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The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Early in 2015, we were still reeling from the shock that was the Lindt café siege. As the year draws to a close, the aftermath of the Paris attacks and the California shootings continue to concern us.
The scourge of terror-related activities has now touched every major nation in the world. And yet, to use NSW Premier Mike Baird’s words, even as we saw the worst of humanity, what followed was the best of humanity.
As Sydney mourned exactly a year ago, all of Australia united to honour our dead and protect the vulnerable. Who can forget #I’llridewithyou?
It is wonderful to note the support of the community whenever untoward incidents take place, not only through social media but also through more direct channels. Humanity always manages to find an expression. Millions of displaced people walked across countries and were given shelter by people more fortunate than themselves. Germany and France were both strong in their acceptance of refugees. NSW also opened its doors to accept 7,000 of the 12,000 refugees being resettled in Australia.
The fears are very real that there will continue to be ongoing issues in the Middle East, and the Syrian-ISIS crisis is far from over. It may well take boots on the ground to help resolve the matter, but till the presidential elections take place in the US on 8 November 2016, expect few long-term decisions from there on this front. The appetite for conflict is low in the US after the disaster in Iraq, and this time wiser counsel may want a full 360-degree view on what needs to be done after a war with IS and Syria. Meanwhile, internal security forces fighting home-grown terrorism may not wish to let their guard down.
On the Australian political front, we saw the revolving door usher out yet another Prime Minister and bring in a new one. Malcolm Turnbull’s ousting of Tony Abbott was meticulous and, so far, the public has thrown their support behind him. With 2016 as the election year and the economy still to find a growth path beyond the mining boom, the government will be hard pressed to find and articulate an economic vision for the country. But to date, PM Turnbull’s mantra of innovation and investment in an “ideas boom”, is setting up a platform which can be built upon for the future. What is exciting is that small businesses, especially those IT-based, will be given more government assistance to have a go, and yes, people of Indian background in Australia may just find greater entrepreneurial opportunities. What our community needs is mentors. Perhaps there could be merit in the idea of canvassing for a mentor board?
Meanwhile, back in India, PM Modi’s hesitation to speak out against communal incidents is sorely disappointing. With his overwhelming mandate, there was – and still is – a chance to herald in a golden era for India, but to date, this has not happened. Regional parties are filling the vacuum left by the Congress, and PM Modi needs to show actual progress on a number of his initiatives.
From an Australia-India perspective, hats off to Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb who is on track to finalise the free trade agreement with India. As these negotiations are worked through, the Adani deal in Queensland will be closely watched, but with an election year in the offing, all political parties will tread warily on this.
For Australia’s Indian community, 2015 saw the emergence of strong community members in the mainstream. Be it the Women of Influence list, or the kids’ TV show The Great Australian Spelling Bee, it was heartening to see Indian-Australians being counted among the very best. Expect more talented, articulate representatives from our community emerging and consolidating positions in the mainstream in the New Year.
From us here at Indian Link Media Group, we wish to thank you, our readers, listeners and social media followers, for your continued support in 2015. We look forward to serving you again in 2016. Hope you have a happy, healthy and productive holiday season.