-learnt-about-a-fair-go/7960734
Cardiologist Yadu Singh grew up in a small farming village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
From a Rajput warrior background, he recalls that when he was a young boy his mother chased a bully through their village in an effort to teach Singh to stand up for himself and others.
After his medical training in India concluded, Dr Singh was sent to work abroad for a year.
He attended a conference in Canberra and stayed. Aside from the cricket he’d heard on the radio, he knew little about Australia when he arrived.
“As you live longer in this place you start loving this place,” he says.
“The ‘fair go’ concept and going for the underdog I have learned here, and I am a very strong believer in both.”
Eventually Dr Singh’s short-term visas ran out and he applied to continue to live and work in Australia. But the process turned out to be harder than he expected.
“When I applied for the permanent resident visa there was a problem,” he says. “I probably was too persistent, calling every second day.
“I think I annoyed them.”
An official told Singh his application had been cancelled.
“For about 30 seconds, I was numb.”
“I said, ‘No, you are misusing your power and I will be challenging it.'”
Dr Singh wrote to the commonwealth ombudsman, who makes recommendations around such disputes.
Months later his phone rang. “I got a call from a lady who said, ‘I am the secretary of the Department of Immigration and I am calling to personally apologise. My official made a mistake.’
“I was floored.”
For Dr Singh this was an important demonstration of what makes Australia great. “This was the ultimate example of a fair go,” he says.
“There are some bad apples, but the system is geared for addressing the issues.”
A community leader emerges
In 2009, when reports of violence against Indian students caused a panic in India, Dr Singh became a voice for Indian-Australians.
At a community meeting he was asked by the Indian Consul General, Mr Amit Dasgupta, to be the co-ordinator of a committee to investigate the attacks.
“I, by circumstance, had to deal with the media,” he says. “I had no experience, but I spoke from the heart.”
In these media appearances the descriptions “community leader” and “spokesperson” appeared next to his name for the first time.
“When they asked me: ‘Is this a racist country?’ I said no.”
Dr Singh even defended Australia in the Indian media.
“I said, ‘I believe Indian media is running a racist campaign.’ Australia did not get ‘fair go’ from Indian media.”
After the controversy, Dr Singh decided he wanted to continue his now prominent role in the Indian-Australian community.
Since then he has assisted community members on a range of issues, and spoken up when the need arises.
But he says that his role is not that of an intermediary or gatekeeper between community and power.
“I am a facilitator,” he says. “I help them understand the concepts of this country.
“To me that is a guide, that is education.”
Dr Singh believes that if he had remained in India he would likely have entered politics.
But he says his role as a community leader and cardiologist suits him.
“Getting abused by everybody, I can’t do it,” he says.
“I would have to have a personality transplant.
“If somebody abuses me, I’m going to give it back and that means a failed politician.
“I do this community work because it gives me happiness, it gives me contentment. If not, I’ll stop”.