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Unraveling the Aussie Attraction: Why Indians are Flocking to Australia

 Unraveling the Aussie Attraction: Why Indians are Flocking to Australia

In the beachfront cape of Mornington Peninsula, roughly an hour from Melbourne resides Manik Singh. His accent distinctly varies from his mother’s, signalling his second-generation Indian immigrant status. For the past couple of years, he has been aiding his parents in managing Avani, a boutique winery they established after moving to Australia in the 1990s.

Singh has noted an upsurge in the South Asian populace in Melbourne over the previous decade. Capitalising on this, Avani now offers wine-pairing events featuring Indian dishes. Aromatic delights like meen pollichathu (a baked fish dish from South India) is complemented with Pinot Gris, while the creamy richness of dal makhani (slow-cooked black lentils) is balanced by a Pinot Noir.

Behind these innovative offerings are numerous chefs and restaurateurs, part of over 710,000 Indian inhabitants in Australia. This rising number of Indians, now the second-largest migrant group in Australia, is primarily propelled by the tech industry, addressing the country’s demand for skilled labour.

As Priyanka Patel, a journalist who’s editing a collection on the lives of Indians in Australia, puts it, the scenario was significantly different when her parents arrived in the 1960s. Encountering another Indian was a rarity then. Today, Indians occupy various sectors, run their businesses, and even engage in politics.

The recently formed New South Wales government includes four Indian-origin politicians, among them Daniel Mookhey, the first Indian-origin treasurer of an Australian state. Nevertheless, the representation of Indian Australians in politics, especially at the federal level, needs improvement.

According to Patel, the blend of cultures has significantly benefitted from soft power exports. Speaking to a crowd of the Indian diaspora at a Sydney rally, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the influence of MasterChef Australia, cricket, and films in uniting the nations.

The strengthened bilateral relationship is credited in part to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, which has been ruling India since 2014. Modi’s visit in 2014 marked the first by an Indian prime minister to Australia in almost 30 years. Subsequent visits solidified mutual commitments to ease migration, bolster defence and security, and promote economic cooperation, education, and bilateral trade.

Indians in Australia

Despite this progress, the journey of Indians to Australia has seen ebbs and flows. Initial migrants arrived in the 1800s as labourers. In the 1900s, the variety of migrants expanded, particularly after the abolition of the White Australia policy in 1973. However, Australia remained selective, primarily welcoming skilled workers.

Significant shifts came in 2006 when Australia began inviting Indian students and facilitating their permanent residency. While tensions arose in the late 2000s following some incidents of violence against Indian students, these have been largely addressed, albeit sporadic incidents still occur.

Supporters argue that Asian and South Asian immigrants introduce valuable multiculturalism and bolster the economy. However, critics claim that lower-wage immigrants usurp jobs and strain resources. In response, the Indian community is working to make Australia more inclusive by promoting its culture and heritage.

Young Indian-Australians like Priya Gupta, 23, aspire to mainstream Indian classical dances like Kathak and Bharatnatyam. She believes Sydney has a thriving community of Indian-Australian creatives who aim to debunk stereotypes surrounding the South Asian community.

Varsha Saini

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