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Covid-19 Hits Indian People and Indian-Australian Community Hard

Written by: Ned K. on 25 April 2021


The record high numbers of Covid 19 cases in India are causing great hardship to the working people in India and a very stressful time for their relatives and friends who have migrated to Australia.

Indian migrants have made valuable contributions to Australian society over many years.

33,110 of the 162,417 Australian permanent resident visas approved by the Australian Government in 2017-18 (latest govt figures) were for people who people migrated from India.

In 2016 the highest educated new migrants came from India. Today thousands of Indian-Australians work in a broad range of occupations from low paid service sectors to highly specialized professional occupations.

The majority have come here to build a better life for themselves and their immediate family. Many, though, also provide financial support to struggling relatives back in India.

The devastation caused by the Modi Government's disgraceful "hands off approach" to the spread of Covid 19 in India has created greater demands on the Indian-Australian community to provide moral support from afar and increased financial support to relatives and friends struck down by Covid 19.

In India, the Modi Government has only overseen the first round of the Covid 19 vaccine to 8% of the population and only 1.5% of the population has received the second shot of the vaccine.

These percentages are large numbers of people, but in mega cities of 20 million or more people in high density living conditions, over-crowded public transport, 8% and 1.5% are drops in the ocean for containing, let alone eliminating the virus.

What is worse is that people between the ages of 18 and 45 years have to pay for the vaccine. 

For those suffering with the virus, the Indian Government administers a highly privatized health system. Indian-Australians with relatives in India who have the virus contribute to the up-to-AUS$20,000 up front cost for a hospital bad in a private "hospital"  in the desperate hope that enough care will be provided to save a life of a loved one.

Corruption is rife with some so called "hospitals" being nothing more than the equivalent of a two-star motel or hotel by Australian standards, completely inadequate for people with the virus.

In Australia, this translates into the issue of job security and a living wage for Indian-Australians being of high importance.

A loss of job here or even a reduction in hours of work can mean less money available not only for basic living here, but also less desperately-needed financial support for relatives suffering back in India. 

Faced with this situation, the Morrison Government adds to Indian-Australians' problems by imposing greater restrictions on travel by Indian-Australians still in India and trying to get to their home in Australia. The Morrison Government has also imposed an "urgent circumstances" test on Indian Australians needing to travel to India.

Shades of the White Australia Policy remain when it suits the Government of the day.

Indian-Australians have been migrating here in significant numbers since the 1830s as indentured labourers in the cane fields. They should be supported by the Government appropriately.

They, like most non-First Peoples in Australia, identify with how Raffaello Carboni, a participant in the 1854 Eureka Rebellion described the views of his fellow miners:

"...Irrespective of nationality, religion and colour, to salute the Southern Cross (Eureka) flag as the refuge of all oppressed people from all countries on Earth"


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