Community work:what I have done so far.

Updated on 11th April, 2011.

Information

Here is my account about what I have done so far and what I am doing right now.

1. Community work in General:

1.1. Leadership roles in Indian community Medical Associations, Continuing Medical education and Health education of general community.

1.2. Helping poor people from our community ie visitors, overseas patients and Indian students when they are in need of health care in Australia without sufficient financial resources.

1.3. Helping poor students in my district with  scholarships etc.

2. My work as the co-ordinator of the Indian Consul General’s committee on students’ issues:
Indian Consul General’s Community Committee on Students’ Issues, Sydney, NSW was formed at the Indian Consulate on 6th April 2009. It did intensive work and completed its task in a very efficient manner. After accomplishing its mandated task, it dissolved itself at the end of June 2009 and communicated this to the Indian Consulate on 1/7/09.

The committee had Harmohan Walia,Vish Viswanathan, Shubha Kumar, Stanley D’Cruz and Dr Yadu Singh as its members. I was its co-ordinator.

This committee had done following activities;

#met students numerous times.

#organised a students’ forum on 16th May at Strathfield.

#co-organised a students’ forum with UIA in Strathfield on 6th June.

#arranged help to a woman student who was a victim of domestic violence.

#arranged help to 2 women students who were stalked by another Indian co-worker.

#arranged meetings with minister of education, NSW and her senior advisers and students from an aviation school-Work in progress.

#arranged a meeting with the president, NSW upper House [Mr Peter Primrose] and Ms Helen Westwood MLA and students.

#arranged meeting of an aviation school student with consul General [this student gave him his papers].

#arranged a meeting with a community minded lawyer and aviation school students.

#met the mother of a student of an aviation school. This lady’s husband had died only 4 weeks ago due to the serious stress involved in losing the money with the school in Sydney without the required outcome.

#arranged and participated in TV coverage of students’ issues on Channel 7, 9, 10, SBS TV, ABC TV, and Bloomberg.

#participated in the coverage on ABC radio, SBS radio, SBS Hindi radio, 2UE, JJJ, Indian Link radio, Radio UMANG, 2GB radio and SBS Kannada Radio.

#arranged talk-backs on these issues on SBS radio and Radio UMANG [98.5MHZ, Fridays,8-9 PM]-now stopped.

#participated in coverage on SMH, The Australian, Daily Telegraph, other newspapers and AAP.

#participated in the coverage on Indian newspapers in Australia [The Indian, Indian Link, Indus Age, The Indian Sub Continent Times, Indian Down Under].

#participated in TimesNow, NDTV, CNN/IBN, Headlines Today, AajTak and other Indian TV Channels.

#participated in the coverage on main Indian newspapers and PTI.

#involved with some top-grade Australian media programmes with wide audience in getting students’ issues covered.

#arranged funds for the accommodation for the relatives Mr Rajesh Kumar [the petrol bomb victim from Harris Park] within 24 hours.

#met commander Robert Redfern , Parramatta Local area Command of NSW Police several times.

#did what we could do to persuade/help the students when they were on the Harris Park streets for 3 nights.

#participated in the community leaders’ meeting with chairman, Community Relations Commission [CRC] at CRC HQ

#participated in a CRC organised meeting with Indian students at Parramatta RSL.

#participated in the community leaders’ meeting with the Premier, Mr Nathan Rees

#Met Indian Consul General and Consul several times

#helped a prominent Indian TV channel with a documentary on true situation in Australia. One of us [Yadu Singh] was the citizen Journalist.

#discussed and formulated the strategy to solve the problems of our students.

#submitted our strategy to the NSW task force and other relevant authorities.

#provided leadership in the matters relating to Indian students.

#gave our after hours and week-ends for students’ work and provided pastoral care to the needy students.

#provided/facilitated medical help to the needy students/their family members.

#met the visiting Indian journalists at the Consulate.
The committee members were all hard-working people with top-grade integrity. They did not have any conflict of interest in the matters relating to Indian students. None of them were involved in the students’ placement in a school [after taking a commission], running of any such school or running of any business which could have a potential conflict of interest in any manner.

All members worked with full dedication, cohesion and team feeling without any undermining of one another. This itself is a rare thing for an Indian group. We are proud of our work and ourselves.

We appealed to every person from Indian background to stay away from any leadership role if they were involved in any activity which did/could create a conflict of interest in these matters but we did not succeed in this matter.

We raised our voice forcefully against the exploitation of Indian students by some Indian employers.

We also appealed to the Indian newspapers and Radio programmes to ask questions from every leader [on students’ issues] about their involvement in any activity which  created a conflict of interest in those matters. We suggested that the  media should start with the questions on conflict of interests when interviewing those leaders.

3.My work beyond/outside the Consul General’s committee on students:

a. helped the refund of >$12000 to a student of a Flying school.

b. arranged legal assistance to the students from this Flying school from a solicitor in Sydney and Canberra.

c.1. facilitated a good outcome between parties involving VETAB, Flying school and students.

c.2. held several meetings involving VETAB high authorities, the Flying school and students in VETAB and my offices.

d. organised further refunds/savings [including waiving of about $50000f the legal fees in regards to a legal proceedings in the Supreme Court where students had lost their case and costs was awarded against them]] for a Flying school students from ESOS scheme with the help of VETAB, DEEWR and federal education dept which is worth >$250000 . I was the key and the only Indian person in this work for these students. I did this as I felt it was my duty to help students from my community who were feeling powerless in Australian system.

e. held meetings involving a Flying school people, VETAB and students.

f. helped payment of >$2400 to a student which was originally denied by his employer.

g. arranged funding of about $1000 to the family members of the “Petrol bomb” victim.

h. donated $500 to a students association.

i. arranged sponsorship for foods, meeting hall and public liability insurance for a students’ association [worth >$1000].

j. mentoring students for their careers and future in OZ.

k.1. donated $500 to AHIA’s seniors.

k.2. donated $500 to Fiji floods relief fund via International congress of Fiji Indians and organized $2000 donations from other doctors

k.3. donated $500 to Sanatan Arya Pratinidhi Samaj, Sydney.

l. donated a good amount [>$2000] for needy/deserving causes involving victims of earthquakes, accidental deaths, injuries and illnesses.

m.1. helping several students including assault victims for their work comp, treatment and issues involving their parents.

m.2. Liaised with NSW Police high ups in regards to the assaults of 2 Indians in Sydney.

m.3. Advised/mentored several others in regards to the steps they needed to take when they were assaulted.

n. established a benevolent fund for the community with further activities in the process.

o. participated as an active member of the working party with CRC on students including inputs for Z card.

p.1. took leadership role via the media including Indian and Australia media [Chanel 9, SBS, NDTV, Indian ethnic newspapers].

p.2. helped Radio National in making a documentary on students [see details in this BLOG elsewhere].

q. raised the issue of OZ Uranium sale to India during the Australia India Day celebration on 24th Jan, 2010 where several ministers, MPs, MLAs, MLC, and media people were present.

r. helped community members’ relatives/parents including FIJI Indians’ when they needed medical help.

s. helped students with their medical treatment of all types when they needed such help. This included getting a student admitted for the urgent treatment of his Kidney stone trouble which was threatening his Kidney.

t. helping the community members from India and South Asia with a concessional fees structure because they are part of my community [a service worth more than $50000/year].

u. met NSW Premier, VETAB authorities and NSW Education authorities on students’ issues

v. did all this work without any personal benefits or COMMISSIONs unlike some of our “leaders”. SEE my BLOG for more details.

w.1. trying to clean the community leadership and making them accountable.

w.2. Exposed commission taking by some leaders of an Indian community association in Sydney.

x. taking a leadership role against unfair portrayal of Australia as a Racist society by Indian media.

y. mentored medical doctors from India in regards to their training and registration issues including achieving a successful outcome for a house surgeon who was facing exclusion from the medical work due to her unfair treatment in a Sydney hospital. I worked very actively with this young doctor and her supervisors including Hospital administrators to get her into the internship at a different hospital. She passed her assessment and is now working in Sydney.

z.1. many other charity work in India including scholarships for poor students in India.

z.2. running a weekly Radio UMANG [Health radio] programme.

z.3. worked as a catalyst in resolving the issues between Indian consul General, Sydney and some businessmen with a successful outcome.

z.4. took an active and a leading  role in resolving the issues between Indus Age [after a controversial ad] and the community, and achieved a successful outcome [with an apology and a promise to not publish such ads again].

z.5. Formed a community committee [total 10 people in it] against Visa Capping Bill in May 2010 and lobbied with the Gov ministers and Media against this Bill which was very harmful to the students. Worked actively for this committee, visiting community gatherings, temples and Gurdwaras to collect signatures against this Bill. We also met the Immigration minister, Mr Chris Evans, asking him to not proceed with this Bill. See www.fairgo4internationalstudents.org.

z.6. Formed a national organisation called National Council of Indian Australians [NCIA, www.ncia.org.au] with participation from all over Australia [all states and territories representatives].

z.7. Spoke as a lead doctor in the Health Summit, organised by GOPIO, Sydney, educating/informing people on Health matters on 4th Dec, 2010.

z.8. Helped a family locate their son [International student] http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/a-dumped-bike-a-glimpse-on-sydney-stations-cctv-what-happened-to-indian-student-abhijeet-20101006-166rs.html

z.9. Raised $7100 as a team for Qld Flood relief on 28th Jan, 2011.

z.10. Took up the issue of attack on  Sri Mandir temple, Auburn and brought it to the national media.

z.11. Took up the matter involving HINDI in the Australian national draft curriculum-Languages and wrote to ACARA. 

z.12. Campaigned for removal of an incorrect map of India in DIAC website and succeeded.

I have not listed every thing I have done or am doing. Much more is being done presently.

I had to write this down because some of my detractors were making comments like “what has he done for the community”.

Just to let you know that it gives me a sense of satisfaction to do some community work beyond my medical work. 


Yadu Singh/Sydney/22nd November, 2010

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My thoughts on Indian Australian community:The direction we should take!

As we all know, we are more than 100000+ strong in Sydney alone. Total population of ours in Australia is 250000+ [350000+ if we add students]. We are not insignificant in numbers. We have fairly good representations in various professions including media. I wouldn’t know for sure, but my understanding is most of us do OK in the economic matters. Several of us own motels/hotels. Overall, we are doing OK although some newly arrived people are struggling.

Indian Australians have had a great reputation thus far. We have been known for our high educational standards, proficiency in English, manners and comparatively low crime. This has changed however lately. Insurance frauds, sex-related crimes, murders, domestic violence, false certificates, poor communication skills, poor behaviour/manners, rorting the system, contract marriages and others have been reported in relation to our community. Most of these things have been in the media in relation to students who have come here from India on students Visa. This does not mean that all students are doing wrong things but a small proportion is certainly into it.

The loss of our image/reputation in the eyes of general community is a matter of concern. This is going to have a serious impact on our professionals and our children. We need to do something about it. Most of us are great people and we must not allow a small section to harm our reputation.

How and what we have to do to redeem/restore our reputation is going to generate a debate. Here are my thoughts.

1.We need to work for an effective leadership of our community. These leaders must be goal-driven and deliver the results based on the agenda of the community. My view is that “dated”, “chronic” and recycled” leaders from several of our associations are encouraged to retire from their “leadership”. There is a need to have a meeting of our “leaders”, community members and media to figure out what we are doing wrong, what we ought to do and how we do it. Someone need to take the responsibility to organise this meeting. That person has to be acceptable to most.

2.To achieve the results, we need to consider an association which is above the region based associations and agenda. Region based associations can’t be expected, by the very nature, to think on the Pan-Indian basis. We need to get out of our regional identities and start acting our Indian identity in thoughts and actions. We need to work for an association which is pan-Indian in nature and is an individual based association. There is none of this type presently.

3. UIA, FAIA, AHIA and GOPIO are our important associations. FAIA really is a failed association now as it does not have many with it. There is hardly anything which it does these days except a few statements which it gets published in its friendly newspapers. Maharastra Association of Sydney is listed as its member but they have left FAIA at least a year ago and joined UIA. One of them is in UIA’s EC. I don’t believe that FAIA can lead us with most of its members coming from “Song and dance” groups. AHIA is not a pan-Indian association and it has not been very active lately. AHIA used to be very active a few years ago but it is not the case presently, despite many very good people in it.GOPIO is getting bigger with more chapters in Sydney and has many great people in it. It is unfortunately still a North Indians-based group in Sydney. Let us see how they grow and what they do. Their USA/UK counterparts have been in the forefront for the matters involving Indians. That leaves UIA which is a significant association. It is not able to achieve its goals, largely because of their tendency to elect ineffective leaders. Its agenda is confined to holding a few fairs/forums and issuing a few statements. Spin doctoring is a significant agenda. It has become stagnant and needs fresh ideas, energy and people. People have been advising them to reform themselves which unfortunately has not happened. As a result, UIA has many “recycled” and “tired” leaders. UIA has the high potentials if UIA leaders want to go there but all the signs are against it presently. UIA GC [Governing Council] has many great people but they have been disinterested in UIA lately. Let us hope that they can do introspection and bring changes. It would be good if UIA can reform itself. UIA in its current form can’t lead us effectively and successfully. My belief is that we should avoid multiple associations as we already have many. There is always a possibility that we will be able to see where we are doing wrong and what we need to do to achieve things for our community. It is applicable to everyone who is in the “leadership”.

4. We need to consider mechanisms/tools to mentor/help/guide our new arrivals. This help is needed in regards to the system in OZ, settlement, jobs, accommodation and many more. This should be a significant job of our associations. We should not duplicate/triplicate our efforts but we should have a monthly/bi monthly meetings of this nature which should be done by the community leadership group.

5. We need to mentor/guide/help our students who have come from Indian villages/towns/cities, often without any real idea about the systems in OZ. Often, they do not know how to conduct themselves in public places. It is our responsibility too to help them understand what is expected from them and what they can expect from the OZ systems. We do not want to be defined by the sub-standard behaviour of a small segment of Indian students.

6. We need to understand the conflict of interest principle. As an example, if I am an education agent or I run a school, then I should withdraw from the leadership role for the matters related to that subject. I can be an advisor but not the leader.

7. Our Indian ethnic media in Sydney  has limitations because it depends on advertisement dollars. It often glorifies those who should not be glorified. Newspapers will become more independent if they are not free and we pay for their copies. $2.00 is nothing for us and we need to think about it. I have often wondered whether we need a “real” newspaper which does the job of a “real” newspaper. Not possible until we are prepared to pay for it!

8. Vietnamese community/doctors had recently collected $50000.oo for Bankstown hospital but we are generally not into this type of activities. We are part of Australian community and we need to participate in activities of this nature. This will get us a lot more respect/recognition as a component of the Australian community.

9. A community Benevolent fund is a good idea. We are establishing a fund of this nature. Funny thing is that UIA is also establishing a benevolent fund after knowing about ours. UIA has been around for >15 years and do big functions but they have never thought about it before. “Me too” syndrome is pathetic. I understand that FAIA also has a benevolent fund and Bhavan Australia also has it. How many benevolent funds should we have? There is a need to merge all of them into one. We have to think on this.

10. An accountability of actions [or inactions] and transparency are things which are essential for a successful leadership group. We need to declare what funds were raised, what were the expenses [how were they dispersed] and what is the saving. Every association must practise this principle. Media should take an active interest in these matters. No commissions by the “leaders” please.

11. We need to have effective strategies in the matter relating to domestic violence, seniors’ issues and community projects such as “India House” and a nursing home for Indian community people. Dynamic people with community mind should be encouraged to participate in them. Isn’t is shameful that nothing effective has been done in these matters? What have our “leaders” done then?

12. There should be a community agenda which should be decided based on community consultations and with participation from leaders from all segments and media.

13. Supporting our businesses is a must as they are the ones who often help the community projects by participating in community functions. I am sorry to point out that there is an element of mistrust among ourselves for our own people and it needs to change. Like other communities, we need to become more supportive of our own people. Envy, “Tall Poppy Syndrome”, rumour mongering, character assassinations and pulling down our own people are not something which will help us as a community in the long term.

14. Let us treat our own people with a little more respects. Let us recognise our own people, accepting that we all have some negatives. This is a futuristic suggestion and is applicable to all including myself.

15. Let us develop a more supportive approach to our people where good qualities are recognised/honoured/acknowledged and bad qualities are not.

I am sure, you will have very many great ideas. Lets share them. Lets have a debate.

Yadu Singh/Sydney/12th March 2010

Australia India Day [celebrating Australia Day and Indian Republic Day] function:Report

Report

Australia India Day Function

[Celebrating Australia Day and Indian Republic Day]

Held on the 24th Jan, 2010 [6-11PM]

Venue – Ryde Civic Centre, Ryde NSW 2112

 

Australia India Day Function Council celebrated its first Australia / India Republic Day at the Ryde Civic Centre, Ryde on the 24th January 2012.  The program was an astounding success with more than 500 prominent Indians, representatives from over 20 Indian Associations, and star-studded politicians from both the Labor and Liberal parties from State and Federal level attending this event. 

The celebration started with the singing of Indian and Australian anthems, followed by entre which was followed by the first part of the entertainment programme. The guests were welcomed by Harish Velji and the MC was Dr Yadu Singh. Vote of thanks was given by Ms Shubha Kumar.  

At no time in the past 20 years, any function organized by any Indian Association/s had such massive response for such events.  The only limiting factor in getting more numbers to attend the event has been the capacity of the Ryde Civic Centre function hall. 

One of the major aspects contributing to the success of this program was the enormous representation from both the Labor and Liberal parties. ALP took 2 tables and Liberals took 1 table in our function. More than 40 political leaders and party workers from both sides attended the event.  Prominent people from the political leadership included: 

Hon Ms Maxine Mckew [Parliamentary secretary, Fed Gov & representing Prime Minister of Australia], Hon Mr Joe Hockey [Shadow Treasurer, Fed Parliament & representing Hon Tony Abbott, Leader of Opposition in Fed Parliament],Hon Mr David Borger [NSW Minister], Hon Mr Peter Primrose [NSW minister], Hon Ms Barbara Perry [NSW minister & representing NSW Premier], Ms Angela D’amore [Parliamentary secretary, NSW], Hon Mr Laurie Ferguson [Parliamentary secretary, Fed Gov], Mr David Clarke MLC [Shadow Parliamentary secretary & representing Mr Barry O’Farrell, Leader of Opposition, NSW], Mr Phillip Ruddock [Shadow Cabinet secretary, Fed Parliament], Mr Greg Smith [Shadow Attorney General, NSW], Hon Ms Amanda Fazio [President, Upper House of NSW], Hon Ms Tanya Gadiel [Deputy speaker of NSW parliament], Mr Chris Hayes MP, Mr Michael Richardson MP and Mr Shaoquett Moselmane MLC.

Clr Mark Adler – Canterbury Council, Clr Tony Hay – Hills Shire, Clr Barbara Burton – Hills Shire, Clr Vaseekaran Rajdurai – Holroyd Council, Clr Bill Whelan, Hawkesbury Council, and Crl Trent Zimmerman, North Sydney Council also attended this function.

Hon Mr Amit Dasgupta, Consul General of India, Sydney and Mr Gautam Roy, Consul from the Indian Consulate, Sydney also graced this function with their presence.

In a highly emotional and charged up speech, Mr David Clarke [representing Mr Barry O’Farrell] from the Australian Liberal Party, said that if his child goes to India he is sure the parents in India would treat him as their son and look after him.  On a similar manner, he urged that the Australian Moms and Dads to treat the Indian students as their own sons and look after them.  He went on and paid tributes to India and its traditions by saying that ‘India practices what it preaches. 

Ms Barbara Perry [representing the Premier of NSW] spoke eloquently about the contribution of Indian Australians and declared that violence against Indian/international students will not be tolerated. She said that students are very welcome in NSW. She was dressed in Indian attire which people appreciated with enthusiastic applause. She spoke about the interest of NSW premier and Gov in working actively with the Indian Australians.

Hon Joe Hockey, speaking at the function, said the Liberal party is fully committed to its policy of supplying Uranium to India.  Dr Yadu Singh, while responding to Hon Joe Hockey’s speech encouraged the Labor party to consider similar policy and implement it as early as possible. He explained that the issue of NPT is not relevant in case of India after India has been given an India-specific exemption from NPT by the NSG [Nuclear Suppliers’ Group] in Vienna last year.

Ms Maxine Mckew also spoke very highly of India, Indian Australians and multi-culturalism in Australia. She also explained that India and Australia have a great relations and it will get even better despite some hiccups. She was very impressed with the enthusiastic participation of women Indian Australians in this function. Her speech generated a thunderous applause from the audience. 

All the speakers from both the major parties spoke highly of India, Indian traditions, Indian sports – in particular Cricket, and the Indian political landscape, which stood the test of times for more than 62 years since securing independence from the British rule in 1947. All speakers were enthusiastically applauded by the audience.  

The event was also graced by Mr Amit Dasgupta, the Consul General of India.  Speaking on the occasion the Consul General touched on two fundamental issues.  On the issues related to the Indian students the Consul General paid glowing tributes to the NSW Police force and the political landscape of NSW for containing the student issues in NSW.  As a clear indication to vindicate this matter the Consul General said that out of the 1340 attacks on Indian students in 2009, only 13 such attacks occurred in the state of NSW and South Australia – the States which fall under the jurisdiction of Mr Amit Dasgupta.  He further stated that these statistics do not however condone the vast majority of attacks on Indian students that occurred and still occurring in other States.  He urged that the law enforcement agencies and the political parties should work closely in this direction and ensure safety of the Indian overseas students 

On a second major issue, the Consul General spoke about exploitation of the Indian students by Indian business – in particular the food/restaurant industry whereby the restaurant owners pay less than the wages stipulated under the labor law.  He insisted that all business owners must do ethical business.  He further went on to say that ‘I will not attend any function where he is not assured of suppliers to that function follow ethical standards in conducting their businesses’.  The entire hall including all the politicians from both major parties echoed with a big applause. 

The overwhelming response to this event is an indication of the ‘changing times’ and ‘changing outlook’  to the leadership and responsiveness to the current issues and challenges being faced by various sections of the Indian migrant and student community living in the State of New South Wales.  

Surely the representation of more than 40 students from the International Student community is an indication that they want to hear from the leadership and also from the large number of politicians on their views and actions proposed to be taken to address their issues. The Chief of VETAB [Ms Margaret Willis] and her assistant, Mr Shona Tannock and Mr Robert Redfern, Commander, Parramatta Police command [representing NSW Police Commissioner] were present as our guests. Ms Willis’ and Mr Redfern’s presence was meant to send out the message that quality of training and safety of students are 2 key issues in relations with Indian students.

It is noteworthy that students had paid at a very subsidized rate and all others including the organizers, except a very small numbers of VIP guests, had bought the tickets for their participation in the function.

The representation from more than 20 Indian Associations is a clear indication which shows they are bewildered with the current policies and practices, and financial management of our current top associations and leaders. The one fundamental reason for this large support stems from the fact that they found a new leadership in the AIDFC which can respond to the current issues and make representations at both Australian and Indian Government levels with a solid and united voice.   Some of the major Indian organizations who supported the event included the India Club, The Sydney Sangat, Australian Punjabi Business Association, Australian Indian Business Congress, Punjab For Ever, The Australian Tamil Association Inc (ATA), Hindi Samaj and the Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association (AMU) in addition to others.  

ACR International Tours and Travels added spice to the event by offering one return air ticket through Singapore Airlines for auction.  The auction added nice A$1,000 to the much badly needed money for the ‘benevolent fund project’. Mr Navneet Chaugar was the winner of this ticket. For the raffle draw which helped us collect about $750, the Good Guys offered a Plasma 26 inch TV which was won by Councilor Bill Whelan of the Hawkesbury City Council.  Congratulations to the winners! 

Media-both Indian and Australian, were represented with Indian Link, The Indian, Punjab Times, Hamare Rang [Pakistani] and most importantly, Channel 9 team present in the function. This was the very first time that Channel 9 crew was present in an Indian function.

Many other ethnic community leaders also graced the occasion with their presence.

The Future – the AIDFC Benevolent Fund

AIDFC has made a number of public announcements at the function to the community as a part of its commitment for the future.  Prominent among them is the creation and implementation of the AIDFC’s Benevolent Fund.  We are committed to get this fund going and make a significant contribution to the well being the Indian migrant and student community, our fellow Australian community and finally to our mother country – India.   

Finally we promise you that we will provide you a solid leadership and will representation at various levels.  We will have clean governance in all matters of the AIDFC management – in particular finance management. We will adopt an ‘open book’ approach in all these areas.  Consideration will be given to broaden the current AIDFC to include more Associations, individual members and businesses.  The community will be getting more frequent updates in the coming weeks and months! 

Ghungurus Group of Shalini Patel was the provider of the entertainment programme which was of 50 minutes duration and had the mix of Bhangra and Bollywood songs/dances. Every one enjoyed it tremendously.

Catering was done by Billu Group with great food, dessert and wines.

This function was so well attended and so well done that it has become a matter for the discussion among Indian Australians and the political eaders in NSW and Canberra.

This function has now become the talk of the town.
 
 JAI HO! 

Dr Yadu Singh

President

Australia India Day Function Council (AIDFC)

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31st Jan, 2010

Indian Australians:are we relevant in Australia & its systems?

There are about 300000 people of Indian heritage in Australia. About 100000 Indian students are in Australia too. Our numbers are probably more if we take Indian people from Fiji, Malaysia, South Africa and other countries into account. Basically, we have a significant mass of people from Indian background in Australia.

We are nicely represented in Medicine, law, teaching, accounting, IT and banking but not so in the higher level of administration and politics. Talking about the politics, there is not even a single person from Indian heritage in the state parliament or Federal parliament. This is not going to change in the near future either. This is so despite several of us in the major political parties, usually as cheer squad members.

Is it so because people with questionable calibre are in the political parties and such people do not have what a leader must have- the capacity to lead or is it because political parties are happy to take support from us but not willing to give us a share in the power? There are merits in both arguments.

I for one believe that we will not get what we should unless we do certain things. We have to “arrive” at the scene. We have to become politically active and smarter. We have to participate in the process, rather than just being happy with some photographs with  the ministers. We have to become demanding.

To achieve something in the political arena, we have to identify people among us who can lead. We have to unite our community too. “Unite our community” does not mean ghettoing ourselves however as we are very much a part of the broad Australian community. We have to achieve many things as part of Australian community.

Someone can ask  whether it is important that we have one or more Indians in the political power. It is really not that important if you think about it superficially. It is however important when you think about it more deeply. We are part of Australian community and must be part of Australian political systems. Politics affects us from all the angles and we need to participate in it.  If we participate in it, then we must get our share in the power too. Remember the ultimate justification for us to be in the political power. This is what we say “why not?”.

You may not agree with me but that is my view. I welcome your view point.

We will achieve many things in this country and be more relevant in the processes here if we;

1. join political parties in bigger numbers

2. participate in the political processes and are willing to take leadership roles in the systems/parties

3. become more supportive of right type of people from any community but do not hold it against a person if that person is from our community. We need to rise above our region/language based identities and take our “Indian” identity.

4. unite our own community which has hundreds of associations, often in the same community.

5. we persuade assertively/actively those “leaders’ who have been in their positions for years without any real productivity or outcome, to move aside.

6. work for a genuine umbrella group/organisation which can represent all of us. The constitution, membership, agenda and leadership of such group/organisation should be transparent and dynamic with potential for required changes to fit with the prevailing circumstances. United Indian Associations [UIA] falls sort of these goals significantly. UIA can however reform itself if it is honest to its published goals. The Jury is out whether UIA can reform itself though. I have seen two examples recently which do not give me lot of hope however. High Commissioner of India had a meeting with Indian community leaders in Canberra last Wedbnesday. Everybody who is anybody in our community from all over Australia was there but no body from top 3 of UIA office bearers [President, Vice president and secretary] was there. Similarly, in the meeting with NSW Premier yesterday, neither the president was there nor the vice president. UIA secretary was there but the person who “spoke on behalf of UIA” was Raj Natarajan who is not in UIA executive committee [EC] currently. This is indicative of a dysfunctional organisation. This is sad but true that UIA is not able to lead us. Our community needs lot more than what UIA is able to deliver. It is the capacity issue. UIA  needs to shape up or ship out! Oh yes, UIA leaders need to keep in their mind that they are not particularly popular in our community and they can’t blame any one else except themselves for this situation. UIA leaders, please remember that our community needs lot more than a “MELA” [fair] to show as the output from UIA. I ask you to lead all of us but do you have what you need to have to lead us? We need the honest answers! I do not believe in criticising for sake of criticising only. To prove this, we are willing to help you and work with you with all the integrity and honesty, recognising that our community does not need one more association as we already have too many.

7. do everything to enhance the reputation of our community. Indian Australians have had a great reputation but it has been damaged recently. Some from our own community were exploiting Indian international students in all sorts of ways. Some of them did facilitate false work experience certificates, pay below-award wages, take bribes for work certificates and even arrange false IELTS certificates after taking some money. Some students have come to Australia, not to study but to have PR at any cost, often using fraud/false certificates. We need to demand the cleaning of rorts/scams and punishment for those who are involved in these rorts/scams.

8. have the Indian ethnic media which is committed to the restoration of our image. Publishing good reports or the photographs of such people [rorters/scammers] for whatever reason-friendship or advertisement dollars- should not happen.

9. network effectively among ourselves and other relevant people when it comes to the core issues in regards to our community. Uranium sale to India, more time in SBS TV/radio for India/Indian culture based on our numbers, statue of Mahatma Gandhi in a prominent place in Sydney, reception of the Indian community of NSW by the Premier of NSW as is the case for Chinese community of NSW and culturally appropriate/conducive nursing homes for our seniors are some issues which I can mention but there are many more.

10. learn to respect/support our people and shun the so called “Tall Poppy Syndrome” when we find that one of us is doing well. We should not have any problem if Neville Roach gets nominated to be a member of Indian PM’s Global advisory council or Susai Benjamin gets nomination for a membership in Multicultural advisory council of Immigration minister or Dr Yadu Singh gets interviewed by all the newspapers/TV stations on students’ issues. We need to curb our envy and not start attempting coups against our own people. I was disgusted to see hundreds of people, claiming leadership role on students’ issues during the peak of students’ trouble, forgetting that they were the ones who were exploiting these students. Even the “CHORs” [thieves] and looters from our community became leaders. Such below-standard people only made our work more difficult and gave us lots of anguish even when we were doing things for students without any personal benefit or conflict of interest. Thankfully, they have all disappeared. I did not see them in the meeting with NSW Premier yesterday. I was happy to note their absence, partly because they are good for nothing but more importantly, we are able to do lot more for our people without their insincere/harmful meddling. I would be meeeting VETAB/Ministry of education, NSW Gov on Thursday, 5th Nov in reference to Flying school students [School guys and students will be there too] and then chief of the NSW task force next week.

I am exhorting the Indian Australians to think over the issues we have and do introspection about where we are and where we are headed to as a community.

We need to work as a team if we want to achieve anything for any one we claim to serve for. Having said that, such team can not and will not have these “CHORs” [thieves] though.

I am ready and many of my friends are too but I am asking a question, “are you ready too?”

Yadu Singh/Sydney/03-11-09

Indian student commits suicide in Australia:Who is accountable and what has to be done to prevent such incidents?

I was extremely saddened to hear the news of an Indian student who had committed suicide in Melbourne recently.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/indian-student-commits-suicide-in-australia/519725/

Mr Gurjinder Singh was a student of La Trobe University, doing accounting. He was in Australia only for 3 months. From the newspaper reports, I read that he was depressed about not finding a job in Australia. As we know, international students are allowed to work for 20 hours a week.

He was in his early 20s.

I have been thinking about him ever since I heard about his death. I feel for him and his situations before he committed suicide. I feel for the grief and loss for his parents in India. I have been trying to analyse what went in his mind before he came to this extreme point and took his life.

What happened here? How can a person become so severely depressed within so short time after arriving in Australia? Why his flat-mates and class-mates did not know about his situation? Why nothing could be done to prevent this tragedy?

Obviously, a lot of people failed here in averting a tragedy of this nature.

As I see it, following things come to my mind;

1. his classmates failed in their responsibility by not noticing his situation and turmoil and doing something about it,

2. his flat mates failed in their responsibility by again not noticing his situation and turmoil and doing something about it,

3. his University’s support system also could not do much to prevent this tragedy [may be they did what was needed to done but we are not aware of it],

4. his close relatives could not do anything to prevent his death. A young man felt this desperate and committed suicide and close relatives did not have a clue of his situation! Was this young man pushed into coming to Australia and had lots of expectation from his relatives but he was not helped with the essential things ie money which he needed to succeed in Australia?,

5. the education agents in India who did not inform him about the situation and ground realities re the jobs and the required money for his tuition etc,

6. his University system which could not prevent such a devastating tragedy by informing him at the orientation time about the health matters/systems including the psychological health issues which he could have accessed . There are help lines available which are very useful and are known to prevent suicides.  I recognise that his University might have informed him about all this at the time of orientation but he did not use the information. He could have gone to a GP. He had access to the health system in Australia as all students are required to have a health insurance. Alas, nothing of these happened!

7. I am sorry to say this but this young man also failed himself and his parents by taking this extreme step when he could have done many things to get him out of his situation. This could have been about calling help lines, speaking with his class mates/flat mates, speaking with counsellors, speaking with his parents and even returning to India if things were not going to change. Every thing would have been preferrable to the extreme step of committing suicide. A degree from a Uni in Australia and a possible PR in Australia are nothing when we compare them with the “Life”. By saying this, I am not minimising the grief/sadness which his near and dears ones are going through right now. I have a great deal of empathy with every one who is going through this grief but…….

 Life is always full of challenges and we need to face the challenges rather than taking the self-harm steps. Most times, we can deal with them ourselves but some times, we would need help from others and we must seek it from them.

Parents and students must be aware of the possibility that a job may not be available in Australia. Arrangements for ongoing living expenses and tuition fees must be made before travelling to Australia. Aus Gov authorities in the relevant Embassy/High Commission must make it amply clear that students can work for upto 20hours/week but jobs in Australia can not be the main or the only source of funding the expenses during their stay in Australia.

To be honest with you, I believe that students should not come to Australia if they do not have a capability to arrange funding for their fees and living expenses without a job in Australia.

Depression is a common problem and people from all age groups, ethnicity and circumstances can suffer from depression. Indians are no exception. It is eminently treatable. No body needs to suffer without the help, support and treatment for it. We of course need to let others know what is going on inside us. Many a times, others would not know about the turmoil inside if we do not seek help, talk about it or let them know what is going on inside us. 

 Unfortunately, there is a stigma attached to the mental health issues and anecdotally, this may be more true in the Indian community.

In this regard, I admire the courage which was shown by Jeff Kennett [former Vic Premier], Andrew Robb [Liberal Front Bencher] and Geoff Gallop [ former premier of Western Australia] when they came out with their depression and sought help.

To prevent any loss of life in this manner, we all must show compassion and look after our friends, class mates, flat mates, relatives or any one whom we know if we find that they are having difficulties in these matters. We need to talk with our close ones and share with them the difficulties we are experiencing.

It does not help and it is not correct if we point a finger of blame, to the premier of Victoria, Mr John Brumby by making him responsible for this suicide as has been done by a non-student “leader” in Melbourne. This is ridiculous. This “leader” is talking nonsense and is playing useless politics. He should be ashamed of himself.

A very sad situation has happened and we all including the Gov agencies need to think about the preventive measures which must be in place to avert such deaths, knowing that International students are under lots of pressure, do not have the traditional support mechanism for them in Australia and some of them may not be able to cope with the circumstances. Schools, TAFE and Universities must review their orientation systems to make sure there is information on health including mental health issues in their orientation programmes.

The education providers must have a system of “student co-ordinators” who should have a close interaction with the students. Pastoral care is a service which is extremely essential in relation to International students.

 State Governments must ensure that the education providers in their territories do have enough information on these matters in these programmes and have adequate pastoral care mechanism.

Indian associations must review what they can do to help Indian students when they are having difficulties in dealing with the situations/circumstances in Australia.

There is a significant role for the media in India and in Australia to take up the issue of mental health among International students. Many of them go through a very difficult environment. As Indian students do access the ethnic Indian media in Australia regularly, it can and should do a significant job by making people aware of the mental health and help system available in Australia. Kumud Merani [SBS Radio], Pawan Luthra [Indian Link], Rohit Revo [The Indian] and Dinesh Malhotra [Bharat Times] have the instrument which can be very effective in this regard. After all, we do have the great systems like LIFE LINE and BEYOND BLUE in Australia but this may not be known to our students.

We all have to work together to save lives of those who are going through a difficult time in their lives!

We all need to work together in all sorts of manners to help our students!

Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/23rd Sept, 2009.

Students’ Issues:My interviews on SBS Radio

http://media.sbs.com.au/audio/kannada-090920-95c.mp3

http://media.sbs.com.au/audio/kannada-090711-4c7.mp3

http://media.sbs.com.au/audio/kannada-090711-ca8.mp3

http://media.sbs.com.au/audio/hindi-090530-d23.mp3

Indians’ assault in Melbourne:My SBS Radio/Kannada interview [English] on 20th Sept 2009.

Here is my Interview on SBS Radio-Kannada

Topic: Indians’ assault in Epping, Melbourne

Interviewer: Mr Chandra Devudu

http://media.sbs.com.au/audio/kannada-090920-95c.mp3