Embodying the spirit of community work

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The community felicitates Dr Nihal Agar, who was awarded the OAM honour this year

This January, Prof. Nihal Singh Agar was among 824 Australians honoured by the Government for their services to the community in a variety of fields.

He received the Order of Australia medal “for significant service to the Hindu community in Australia, to the fostering of cross cultural cooperation and networking and to medical education”.

This month, local organisations Vedic Pratinidhi Sabha and Arya Samaj of Australia Inc. held an event for well-wishers and friends to greet the much-respected and much-loved stalwart of the community after he won this prestigious honour.

Friends who gathered at Pennant Hills Community Hall on Sunday 2 August, included executives of Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation Australia, Sewa International, VHP Australia, HSS, OFBJP, Gujarati Samaj, Sydney Sanskrit School, India Club and other organisations. Some 200 people from India, Fiji and Nepal attended this celebration to congratulate Prof. Agar.

The occasion was also graced by Michelle Rowland MP and Senator Sam Dastyari, Bhupat Shah (HSS Australia ex-chief), Bhagwat Chauhan (Director Hindu Council of Australia), Jayendra Shah, EVF Australia and other dignitaries of the Hindu and Indian community.

Prof. Agar’s incredible journey in Australia started in 1967 when he first came to pursue his post-doctoral research in physiology at UNE.

His 33 years of academic life inspired the former Head of Physiology and now Honorary Associate in the School of Molecular Bioscience at the University of Sydney, to offer his services to the community.

This journey took him from VHP to Ekal Vidyalaya and then to HCA where he was head-hunted to act as the Chairman. He went on to take the annual Deepavali Mela to great heights.

Prof. Agar was also the lead in organising the gigantic and very successful reception for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Sydney as the Chairman of the Indian Australian Community Foundation.

At the Pennant Hills event, a special message from BJP Gen. Secretary, Ram Madhav, was read out for Dr Agar with great pride.

Members of the community from Canberra also joined the gathering especially to greet Dr Agar, and a message in Sanskrit was read out for him.

Brij Pal Singh, the lead organiser of the evening, said, “The contributions of Professor Agar have been extra ordinary. He has worked as founding President of Vishva Hindu Parishad of Australia, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation and Chairperson of Hindu Council of Australia and with his uniting efforts and leadership, these organisations are working very effectively and successfully contributing for the betterment of the community and society as a whole.”

Prof. Agar himself was characteristically humble.

“I have been very fortunate to work with some very dedicated people and I thank them from the heart,” he said.

“It is largely their work and our efforts as a team, that turned my dreams into reality, such as with the large scale program during Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s visit. It is such cooperative efforts that have enriched and inspired the community to this distinction.”

As a mentor to his team, Prof. Agar (Nihal Uncle to many), has been particularly inspirational to the youth in Sydney’s Indian community.

“Always friendly and welcoming, he has enthused us to work for the community,” said Rajiv Jain, Shareena Jadhav and Arpita Singh, youth volunteers with the Deepavali Mela.

For me personally, it has been a similar experience since I was initially contacted by Prof. Agar to assist with the Deepavali Fair five years ago.

That inspiration remains to this day – he sparked in me the urge to partake in community service, and it defines the person I have grown to become today.

Balesh Dhankhar, one of Prof. Agar’s close associates, made a special announcement at the evening regarding a new ‘Clean India Mission’ for which community support was invited.

This mission is an initiative to provide sanitation, toilets and clean water to rural India by engaging Indian diaspora in Australia and NRIs around the world. A brief engaging promo was also shown with presentation.

It is clear that Prof. Agar’s legacy continues unabated within the community.