Indians prove to be successful Australian citizens
Australia is one of the countries where Indians and people of Indian origin are doing well. In fact, latest studies suggest that compared to others, Indians find Australia more attractive to work in and settle down. For instance, more than 38,000 Indians became Australian citizens in 2019-2020, a 60% increase from the previous year and the largest diaspora group to be granted the country’s citizenship.
Out of the over 200,000 people who became Australian citizens in 2019-2020, as many as 38,209 were Indians, the highest number on record, followed by 25,011 Britishers, 14,764 Chinese and 8821 Pakistanis.
Now, after England and China, Indians are the third-largest migrant group in Australia.
Australians highlight that their country’s attractiveness is because of Australia’s success as a socially cohesive, multicultural nation. As one of their ministers (Alan Tudge) said the other day, “ Becoming an Australian citizen means more than just living and working here – it’s a pledge of allegiance to our nation, our people and our values. When someone becomes a citizen, they make a pledge to uphold Australia’s rights, liberties, laws and democratic values. It represents a willingness to integrate into our successful multicultural nation.”
Importantly, in the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, the Australian government is arranging online ceremonies that witness people being conferred the citizenship.
As per the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2016 census, 619,164 people in Australia declared that they were of ethnic Indian ancestry. This comprises 2.8% of the Australian population. Among those, 592,000 were born in India.
For many years, Indian migrants are among the top migrant’s taxpayers in Australia, generating billions for the country’s economy, every year. Indians in Australia also play a major role in attracting other migrants, and therefore have been the biggest source of migrants since 2016.
At almost 700,000 strong, Indian population in Australia comprising both Indian origin and resident make valuable contributions in both economic and social sphere.
The 2016 Census revealed that along with population, Indian languages too had grown in Australia. Hindi came out as the top Indian language spoken at home in Australia with 159,652 speakers, with Punjabi a close second at 132,496.
The other languages which have seen a big jump are Tamil (73,161), Bengali (54,566), Malayalam (53,206), Gujarati (52,888), Telugu (34,435), Marathi (13,055) and Kannada (9701).
Other languages recorded in the 2016 census were Konkani language (2,416), Kashmiri language (215), Oriya (721) and Sindhi spoken by 1,592 speakers across Australia.
Indian migration to Australia has a deep history, and is now flourishing. Looking ahead, the potential benefits to Australia are enormous.
Migrants from the Indian sub-continent may have arrived in Australia some 4,000 years ago, according to recent genetic analysis. The peopling of Australia by aboriginals did not occur through only one wave of immigration “out of Africa” about 40,000 years ago, as once thought.
Indian migration to Australia was also an early feature of the British colonization of Australia, due to both countries being British colonies. The first wave of Indian migration to Australia took place in the 1800-1860 period, with good numbers coming to work as laborers, domestic workers and camel-drivers. At the same time, the British also took Indians to South Africa, Mauritius, Trinidad & Tobago, Fiji and elsewhere.
Another wave of Indian migration occurred from 1860 to 1901, prior to the federation (and independence) of Australia in 1901. These migrants were mainly agricultural laborers to work sugar and banana plantations in southern Queensland. Some worked in the gold fields, while others were hawkers. They tended to settle in rural areas, rather than the city.
Woolgoolga, a town 500 kilometers north of Sydney, became an early center of Sikh migration to Australia. Still today, Woolgoolga has a large Sikh/Punjabi population, and is the site of Australia’s first Sikh temple.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Indian Australian population numbered 6500-7000. But with the implementation of the “White Australia Policy”, Indian migration to Australia ground to a halt from 1901 until the early 1970s, except for some cases of Anglo-Indians and people of India origin holding a passport of a third country.
However, with the abolition of the White Australia Policy in the early 1970s, Indian migration to Australia gradually took off. There was a more than tenfold increase in Australia’s Indian population, from 42,000 in 1981 to about 500,000 today. Some Indian Australians came from other source countries like Fiji and South Africa.
In 2011-12 India was Australia’s most important source of permanent migrants, displacing China and the UK, accounting 16% of the migration program, or 29,000 migrants. Among the total Indian-born Australian residents at the time of the 2011 Census, 24% arrived between 2001 and 2006, and 45% arrived between 2007 and 2011.
The profile of Australia’s Indian migrants these past few decades is quite different from the past, with a heavy concentration of doctors, nurses, engineers, IT specialists and teachers. Australia’s health system would collapse (as would America’s and Britain’s), without the contribution of Indian migrants.
Indian migrants in Australia are high achievers — like their counterparts in the US and Canada — and higher achievers than Australians on average. About 80% have higher education, compared with 56% for Australia overall. Labor force participation is higher than the national average, and unemployment is low. Their average weekly income is $663, compared with the Australian national average of $577. In other words, Indian migrants are not a burden on the Australian community, they are an asset.
Indian Australians are spread out across the country, but with concentrations in Melbourne and Sydney. The majority are working age, and about 56% are male.