It is a welcome initiative by NSW Govt to set up a Parliamentary friends of India in NSW. See the press release 101124 parliamentary friends of india from NSW Premier, The Hon Kristina Keneally.
Dr Andrew Mcdonald, Member of Parliament from Macquarie Fields is the co-convenor. Andrew is well known in the Indian Australian community. I am sure, he will do a good job as a co-convenor. Who is the other co-convenor is not known prersently.
Indian Australian community is growing in numbers in NSW. It is appropriate that there is a better-qualitatively and quantitatively, interaction and engagement between the community and the Parliament. Our community does have a good interaction and relation with the NSW Govt and the opposition. Govt ministers and shadow ministers attend our functions regularly but it should extend to the Parliament too. I would even argue that major parties should consider one or two candidates from Indian Australians for the candidature in the state and federal elections.
Parliamentary friends of India is obviously a bipartisan group. It is crucial that the opposition and other parties in the NSW Parliament are involved in every stage of its formation. Premier’s press release is short on the details. It mentions that she has written to Mr Barry O’Farrell, seeking bipartisan support but there is no info about his response or support. To be effective, this body should have full participation and support from all sides in the Parliament. To do anything else may attract the criticism that politics is being played for the obvious reasons. The idea and the plan must be agreed by all sides in the NSW Parliament to make it effective.
My friends and I appreciate one thing more, specially. It is called “Parliamentary Friends of India“, not “Parliamentary friends of Indian sub-continent”. I agree with this approach. It is an appropriate decision, too.
We also appreciate that Premier Keneally has announced the establishment of Premier’s Indian Subcontinent Community Awards.
This is a good idea too but it would have been preferrable if it was called “Premier’s Indian Community Awards”, rather than bringing subcontinent word in it. There is a precedent in this matter. NSW already has a system of “Premier’s Chinese community service awards”.
Indian subcontinent is not a political entity. It is a geographical entity which is often not acceptable to some countries in India’s neighbourhood who do not want to put Indian word before subcontinent. In USA, where there are millions of people of Indian heritage and many from other countries from the Indian sub-continent, Indian community is accepted and recognised as Indian community, not as a part of Indian sub-continent community. It would not work if done any other way.
India and people from Indian heritage have a glorious history. India’s economic growth and contemporary conduct in the world affairs is something the whole world is proud of. India is a class of its own. India should be accepted for being India. Indians should be accepted for being Indians. “Indian” is our identity and we are proud of it. Lumping India and Indians in “Indian subcontinent” identity is not right and not acceptable. For any patriotic Indian and for those who are aware of the histrory and story of this great land called India, any identity for us other than “Indian” is not going to be acceptable. I am an Indian, not “subcontinental” or “Indian subcontinental”. My friends agree with me on this. I reject the attempt by some [who don’t understand what India is about because they were not born in India or don’t have the real touch with India] to redefine our identity.
Here, I don’t believe it would be out of place to point out that people should always remember that it is Indian Subcontinent, not just subcontinent before they set up anything for Indian sub-continent. People need to know the geography, history and politics involving Indian subcontinent.
While NSW Premier has done the right thing by putting “Indian” before “sub-continent”, it remains to be seen whether others in politics will follow her example and do the right thing by putting “Indian” before “subcontinent” in the name of their group?
Yadu Singh/Sydney/7th Dec, 2010