Sydney, 7 July, 2018There are too many community leaders around us. All you need to do is to register an association and become a community leader. It’s an easy job. This itself is not a problem, if you want to help people and do some good things for the community. The problem is when you form an association to serve your personal interests and you have nothing to do with community work or interests. If you do this, you become a con man. You do what you are not supposed to do, and you don’t do what you are supposed to do. Let’s see what is happening in our own community. In Indian Australian community, we have many associations and many community leaders. Many community leaders turn into “journalists” to stay relevant and to get invitations from the Consulate and Government agencies. Some of them turn back into community leaders again after a few years. Many of these “leaders” are into things, which have nothing to do with community interests. Some examples are;1. Contesting elections for MP seats or Council seats, while holding positions in their community associations, which, by rule, are non-political organizations. In 2016, three community “leaders” did exactly this in Chifley, Cumberland and Parramatta area. Whether they had ability or not is a separate matter, but their dismal & performance is an indicator of their worth as political candidates.2. Calling yourself as an “independent” candidate, when you are a card carrying member of a political party. People are not fools. They saw through this game and refused to support this type of “independent” candidates. 3. You put pictures of top leaders in your event posters, without these leaders’ approval and without a guarantee that they would be attending your event. This is not only a false advertising, but it’s also unethical. 4. You raise money purportedly to help the family of a deceased, but don’t care to establish the need for financial help from the family before collecting the funds. You do worse, when you don’t return the money to the donors, after knowing that family doesn’t need the money. This is clearly illegal and wrong. Using pics of the deceased in your fundraising posters is not an acceptable behavior. 5. Lying and falsely claiming something, which you are not and haven’t done are your standard operating procedure, thinking people are fools and wouldn’t know about it. 6. Not doing any AGM for 4 years and not presenting financial reports to the members and Department of Fair Trading, while roaming around looking important as community leaders. 7. Allowing close family members as part of the executive committee and ignoring the concept of conflict of interest, and receiving membership fees into the personal accounts of the leaders, instead of the official account of the association. 8. Not having any idea or understanding about ethical behavior & governance, as is the case with some associations and community leaders. 9. Swindling and “wasting” of hundreds of thousands of your association’s funds, without any accountability, and getting away from the misdeed because the co-leaders are braindead and grossly incompetent.That’s not all. There are some who sell Visa sponsorships. They take $50K for sponsoring a visa. This is an illegal activity. It’s a crime in Australia to seek benefit (cash or kind) for sponsoring a visa. It is punishable with up to 2 years prison term and up to $300K fine. It appears that this illegal activity is the only business for some of the community leaders. The fraud is compounded by these con men by appearing to be “connected” and influential as a result of being seen in pics with top political leaders like ministers, Premiers and Prime Minister. As we know, having pics with Chief Ministers (Premiers) and Prime Minister in India is very difficult and is generally taken as an indicator of influence and being highly connected. Some associations and community leaders have given, and still give, “role model of the community” awards to scammers and fraudsters. This they do after getting some money from the scammers.Things are very frustrating and upsetting.There is a need for reflection matched with commensurate action here. Our community needs to look into community associations and should start asking questions from community leaders and community associations. We must make them accountable. We mustn’t allow such community “leaders” to damage the name and reputation of our community. We know that the vast majority in our community is that of decent and upright people, but we also know that a minuscule minority is capable of killing our reputation and good standing in front of the broader community.Before it’s misconstrued that my post is painting all associations and community leaders with the same brush, let me make it very clear. My intention is not to bag a good number of associations and people running them, because I know they are doing wonderful work, without being in the forefront. I admire them and am grateful to them. What I am concerned about is the growing number of selfish and self-seeking people, masquerading as community leaders, who are dragging us all down. Dr Yadu Singh http://www.facebook.com/DoctorYaduSinghwww.twitter.com/dryadusingh
Press release: Sydney, 4/4/16
Federation of Indian Associations of NSW (FIAN) hosts a rousing welcome reception for new Consul General of India and visiting ministerial delegation from Uttar Pradesh.
GOI authorities requested us to organize the welcome event for the visiting delegation and provided required assistance and resources.
Madison Function Centre in Dural, NSW was immersed in serious political colours with the presence of visiting ministerial delegation from Uttar Pradesh (UP) and new Consul General of India, Mr B. Vanlalvawna and his wife, Dr Rosy Vanlalvawna on Friday, 1st April, 2016. Delegation from UP included senior ministers, Mr Azam Khan, Mr Raghuraj Pratap Singh (Raja Bhaiya), Mr Om Prakash Singh, Prof Abhishek Mishra, Mrs Arun Kumari and 10 members of UP Parliament.
Dr Yadu Singh, President of Federation of Indian Associations of NSW, conducted the proceedings in his trade mark flair, spontaneity and endearing style, enlivening the audience. After welcoming the dignitaries, he described the love which Indian community has for India. He described how India is deep inside our hearts. He outlined the fact that Uttar Pradesh is the heart of India, besides being the most populous state, sending 80 MPs to Indian Parliament. UP Chief Minister, Mr Akhilesh Yadav’s visit to Banda city for the inauguration of a Medical College there in March 2015, for which Dr Singh accompanied the Chief Minister, and CM’s studies in Sydney University in late 1990s were mentioned to bring a context for Uttar Pradesh and Australia connections. There was ample praise for Australia too, and its successful multiculturalism, as well as unshakable love and loyalty of the community for Australia.
Consul General of India and his wife were welcomed formally and assured of full support from the community in whatever way it is necessary. Mr B.Vanlalvawna assumed charge as Consul General of India in Sydney on 19 February 2016. He was educated at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1998 and served in Indian Missions/Post in Tokyo, Shanghai, Brussels and Cairo. His wife, Dr Rosy Vanlalvawna is a medical doctor and a writer. She is a graduate from Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi. More details here. http://tinyurl.com/zx9rmb6
Head of the delegation, Mr Azam Khan, thanked the community for their love for India. He praised India for its democracy and egalitarian ethos, where even a common man can be a minister, chief minister or Prime Minister. He hoped that overseas Indians will remain connected with India and will continue to serve the country of their current residence as well as the country of their birth, not only now, but also in the future. During his speech, he used “Shayari” generously, enthralling people in the audience and making many as his fans.
David Clarke, Parliamentary Secretary to NSW Government outlined his praise for India and the commonalities between India and Australia, which extends not only to Cricket, but also to the fields of trade, security, transparency, rule of law, multiculturalism and democracy.
Cultural programme, conducted by noted poetess Rekha Rajvansi, comprised of performances from top artists from the community and included Jyoti Dixit, Khurana sisters (Cheryl and Michelle), Murali Venkatraman and Arun Nanda.
Visiting delegation praised and enjoyed sumptuous and delicious dinner, catered by popular and multiple award winning, Maya Da Dhaba, which is owned by Ajay Raj.
Capacity crowd of 200+, which included who is who of Sydney, key community representatives and Indian media, stayed right up to the end of the event, enjoying every minute of the evening, and called it one of the best events from the community. Ministers and MLAs too, as well as Consul General, mingled with people, enjoying the occasion and creating a lasting and positive impression on people with their simplicity and easy going nature.
Dr Yadu Singh
President, Federation of Indian Associations of NSW
9th March, 2015
Indian Australian community is sad & shocked with the brutal murder of Indian IT professional, Ms Prabha Arun Kumar in Sydney, NSW.
Ms Kumar was stabbed to death in a lane way connecting Park Parade, Parramatta and Amos Street, Westmead, NSW at 9.30 PM on Saturday, 7th March, 2015. At the time of the attack, she was on phone with her husband in India.
She was from Bangalore, India and was on work visa, working for a software company in Sydney. She was due to return to India next month. She is survived by her husband and a 9 year old daughter.
We know that NSW Police is investigating this crime to find the culprits, responsible for this heinous crime. We want them to keep our community in the information loop, as there is massive concern and grief in the community.
We ask local Police, Parramatta Council and Parramatta Park Trust to do an urgent review of the area to figure out and fix the security black-spots in that area. Lightening and CCTV facilities should be installed and improved if that is what needs to be done to improve safety and security of people in the area.
We ask Premier Mike Baird and NSW Labor’s leader, Luke Foley, to outline their plans for crime control and for safety and security in the area specifically, and Western Sydney generally.
We also urge people to be aware of their personal safety each and every time they venture out of their home, whether it is for work or leisure.
We appeal to people to contact local Police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 if they have any info, which might help Police to arrest the perpetrators and solve this heinous crime.
Dr Yadu Singh
President, Indian Australian Association of NSW Inc
0413 375 669
PS: I have visited the area this morning and have spoken with some members of the community.
This is the speech I delivered, as a guest speaker, at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) event for Indian community at Parravilla, Parramatta on Monday, 24th November, 2014. —————————————————————————————————–
Thank you for the kind words.
Prof Peter Shergold, Chancellor of University of Western Sydney, dignitaries, ladies and gentlemen,
Namaste and good evening,
I am grateful and feel privileged to have this opportunity to speak to you tonight.
SO WHERE ARE WE – AS A COMMUNITY- TODAY, AND WHERE DO WE NEED TO BE TOMORROW?
There are about 500,000 people of Indian heritage in Australia and more than 100,000 of them live in New South Wales. Most of the migrants from India have arrived in the last 10 years and India has been the top source of migrants to Australia over the last few years. Most people have come to this country as skilled migrants. Obviously, skilled migrants contribute to the Australian economy significantly. Our people not only take part in the service industry and public services, many of them are also into businesses, particularly small businesses, thus creating jobs. Indian migrants give significant importance for education of their children. It is not uncommon that they work hard, sometimes long hours and even two jobs, to make enough money so that they are able to send their children to private schools. Indian migrants are generally law-abiding people and their focus is significantly on the families and family values. Even after they become Australian Citizens, they continue to remain in touch with their extended families back home in India. This is something which has a great advantage to India. The inward remittance of 70 billion US dollars to India by overseas Indians in the years 2013-14 shows how valuable this is for India. To put this in perspective, the bilateral trade between Australia and India is only $15 billion Australian dollars and the bilateral trade between India and China is $60 billion US dollars, 2/3rd of which in each case is in favour of the other party. With the new Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking office in May 2014, it is likely that investment policies will be streamlined. This is expected to accelerate investment in India not only from businesses from all over the world but also from Indians who are living overseas. Overseas Indians have great attachment with India. This would be strengthened, particularly for second and subsequent generations, and may even increase investment from them, if India were to see merits in granting dual citizenship to overseas Indians, just like the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and most developed and democratic nations grant this to their citizens.
Focusing on New South Wales, most Indian Australians are in Sydney, especially Western Sydney. There are constituencies where Indians constitute more than 15% of voters, thus able to influence outcomes of elections. To give an example, my surname “Singh” is the most common surname in Blacktown. Indian Australians have significant presence in trades like medicine, law, banking, accounting, IT, food and catering, migration services and small to medium consumer businesses. They are creating jobs for quite a number of people as you would expect from the small business sector in any part of the economy. Many of us have good names in the professional arena. Some of us have started to make a mark in charity related work. Admirably, there are some who have become involved in helping the homeless with food and clothing. This is all laudable, but I know we can do more.
Some of us are fortunate enough to have our elderly parents moving to Australia. But with a passage of time, many of them feel lonely because there are not many people with whom they can socialize with when their family is away due to the usual commitments like work or education. Many of them have an element of isolation and depression. We do have many groups catering to them, but this definitely needs some more thinking, more work and co-ordination. We also need to think about culturally appropriate nursing homes and other care facilities, where our elderly people can be placed or cared for, when it becomes necessary. In the twilight years of their life it would be important that our elders are provided with solutions around language barriers and dietary requirements which they have been accustomed to.
Like any other migrant group, which comes to these shores with good education, our people do get jobs without much difficulty. There are definitely some who struggle to find jobs which are commensurate with their training and experience. Lack of local experience is often quoted when they are declined employment. This is one area where incentives to employers as a government policy could be worth lobbying for. Even though there are Government services which try and aid employment, there is a need for some thought from the community to guide our newer migrants helping them to settle into life and employment. Mentoring of newer migrants, when necessary, will be very helpful.
There are hundreds of political parties in India which have their support base mostly in a particular geographical part of India. This is reflected here too. While there are a few pan-Indian based community associations, a lot more associations in our community are based on language or region of India. It is not necessarily a bad thing because the basic purpose of community organisations is comradery and friendship among people who relate to that particular set of criteria. Indians love to have community associations, replicating the experience in India. There is often a fierce competition among associations which, at times, is irrational and illogical. They end up duplicating or even triplicating the same activity to satisfy their ego and “Me too” syndrome. There is a need for some consolidation and understanding among community associations particularly on matters of common community goals. These goals could be mentoring of new migrants for employment and settlement, health education on important health matters and lobbying the political leadership in favour of community interests. It would be productive for community associations to become more accepting of their counterparts and working with one another towards common goals. A dialogue must start and some key Indian media must take the initiative for this job. It is imperative that we put our egos behind and recognise the good qualities of our people. Mirroring what happens in India, many community leaders continue to hold their positions for 10, 20 or even 25 years which stifles the growth of new ideas and perpetuate ego-based unnecessary competition. We need young Indians to be active and we should encourage them to take leadership roles within the associations. Taking a cue from Australian politics, we need to start preparing the next set of leaders in our community. What is the point of holding a position with nothing to show as a result apart from some pictures on Facebook? Triviality such as taking pictures with leaders cannot be the sole focus of our community leaders.
It is vital to have leaders who understand their responsibilities towards the community and are effective communicators. A lot more could be done if the direction we as a community take is relevant and productive. Being an optimist, I envision a community where we would engage in meaningful dialogue among ourselves so that we are able to share problems and develop solutions. Only then will we be able to serve for the benefit of our community. For example, an Indian cultural center that is actually accessible. Or addressing the concerning fact that fewer women of Indian heritage use mammogram screening compared to the screening rates in the general Australian population.
In regards to our political participation, I know Subcontinent Friends of Labor is an active group of Labor party members and supporters. Similarly, Liberal Friends of India has been quite energetic in creating a network of Liberal party supporters. But more can be done. I believe that more and more of us should join the political process at various levels if we are ever going to gain greater political representation in Parliament.
Except for Senator Lisa Singh, a representative of Tasmania in the Federal Senate there is no other person from an Indian heritage who is a member of a State or Federal Parliament. There are, however, several councilors and a few Deputy Mayors too, but, to the best of my knowledge, there is no person from the Indian-Australian community who is a Mayor in this country. When we compare this with other ethnic backgrounds particularly Lebanese and Chinese, the contrast is quite stark. It is a common point of discussion among us in moments of reflection. It is clear that division in our community, based on ego and some other factors has created a situation preventing us from having a significant political presence, which is commensurate with our numbers.
So what is the solution? Do we vote for every Indian who contests in an election? I have no doubt that a mature community will base its decision on the ability and capacity of candidates instead of their race or religion. We want the best MPs to represent us in Parliament and factors like race and religion should not be given undue importance. We should encourage Indians to join political parties and participate in the processes including pre-selections. I don’t believe it is a good idea to form a political party based on ethnicity, or an association based on caste.
Australia-based Government of India officials’ interactions with the community are, at times, less than satisfactory either because of their services, which may not meet our expectations or because they have meddled in community politics. This is counterproductive and needs to change. GOI officials need to understand, and accept, that they are public servants and are here to be of assistance to NRIs/PIOs, in addition to fulfilling their responsibilities, given to them by GOI. It is of mutual interest and benefit to have a constructive and supportive relationship between GOI agencies and the diaspora.
Our media is active, vibrant and crowded, which is not too dissimilar to community associations. They do, and can play, a very vital role by using their reach and clout for bridging divisions in the community, supporting good leadership and good work, and advocating for key community goals. They must stay away from partisan agenda, which, sadly, is the case with a few of them.
So, ladies and gentlemen, Indian Australians are indeed a great community which is highly qualified and politically aware. Despite the size of our community we have not achieved satisfactory success in political representation, largely because of our own deficiencies. This will, and can change if we refocus our energies and vision. We can do this refocusing if we start recognizing the good qualities and work of our people giving them that extra bit of support. We need to start networking and coordinating with the plethora of community groups for our common goals. We need to control our envy, “Tall Poppy Syndrome” or “Crab” mentality, if we ever want to take our community to its deserved heights. I believe that it is doable as we are smart and pragmatic people. Nothing is impossible and there is nothing which we cannot achieve if we put our hearts together as a community. We must be united for and by our common goals for the community.
Thank you very much for your attention.