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Blue brigade awaits Boxing Day Test
Web posted at: 12/24/2007 23:50:39
Source ::: The Peninsula/ By Jim Maher
India’s Sachin Tendulkar signs autographs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne last week. (REUTERS)

Sydney • On Wednesday around one hundred thousand people will gather at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for one of the great sporting rituals in Australia, the Boxing Day Test.

It is the day Australians turn to the real business of summer: watching cricket.

Last year, international cricket here promised much but delivered a huge mismatch, with the Aussies thrashing England 5-0 in the Ashes series.

However, this year the opposition is India — a skilled and tough opponent.

India will start its four-Test series in Melbourne before the massed green and gold of Aussie supporters. But there will also be lot of India’s sky-blue in the crowd.

After all, Indians now make up the fastest-growing group of migrants entering Australia. They are now the third-largest immigrant group behind the British and New Zealanders.

The Indians bring with them the expertise that Australia’s booming economy desperately needs, amid a chronic skills shortage.

Engineers, accountants and health professionals are all making the move as India’s reputation for producing a talented workforce continues to grow.

Australia’s booming economy, driven by demand for mineral resources, simply cannot do without its skilled migrants.

Sydney IT expert Paul Singh came to Adelaide in Australia from Delhi almost 20 years ago.

“In those days, if I saw another Indian in the street I would run up and introduce myself. There were just not many of us here.

“Now it’s very different.

“At a one-day cricket match involving India here in Sydney a couple of years ago, the crowd included a mass of Indian fans in their team colours,” says Singh.

Indians now make up around 10 per cent of new settlers in Australia and that figure is expected to rise. They are now surpassing the Chinese and the Vietnamese as well as the Italians and Greeks.

Dr Prabhat Sinha from the United Indian Association told the BBC recently that there were simple reasons why so many immigrants from India had done so well in Australia.

“Indians are very motivated people, it doesn’t matter what profession…in the business sector they’re doing very well,” he said.

Legend has it that in 1770, Captain Cook sailed up the east coast of Australia with an Indian as part of his crew.

In the nineteenth century Muslims from the Punjab worked as camel drivers in central Australia and Punjabis later joined the gold rushes. Last century, Sikhs worked in banana plantations on Australia’s east coast and prospered (the town of Wolgoolga has two Sikh temples).

In 1947 many Anglo Indians came to Australia and Fijian Indians have arrived in the past decade following political instability in their island home.

The latest wave of migrants has included professionals and full fee-paying students at Australian universities.

Paul Singh runs a website, India Today. So what do Indians like about Australia?

Put simply, the opportunity to buy a house and get access to health care and  education for their children.

And despite outbreaks of intolerance in Australia — exploited by politicians — Indians are still willing to tackle the challenges of the migrant experience.

“Australians are aware of other cultures and perhaps not as self-focused as some other people, such as the Americans. People here take that extra step to understand you,” says Paul Singh.

Neville Roach came to Australia from India in 1961 and embarked on a stellar business career, winning an Order of Australia. 

He says these days, Indian students in particular, are well aware of the benefits of studying here. 

“The quality of Australian education is very high…Australia will become the first choice for many more, not only for the competitive cost, but also for the high standards.” 

But for Indians, like any migrants, the experience of a new land can be mixed, with students and younger migrants adapting more readily than others. 

And for many there is the emotional impact of separation from home. 

Paul Singh says: “I’d like to go back to India — for a little while. My parents are still there and they’re getting older of course. I’d like to spend time with them. 

“Otherwise, I’m very happy here.” 

“And I’ve got my tickets already for the second Test, in Sydney!” 

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