Threats to IFFAA organizers, if any, should be reported to Police

Sydney, 5 May, 2017


The news of IFFAA being cancelled doesn’t surprise me. Many felt for a while that it would either be cancelled a few days before the event or it would be a major flop.

Quite many members of Indian Australian community are however dismayed, disappointed and disgusted with claims of terror threats used as a reason for the cancellation of Indian Film Festival and Awards of Australia (IFFAA). The claim seems outlandish.

There is some confusion whether it was an “Indian” Film Festival and Awards or “International” Film Festival and Awards of Australia, because the organizers have used both Indian and International words as part of IFFAA.

Link with terror claims:

“The inaugural edition of the Indian Film Festival and Awards of Australia, that was due to run next week in Sydney, has been cancelled, with organisers blaming the threat of terrorism.”

It is true that there was a significant backlash against the organizers of  (IFFAA), which was going to run in Sydney between 7-13 May, with the Grand Finale on 13 May.

The root cause of the Indian Australian community’s backlash was the participation of these 3 Pakistani artists, especially Ali Azmat.

1. Ali Azmat:

He had sung a very controversial and offensive song against India. The singer is shown to support violence in Kashmir, India. He appears to promote/support Khalistan and glorifies a Caliphate (ISIS) terrorist, Burhan Wani, who was killed last year in an encounter with Indian security forces. He glorifies violence in Kashmir.

2. Faysal Qureshi:

He dedicated his award in an event to the militants in Kashmir. He glorifies violence in Kashmir.

3.  Fakhr-e-Alam

He exhorted Kashmiris to separate from India and join Pakistan. He glorifies violence in Kashmir.

With the recent beheading of 2 Indian soldiers by Pakistani army, there is a lot of anger in the Indian community. Indian Australian community did not think it is the right time to have Pakistani artists in an Indian festival. They are particularly incensed with the participation of above mentioned Pakistani artists. Organizers talking about harmony between two nations at this particular point of time is not logical. The relations between India and Pakistan are at the lowest point. IFFAA isn’t the right or appropriate forum to create harmony between India and Pakistan in the current circumstances. The problem is much bigger and well and truly out of scope for an event like IFFAA.

The backlash against IFFAA was wide spread in the Indian Australian community.  It was not limited to just a group or two, and definitely not limited to any so-called Indian fundamentalist groups. Having affinity with or love for India, and expressing anguish or protesting peacefully, without any threats of violence, don’t  make anyone wrong.

People shared their concerns with the organizers and their promoters. They used emails, Whatsapp and other social media platforms. The backlash was covered in Indian media in Australia and India. It was gathering some serious momentum. It’s likely to have reached Bollywood film stars too, causing a big question mark over their attendance. IFFAA was in real trouble.

As far as I know, no threats of any type were ever used or issued. When Dimple Hartaj Deez and I spoke with the main IFFAA organizer at 4.25pm on Wednesday, May 3, no such concerns were expressed or mentioned.

Terror threats seem to be outrageous and incredulous, and look like an overkill. Due to a variety of reasons, the ticket sale was sluggish. Sponsorships weren’t profuse or spectacular. If there were any threats against the IFFAA organizers, irrespective of whether they were from Indian community groups  or Pakistani community groups or from anywhere, they (the organizers) should  go to the Police immediately. Threats of violence, if true, should not be tolerated. Protesting peacefully is one thing, and people have rights to protest, but issuing threats, whether terror or otherwise, which I seriously doubt, is an entirely different thing.

Indian Australians are a peaceful community and do not believe in, or practise, threats as a mechanism to force anyone to do, or not do, any particular thing.

As far as I know, terror threats as stated in the article, appear to be difficult to understand and believe, but not impossible. If they are true, they must be reported and investigated. If they are not true, there should be action for alleging terror threats.  Although it’s not clear as to who issued terror threats, but there are a few mentions of “anti” and “fundamental” groups, which were running a campaign against IFFAA. This is pointing a finger towards Indian Australian community. If there were no terror threats, our community should receive an apology because it doesn’t deserve this unwarranted and undeserved slur.

Our community did an honorable and justifiable job of telling the organizers in no uncertain way about the inappropriateness of some of their actions. They spoke effectively against something which they believed was wrong, at least in the current times and circumstances. It also remains a fact that organizers misjudged the extent of the community backlash and ignored it until their hands were forced with the looming and imminent major fiasco. Nobody can deny that the event was not properly managed logistically or financially. If it was not the case, the organizers should have been able to continue with the processes of hosting the event after they decided to not invite the Pakistani artists on 4th May.  After all, it was an Indian Film Festival and participation of Bollywood stars would have guaranteed its success. The organizers unfortunately did not manage it proactively. Suggestions given to organizers to hold the meeting to understand the concerns were not given due importance and dismissed with “they have my number”, which smacks of arrogance. They were in a reactive mode and on the back foot, doing things as a reaction to what the campaigners were doing. This is not a smart strategy.

Finally, just like many, I am for a good neighborly relations between India and Pakistan, and there is no big issue to have Pakistani artists in events like IFFAA, but there must be a right time, place and atmosphere for this to happen. The current time is, unfortunately, and obviously, neither the right time nor the right atmosphere.

Dr Yadu Singh

Happy 69th Independence Day, Israel

Sydney, May 2, 2017

I was privileged to be invited to join Jewish community of NSW for the celebration of 69th Independence Day of Israel at Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney.

Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, NSW Leader of Opposition, Luke Foley, many ministers and MPs, key community and business leaders were among approx 500  invited guests.

Israel is the only successful and working democracy in the Middle East.

Israel is a world leader in innovation in the field of Defence, health, water and agriculture.

I am a friend and supporter of Israel, just like millions of Indians all over the world.

Best of Israel:

Happy 69th Independence Day, Israel!

Dr Yadu Singh


Journalists must understand journalism

Sydney, April 24, 2017

When I look around and think about those who claim to be “journalists”, I don’t see many who are true journalists.

They don’t seem to understand that journalism means being:

  1. Objective
  2. Unbiased
  3. Non-political
  4. Fair
  5. Factual
  6. Relevant
  7. Responsible
  8. Having integrity
  9. Fearless
  10. Aware

To make it worse, some are in bed with scumbags and political parties, and are into promotional activities for third rate people, giving them all sorts of awards.

When pointed out, they are unable to understand what is being pointed out and why. This shouldn’t be surprising because of their lack of training as journalists and knowledge and understanding of ethics.

My comments are not about every journalist because there are many great ones, but they are definitely about many (substandard ones) who are around us and with whom we deal with on a daily basis. I am sure you will get a gist.

I hope they will take these comments as healthy criticism and as a plea to reflect on whether they are fulfilling the parameters of ethical journalism, and to make amends, if they are not.

Dr Yadu Singh

457 Visa class terminated

Sydney, April 18, 2017

457 class Visa

Malcolm Turnbull TwitterAustralian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration and Border Protection Minister, Peter Dutton, announced today that they have abolished Temporary Worker (Skilled) Visa (subclass 457),  effective immediately.

457 Visa will be replaced by two new temporary Visa classes, which will allow employers and businesses to hire a skilled person from overseas provided they can’t find a suitably skilled local person.

People who will get these visas must have relevant work experience of at least 2 years, have better English proficiency and pass criminal check. This is to ensure that only the best people get this visa.

One of these new classes will be for a shorter period of 2 years. After the conclusion of 2 years, the employees will not be able to apply for PR visa.

Another of the new visa will be able for 4 years, if they have a minimum relevant work experience of 2 years, fulfil tougher English proficiency test and clear the criminal and background check, the criteria which are not applicable for current 457 visa presently.

Fees for both these new visa ($1,150  for 2 years Visa and $2,400 for 4 years Visa) will be higher than what is the case presently. Special concessions in a variety of ways and manners will continue to be available for regional Australia.

Out of about 600 categories of occupations in the list for 457 visa, about 200 categories will be removed.

A minimum wage will be fixed to stop unfair advantage to overseas employees when it comes to wages.

Employers will have to do a mandatory labour testing of the job market and offer the job to a suitably skilled Australian (or a PR visa holder), before such job can go to an overseas person.

Employers and businesses, who employ overseas workers would be required to contribute some funds for training of local people.

As of September, 2016, there are about 95,000 primary 457 visa holders and about 76,000 secondary 457 visa holders (family members of primary 457 visa holders).

Indians constitute about 25% of the total 457 visas, followed by the British at 20% and people from People’s Republic of China (PRC) at about 5%.

Total 457 visa holders are less than 1% of total workers in Australia.

Peter Dutton TwitterMinister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, confirmed that these changes will not affect those who are already holding 457 visa, and current 457 visa holders will be able to apply for the PR visa at the end of their 4 years employment.

The new visa category will be finalised in March 2018, and will be implemented immediately.

It is expected that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will release more details in days to weeks from now.

More details:

Rob Harris, journalist from the Herald Sun newspaper has posted following information about which categories are excluded from sponsored visa categories.

List of removed occupations:

It is well-known that 457 Visa system was scammed by many employers and businesses. Many times, employers were not testing the market for the availability of suitably skilled local people. Even worse, many employers and businesses were taking money for sponsoring people on 457 visa. Market rates for such bribe ranged from $40,000 to 70,000. I personally know an example of a so-called businessman, who also masquerades as community leader, who took $150,000 from 3 people to sponsor them for 457 visa. Despite this, he didn’t do the proper job, before selling his business to someone else. The new owner demanded money again. Victims contacted a few of us (4 people), seeking assistance. You should not be surprised to know that this particular “businessman” has been given an “Excellence in community service” award by an association. Another example is that of a “businessman” who is known as a “Go to” man in the community for arranging the “match making” for this type of visa. Obviously, he makes his money from not only the “sponsoted” employee, but also from the one who “sponsors” the “employee”. Many of this type of “businesspeople” are often awarded “role model of the community” titles and are listed in Who is Who columns in the communities, because of variety of reasons, none of which can be called genuine or clean. Some foolish Government ministers include them in their delegations and these people are often seen around political leaders to create an impression of their high connections to scare the victims and stop them from complaining to authorities.

There is no doubt that quite a lot of employers, likely to be the majority, sponsor right type of people on 457 visa for the right reasons and act ethically, but it’s undeniable that corruption and rorting are rampant. Exploitation for some of these visa holders is not uncommon. There  is always a sword of the threat of cancelling the sponsorship hanging over 457 visa holders, if they did not do and pay what employers wanted. Once this sponsorship gets cancelled, the employee must find a new  sponsor within 60 days, which is very difficult, if not impossible in many cases.

This behavior not only harms the Australian job seekers, because they miss out on a job, but it also promotes corruption and creates exploitation-based employment industry. This also contributes to cash economy, because the money exchange involved in this, by necessity, is in cash form.

There are already comments from the opposition and Unions that these changes are not enough and are just window dressing.  Looking at the changes, one thing becomes obvious that the shorter term visa  (2 years variety) is likely to be used only for genuine employees.  Nobody is going to pay for a sponsorship which doesn’t lead to PR visa at the end of the sponsored job. Let us see what outcome these changes deliver. Their efficacy in tackling 457 visa rorts will become clear in due course.

I am of the firm opinion that Labour market testing to see if an Australian worker is available before hiring someone from overseas should be done independently, as recommended by the John Azarius inquiry. It is hard to rely on such testing by the employers themselves.

In my view any action to control and eradicate the corruption is welcome. In fact, I believe that Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) should do everything including strengthening the resources for surveillance, investigation and prosecution against those who are involved in the rorting of sponsored visa programmes, They will have a better chance to catch the scammers if DIBP gives protection, including offering Justice visa, to the victims, to encourage them to testify and provide the necessary evidence against the visa scammers.

I hope that these changes make the sponsored jobs programme good and fair for Australia and Australians, as well as those who apply for this visa. Anything which cleans this visa programme is certainly going to be better than what we have today.

The programme for the obvious reasons will need regular reviewing and fine tuning to make it effective and to be meeting the needs of Australia

Dr Yadu Singh

Indian Badminton coming of age and progressing well

Sydney/16 April, 2016

Indian badminton appears to be coming of age and progressing well. Both players in the final of Singapore Super Series on Sunday, 16 April were Indian. Sai Praneeth defeated Srikantha Kidambi  in 3 sets.

They both are trained by the legendary coach, Pullela Gopichand in Hyderabad, India.

Congratulations, Sai Praneeth for a fantastic win. Commiserations. Srikanth Kidambi . You played extremely well. 

They both are champions, and have brought laurels to India.

India is participating in Sudirman Cup 2017, held at Gold Coast from 21-27 May, 2017. I am not sure which Indian players are participating in the matches, but I hope Praneeth and Srikanth are playing. Their participation would give India a competitive edge.

It is well known that Badminton is a hugely popular sport in India, and is 2nd only to Cricket. Recent successes of Indian Shuttlers will only increase the popularity of Badminton in India.

Dr Yadu Singh

Happy Easter

Sydney/ April 13, 2017

Happy Easter!

Holy Friday is the day of reflection and introspection for Christians. This is the day Jesus Christ was crucified.

Easter Sunday, the day of resurrection of Jesus Christ, is Day of joy and celebration.

Dr Yadu Singh

Vanabhojanam organized by ATSA Sydney was superb

Sydney, 9 April, 2017

Australian Telangana State Association (ATSA) in Sydney organized a family picnic (Vanabhojanam) at Lizard Log Park in Abbotsbury, NSW.

This whole Day event involved get-together of families and friends, and having breakfast and lunch together. The food is prepared on site.  About 450 people attended this annual event.

ATSA members are a perfect example of volunteerism, where people chip in with their time, support and contribution for a common cause.

I am proud and privileged to call many members as my close friends, and have been to many of their events and celebrations over the last several years.

Congratulations, ATSA.

Dr Yadu Singh