Oped by Jay Shah
By the time this gets published, India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar will have landed in Melbourne for a 3-day visit primarily for the power-packed Quad but also supplemented by a packed schedule of public engagements.
While there will be enough political pundits analysing the geopolitical aspects of the visit, a highly recognised but less explored aspect of the relation – Diaspora is what I will be focusing on in this piece.
Australia is home to 900,000 strong Indian Diaspora, with Melbourne having the largest share of over 300,000 by recently overtaking Sydney. Hence I say the next rock-star event of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visits Australia next should be in Melbourne.
Even Australia’s regional towns are seeing an increase in the Indian-Australian population due to underlying immigration policies that are incentivising migration to regional areas.
According to 2016-17, ABS – ATO data, published in various news portals Indian-Australians contribute AUD $ 18 billion in taxes. This is only second to migrants from the United Kingdom (UK). It will be interesting to see what the results come out of the recently concluded Census of 2021.
It will not be exaggerating to say that the Indian Diaspora is amongst those leading the fight against COVID19 in Australia. Thousands of Indian-Australian doctors, nurses and allied medical fraternity are at the forefront of both COVID management and vaccination drive.
Also, the specialists were providing their services in high-risk environments.
People in supply chain logistics, essential services were ensuring the basic needs of the nation are met in the strictest of lockdowns.
Techspora (Diaspora in technology) also played an extremely critical role during the COVID crisis.
It’s not a secret that a very large section of the Indian Diaspora works in the technology industry in various capacities like internal workforce, outsourced partner or local small businesses/startups.
COVID crisis demanded a very fast adoption to remote working on an unprecedented scale and also required accelerated digital transformation of many industries. This was taken as a challenge by the Techspora and the wider technology sector.
Although there was always some level of impact throughout, the biggest challenge for the Techspora came during the second wave when a lot of companies were in critical stages of technology programs but the families of their staff both local and offshore were facing unthinkable personal losses.
Huge support poured in from the leaders of the tech Industry, fellow colleagues and the wider Australian population, which is commendable. It is a testimony to professionalism, collaboration and teamwork that outcomes were still achieved without major delays.
Entrepreneurs and the C-Suite representation of the Indian Diaspora have also seen a significant increase in recent times with many more companies being run by Indian-Australian leaders. A lot of start-ups by Indian origin entrepreneurs are getting recognition, success and VC funding.
Community spirit shown by various organisations to support students and migrant workers is exemplary and second to none.
Many other areas have also seen significant contributions and it is because of all these contributions, the Diaspora has gained considerable respect, love and recognition in Australia, paving the way for strengthening Australia India relations.
How can they contribute way forward?
As they say, the devil lies in the details, and often the implementation of complex strategies requires not just the policy or procedure but a deep understanding of complex systems and experience, ability and passion to solve the problems.
Diaspora understands those details and pain points and if the right opportunities are provided to the right people successful outcomes will be achieved in a timely manner.
That’s why the upcoming Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will not be fully realised without massive Diaspora involvement.
I firmly believe that:-
“Policy will come from policymakers but passion will come from people, driven by Diaspora.”
Diaspora is very passionate to work towards increasing bilateral relationships and this passion will lead the way as it has done in bringing the relationship so far.
26th January is the common national day for India and Australia and the way Diaspora has embraced and celebrated it has only brought more vibrancy to the relationship and festive spirit in its surroundings.
I believe we are at an exciting horizon of an ever-rising phase of friendship, economic partnerships and people to people relations.
Author – Jay Shah is the President of OFBJP Australia, a group of sympathisers and supporters of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party. He aspires to see a mutual friendship between Australia and India in diverse fields.
Note: The views expressed here are solely of the author’s personal opinion and not of ‘The Australia Today’.