The online Census form allows the people to ‘provide detailed feedback’ after submitting the Census 2021 form. Here are some ideas by some in the Indian diaspora.
The ability to speak more than two languages and recognising Caste as a ‘Category’ were the two prominent suggestions that figured in the responses when NRI Affairs asked a cross-section of Indians in Australia what their suggestion would be for the next Australian Census in 2026.
What does Indian diaspora suggests?
“A census on South Asians is incomplete without Caste as a category. South Asians in Australia practice Caste in the name of culture, and it is crucial to have data so we can call for Caste to be a protected category in the country. I have come across way too many Brahmin spaces in Australia to doubt that Caste oppressed folks face discrimination. While it is unfair to ask everyone to disclose their caste location for fear of ostracisation, an option to do so can help us visualise South Asian spaces more ‘authentically’.”, said Dilpreet Taggar, founder and editor of South Asian Today, Australia’s first media organisation for South Asian women and non-binary peoples.
Sydney-based Dr Yadu Singh, however, disagrees with the suggestion. He says, “It is a very silly and crazy idea and should be dismissed straight away. There is no need for such denomination.”
“We are better as Australians of Indian heritage, which is a reasonably unifying denomination. In my view, it is better that we adopt unifying denominations rather than resorting to divisive denominations. Let’s unite, not divide ourselves.”
Other Indians in Australia would like the Census process to recognise that many Indians and other South Asians were fluent in more than two languages and spoke these languages regularly at home and in social settings, like with friends. But, unfortunately, the current Census process captures just one other language spoken at home.
Cardiologist and community leader Dr Yadu Singh says there should be a provision for people to mention two languages because many speak two languages other than English at home.
“A few typical examples are Hindi and Punjabi, Hindi and Gujarati and Hindi and Marathi. But, currently, people can mention only one such language,” said Dr Singh.
Sydney’s Bala Sugavanam says, “Indians are not equal; they’re forced into a hierarchy based on the language they speak, the religion they practice and most importantly, their Caste. As B.R.Ambedkar said, wherever Indians go, their Caste follows. With that, caste-based discrimination follows too.”
“As Australia is busy talking about the migrants integrating into Australian society and the role of English language, we need a system to measure how Australian settlers emigrating from India are bringing their caste with them and how it shapes their integration.”, Bala added.
Dr Yadu Singh has a suggestion regarding question number 22, which he says “is very confusing and needs to be clarified.”
He explains, “The primary ancestry can only be your nation (country) of origin. This nation (country) must be only one of the nations, a member of UNO. It can’t be a country called Timbuktu. You can’t imagine a nation in your mind. It can’t be the State (of the nation) you come from. In the case of Indian ancestry, after stating your primary ancestry as INDIAN, you can also identify yourself with your State (of India) as your second ancestry if you feel strongly to do so. The census form allows two answers in this section.
“Your State can’t be your direct ancestry, and your religion definitely can’t be your ancestry. In the case of Indian ancestry, any entry, which refers to the State of India as your primary ancestry instead of Indian ancestry should be rejected and excluded from the counting. People have their right to identify as Australian ancestry if you do not wish to be identified as INDIAN ancestry for whatever reason you may have.”
“Obviously, you would not mention your ancestry as NSW or Victoria if you identify as Australian. However, if you still do, you will look silly. The best solution for Indian Australians is to use “INDIAN” and “AUSTRALIAN” as the ancestries for the Q22, as many of us already have Australian passports.”