Punjabi is the fastest growing language in the Australia, thanks primarily to the fact that Punjabis form a large chunk of Indian skilled migrants and students who live Down Under. This information was shared by Australia’s high commissioner to India, Harinder Sidhu, on Friday.
She said the number of India-born Australians has tripled in the last one decade. She was speaking at National Institute of Sports (NIS), where she also said that Australia will help India in setting up a university of sports.
Sidhu, who is a Punjabi too, dismissed fears over the new visa regime. She said there is no change in rules for skilled migration and student visa, which most Punjabi migrants opt for. “The change is only in the shorter (term) visa for skilled workers, in which knowledge of English is now included as pre-clause. Australia wants that skilled workers should start working from the first day, instead of first learning the language for three to four months.”
She said change in the Visa 457 rule coincided with the US making H1B visa rules stricter, leading to confusion. “We had no idea that it would coincide with the US visa being made stricter. The US and Australia are two different countries, and have different requirements. But coincidence created confusion.”
She also dismissed fears of racism against Punjabis. “There were some stray incidents, but Australia has strong laws against such incidents,” she said, terming her country as the “most successful multicultural society, where people from 120 different countries are living”. Regarding singer and bus driver Manmeet Sharma’s murder some months ago, she said it was a criminal act, “not of racism”. And swift action was taken, she added.
Help for university for sports
At the NIS, she also said Australia is a “natural partner” as India seeks to transform its sport ecosystem “from the grassroots up to the elite level”. Sidhu held discussions with senior sports administrators at the NIS about steps underway to advance the Australia-India Sports Partnership, which was launched during Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to India last month. “Our cooperation in sport is growing at every level — between governments, universities, sporting federations and the private sector,” she said, adding that Australia will help India to establish its first university for sports at Manipal.