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Indians now 3rd largest migrant group in Australia

india Updated: Aug 01, 2006 13:17 IST

With more and more Indian students opting to go to Australia for higher studies, Indians have now become the third largest migrant group in Australia and a "spectacular" source for skilled professionals.

According to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), there were 10,600 permanent (settler) arrivals to Australia during May 2006, an increase of 6.6 per cent compared to the same month last year when it was 9,900.

Of this, Indians accounted for 10 per cent, ahead of the Chinese (eight per cent).

People born in Britain and New Zealand accounted for the largest proportion of settlers (15 per cent each), according to the ABS figures.

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper quoted Monash University demographer Bob Birrell as saying that the increase from India was primarily due to overseas students successfully applying for permanent residence after graduating from local universities.

"What's happening is thousands of students come here, complete their courses, then successfully apply for permanent residence while they're still onshore," Dr Birrell said.

"The government has sought to encourage recruitment of former overseas students as they have reasonable communication skills and are trained to our standards," he was quoted as saying.

The Australian Education International had also launched a large recruitment campaign in recent times and, as a result, the number of Indian students has almost tripled since 2002 to 24,495, the report said.

India is now Australia's second largest market for international students after China.

Another major reason behind the rise in Indian immigrant population is changes in Australia's skilled migration laws, which puts importance on proficiency in English.

Indian applicants score here because they are fluent in the language.

The report said Indians bring with them "skills in everything from engineering to medicine".

Indians have now overtaken traditional source countries such as China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Hong Kong.

European countries such as Italy and Greece, which played a major part in Australia's post-World War II population boom, don't even make it to the top 20.

Australia's treasurer Peter Costello was quoted as saying that India's huge population was a "spectacular" source of skilled professionals in areas such as engineering, medicine, accounting and IT.

"By helping to educate young Indians in various skills and subjects - including that discipline known as the 'Australian way of life' - Australia can help itself by creating a human resource pool of compatible potential immigrants as well as offshore assets for Australian businesses to tap," Costello said.

The Herald report said the new wave of Indian immigration has been extremely smooth, bringing benefits with no social problems to date.

The history of Indian migration to Australia began in the 19th century when a large number of Punjabi Sikhs and Punjabi Muslims came to Australia in the last four decades of that century to work as farm labourers, hawkers and traders.

In the 1930s, a large number of Indians came from Jalandhar in Punjab to work as labourers in the sugar plantations in Woolgoola, New South Wales.

The next wave of immigration took place after India's independence in 1947 when a large number of Anglo-Indians came here to permanently settle down.

Then, in the 1990s, a large number of professionals such as computer engineers, software experts, doctors and accountants from India opted to take permanent residence here.

Another very significant component of the Indian population in Australia is the Indo-Fijians who migrated from their country due to political uncertainty.

Today, there are a large number of Indian organisations spread across all the major cities of Australia.

There are also a number of ethnic Indian media groups including publications, radio stations and TV channels.

The Indian population in Australia is estimated to be about 200,000.