Despite attacks, Indians queueing to become Australian citizens

Sydney, Jan 26 (IANS) Despite all the reports of violence against Indians, hundreds of them are becoming Australian citizens, making India the third most represented country, followed by Britain and China, for people receiving their citizenship.

Alisha D’Souza and her twin sister, Binaisha, 19, could not contain their excitement as they took their oath at a citizenship ceremony Tuesday at Brimbank City Council, the second largest municipality in Melbourne.

‘We feel privileged to have been granted citizenship and to be more a part of this multi-cultural society. It took some time to adjust, but now we call this home. Australians are very accepting of different cultures, they tend to be more laid back and love sports. Our parents felt that it would provide us with better opportunities,’ Alisha, who is doing a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Melbourne University, told IANS.

In 2008-09, 9,088 Indians became Australian citizens. So have the spate of attacks on Indians and the ensuing media publicity impacted their life?

‘Neither we nor anyone we know have experienced such attacks, but these events have brought a certain degree of caution. These attacks are usually late at night and in certain notorious areas. The media doesn’t show the complete picture which can lead to people getting the wrong idea,’ Binaisha, who is doing Bachelor of Pharmacy at Monash University, told IANS.

For the growing number of Indian Australians, accounting for 230,000 at the 2006 census, Jan 26 is the celebration of India’s Republic Day and Australia Day, which commemorates the landing in 1788 of Captain Arthur Phillip at Sydney cove and the subsequent proclamation of British sovereignty over Australia’s eastern seaboard.

Former Indian student Vishal Bhanavani from the Melbourne suburb of Essendon has aced the citizenship test, scoring 91 percent and is excited about becoming an Australian citizen and is at the same time proud of his rich Indian heritage.

In Canberra, Indian High Commissioner to Australia Sujatha Singh unfurled the tricolour at the sprawling lawns of the mission at Yarralumla, Australia’s Chanakyapuri. She implored the community not to allow ‘a few bad elements’ to spoil ‘the warmth and good feeling’ which continued to exist between the two nations.

‘The incidents that have taken place in recent times have troubled us all, Indians and Australians alike. They have been condemned in the strongest possible terms by all right-thinking people,’ the high commissioner said.

In Sydney, Indian Consul General Amit Dasgupta hosted a reception at his suburban East Linfield residence and released an anthology of Hindi poems entitled ‘Boomerangs’ penned by first generation Indians in Australia.

In Melbourne, Consul General of India Anita Nayar hosted a reception for the larger Indian community at her residence in Melbourne’s Toorak suburb.

Indian Australians are also celebrating the day at various music concerts, barbecues, and the beach on this hot and muggy summer day.

(Neena Bhandari can be contacted at neena@india-voice.com)

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