Sydney, 7 June, 2019
Every community group and every community leader from Indian Australian community should reflect on what their core responsibilities are.
They should introspect on what they have been doing so far and what they should be doing henceforth.
They should reflect on whether they are focused on and meeting the key needs of the community.
They must go beyond their events and festivals.
Taking selfies with politicians can’t and mustn’t be the end goal.
We mustn’t allow ourselves to become a target for derision in front of the political leadership and the broader community.
What’s being done to cater to the needs of our seniors when they are in their later years of their lives and need placements in aged care facilities? Are there adequate facilities and opportunities available for them to enjoy the company of other seniors while they are reasonably healthy and mobile? Is once a month gathering adequate? Should it be a weekly occurrence? What resources do they need and how can these resources be made available? These are the questions, which we must ponder over as a community. If someone is providing facilities to seniors, including aged care facilities, what we should do to support that work? It should be collaboration, not duplication with unnecessary competition. We should be asking about what we can do to support every good thing and activity.
Talking about community facilities, we don’t have a single place which we can call “India House”, a place with sufficient facilities, where cultural activities can be organized and where community meetings including meetings of seniors can take place. This place can be the hub for a variety of services ie health education, mentoring for settlement and assisting people in other areas. India House can be delivered if we work together. If numerically much smaller communities in NSW can have facilities like this, then there is no way we can’t have a facility like this for ourselves. Here too, we will need to work collaboratively. Btw, it we were focused and were watchful, GOI-funded Indian Culture Centre would have been situated somewhere in Western Sydney, not at the Consulate General of India premises in the Sydney CBD.
Domestic violence is not uncommon in our community, but there isn’t any group in our community, which is involved in genuine work to support the victims. Real work, not just claims, is desperately needed. Women need to come forward and lead this project. Recently, some people were approached by a victim of domestic violence, who has recently arrived in Sydney. Not sure about what they could do, they came to my office. We called around but no help was available. I contacted the Consulate General of India (CGI) in Sydney and organized a meeting between them and the victim there. They too have their limitations, but agreed to provide some legal help. They gave 3 names from the panel of lawyers. One of them does conveyancing work and doesn’t usually do such work. This person would obviously be of not much help. The second one told the lady that they only do work for perpetrators (defence lawyer) and the third one told the woman to go to a disreputable migration agent in Western Sydney. I have made a complaint about it to CGI, and requested them to review and revamp the panel of lawyers urgently.
Even though we are big in numbers in NSW and have numerous associations, nothing should prevent collaboration among us to work together in organizing a common and big Indian Republic Day and Indian Independence Day events. It look crazy to hold multiple fairs of the same type in the same suburb, often only a week apart. Collaboration, not unnecessary competition, is urgently needed.
There are often instances when someone in the community, especially visitors, gets into difficulties of various nature. Fund collections are started haphazardly, with inadequate accountability and transparency. Money has been swindled at times and money thus raised has been misallocated at times. Not only it is wrong in principle and under law, but it also creates negative impressions and perceptions about benevolent activities in our community. We can and should do better. We must deal with it collaboratively.
There is nothing wrong in joining political parties, but not much is right to take leadership roles in community associations to progress their political prospects. Contesting elections while holding key leadership roles in community associations is not a desirable trend. Community associations are meant to be non-political entities. Their leaders should remain non-political. Contesting election is a political activity. The purpose behind taking leadership in community associations must be altruism, benevolence and selfless service, not self-promotion.
Giving awards and recognizing people is good, but giving awards to undeserving people, calling them “role models” or “excellence in community service” is counterproductive and undesirable. It makes no sense and it doesn’t help the community if awards are given to people after taking money for the awards. “Cash for awards” should cease to happen. There can’t be any justification for awards to those, who sell visa sponsorships for cash, fleece people or exploit vulnerable people like new migrants and international students.
The list is big and the work could seem daunting, but we have to start somewhere.
Nothing can be done if we don’t pull our sleeves up and get into the work with determination and optimism.
While doing this, we should seek guidance and blessings from our sensible seniors, who are able to rise above their pet or favorite associations and look at the whole community as their own. To achieve productive outcomes, we do however need to avoid Dhritrashtras धृतराष्ट्र (a blind king who was not able to see or judge the shortcomings of his offsprings) and Shukracharyas शुक्राचार्य (The guru of demons, who supported bad elements despite full knowledge of their bad behavior).
Remember, United we gain strength, and with division, we fail and fall as a community!
Jai Hind. 👌🇮🇳🇦🇺👌
Dr Yadu Singh