My thoughts on Indian Australian community:The direction we should take!

As we all know, we are more than 100000+ strong in Sydney alone. Total population of ours in Australia is 250000+ [350000+ if we add students]. We are not insignificant in numbers. We have fairly good representations in various professions including media. I wouldn’t know for sure, but my understanding is most of us do OK in the economic matters. Several of us own motels/hotels. Overall, we are doing OK although some newly arrived people are struggling.

Indian Australians have had a great reputation thus far. We have been known for our high educational standards, proficiency in English, manners and comparatively low crime. This has changed however lately. Insurance frauds, sex-related crimes, murders, domestic violence, false certificates, poor communication skills, poor behaviour/manners, rorting the system, contract marriages and others have been reported in relation to our community. Most of these things have been in the media in relation to students who have come here from India on students Visa. This does not mean that all students are doing wrong things but a small proportion is certainly into it.

The loss of our image/reputation in the eyes of general community is a matter of concern. This is going to have a serious impact on our professionals and our children. We need to do something about it. Most of us are great people and we must not allow a small section to harm our reputation.

How and what we have to do to redeem/restore our reputation is going to generate a debate. Here are my thoughts.

1.We need to work for an effective leadership of our community. These leaders must be goal-driven and deliver the results based on the agenda of the community. My view is that “dated”, “chronic” and recycled” leaders from several of our associations are encouraged to retire from their “leadership”. There is a need to have a meeting of our “leaders”, community members and media to figure out what we are doing wrong, what we ought to do and how we do it. Someone need to take the responsibility to organise this meeting. That person has to be acceptable to most.

2.To achieve the results, we need to consider an association which is above the region based associations and agenda. Region based associations can’t be expected, by the very nature, to think on the Pan-Indian basis. We need to get out of our regional identities and start acting our Indian identity in thoughts and actions. We need to work for an association which is pan-Indian in nature and is an individual based association. There is none of this type presently.

3. UIA, FAIA, AHIA and GOPIO are our important associations. FAIA really is a failed association now as it does not have many with it. There is hardly anything which it does these days except a few statements which it gets published in its friendly newspapers. Maharastra Association of Sydney is listed as its member but they have left FAIA at least a year ago and joined UIA. One of them is in UIA’s EC. I don’t believe that FAIA can lead us with most of its members coming from “Song and dance” groups. AHIA is not a pan-Indian association and it has not been very active lately. AHIA used to be very active a few years ago but it is not the case presently, despite many very good people in it.GOPIO is getting bigger with more chapters in Sydney and has many great people in it. It is unfortunately still a North Indians-based group in Sydney. Let us see how they grow and what they do. Their USA/UK counterparts have been in the forefront for the matters involving Indians. That leaves UIA which is a significant association. It is not able to achieve its goals, largely because of their tendency to elect ineffective leaders. Its agenda is confined to holding a few fairs/forums and issuing a few statements. Spin doctoring is a significant agenda. It has become stagnant and needs fresh ideas, energy and people. People have been advising them to reform themselves which unfortunately has not happened. As a result, UIA has many “recycled” and “tired” leaders. UIA has the high potentials if UIA leaders want to go there but all the signs are against it presently. UIA GC [Governing Council] has many great people but they have been disinterested in UIA lately. Let us hope that they can do introspection and bring changes. It would be good if UIA can reform itself. UIA in its current form can’t lead us effectively and successfully. My belief is that we should avoid multiple associations as we already have many. There is always a possibility that we will be able to see where we are doing wrong and what we need to do to achieve things for our community. It is applicable to everyone who is in the “leadership”.

4. We need to consider mechanisms/tools to mentor/help/guide our new arrivals. This help is needed in regards to the system in OZ, settlement, jobs, accommodation and many more. This should be a significant job of our associations. We should not duplicate/triplicate our efforts but we should have a monthly/bi monthly meetings of this nature which should be done by the community leadership group.

5. We need to mentor/guide/help our students who have come from Indian villages/towns/cities, often without any real idea about the systems in OZ. Often, they do not know how to conduct themselves in public places. It is our responsibility too to help them understand what is expected from them and what they can expect from the OZ systems. We do not want to be defined by the sub-standard behaviour of a small segment of Indian students.

6. We need to understand the conflict of interest principle. As an example, if I am an education agent or I run a school, then I should withdraw from the leadership role for the matters related to that subject. I can be an advisor but not the leader.

7. Our Indian ethnic media in Sydney  has limitations because it depends on advertisement dollars. It often glorifies those who should not be glorified. Newspapers will become more independent if they are not free and we pay for their copies. $2.00 is nothing for us and we need to think about it. I have often wondered whether we need a “real” newspaper which does the job of a “real” newspaper. Not possible until we are prepared to pay for it!

8. Vietnamese community/doctors had recently collected $50000.oo for Bankstown hospital but we are generally not into this type of activities. We are part of Australian community and we need to participate in activities of this nature. This will get us a lot more respect/recognition as a component of the Australian community.

9. A community Benevolent fund is a good idea. We are establishing a fund of this nature. Funny thing is that UIA is also establishing a benevolent fund after knowing about ours. UIA has been around for >15 years and do big functions but they have never thought about it before. “Me too” syndrome is pathetic. I understand that FAIA also has a benevolent fund and Bhavan Australia also has it. How many benevolent funds should we have? There is a need to merge all of them into one. We have to think on this.

10. An accountability of actions [or inactions] and transparency are things which are essential for a successful leadership group. We need to declare what funds were raised, what were the expenses [how were they dispersed] and what is the saving. Every association must practise this principle. Media should take an active interest in these matters. No commissions by the “leaders” please.

11. We need to have effective strategies in the matter relating to domestic violence, seniors’ issues and community projects such as “India House” and a nursing home for Indian community people. Dynamic people with community mind should be encouraged to participate in them. Isn’t is shameful that nothing effective has been done in these matters? What have our “leaders” done then?

12. There should be a community agenda which should be decided based on community consultations and with participation from leaders from all segments and media.

13. Supporting our businesses is a must as they are the ones who often help the community projects by participating in community functions. I am sorry to point out that there is an element of mistrust among ourselves for our own people and it needs to change. Like other communities, we need to become more supportive of our own people. Envy, “Tall Poppy Syndrome”, rumour mongering, character assassinations and pulling down our own people are not something which will help us as a community in the long term.

14. Let us treat our own people with a little more respects. Let us recognise our own people, accepting that we all have some negatives. This is a futuristic suggestion and is applicable to all including myself.

15. Let us develop a more supportive approach to our people where good qualities are recognised/honoured/acknowledged and bad qualities are not.

I am sure, you will have very many great ideas. Lets share them. Lets have a debate.

Yadu Singh/Sydney/12th March 2010

13 thoughts on “My thoughts on Indian Australian community:The direction we should take!

  1. FAIA had been started by some disgruntled hopeless people. In fact UIA was instrumental to this bad apple creation due to its ineffectiveness to follow the trueness of umbrellaism. FAIA was started overnight because UIA simply kicked out one self-styled Black Gandhi (what a shame! One has to compare Mahatma to these sinners) from its GC. This cunning fellow sniffed every disgrunted members’ pulse by spending lots of midnight oil(latenight cheap calls) and started that FAIA. They brought and applied typical Indian Varnaasrama principles to take lead to form FAIA. The same fellow has played key role to decimate it later (i.e a serious joke!). Now FAIA stays as a letterpad organisation by some to gather invitation(or tickets) from political, High Commission and other functions. This FAIA label has been effectively used by some mediamen too here to hit UIA when they were not dutifully respected by UIA. Ofcourse UIA was also equally at fault to be blamed at. Instead of broader community consciousness as it should have been but it formed and bred its own selfish community and closed its doors to new growth. The wordings were very aptly put forth by the author in that article.

    UIA has been full of regional dominated and self interested from the start days and the people used it as a short cut to make business networks, photos with politicians and make up identity weakness than its main agenda (The Communiy!). Then on it hasn’t changed much and still a mulch to reckon with. It’s perfectly worded as a waste recycle of nothings.

    *A community Benevolent fund is a good idea. * Interestingly this one idea was done by FAIA where UIA has failed in this case. Nobody knows where and what this FAIA benevolent fund is and how is it helping community! Due to this united weakness the great ‘India House’ project which is generally flagged by UIA in its meetings is a pipe dream to all Indian Community and a shame when others have done that!

    And many dramas were in the past that these two were merging to maintain unity whereas it’s basically the kitty from FAIA is more important than any persona actually from FAIA. They may use it to trade for some key positions in UIA. Again a waste recycle!

    There’s a general feeling amongst Indians if one has failed in a particular association to get importance (or to balance identity weakness) immediately to start another association. Once their steam is exhausted or better greens are in their horizon than this community boat then this association slowly fades away. In fact it’s high time we all Indians must look into ways and means to make this UIA cleansing effect very effectively and make the unity among Indians is none less than to others atleast in getting the ‘India House’ done! We can be many bodies, many hands but a single mind to this cause can only realise that dream!!!


    • Vanakkam Dr Balu!
      You have made some very interesting comments. More when we meet. Keep guiding/commenting! Remember, there is only one INDIA, no North India, South India, East India, West India or Central India! We are all one and we are all Indians. I am not happy with the shops people have opened on the names of their states of origin. Some times, many shops from the same state! There is a need for a serious thinking on our leadership and the way we do things in Sydney!

      Best regards

      Yadu Singh


  2. Very well said, We should aim for one supreme organisation which can steer the community in the right direction. Together we stand United we achieve.


    • Gautam

      Thanks. We need people like you to join us in our efforts to get something for our community. Let us change the way leaders work and let us change the perception, our community has about our “leaders”.


      Yadu Singh


  3. Your thoughts are good but your reference to “tired recycled” is exceptional and I hope the Indian media picks it up.This is a chronic problem in Sydney and if they don’t give up leadership then we see no hope.


    • Sushma Ji

      Thanks. I hope you are agreeing with me on my comments on “tired & recycled” leaders. They have been around us from India League days and still are there “leading” us with no real output or result. Unfortunately, many of them are from my profession.
      About time, they retire! If not, then we should kick them out.
      We need result-driven leadership which works on the community agenda, decided in consultation with the community and media.


      Yadu Singh


  4. Amazing thing is the associations in US, UK and may be other parts of the world are working fine and Indians are very supportive of each other there. What’s wrong in Australia?
    A former High Commissioner gave up his attempts for a single association because none of the associations was forthcoming. India House was a dream and remains a dream. Some tried to realise it but failed to get enough support. We have people who can help realise this dream but “why should I” syndrome takes over.
    By the way it will be a good idea to initiate a debate on Who is a COMMUNITY LEADER?


    • Ashok, your points are very valid. It is our responsibility to find/encourage the right people to be our leaders. How can we lead the community if we start taking “commissions” for what we do for the community? Transparency and accountability are crucial points. We have many associations which are nothing but the “pocket associations” of some of the “chronic” leaders! A shake-up is urgently needed. It should start from FAIA and UIA.


      Yadu Singh


      • Frankly we don’t even know who are the people in FAIA and what they are doing. Excepting Vish Vishwanathan’s cumpulsory presence in “all” the functions and gatherings. When there is India Fair at least we know it is organised by UIA. Apart from that what are their activities?????????


      • Ashok, you are right about FAIA. We don’t know who are the office bearers. We don’t know what they do. We do however see the pics of Mr Vish Viswanathan everywhere. Nothing wrong in his pics but it would also be nice to know what FAIA does. What does FAIA benevolent fund do? How much money is there? Who are the trustees? I am thinking on doing a write-up on FAIA, its leaders, its activities, its vision and its constituents soon and will ask Mr Vish Viswanathan to help me in this. Alternatively, I might send some questions to him and ask him what he stands for as our “leader”. Transparency and accountability have to be demanded and enforced. Ideally, this should be done by our Indian media in Sydney but will they do it?

        Yadu Singh


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