The Australian Indian community with a population over 400,000 and growing at the rate of at least 15 per cent per annum is a significant contributor to the Australian economy and culture. Australia-India trade is also growing significantly. With a high number of educated and professionally skilled Indians, the community contributes immensely Australian progress and prosperity. This being the situation there is an urgent need now for the Australian Indian community to think of a political model that would give enough representation to their interests. The reason behind this thinking is the strong feeling that the Indian community is taken for granted by the leading political parties in Australia.
The leading political parties also seem to be taking advantage of the lack of unity and poor governance within Indian community associations. On the other hand, as community service is purely voluntary, it is fair to assume that associations cannot be expected to service growing community needs effectively. This further strengthens the case for considering a political identity for the Australian Indians now more than any other time in the last 30 years.
The immediate needs for the Australian Indian community and Australia India business appear to be:
• Funding for ‘culturally sensitive’ Indian senior Homes and senior care programs.
• Increased funding and programs for tackling domestic violence, disadvantaged Indian women, single parent issues etc.
• Fast track visas for visiting parents and cut down processing time for parent visas.
• Allocation of land for building Indian community centres in western Sydney and all other state capitals.
• Provision of Indian student accommodation close to educational Institutions.
• Provision of travel concessions to Indian students with no strings attached.
• Revisiting current English language requirements for potential migrants.
• More places or creation of funded culturally sensitive Indian child care facilities.
• Better recognition of Indian language skills for Jobs.
• Fast tracking the Free Trade Agreement with India.
• Revisiting quarantine requirements for Indian community needs.
• Seriously involving or consulting with the Indian community on major policy issues such as racial vilification legislation reforms, immigration laws, media reforms etc.
Addressing the community needs that are dynamically changing with the growth of the Indian community in Australia seems to have been compromised as these matters depend on prevailing political equations.
The Indian community should be united. The ongoing new associations each year has resulted in the Indian community getting bogged down with internal issues rather than looking at the big picture. The big picture is the increasing community population in Australia, the presence of a highly skilled workforce from India and the resulting community power in the Australian political scenario and the ability to contribute to the economies of both Australia and India. The big picture is we have talented youth, second generation Australian Indians moving away from Indian associations and looking for a proper platform to demonstrate their strengths in Australian politics through joining Liberals or Australian Labour Party or Greens etc.
Published in Indian magazine, Sydney