Tag: India-Australia

Victoria’s first Indian community centre in Rowville inaugurated by Alan Tudge & Michael Sukar

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An outside view of the community centre.Photo-SAT

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 26 March 2021: It was a proud moment for Indians in Victoria with the inauguration of the first ‘Australia India Community Centre’ in Rowville. The years of failed attempts and attempts finally bore fruit with Aston Alan Tudge MP Minister for Education and Youth & Federal Member for Aston and Michael Sukar MP, Federal Member for Deakin and Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing opened the place with great fanfare in the presence of hundreds of guests. A Bollywood dance item performed to celebrate the event enthralled the audience present.

SEE BOLLYWOOD DANCE VIDEO

The Centre was partially funded by the Australian Government with $2.5 million funding in addition to funding by the seven Trustees of the Australian Indian Community Charitable Trust. Mr. Vasan Srinivasan, who heads the Centre told SAT, ” The State Government has promised another $ 95,000 which has yet to come.

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MR. Vasan Srinivasan addresses the audience. Photos-SAT

He disclosed the two-story Center has a built-up area of 1040 sq Meters and lots of parking. An application has also been made for permission to hold events at the Centre.”

” The backside of the Centre will soon have sports facilities and the first floor now has the ‘Dr. Dinesh Parekh Museum India’, shifted from Foster Street, Dandenong. The Museum is a highlight of the Centre with Dr. Dinesh Parekh’s collections of paintings, photographs, stamps, coins, and books. Dr. Parekh died last month and today his wife, son, and daughter-in-law were present to grace the occasion.

Among those who addressed the gathering were Minister Alan Tudge, Michael Sukar MP, Mr. Raj Kumar, India’s Consul General in Melbourne, Dr. Parekh’s son, Mathew Guy, and Vasan Srinivasan. Mementos were also given away.

In his address, Alan Tudge said that once final council approval is complete the two-story building will be used as Victoria’s first Indian Community Centre, and include multiple assembly halls, a commercial kitchen, meeting and storage rooms, a car park, an administration, and reception area, offices for three Indian community peak bodies as well as a secure area for Museum India which showcases India’s rich history and heritage.

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Mr. Alan Tudge addresses those preesent. Photos-SAT

“This was an election commitment of the Morrison Government and I am so pleased to see it up and running,” Mr. Tudge said.

He also read out the message of PM Scott Morrison. ” This Centre, I know, will give much – not only to this community, but to the wider community, and to everyone who passes through its doors. I foresee many gatherings, full of color, family, friendship, and of course food!
My congratulations and very best wishes for the long life of the Australia India Community Centre,” he said.

Chair of the Australia India Community Charitable Trust Vasan Srinivasan said he was truly excited for the community centre to officially opened.

“I wish to thank the Morrison Government and our Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Michael McCormack for the funding and approval of this project, along with Hon. Alan Tudge and Hon. Michael Sukkar for their support to see this project formalized and delivered,” Mr. Srinivasan said.

“I am also excited to see the Community Centre become the new home of the Museum India, which will be named in memory of Dr. Dinesh Parekh – the collector and curator of the museum’s collection.”

The community centre is situated at 16-18 Kingsley Close, Rowville, Victoria 3178.

(The story will be updated soon with more text and photos)

AUSTRALIA: The ‘missing’ Indian-Australians in politics

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By Dr. Surjeet Dhanji

MELBOURNE: Australians of Indian origin are yet to make substantial inroads into Australian legislative institutions.

They participate in many sectors of the Australian economy and society. Many are highly educated and earn high incomes. Most speak English and, coming from a democratic country, understand democratic political processes.

But despite being high achievers, this group has not risen to political leadership positions in numbers proportionate to the size of their community in Australia.

The ‘representation gap’
The most recent Census in Australia (2016) found that approximately 619,000 people, or 2.6 percent of Australia’s total population, traced their ancestry to India. Of this number, approximately 376,000 people, or 1.6 percent of the population, had taken out Australian citizenship (defined here as Australians of Indian origin)—a key eligibility criteria for holding political office in Australia.

But very few Australians of Indian origin have been elected at federal, state or local levels. A 2018 study by the Australian Human Rights Commission showed that 94 percent of members of the Federal Parliament had either Anglo-Celtic or European heritage.

Australians of Indian origin are distinctly under-represented. In percentage terms, Australians of Indian origin account for 0.5 percent of representatives in the federal parliament, 0.7 percent in the Victorian state parliament, and even lower proportions for local councils in NSW and Victoria. Currently, they are doing relatively well in the NSW state parliament, where they account for 1.5 percent of elected representatives.

What explains the ‘representation gap’

In May-December 2019, I conducted interviews with eight Australians of Indian origin, some of whom had been elected to parliament and others who were unsuccessful, to find out what opportunities, barriers, and challenges they had experienced. Interviews were also conducted with nine leaders and members of the Indian diaspora in Australia about Indian-Australian political representation.

A major finding of my research is that the complex process of preselection by political parties is a significant hurdle.

There is a prevailing perception among respondents that regardless of the contribution of these candidates to the community, first preference in winnable seats is given to candidates with Anglo-Celtic backgrounds.

‘…Political parties put Indian-Australian and Asian candidates in seats where it really does not make a difference because it is a safe opposition seat…’ (Community member B).

Are they saying …[this is] not the image of what Australia looks like?’ (Candidate E).

Further, as a community, both first- and second-generation Indian migrants in Australia lack the developed social and professional networks that connect them with politicians and political parties.

… Party powerbrokers often ‘pluck’ or handpick sharp, bright scholars from Melbourne and Monash Universities to become policy advisors to politicians: [..] Eventually, party faction powerbrokers endorse them as party candidates (Respondent A).

Though many Australians of Indian origin have tertiary qualifications, few if any, appear to have been ‘plucked’ from universities,

At an individual level, community members and leaders interviewed criticized the calibre of Australians of Indian origin who stood as candidates in recent state and federal elections. They felt many lacked the skills to succinctly articulate a plausible policy agenda or handle media and image management.

… candidates must have special traits … interpersonal skills, good communication skills, diplomacy … the ability to remain calm yet passionate … (Community Leader D).

Community members also reproached candidates who stood for the anti-non-white immigration party—Pauline Hanson’s One Nation—because these candidates, in the opinion of those interviewed, failed to appreciate the values they saw as fundamental to the community.

How can the ‘representation gap’ be narrowed?

To date, Australia has neglected to embrace cultural and ethnic diversity in parliament to the same degree as other nations such as Britain and the US, where politicians from Indian migrant backgrounds were elected to government as early as the 1890s and 1957 respectively when the Indian diaspora was comparatively minuscule in these nations.

Australian political parties should:

Address the under-representation of ethnic minorities with similar resolve to efforts to redress the under-representation of women in parliament.
Parties should take note of programs such as Canada’s Prime Minister’s Youth Council and the US’ The New American Leaders Project. The ALP is currently piloting Poliversity, a program that advocates culturally-diverse leadership.

Initiate programs such as communication training for political candidature to broaden the pool of talent amongst Australia’s Indian diaspora as well as other minority ethnic groups;
Harness the talent of future generations of Australians of Indian origin and other minority ethnic groups by channeling resources to initiatives that act as pipelines to future candidate.

Political parties could tap into the expertise of existing groups, such as the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia, the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, and the Diversity Council of Australia, which already work in areas of diversity and inclusion.

HINDI TRANSLATION OF THE ARTICLE

Source- melbourneasiareview.edu.au (Under Creative Commons Licence), February 23, 2021.

New Australia-India Strategic Research Fund grants for COVID-19 collaborative research projects

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 10 November 2020: Australian universities and Indian collaborators will in the post-COVID-19 focus on many aspects of the global response to the pandemic, after a new nearly $4 million investment by the Australian government. The Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) has funded six new projects, including one to develop COVID-19 diagnostic technologies and another study of the longer-term effects on the hearts and lungs of patients who have recovered.

Other projects will develop risk management systems to protect farmers from disasters associated with climate change and demonstrate how food-drying technology using renewable energy can reduce pollution in the food-processing sector.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said she was pleased that work in these important areas would be able to continue after the COVID-19 pandemic had caused significant delays this year.

“This latest funding will enable Australian and Indian researchers to contribute to the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including in crucial screening and diagnostic testing,” Minister Andrews said.

“As a result of our shared commitment to finding answers through science and technology, India and Australia have tackled a number of shared challenges since the AISRF was established in 2006, with important progress made in areas including agriculture, energy, and health.

“The Australian Government remains committed to our strong, strategic relationship with India, which provides numerous economic benefits for both countries.”

The Australian recipients are the University of South Australia, the University of Southern Queensland, the University of Technology Sydney, the Metro North Hospital and Health Service in Brisbane, the University of Adelaide, and the University of Western Australia.

In June 2020, the Australian Government announced it would commit a further $15 million to extend the AISRF for another four years to 2024, bringing Australia’s total funding for AISRF grants to nearly $100 million over 18 years. This funding will begin to roll out from the next grant round in 2021.

The AISRF is Australia’s largest fund dedicated to bilateral science collaboration. It helps build links between Australia and India’s top universities, research institutions, and the end-users of scientific innovation.

AUS vs IND, 2nd T20I: Match Report – India beat Australia by six wickets

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T Natarajan starred with the ball while Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya made it count with the bat as India beat Australia by six wickets in the second T20I in Sydney on Sunday and took an unassailable lead in the three-match series.

Needing 195 runs to win, India were a little watchful at the start. But a free-hit six in the third over changed the momentum of the chase. KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan scored 19 runs in the fourth over bowled by Glenn Maxwell before adding 13 runs more in the fifth over to take India past fifty.

However, their partnership was broken as Andrew Tye got Rahul out for 30 in the final over of the powerplay.

Dhawan and Virat Kohli added 39 runs together during which the left-hander also brought up his half-century in 34 balls.

Kohli and Sanju Samson, who played a couple of attractive shots, added 25 quick runs before the latter was holed out in the deep in the 14th over.

India needed 72 runs in the last six over and were looking for a big over.

Kohli then went after Tye in the 15th over, hitting two fours and a six as India scored 18 runs in the over. In the next two overs, Australia conceded 17 runs and got the big wicket of Kohli for 40.

India scored 12 runs off the 18th over as Shreyas Iyer hit a six and a four off Zampa to bring down the target to 25 off the last two overs. The penultimate over saw Hardik adding two more fours to his account as India scored 11 runs in the over.

India had to score 14 runs in the final over to seal a win. While Sams gave away two runs on the first delivery, Hardik creamed two towering sixes on the next three balls as India won the game with two balls to spare.

Earlier, India elected to bowl against Australia, who were led by Matthew Wade in the absence of Aaron Finch.

Both the teams made three changes each to their playing XIs. While Yuzvendra Chahal, Shardul Thakur and Shreyas Iyer replaced Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammad Shami, and Manish Pandey in the Indian team, Andrew Tye, Marcus Stoinis and Daniel Sams were brought into the Australian side.

Wade, who opened the batting, was off to a flying start and scored 47 runs in the powerplay as Australia scored 59 runs in the first six overs. India, though, managed to pick a wicket during that period as T Natarajan dismissed D’Arcy Short.

Wade brought up his fifty in the seventh over after he got a life in the final over of the powerplay. Wade though got out in the eighth over. While Virat Kohli could not hold onto the catch, the Indian skipper was alert to throw the ball towards the wicketkeeper and had Wade run-out for 58.

Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell put up a quickfire 45-run stand to take Australia past 120. However, Thakur broke the partnership, dismissing Maxwell for 22 in the 13th over. Smith was then joined by Moises Henriques in the middle and the pair added 48 runs together as Australia moved closer to 170.

However, India dismissed the two in the space of three runs. While Chahal had Smith caught in the deep for 46, Natarajan got Henriques out in the penultimate over. Marcus Stoinis and Daniel Sams then added 23 runs off 9 balls to take Australia to 194/5.

Brief Scores: India 195/4 (Shikhar Dhawan 52, Hardik Pandya 42*; Mitchell Swepson 1/25) beat Australia 194/5 (Matthew Wade 58, Steve Smith 46; T Natarajan 2/20) by six wickets.


I wanted to finish games when it mattered the most: Hardik Pandya

Source- BCCI

Human rights ‘abuses’: Funding to India should be vetted, Greens tell Australian govt

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Janet Rice, David Shoebrodge, Lee Rhiannon

A roundtable organized by Australian Greens, which is the third biggest political party in the country, held to discuss the human rights situation in India at the New South Wales Parliament in Sydney recently has insisted that parliamentarians, human rights activists, and lawyers should play a more active role “standing up for human rights not just in their own places but also in India.”
Participated, among others, by Federal Senator Janet Rice, New South Wales Member of Parliament David Shoebrodge and former Senator Lee Rhiannon, the roundtable was held in collaboration with the Humanism Project, an Australian human rights and political advocacy group. Several members of the Indian diaspora from Australia and the USA, political activists from India, including Jammu & Kashmir, and Amnesty International Australia took part in the virtual discussions.

A Humanist Project report on the meet:

In his introductory remarks, Shoebridge said that the idea of this meet began with a dialogue with some of the justice advocates his office he works with were one of the consistent themes that had arisen was the state of human rights in India. In introducing the panel of speakers, Shoebridge said that the constructive role which parliamentarians, human rights activists, and lawyers can play in standing up for human rights not just in their own places but also in India was one of the reasons why there was such a strong takeup of the panel for the roundtable.

In her opening remarks which included acknowledgment of Australia’s indigenous people, Senator Rice, who is the foreign affairs spokesperson for the Australian Greens in the Australian Federal Parliament, also acknowledged the indigenous peoples of India who she said continue to struggle for land, conflict with security forces and basic human rights to be living safely and securely, and not be subject to affronts like sexual violence, trafficking, militarization and state violence.

She noted that the struggle for justice of Australia’s ‘first nation’s people’ had a strong resonance with the struggle for human rights around the world. “The Australian Greens believe that human rights are fundamental and must be respected for all countries and for all people. We are working at state, federal, and local government levels to see greater international respect for and protection of human rights.”, she said.

Senator Rice said that the Greens were really concerned about the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 and its discrimination on citizenship status based on a person’s religion, particularly given India’s proud democratic history, and the impact on the Muslim community was particularly reflected in what was happening in Kashmir – the crackdown on free speech and movement, access to information, healthcare and hundreds of thousands of people detained at various times, including three former chief ministers and several children. She insisted:

“We are concerned about what happened to Amnesty International India. Shutting down bank accounts in response to investigations is a really unacceptable attempt to silence critics and is not the action of a government that should be fully open to scrutiny.

“We believe that the Australian Government can and must take urgent action to support human rights in India and in other countries, and through international forums such as the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Australian Government must be willing to strongly advocate on behalf of people in countries with poor rights records and to give honest and open statements about what the situation is on the ground, and the Australian Government should also support UN based investigations into human rights abuses.

“Wherever we provide assistance in any country, we need to ensure that foreign security, peace and military units that receive Australian support are subject to the full vetting process to make sure we are not funding units associated with human rights abuses.”

She closed by saying that the critical role of campaigners and activists to talk to politicians around the world, to media and to local communities were incredibly important steps to take because, “your voice is powerful and together we can make a real difference to amplify the voices of those whose human rights are under attack, and empower people struggling for justice around the world”. She added, MPs have the most impact in their advocacy if it is aligned with community campaigning.
Pushing to raise their voice, Rice said, Parliamentarians must get in touch with other countries to get action on human rights in India.

Dr. Colin Gonsalves, the eminent lawyer at the Supreme Court of India, said that India could claim to be a country with some of the highest levels of violence, discrimination, and state terrorism in the world. Talking about attacks on minorities, he mentioned that in the state of Assam, 500,000 Muslims had been declared foreigners and the government was planning to keep them in incarceration centers to keep them in detention.

Giving examples of the attacks on students at Jamia University and Aligarh, Dr. Gonsalves described India as a nation ‘at war with its people’. He urged the Australian Government to take an active stand on human rights in India.
Eminent activist Dr. Ram Punyani said that apart from attacks on Muslims, attacks on Christians and Dalits have seen a significant increase. He said that recent times had seen a rise in identity-related issues, which create mass hysteria and hate, because of which society was becoming increasingly polarised and any criticism of the government was being labeled as ‘anti-national’.

He stressed on the need for coordination between different social movements for them in the form of a ‘broad based platform’ of those believing in secularism, diversity, pluralism and human rights so that they can come together and also combat hate.
Dr Pooja Tripathi, National Convenor, Women’s Congress spoke about the National Register of Citizens, which rendered 1.9 million people stateless, the Hathras incident, the denial of basic rights and services to the Kashmiris, the plight of migrant workers made to walking ‘unimaginable distances’ following the COVID lockdown and the arrest of activists.

Dr. Tripathi said she saw hope in the way common citizens took inspiration from Gandhi and took to the streets to ‘reclaim the constitution’, following the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019, including the Muslim women who led the Shaheen Bagh movement.

Manjula Pradeep, eminent human rights activist and lawyer, expressed concerns about the law that was amended in 2015 to prevent atrocities on Dalits and Adivasis in India, namely, the Prevention of Atrocities Act, which had been ineffective in preventing or curbing atrocities on the marginalized communities and stressed on the need to look at its poor implementation.
She also touched on the ‘hate speech pandemic’ on social media which was disproportionately affecting the weaker communities, especially women. She also urged the international community to put pressure on the Indian government on human rights issues.
Speaking from Chicago, activist Motika Anand, spoke about the need to monitor the activities of Hindu Sevak Sangh (HSS), the international branch of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Motika said that HSS had infiltrated political offices around the world in many countries by using their money power to help elect islamophobes and right wing politicians to parliaments.
In his address, Joel Clarke from Amnesty International’s work on human rights in India is grounded in the very strong belief that the Australian Government and other third nations have an important role to play in monitoring and addressing human rights violations in India.

He said that the strengthening of the relationship between Australia and India provides a good opportunity for Australia to check human rights in India and called upon PM Scott Morrison, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and other ministers to stand up and speak out to prove that diplomacy isn’t just about trade and security but about promoting human rights and holding each other to account in the way they treat their citizens.

He talked about the Amnesty International report released in August 2020, one year after the abrogation of article 370, which talked about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and called out the blatant human rights violations in the region. He said the report called upon the Government of India to release all political leaders, journalists, and activists from detention and restore the internet, decongest prisons and launch independent investigations in the attacks on journalists in J&K.

The report also made it clear that third countries also had a responsibility to use the report’s information to better human rights by backing Amnesty International’s call to the Indian Government to act. Clarke said Amnesty had produced another report this year on the Delhi riots where they had forensically detailed examples of Delhi Police officers indulging in violence with rioters, torture in custody, using excessive force on protestors, dismantling protest sites used by peaceful protestors to being mute bystanders as rioters wreaked havoc.

On behalf of Amnesty, he called upon third nations to use the opportunity of the universal periodic review of the United Nations to record the human rights violations of the Indian government. He also spoke about how the work of Amnesty International in India had recently been shut down, shortly after the publication of its J&K report and its report on the Delhi riots. He concluded by adding that Amnesty International was committed to mobilizing millions of supporters around the world to get their governments to act on these violations.

Ruchira Talukdar, who is completing her thesis on ‘coal politics’ between India and Australia, talked about the corporate state nexus and the ‘ground clearing’ of the indigenous people in resource-rich regions, grabbing of forest land, and weakening of forest rights as some of the ways resource-rich regions are being changed. She added that it does not come out strongly internationally because India is seen as a responsible climate player.

In her closing remarks, Senator Rice said that we were all one shared humanity and assured that Greens politicians will be working strongly to address human rights and pushing to get the Government to raise its voice and to try and get the Australian Government in concert with other countries to try and get some action on human rights in India.

She added that she saw this forum that David Shoebridge and The Humanism Project had organized as being a beginning and an opportunity to go on and work out a broader forum that can be made intentionally global and could bring people together who are working on these issues from across the world.

Source- counterview.net, 25 October 2020.