Briefing by DFAT/Austrade on Austraila’s India Economic Strategy to 2035

Sydney, 5 September 2018

I attended an enlightening briefing on Austraila’s India Economic Strategy to 2035 (IES 2035) by DFAT/Austrade. This was organized by AIBC and hosted by Deloitte at its Sydney offices. The key speakers were Australian High Commissioner to India, Her Excellency Mrs Harinder Sidhu and New Delhi-based Austrade official, Ms Leonie Muldoon, who outlined the opportunities and challenges for Australian business in India.

With 8.2% annualized economic growth (based on the GDP growth in the last quarter), India offers great opportunities for Australia for the next half century. The key sectors are education, retails and services, and agribusiness. IES 2035 outlines sector-based strategy with descriptions of opportunities in various states.

Click to access dfat-an-india-economic-strategy-to-2035.pdf

Peter Varghese AO speaking on IES:

Dr Yadu Singh

Outraged with ugly head of racism.

Recently, we have seen a couple of  racist comments in Australia and NZ which had bothered us. Indians were the targets in these cases.

First was the example of the ill-mannered journo named Paul Henry from TV NZ [National TV of NZ] making grossly offensive comments and laughing at the surname of Delhi chief minister, Mrs Sheila Dixit. Even his colleagues were uncomfortable with his comments. I have no doubt that his comments were uncivilized and racist in nature. It showed quite clearly that his upbringing was less than perfect. Indians and Indian Govt were justifiably outraged with his comments. Indian Foreign Minister, Mr SM Krishna was right to summon NZ High Commissioner to his office and convey India’s displeasure.

That Paul Henry is racist against Indians is evidenced by his further utterances. NZ’s Governor General, Sir Ananad Satyanand is of Indian heritage. He was born in Auckland. Despite that, Henry did not think Sir Satyanand was a true New Zealander. How so? Is he not a true New Zealander because he is not White or PAKEHA as Maori people call White people in NZ? It just makes one wonder about Henry’s thinking.

If this was not enough, a NZ radio host, Michael Laws, made some disparaging comments about the Governor General [GG] of NZ, Sir Anand Satyanand’s body size and mentioned something about India and begging. He too showed his racist thinking. His comments were particularly uncivil  as they were about the Head of NZ Government. I would have expected that the GG would be held with high regards by the citizens of NZ.

Look, I have some personal experiences in NZ. While a vast majority of  New Zealanders are decent people, I found that a small proportion of  New Zealanders are ignorant and openly racist. They have a superiority complex over Non-White people. Is it due to the fact that they have subjugated indigenous people [Maori] for centuries and until recently, they were not used to the people from all over the World who would not allow anyone to treat them unfairly? To such ignorant and racist people, I say “grow up”. They need to be confronted assertively.

While we were fuming over misbehaviour from New Zealanders, we get the news of racist comments by some officers in Victoria Police. They were making insensitive comments via emails on a video depicting electrocution of an Indian man over the roof of a train in India and suggesting that it might be a method to fix Melbourne’s Indian students’ issues. Indians and India Govt were again outraged. Indian Minister, Mr Krishna was right to call Australia’s High Commissioner, Mr Peter Varghese to his office and express India’s outrage. He was right because he was concerned about the behaviour of  some from Vic Police force which is supposed to help every one irrespective of the race, gender and nationality of those who are seeking help. Racist views among Police officers will not generate a sense of confidence among people. I was somewhat heartened to note that Victorian Premier and Police commissioner have condemned these police officers, some of whom have been sacked, and some have been fined upto $3000 and placed on a good behaviour bond. Some have quit the Victoria Police themselves, sensing problems in ongoing investigation by Vic Police.  Investigation is on against some more. Vic Police and any other Police force must have ZERO TOLERANCE to racism and racist views among anyone who is part of the Police force.

There are many more examples which I can give but the point has been made. The point is that there are some racist people in Australia and NZ. I do say it with confidence however that a vast majority of people are fair-minded and not racist. This is true of Police forces too. I don’t want to create an impression that we are living in a racist society. Unfortunately, we have racist people all over the world. No country is the exception. India is no exception either. Raj Thakeray is a very clear example. We must remain rational and balanced. We must react proportionately. This is very much applicable to Indian media too.

The scourge of racism is not going to be removed from the world any time soon. There will always be mentally sick people who think their race to be superior to other races. We can’t do much about what people think as long as they are not acting on their beliefs. This is obviously not permitted for those who are in the Police and security agencies. Racist beliefs are a big “No” for Police officials. Police agencies should run campaigns among their personnel to educate them against racism and racist views. Police agencies should be on a look out for any such tendency and Police officers should dob racist officers in, simply because decent and fair-minded Police officers [vast majority] must not allow a small minority among them to tarnish their image. I would like to remind people that Police officers are consistently graded as one of the most trusted people in Australia. This image must be maintained and like Vic Police, they should take firm and severe actions if any one is found to hold racist views or acting in a racist manner.

In case of  NZ  journos, they should be sacked from their jobs by their employers as they are not suitable for their positions. A broadcaster can’t be allowed to behave the way these two cretins did.

I have liked what Minister SM Krishna has done. It was clearly warranted.

As far as we, Indian Australians, are concerned, we should make our concerns and displeasure known in no uncertain terms. We will need to network with other communities and fair-minded Australians [and they are in majority]. We will also need to identify people among ourselves who have a clear capacity to think, lead,  network with others, and communicate. These issues are clearly of national in nature and we will therefore need a national structure to deal with these issues.  We will need to be more organised. The very same strategy should be applicable for NZ or any other country.

Yadu Singh/Sydney/12th October, 2010                                                                                                              

Australian High Commissioner to India, Mr Peter Varghese’s Op-ed in an Indian newspaper:It makes a lot of sense!

Article by High Commissioner Peter Varghese- 1 February 2010 [Sent by DFAT with thanks. Also available on the website of Australian High Commission, New Delhi, India]

 “What is happening in Australia? The widespread media coverage of attacks on Indians in Australia has raised several understandable questions. Are Indian students safe in Australia? Are Indians being singled out? Why are these attacks happening? Are they racially motivated and what is being done to address the problem? Crime is never easy to dissect and crime statistics even more so. We know that Australia is a relatively safe place with homicide and assault rates well below the global average. But we cannot prove with existing data, one way or another, whether Indian students are more likely to be assaulted than students from other countries. Also, with the number of Indian students growing by nearly 400 percent in the space of a few years the number of Indians affected by street crime has also increased in absolute numbers. The overwhelming majority of the half million foreign students in Australia, including the vast majority of Indian students, have a safe and positive experience. That may be cold comfort for Indian victims of assault and their families back home, but it is nevertheless an important point to make. Many of the Indian students in Australia are under financial pressure. Their visa requires them to have enough money in the bank to cover their costs before they come to Australia. But in many cases this does not happen. And when the pressure is on you to earn money quickly you do two things. First, you seek out night shift work because that is easier to get and may pay more. This means that you are more likely to be in a higher risk job such as driving taxis late at night. Second, you look for cheap accommodation which may put you in a higher crime neighbourhood and commuting to it at an hour when attacks are more likely. None of this excuses attacks. And no one should ever blame the victim. But it might help explain why some of these attacks are occurring. Are the attacks racist? For the most part they are the ugly face of urban crime committed by criminals from a wide variety of racial backgrounds. Many of the assailants have been juveniles or young adults acting in an aggressive and predatory way. But in some cases the attacks have been accompanied by racial abuse: something for which the Australian government has zero tolerance and the great majority of Australians condemn as completely unacceptable. If race is the motive, it will come out in the course of investigation and trial. We need to allow those processes to run their course and not make instant judgements based on initial media reports which may turn out to be wrong. This applies as much to the media as it does to those investigating these crimes. So what is being done? A lot. We have increased police resources. In Melbourne, where many of these attacks have occurred, we have put in place special action to target crime hotspots and to run a “safe stations” program. We have given police wider powers to search for weapons without a warrant and to move unruly people on. We have introduced legislation to allow our courts to impose tougher sentences for hate crime. We have set up special consultative arrangements for the police to liaise with Indian and other international students, including a hotline for students who need advice or help. And we are going after the perpetrators. Already in Victoria alone some 45 people have been arrested for crimes against Indian students or nationals. The courts are dealing with the culprits, including in one case a sentence of 18 years for a vicious attack against a person of Indian origin. In one recent assault case, the assailant was given a three month prison sentence within twenty four hours of the attack. The Victorian police are giving a very high priority to finding the killer of Nitin Garg. And our Prime Minister has set up a special task force to deal with these attacks, chaired by the National Security Adviser and involving all the state governments. As a government and a community we take these attacks seriously. We cannot promise to stop urban crime — no government can credibly do that. But we are determined to address the problem, deal with the perpetrators and provide a safe and enjoyable environment for all our foreign students. It is neither fair nor accurate to paint these attacks as the actions of a racist country. Australia has travelled a long way on race. We have gone, in the space of single generation, from White Australia to one of the most culturally and racially diverse societies in the world. Rapid social change has not been without its tensions but, overall, the record is one of impressive harmony. And that is not a journey which can be made by a racist nation.”

Peter N Varghese Australian High Commissioner