Indian Australian groups contributed to Clean Up Australia Day on Sunday, 3rd March, 2013!

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Sydney, 31st March, 2013

Like last year, we took part in Clean Up Australia Day activities this year too.

On Sunday, 3rd March, 2013, friends from 3 organisations-Indian Australian Association of NSW Inc [INDAUS Inc], Basava Samithi of Australia [BSOA]-Sydney Chapter and Samarpan Inc [A group of people who have family members with disabilities] joined up for the clean up activities at GARRISON POINT, MURRUMBEENA RESERVE, OFF HENRY LAWSON DRIVE, GEORGES HALL, NSW-2198.

It started at 8 am and went on until 10.30 am.

After collecting several bags of rubbish, the clean up party had a tea/coffee session and general discussion, followed by certificates and pics. We discussed how important it is for all of us from all sort of backgrounds to get involved in Australian events/activities which will help Australia and Australians. Australia is after all our home!

People who took part in it included myself [Dr Yadu Singh], Chidanand Puttarevanna, Stanley D’Cruz, Gaurav Nirwal, Rajni Chandran, Uday Shah, Jaywanth Vaidya, Parul Shah, Hemanth Raju, Paramesh Halaradhya, Vishwas Suresh, Dayanand Mogale, Vishwanath Halyal, Prajwal Pradhan, Vijay Kumar and many others.

From the Clean Up Australia website:

“Australians have more than demonstrated their passion and responsibility for cleaning up their local environment. Over 550,300 volunteers have donned their gloves and picked up a bag to remove rubbish from around 7341 sites across the nation.

Early figures predict they will have removed around 16,150 tonnes of rubbish, just the beginning of what is shaping up to be a tremendous effort yet again.

Since the national event started in 1990 Australians have donated more than 26,100,600 million hours towards caring for the environment through Clean Up Australia Day, by removing an estimated 288,650 tonnes of rubbish across the country.”

Clean Up Australia Day is truly a national event, in which everyone participates.

Indian and other multicultural groups have been increasingly participating in these activities.

Australia is a great & clean country and it is everyone’s job to keep it that way.

We did our part and are proud of it.

Dr Yadu Singh

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Multiculturalism in Australia: what it means to me

Multiculturalism in Australia: what it means to me

Australia is a great place where one can meet people from all backgrounds, cultures and religions. They can enjoy food from diverse backgrounds-Indian, Chinese, Italian, Sri Lankan, Thai and many more, including, of course, Australian.

People can and do enjoy festivals from diverse backgrounds. I myself have participated in events and festivals from Chinese, Philippines, Pakistani, Arabic and of course Indian backgrounds. I enjoyed Chinese Opera and a performance by Shen Yun cultural group immensely. I remember the “Nagar Kirtan” by Sikh community with fondness and enjoyed walking with the crowd from Circular Quay to Martin Place in Sydney. I also remember with fondness my participation in various Hindu religious festivals in either various temples and even in Darling Harbour. These events were organised without any disturbance or incidents.

Increasing number of people from diverse backgrounds take part in national activities. Only yesterday [4th March, 2012], I took part in “Clean Up Australia Day” activities with my friends from Basava and Tamil backgrounds, led by Basava Samithi [an Indian group] and Australian Tamil Association [another Indian group] respectively.

People can see movies and functions from various cultural backgrounds in the national TV. SBS TV helps us share diverse cultures and celebrations in so many ways.

It is such a fun living in Australia. Australia is a success story of multiculturalism.

I am therefore a strong proponent of multiculturalism in Australia. It benefits not only people from diverse backgrounds, but also Australia as a nation.

Australia is truly a multicultural nation. One in four Australian was born overseas and 44% of 22 million [9.68 million] Australians were either born overseas or one of their parents was born overseas. We speak 260 languages and identify with 270 ancestries. This is an amazing statistics!

With well more than 100000 people coming to Australia through migration programme every year, this will continue to benefit Australia for a long time. With growing numbers of aging population, migration programme is crucial for Australian economy as it provides skilled people which Australia needs for its economy and service sector

Multiculturalism has been in the news lately, specially after the certain events were reported from France and Europe generally. German Chancellor, Angela Merkel’s statement that multiculturalism has failed in Germany has been widely reported.

Despite this, I believe that multiculturalism in Australia is unique and  is the right policy. European examples are not applicable to Australia.

Its importance can be judged by this little example. Previously, Dept of Immigration used to be called Department of Immigration and Multicultural affairs [DIMA] which later became Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous affairs [DIMIA]. It was later changed to Department of Immigration and Citizenship [DIAC] a few years ago and “Multicultural Affairs” was dropped. While Chris Bowen is still the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, I am pretty happy to note that the word “Multicultural Affairs” has been restored in so as Kate Lundy has the portfolio of Minister for Multicultural Affairs.

What does Multiculturalism mean?

It basically means;

1. Recognition and respect for cultural diversity of Australian people, within the overall framework of general Australian values.

2. Non-discriminatory Immigration policy which encourages people with the right mix of skills to migrate and then acquire citizenship with the pledge of loyalty to Australia and its people, uphold its laws and democracy and respect for our rights and liberties.

3. Non-discriminatory opportunities for everyone to achieve the best for themselves irrespective of race, gender, religion or other criterion.

It must be understood that Australian values will always be superior if there is any clash between the cultural practices, values and ideas and Australian values. Australian values of democracy, justice, equality, rule of law and tolerance will always remain supreme.

English will always be the national language with encouragement to learn it. Other languages including the languages which people identify as a part of their heritage will be encouraged but they will not be a substitute for English.

It is generally accepted that a full sense of belonging to any society or nation is achieved only if people are encouraged to participate, without any hindrance or discrimination. People who are encouraged to migrate can’t be treated as “guest workers”, with obstacle in their ways to prevent them from availing opportunities and participating meaningfully.

Despite some commentary in the media that some migrants want to change Australia, instead of adapting to the Australian values, I believe that it is generally an exaggerated account and and not true. An overwhelming majority of people, if not all, who come to Australia come here only because Australia is a better nation with better opportunities, and not to change Australia to suit their values or ideas.

Multiculturalism encourages participation which in turn promotes a sense of belonging. That, in turn, promotes a better citizenship, better society and of course, a better Nation, where “Take and Give” is accepted as a better and a noble notion, instead of “Take and Take”.

Everyone needs to contribute to the nation building to make Australia a better nation than it already is. That of course is only possible if their culture and heritage is valued, within the overall frame of Australian values, if opportunities are available without any discrimination, and if people are encouraged to achieve their best without any hindrance in doing so. Only then they will be able to contribute to the nation meaningfully.

Recognizing this, Australian Govt has constituted Australian Multicultural Council [AMC] with the mandate to advise the Govt for these matters, which, indeed, is a good step at the federal level.

At the state levels too, multiple steps have been taken to implement the policies in regards to multiculturalism. In NSW,  Minister Victor Dominello [Minister for Citizenship, Communities and Aboriginal Affairs] and Community Relations Commission [Chairman and CEO, Stepan Kerkyasharian] have the overall responsibilities for policies in these matters. By constituting Ministerial Consultative Committees [MCC] for various multicultural communities to advise NSW Govt, Premier Barry O’Farrell and Minister Victor Dominello have done a commendable job in this direction.

There is a role for everyone, not just political leaders and People of Australia Ambassadors [appointed by federal Govt under AMC], to make Australia a better place than it already is. Community leaders and religious leaders have a big role in helping new migrants settle-in in the new society and integrate well within the broader Australian value system.

We all are stake holders in promoting the narrative of not only “successful Australia” but also “successful multicultural Australia”!

Yadu Singh/Sydney/5th March, 2012

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Participating in “Clean Up Australia Day” today was fun and a pleasure!

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I enjoyed participating in “Clean Up Australia Day” today. It was a fun too.

In the morning, I joined up with my friends from Basava Samithi of Australia [an Indian group] in Collimore Park, Liverpool, NSW, where we, as a team, collected a lot of things. It was a pleasure to see the Council Truck coming and picking up things which we had collected. Dayanand Mogale [President of Basava Samithi], Panchaksaraiah Palya [Secretary of Basava Samithi] and Chidanand Puttarevanna were the key people in this group.

In the afternoon, I met up with friends from Australia Tamil Association [another Indian group] to participate in the activity at Best Road Reserve, Seven Hills, NSW.

We collected rubbish, broken TV, cups, bags, shopping trolleys, clothes, damaged fans and many more things. I was pleasantly surprised to know that Clean Up Australia organisation and local Councils provided gloves, and collection bags for the volunteers. Qantas also supported these events by donating Tea shirts and even small grants.

The prediction about weather was that it would rain but it turned out to be a bright and sunny morning, which, unfortunately, left an unwanted side effect. I had sun burn on my face, for which I was teased by my children. This also disproved my theory [without any basis] that brown-skinned people do not suffer sun burn. From now on, I will be better prepared!

Based on what we found there, I was sad to see the abuse of our environment by people. Obviously, we need to look after our environment and this Planet. This is a job for everyone and every day, not just for Clean Up Australia Day.

Basava Samithi and Australia Tamil Association [ATA] volunteers turned the events into “fun” events. At ATA event, Thiru Arumugam [President of ATA] and Susai Benjamin were also present. I was requested to give away certificates to the volunteers, which was a real honour and a matter of great pleasure.

I am more convinced now than before that there is a need for all of us to look after the nature and this planet.

Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/4th March, 2012

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