We must encourage new leadership in the Indian community

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I was happy to read a text from Vasan Srinivasan confirming he had past commercial links with Cambridge College.

His current USS website also reflects this.

One of the unfortunate things with the lack of success in elections for some in our Indian community is that they are unaware of the concept of conflict of interest.

A conflict of interest can be created via a commercial relationship but it is not ended just because you cease business dealings.

The conflict between public duties and private commercial relationships can continue in reality and in public perception due to the relationship it has created.

In Australian elected government a raft of laws govern the disclosure of such links and relationships. In the Indian community we need to apply these Australian governance standards too.

The Indian community is one of the most educated, diverse and successful communities in Australia but the habit of allowing private college owners and their paid agents speak on our behalf has damaged the Indian origin community in the eyes of the Australian media and the political class.

Too often media comments reflect the financial interests of private college owners and not the wider interests of the Indian origin community.

Recent false comments in the Herald Sun are just one example.

Lavish donations by private college owners to non-Indian politicians has also cemented the political view of the Indian community in Australia as a ‘cash cow’.

This often-undeclared ‘fund raiser’ approach to politics may have cemented certain relationships but it creates a shady political culture that devalues the contribution of Indians to Australia society and our contribution to current policy debates.

The end result is that we have a highly educated Indian origin community making a massive contribution in finance, transport, health, sport, law and IT and an embarrassing display of conflicts of interest and commercial self interest in community affairs.

To encourage our youth and our best and brightest to engage in community  affairs in Australia we need to raise the ethical bar far higher than it has been.

It is time the interests of the Indian community came first – the needs of recent arrivals in particular need to come ahead of the commercial interests of individuals.

We must all encourage new leadership that does not mix private gain and public service.

We must clean up our own backyard. We urgently need our own ‘lokpal’ in the organisations that claim to represent us here in Australia.

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