Tuticorin deaths: Focus on the facts, not fiction

Sydney, 3 June, 2018

Sterlite Copper smelter in Thoothukudi (Tuticorin), Tamil Nadu (TN), India has been seeing protests for years. This year, however, protests became more intense, because Vedanta Group, the owner of the smelter, started to expand the site.

On 100th Day of the protest, 22 May, 2018, protesters were marching towards the District Administration HQ, despite orders under section 144 of IPC to not do so. When warnings by the authorities to stop the march were not heeded, Tamil Nadu Police fired, leading to deaths of 13 protesters.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thoothukudi_massacre

Any loss of life is sad, but we must understand the perspective and the background.

Police resorted to firing to stop the massive crowds from marching to the HQ of the administration.

Chief Minister (CM) of the state Mr Edappadi K Palaniswami initially justified the Police firing.

After further protests and demands from the opposition, the TN Government has now ordered permanent closure of the smelter.

https://www.google.com.au/amp/www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/sterlite-copper-to-be-permanently-closed-says-tamil-nadu-government/article24014605.ece/amp/

As I said above, no loss of life can be justified, but we must understand the facts and the background.

My condolences and sympathies are with the victims and their families. Like others, I am saddened.

The protest in Sydney a few days ago was brought to my attention by several people, including Tamil Australians.

Thiru Arumugam from Sydney said “Firstly my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. 13 people sadly died in the protest. My humble request to all Indian Tamils in Australia is not to jump into the conclusion that Indian Government is killing Tamils. It happened in Tamil Nadu, which is ruled by a Tamil CM. Blaming Indian Govt is not right. Everyone of us are responsible in Australia for any representation of our motherland. We should remember that use of violence or breach of law never achieves our demands.”

Aspects of this protests, especially placards, are objectionable.

A couple of facts need to be considered.

  1. The protesters in Tuticorin shouldn’t have marched towards District administration’s HQ when section 144 of IPC to not do so was in place.
  2. What other option was available to the Police to control the difficult situation? Once you break the section 144, you are not a peaceful march. No Government can allow anarchy.
  3. TN CM supported the Police action.
  4. If Copper smelter is causing so much health issues, why was it not shut down earlier? Which Governments is/are responsible?
  5. This Smelter was established in TN in late 1990s, when UPA was running the Federal Government in India, and BJP has never ruled TN. https://youtu.be/_fdA_bfCZFI
  6. TN government is run by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party, not BJP or NDA.
  7. Police firing was unfortunate, but it can’t be called terrorism, forget “State terrorism”.
  8. Anybody who demands The UNO investigation on this matter is anti-India and is intellectually bankrupt. India has a rule of law and is not a tin pot dictatorship.

Sydney protest has the presence of about 50-60 people, some of whom either don’t understand the matter well, or worse, are anti-India. Looking at the pictures of the people, I can recognize only two people, who belong to Indian community. Rest of them appear to be Tamils of non-Indian background, many of whom may have a grudge against India due to India’s perceived hands off approach in ethnic conflicts in India’s neighborhood a few years ago. Looking at the placards in the hands of these two Indians (Anagan Babu and Renga Rajan), I can say that I am very concerned about their ability to understand what they were doing there. I doubt they even took time to read the placards they were given to hold. They were perhaps too busy in getting their pics taken for Facebook posting! (PS: Rajesh Kumar from Sydney says that the most of the protesters in Sydney were from TN, and he personally knows them. I stand corrected. The basic thrust of my commentary however will not change.) I post Rajesh Kumar’s comment below. ūüĎáūüĎá

While people have their right to hold a protest, I too have a right to form an opinion. There is no defamation here. This protest was a public protest, not a private protest. Pics were posted on social media with privacy settings to allow public to see them. Throwing the word “defamation” is childish, immature and ill-informed, and I am least worried about it.

Hugh Mcdermott (MP for Prospect) and Mehreen Faruqi (Greens MLC) are politicians. Politicians can and will do politics, whenever they can. That’s what politicians do for votes.

My issues with this protest is not because of protest per se, because people have a right to protest.

Having said that, I am not sure as to what people achieve by organizing protests in Australia on matters happening in their country of their birth. Many including I believe that such protests achieve nothing except giving some transient self-satisfaction of pics on Facebook and coverage in ethnic media.

My concerns are against the blatant politics, and misrepresentation and distortion of facts of the incident by the vested interests. Contrary to the claims by the protesters, the facts are that Tuticorin firings have no relevance with The UNO, terrorism, State-sponsored terrorism, BJP or “India killing Tamils” nonsense. It has everything to do with law and order problem inside Tamil Nadu, whose CM is obviously a Tamil, and whose Police is also Tamil, who fired on Tamil protesters, who breached section 144 of Indian Penal Code despite the warnings to stop doing so.

It’s a sad & unfortunate situation and I am saddened with the loss of lives, but I am equally sad with blatant and ill-informed politics being played by some people.

I urge people to focus on the facts, not fiction, and stop running an anti-India campaign!

Dr Yadu Singh

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PS: An earlier post about Anagan Babu is here. https://yadusingh.com/2014/07/08/indaus-going-for-fresh-elections-on-20th-july-2014/

Community consultation for new proposed temporary visa for parents

Sydney, 14 November, 2016

It was a privilege and an honour to be invited by Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) for a community round table consultation held at Holiday Inn Parramatta on Thursday, 27 October, 2016.

After receiving the invitation, I consulted a few Migration professionals including Thiru Arumugam and several community members, besides reviewing relevant information, to have a full perspective and understanding of this matter.

The round table consultation was chaired by Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, The Hon Alex Hawke MP.

The consultation had about 15 people from various communities which included Indian Australian, Chinese Australian communities and broader Australian community as well as representatives of local MPs and aged care providers.

As we know, the Coalition and Australian Labor Party gave commitments for a new and improved temporary visa for parents during the campaign for 2nd July Federal election.

After the Coalition Government was re-elected, a discussion paper was released by Assistant minister on 23 September, 2016. This was followed by consultations with the broader Australian community.

This consultation had two formats;

  1. Written submission: Closed on 31 October, 2016
  2. Community consultations: DIBP invited key members of the Australian community to participate in closed-door forum discussions for the inputs for final settings of this Visa. Such consultations took place in Sydney CBD, Parramatta, Melbourne and Brisbane in October and November. Sessions were chaired by Minister Hawke and also had participations from key DIBP officials.

Final particulars and details of this Visa will be announced by the end of 2016 and the new temporary parent visa will be implemented from 1 July 2017.

Australian Migration Programme has 3 components;

  1.  Temporary Visa programmes,
  2.  Humanitarian Programme: 13,750 places available in 2016-17.
  3.  Permanent Migration programme: 190,000 places available in 2016-17. It has Skill stream and Family stream.  Skill stream (128,500)  is 2/3 of the programme. Skill stream can be either points tested or employer sponsored. Family stream has 57,400 places. Preference is given to spouses, partners and children.  Extended family members including parents had 8675 places in 2016-17.

As you know, there are basically three types of visa available for parents.

A. Temporary visitor visa: This visa is generally valid for 3 months of stay but can be for a period of 12 months. It requires parents to leave Australia for 6 months after staying here for 12 months. There are further and longer options of Visa duration of 5 or 3 years depending on whether they have lodged a permanent Parent Visa application or not. A security bond may be needed.

B. Parent Visa: Also called Parent non-contributory Visa. Parents can apply for this visa in usual way if they qualify for balance of family test. Lodgement of “Assurance of Support” (AoS) is required from eligible sponsors (Children). Very few places are available. Only about 1500 such Visa were issued in 2015-16. Waiting period is about 30 years.

C. Contributory Parent Visa: This has a waiting period of about 2 years but sponsors are required to pay Visa Application Charge (VAC) of about $47,295 for the primary applicant and $44,845 for the spouse, and AoS of  about $20,000 before this Visa can be issued. Balance of Family test must still be passed.

You can see that B and C type of Visa are not a realistic option for many parents and families.

Considering the benefits from the stay of parents with their children’s families in Australia (cultural, psychological, help in child care, their children’s earlier resumption of work after maternity/paternity leave), there has been a growing demand from migrants (Australian citizens and permanent residents) to have the facility for a better and more practical system for parent visa.

Both major parties announced their decision to work for such new temporary visa for parents during recent Federal election campaign.  Both parties also  said that such Visa must not cause undue financial burden on Australian community and affect the Budget adversely.

Consultation process is part of this work. The Turnbull Government has also been in close consultations with the Federal Opposition. This proposed Visa is basically a bi-partisan endeavour.

Salient features of proposed temporary parent Visa:

  1. It will be for up to 5 year duration.
  2. It will have multi-entry provisions
  3. It will not require parents to leave Australia after 12 months’ stay. They can live here for full 5 years.
  4. They can reapply for another up to 5 years long Visa.
  5.  Balance of family test not needed.
  6. Some sort of Assurance of support (AoS) in the form of a Bond from the sponsoring children will be a part of this Visa to take care of any contingency
  7. Parents must hold a valid Health Cover from an Australian Health Cover provider.
  8. There will be a Visa Application Charge (VAC).
  9. The sponsor must have been living and contributing to Australia for a number of years. A longer period will give them a higher priority in eligibility.
  10. The sponsor will go through income and asset assessments.
  11. The sponsor will be required to undergo a criminal history check and agree to a range of enforceable obligations.
  12. Re-application of this Visa can occur onshore.

I took part in the discussion actively and contributed to it, I believe, meaningfully.

My suggestions included following besides many others;

  1. There should not be any age restrictions as long as parents pass the health check ie physiological age preferred over chronological age.
  2. Depending on relevant factors, they should also be given limited rights to work for a small numbers of hours. Such jobs should be those which a local is not prepared to do.
  3. Government should explore the possibility to have a more affordable Health cover through Medicare, if possible, because the cost of adequate Health care for one person is about $250/month which is $3000 a year for one person and $6000 for the couple. This is not a small cost. If Medicare could come up with a Health Cover scheme, without having profit as a goal, it is likely the premium may be upto 30% cheaper.
  4. Government should talk with Private Health Cover providers to develop an insurance cover for the total health care cost including “Gap” payments which can be substantial if parents require hospitalisation or need to consult specialists.
  5. There should not be any waiting period for re-application after end of the duration of the Visa and onshore re-application should be allowed.
  6. There should not be any English language requirement as such requirement will defeat the very purpose of this Visa.
  7. VAC should not be higher than what it is for temporary parent Visa presently.
  8. Income and asset assessments for sponsors should not be onerous and mechanisms for AoS (how AoS can be delivered by the sponsor) should be made easier and practical.
  9. Full refunds should be made if an application for Contributory Parent Visa is withdrawn and application for this new Visa is made.

At present, many things about and details of this proposed Visa are not clear or confirmed. After taking notes of submissions and consultations, the policy will be finalized and announced at the end of 2016. The visa will be implemented from 1 July, 2017.

Dr Yadu Singh

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

Clean Up Australia logo

pic.twitter.com/T7DsMNFg

pic.twitter.com/ZTPekVAP

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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