Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has rightly said recently that there is no point to migrate if people are not willing to put Australia, its interests, its values and its people first!
He further said ‘You don’t migrate to this country unless you want to join our team, calling it “Team Australia”. He praised migrants for choosing to migrate to Australia, and exhorted them (migrants) to be proud of their heritage and culture.
I agree with him. Australia is a successful multicultural nation, just like The United States of America. Australia is our home, and we are very proud of Australia.
There is one little difference between Australia and USA, which has become quite important lately.
During 2009, when Indian students issues in Australia had saturation coverage in India, and India-Australia relations suffered, the then Federal government in Canberra did not deal with the issues in the most efficient way.
Indian media calling Australia a racist country was not tackled properly and promptly. Australia depended solely on its diplomats to tackle it, instead of also utilising the Indian Australian community to help the government in dealing with it. It was well known that most of Indian Australian community did not share the views of Indian media. My friends and I made it very clear to Indian Government and Indian media that we did not agree with their description of Australia as a racist nation.
I took part in a debate “Ïs Australia a racist country?” with Daily Telegraph journalist, David Penberthy, televised in Sunrise programme of Channel 7, and wrote a Blog post “who is racist-Australia or Indian media?”
Many believe that The Rudd Govt officials should have utilized Indian Australian community prominently in dealing with exaggerated and imbalanced reporting against Australia in Indian media. They believe that things would have been easier to deal with if Indian Australians were also part of Australian Govt’s strategy to deal with it. After all, it would have been much more easier and effective if Indian media had dealt with Indian Australians here in Australia as well as in India, and heard that their description of Australia was not entirely correct.
Thankfully, things have moved on and relations between Australia and India are on the upswing. Australia and India have just concluded Uranium trade deal negotiations, and an agreement in this regard is likely to be signed when Prime Minister Tony Abbott visits New Delhi early next month.
Australia does have some people from Indian heritage in its diplomatic staff, but they are very small in numbers. Australia has not utilized the Indian Australian community in its outreach to India generally, even when this community is getting bigger by the day. Approx 500,000 people in Australia have Indian heritage. Former NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell, used to rely on just one person of Indian heritage, who is his personal friend, but unfortunately did not have much to do with either India or Indian Australian community. Mr O’Farrell could have done better and taken a leaf from his counterparts from Victoria, who did, and do, include members of Victorian Indian Australian community whenever they go to India with Trade delegations. New NSW Premier, Mike Baird, has not been to India yet. Let us see, and in fact hope, whether he will be different from his predecessor in this regard.
If you compare all this with what USA is doing with similar visits to India currently, you will see that Indian Americans form prominent parts of such delegations.
Nisha Desai Biswal, Arun Kumar and Puneet Talwar, who are all Assistant Secretaries and are of Indian heritage, accompanied US Secretary of State, John Kerry, Commerce Secretary, Penny Pritzker and Defence Secretary, Chuck Hagel respectively during their recent visits to India. Their presence certainly created quite a good amount of goodwill and conducive atmosphere.
United States’ Presidential delegations to India have always included prominent Indian American businessmen and community leaders. This has not been the case with Australian delegations of similar nature.
It’s about time that Australian Govt leaders follow the examples set by their American counterparts, because not only it is a smart policy, but it is lalso likely to accelerate the growth of Australia-India relations.
In addition, and as a bonus, it is also going to create a feeling that Indian Australian community is a vital part of “Team Australia”, with many potential electoral benefits to the ruling party in the area like Western suburbs of Sydney and elsewhere!
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