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
23rd March, 2015
Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) organised an evening on 23rd March 2015 at Novotel Hotel, Parramatta, NSW for a select group of community members, which gave them an opportunity to interact with Cricketing legends, Brian Lara and Glenn McGrath.
After a meet and mingle for about 45 minutes, where drinks and finger food were served, the interaction in the form of Q+A started. At the outset, a brief description of their background was read out. Both legends were asked questions about Cricket, predictions for the winner between India and Australia on 26th March and who is the tallest and shortest cricketer. Someone also asked whether they were ever approached by Bookies and whether they were ever stopped by Cops for speeding etc. I asked Glenn about his highest score, which, to my surprised, was 61. Glenn described how and when he scored these runs, painting a picture of his own disbelief and disbelief even among his team mates. They also gave their views about three forms of Cricket and felt that T20 variety has made the game very popular and brought many spectators.
They answered the questions with a great sense of humour and self-depreciation.
Brian Lara even wondered about the name of Lara Datta if she married him. People laughed with the name “Lara Lara”. It was all in fun.
Brian Lara felt that India have been playing very well during the ICC World Cup matches and their poor results in January will be of no consequences. He felt India would win the Semi-final against Australia on 26th March. Not surprisingly, Glenn felt that it is Australia which will win on 26th March.
It was an enjoyable evening, with plenty of selfies which people had with both legends. Legends definitely knew how to entertain people.
Thank you, Kavita Shukla (CBA Manager, Migrants’ Banking) and CBA as an institution for providing this great opportunity to meet and interact with these two Cricketing legends.
Yadu Singh/Sydney/24th March, 2015
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.
Expectations from the Modi Govt
Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, is visiting Australia between 15th and 18th Nov, 2014. After attending G20 summit in Brisbane on 15th and 16th November, he will start his state visit. Indian community is excited with this visit. This is the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister after PM Rajiv Gandhi visited Australia in 1986. PM Modi will interact with the community in Sydney and Melbourne, in addition to addressing a Joint session of Australian Parliament.
Prime Minister Modi’s image is that of a decisive and a “can do” leader. Indians, not just in India but around the world, are optimistic that things will change for the better and the Indian economy will grow rapidly.
When I wrote a post in June, 2014, I mentioned many things which people expected. Many of those things have either been delivered or getting delivered. Prime Ministerial visit to Australia is one of them. Nuclear trade deal has already been signed when Prime Minister Tony Abbott visited India in September. Australian citizens getting the facility of Visa on arrival in India is another one which is in the process of getting implemented. Serious work is in progress in regards to Black money, stashed in overseas Banks. Supreme Court’s activism is playing an important role in it. Investigations and prosecutions are likely to commence soon. Based on my interactions with many Indians in Australia, there are a few more things that people expect the new government to deliver.
Genuine dual citizenship: This has been discussed and debated for long. There is an almost universal demand that overseas Indians be given a right to hold genuine dual citizenship with voting and property rights, if the country of their citizenship has no issue with this and if there are no security issues with granting dual citizenship to any particular overseas Indian. If USA, UK, Australia and most of developed and democratic countries as well as some countries in the region see no issues in granting dual citizenship to their citizens, then people argue that there is no rational basis for India to deny dual citizenship to Indians. PM Modi has the political capital to deliver this long-standing demand. A petition and campaign for Dual citizenship is running on Change.org (http://tinyurl.com/kxtlosw) and Social media presently (http://tinyurl.com/m4b4luu).
Effective anti-corruption body: A group of 10-15 people from civil society including eminent jurists and overseas Indians (if possible) as well as politicians should be asked to review the Lokpal Act, passed by the Lok Sabha earlier, and suggest steps to rectify weaknesses to make it an effective corruption fighting body. Such body should have sufficient resources to discharge its functions. Unlike previous Govts, this whole process to fine-tune this should not take more than one year from the time NDA Govt took office.
The PM’s global Overseas Indians Advisory body: The PM should revamp his Global Advisory Body, constituted by the previous Govt. People in it should be those who have significant presence, influence and interactions among Indians in their countries. The practice of Indian diplomats recommending their sycophants to become members of this body should be done away with.
Country specific Overseas Indian Advisory body: Countries with significant overseas Indian populations (Australia is certainly one such country) should have an advisory body of not more than 10 people, which can be used for consultations and other advisory purposes, not only by the local GOI authorities/agencies, but also the relevant authorities/agencies in India. Its term should be for not more than 2 years.
Annual consultation between High Commission and Community: Previous High Commissioner of India in Australia, and current External Affairs Secretary, Smt Sujatha Singh, started a novel, and productive, mechanism to meet the community representatives in Canberra on a yearly basis. Representatives from all over Australia would assemble on a weekend to discuss and suggest things to Indian diplomats. Current High Commissioner, Biren Nanda, did not continue this practice. The communication from High Commission and community has been limited and confined to a small group of people, who are close to HCI. Previous practice of community consultation needs to be reactivated.
Annual dialogue between Indian and Australian leaders: Indian Australians will like to see formal and regular annual meetings between PMs, Foreign Affairs Ministers and Defence Ministers, with venues alternating between India and Australia.
Free Trade Agreement (FTA): The pace of the discussions and negotiations should be accelerated so that FTA can be concluded by the end of 2015. This will accelerate bilateral trade which has come down to about $15 billion from previous high of $21 billion. This is important as Australia already has FTAs with Japan, South Korea and China.
Bilateral and multi-lateral defence exercises between India and Australia: India and Australia should work actively to enhance their defence & strategic relations bilaterally and multilaterally in the pattern agreed prior to the 2007 Rudd Govt in Australia.
Hindi teachings in Australian Universities: To increase India’s soft power and increase the numbers of India-literate Australians, India should consider seriously funding such teaching courses in at least one University each in Sydney and Melbourne. Discussions should be had between relevant authorities to explore equal sharing of cost between Australia and India.
Facilitations of Australian Universities and TAFE to have campuses in India: Many Australian institutions are ranked quite highly in various world Universities ranking systems. Collaborations in this field should be actively facilitated and encouraged, following a pragmatic and win-win module. Indian regulations to facilitate this should be considered.
Recognition of TAFE diploma in India: Many Indian students come to Australia to train in TAFE institutes. Many then move on to Universities to complete degrees. In addition to the diplomas not being recognised to the extent that the students wanting to pursue this study in Australia do not even get the education loans, Association of Indian Universities (the peak body responsible for recognising foreign degrees) does not recognise even Bachelor degrees that may have resulted from a credit transfer after a diploma resulting in the degree component being lesser than 3 year duration. (Diploma to Degree). This is a unique feature of Australian Qualification framework and so should be understood by Educational authorities. Quite a good numbers of Indians in Australia have earned their degrees through this pathway. TAFE institutes are a unique institution and it will be beneficial for India to consider recognizing diplomas from TAFE.
Bilateral Internship positions for Australians and Indians: Institutes and Universities of repute in both countries should be encouraged to develop mechanisms to have short term (3-6 months) placements for students and researchers to enhance collaboration in science and research.
Indian media’s bureau/representatives in Australia: During 2009-10, Indian media reported issues involving Indian students in an exaggerated way, erroneously attributing racism in literally every incident. They did not interact with local long-term Indians. It was harder for media to have a grasp of the ground realities. It will be helpful if key media outlets consider basing their representatives in Australia to cover Oceania. With increasing trade related activities between Australia and India and with increased number of Indians here, there could be sufficient justification for such decisions. Indian Govt can encourage media houses to take up this matter. A good beginning could be of a posting a full time Press Trust of India (PTI) reporter in Australia.
Indian Consulate in Brisbane: Queensland is an important state for Indian investment. Indian business houses like the Adani group have an important and a significant presence in this state. It is important to have an Indian Consulate in Brisbane.
India House or Indian Cultural Centre in major capital cities: There are more than 500,000 people of Indian heritage in Australia, with a big concentration in Sydney and Melbourne. People believe that there should be Indian cultural centers in Australia, at least in Sydney and Melbourne. While some funding will be raised locally, a significant part of the funds should come from Indian Govt. Govt of India (GOI) Funds, if any, allocated for something of this nature to be established in the Indian Consulate premises in Sydney CBD should be reviewed and re-allocated for a center of this nature in areas like Parramatta or Blacktown, where the Indian community has a substantial presence. Sydney CBD is not a practical or appropriate site for an Indian Cultural Centre.
Overseas Indians’ property in India: Many overseas Indians are seeing that their properties are illegally occupied and face threats to their safety when they visit India. Court cases go on for extended periods of time. Indian Penal Code and relevant laws should be amended to tackle this menace.
Interactions between GOI agencies and Indian Australian community: It is often felt that GOI authorities in Australia do not interact with people sufficiently, thus leading to a communication gap. It is a common experience that there is a significant gap between what we expect and what is delivered. It is also felt that GOI officials often get embroiled in local community politics and play “favoritism” games depending on who they like or dislike. It is quite irrational and subjective. Steps should be implemented to improve the situation.
Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs visit to Australia: With approx. 500,000 people of Indian heritage in Australia, a biennial visit of Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs (The Hon Sushma Swaraj) or her deputy, The Hon Gen (Retd) V K Singh or External Affairs Secretary, should be included in the official GOI travel calendar. This will help facilitate interactions with the community and facilitate Overseas Indians’ investment in India.
Streamlined grievance redressal mechanism for Overseas Indians: Overseas Indian Affairs ministry has often not been very helpful and help has often not come in a timely fashion due to excessive bureaucratic influences. This should be reviewed and streamlined.
Exchanges between Academicians and civil Society leaders: We need regular bilateral exchange visits of academics, journalists, leaders and civil society leaders. This will help improve relations between the two countries. The scope and numbers should be increased.
In summary, it will be of mutual benefit to the community in Australia and India if the Indian government is proactive in considering the interests and welfare of the Indian community down under.
Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/14th November, 2014
Sydney, Thursday, 11th September, 2014
Congratulations, Dr Harry Harinath!
Dr Harinath is a prominent Australian of Indian heritage, and is a well-respected medical doctor.
He has been a respected member of Medical profession for 40 years. He was part of NSW Cricket for 30 years. He served NSW Cricket as its director for many years. He has been a commissioner of the CRC for the last 2 years. He is the current Chair of the Board for Parramasala festival – Australian Festival of South Asian arts & culture.
I, as a member of Indian Australian community, as well as a member of medical profession in NSW, welcome Dr Harinath’s appointment.
I have no doubt that he will take CRC to newer heights, with his consultative, non-confrontationist, helpful, encouraging and inclusive style of functioning.
With Harry as the Chair of CRC, multiculturalism in NSW is in safer and capable hands!
We look forward to working with him for the interests of our community.
Finally, thanks and congrats are also due to NSW Government -Premier, Mike Baird and Minister for communities, Victor Dominello, for making an outstanding choice for the position of new CRC Chair!
Dr Yadu Singh