As we celebrate Australia Day on 26th January, for Indian Australians there is another significance, it is India’s Republic day as well. Like every other immigrant community who has crossed the seas to this beautiful sunburnt land, the love for both the birth and adopted countries has given us the pleasure to cherish and enjoy both with equal fervour.
Now visualise this; a suburban Melbourne home and Australia vs India Boxing Day Test, Indian Australian parents watching with their Aussie born kids, I can guarantee more fun & sledging in the house than the field. One has to experience this unique situation to understand the gravity of what an Indian Australian parent will be going through with their Aussie team supporting kids, it’s not an easy place to be in during these matches. I know many who bribe their children with goodies to back the Indian cricket team over the Aussie team, of course, there are benefits when the Indian team doesn’t play well there will be the united chants of Aussie, Aussie, Aussie – Oi Oi Oi!
The Australian Indian diaspora is a national economic asset and should be engaged and deployed as such. Indian diaspora in Australia is highly educated, employed, and wealthy. At almost 700,000 strong, Australia’s Indian diaspora, comprising both Australians of Indian origin and Indians residing in Australia, makes a significant contribution to Australia’s social, cultural, and economic spectrum. Behind the British, they are the second-highest taxpaying diaspora. As per DFAT, India-born Australians are expected to outnumber China-born Australians by 2031, reaching 1.4 million. (Source: https://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/india/ies/chapter-18.html)
Not only in Australia but also in India, the role of Indian Australians is very significant in developing a positive understanding of Australia. The zeal in which the diaspora loves both India and Australia be it in Melbourne or Mumbai is very much admired by the wider community.
Lowy Institute poll found, according to 75% of Indians “Australia ranks second after the United States as a good place to be educated and rates more highly than Canada, Singapore, Britain, and Germany”. This shows the diaspora actively promoting Australia and acting as ambassadors in India. The government should utilise them with more people to people programs and awareness initiatives.
Indian diaspora is very entrepreneurial, globally it accounts for more than 20 million and has tremendous potential for cultural trade, and investment linkages throughout the globe. Australia – India relations are at an all-time high, this strategic partnership will certainly spearhead the course of the world post Covid19.
Blurred Lines: It’s not just cricket, but politics and entertainment (Bollywood, etc.) are also followed passionately by the Indian Australian. Unfortunately, this brings the political issues of India to our suburbs and creates division and sometimes even untoward incidents in the community.
News & Opinions on religion, film stars, politics landing here from India are very convoluted, it will be most certainly never be linear. It has been the point of crossing swords on social media in recent months. A policy in India can create more protest and support than a policy in Australia. We have called Australia home, we as a community have a huge responsibility because what we do affects not just the image of India but also the image of our entire community.
I know, what happens in India will always be in our heart and mind but it should never be bought out with anger and hate. In short, it will affect you, your children, and your community at large, so acting responsibly is essential. It’s not a choice, if we don’t pull our strings together, it will adversely affect us for years to come.
Crisis times in Australia have always seen Indian Australians among the first responders to lend a hand of support, be it bushfires or Covid19. Hundreds of individuals and organisations from the Indian Australian community have made remarkable efforts.
Indian Australians have outperformed in almost every area, but for politics, it can’t be said the same. Indians are inherently political, but lack of understanding and want of instant success keeps the Indian diaspora away from their true potential. More active and strong participation in political processes will certainly ensure that our community’s interests are taken into account and soon success will be inevitable in the political arena too.
Indians in the US, UK, and Canada have been very successful in almost every field, be it business, arts, politics, service, philanthropy, etc. In the US, some of the top companies of the world are led by Indian Americans and given the trajectory, soon in the future Indians will be Australia’s most skilled, most successful migrant group. As I see the hard-working Indian Australians around me every day this gives hope that our best is yet to come in Australia.
Author: Karthik Arasu is a social and political activist, who has been involved with various initiatives for the multicultural community in Australia. He is currently the President of “Australia India Sports Council”.
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