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?”