Australia is a great Multicultural country and we proudly celebrate our multiculturism. Specially, Victoria is known as the most multicultural state of Australia and the South Asian community with its ongoing growing population is its key section.
Like other migrant communities, South Asians are also well known for their hard work, professional skills, caring for family, children’s education and to celebrate multi faith festivals like Christmas, Eid, Holi, Diwali, Vashakhi, and Chariot Festival, Pongal etc.
Most of the south Asian community is well settled economically & professionally. However, in spite of being economically and socially sound, Asians & south Asians communities are politically much backward. Being more than 12% of Asian population in Australia and having not more than 2% political representations at states & federal level, we must come forward to remove our backwardness.
If we consider only south Asian community, their participation is almost negligible in mainstream politics except with one or two state MP’s and a few councillors. It is interesting to see the great diversity within south Asians community from various countries like India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Mauritius, Fiji etc. But despite this wide cultural participation the fact remains that South Asian participation in mainstream Australia including politics remains minimal.
The question – Should the South Asian community in Victoria /Australia take an active role in mainstream politics and be more integrated in mainstream Australia remains a potent question.Also, the governments and political parties in Australia must acknowledge this unfair gap and take the REAL initiatives to reduce this BIG gap.
The fact is that most of the migrants from the Indian Sub-Continent concentrate in the initial years on their employment, education of their children and buying a home. People have not really taken a keen interest in politics and hence have never been a part of mainstream society and politics.
This vibrant community have been contributing well in small & big businesses, at work place, in educational institutions, in community organizations, in NGO’s, sports etc. However, these communities still lag behind in mainstream society and politics.
I would like to encourage the South Asian community to take an active role in political system and to contest specially next year’s Victorian council elections to voice their opinion for a better society.
I strongly encourage the youth and women to become members of their desired political party or be an independent and move ahead.
Politics is an opportunity to serve the community by the way of bringing their concerns/issues to all levels of government, i.e., council, state or federal. This is right time to become part of mainstream politics. We must learn from other communities to become part of active politics and raise our concerns during decision making process of government.
Those who are interested in contesting Victorian council elections in 2016, you are encouraged to move forward and participate.
*The views expressed are personal. Manoj Kumar is a community activist and can be contacted on (03) 87114610