Gathered for a multicultural meal

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Politicians, business leaders, community members and celebrities attend the FIAV Gala Dinner

It’s getting closer to election time and the recent Indian Independence Day events in Melbourne attracted a sizable turnout of Federal and State politicians from both major parties. The most numbers, including a rare visit from the Premier Denis Napthine, were witnessed at the multicultural gala dinner held by the Federation of Indian Association of Victoria (FIAV) recently.

Held at the Grand On Princess, Mulgrave, the gala evening saw over 350 guests enjoying networking with candidates, members, community representatives, business people and local celebrities. Former Bollywood star, Rahul Roy of Aashiqui fame, was also present to promote his upcoming film that is to be shot in Australia starring, among others, popular Indian actor Boman Irani.

There was a lot on the agenda as one performance succeeded another, one speech followed the other, with introductions, community awards, the launch of a short film and felicitations, all happening in quick succession. At the helm of the heady mix was FIAV President Vasan Srinivasan as he calmly conducted the formalities and acknowledged everyone’s support, while the affable MC Ambrish Deshmukh, aka Adi, managed to keep the progress smooth if rapid.

The FIAV honoured Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews and Matthew Guy, Minister for Planning and Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, for their support to the Indian Community. The recently nominated Liberal candidate for Clarinda, Gandhi Bevinakoppa presented a special silver statue of Mahatma Gandhi to Minister Matthew Guy on behalf of Koppa Engineering. Echoing similar sentiments, Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews and Minister Matthew Guy praised Indians for their contribution to various fields and for their active involvement in the vibrant multicultural society in Victoria and Australia.

Premier Napthine went further by announcing that the Indian community has the highest number of degrees and the highest number of PHDs than any other community in Victoria. He spoke of the similarities between Indians and Australians. According to the Premier the Indian community, through their culture, history, business, and through their love for sport, dance and films, have enriched and strengthened the Victorian and Australian community. He welcomed their contribution in making this multicultural community even better and stronger.

Claiming to be a cricket tragic himself the Premier said, “India and Australia share a love for cricket that will be tested next year at the World Cup in Melbourne”.

“I look forward to the final game at the end of March when Australia and India will both be playing in the finals,” he declared, receiving much applause and appreciation from the audience.

The Premier thanked the Consul General Ms Manika Jain for her work and contribution to the Indian Community in Melbourne and commended Vasan Srinivasan and FIAV committee for their “outstanding” efforts over the years. He went on to speak of the significance of celebrating and remembering India’s Independence and the tryst with destiny in 1947 and its relevance in modern India.

“We know that India is one of the strongest and fastest growing economies in the world and as a coalition Government we have sent over 10 trade missions to India to engage in business, creating better opportunities for Victorian Businesses. We are keen to invest in growth and in creating economic opportunities between the two countries,” the Premier said.

Once the formalities were dispensed with, the audience was introduced to the visiting AFL team from India, while a short teaser was presented for Anita Brar’s documentary film Crossing the Line. The film claims to be first of its kind in Australia on the Partition of India, reflected through the stories of seniors of India and Pakistan who crossed the border at that time. Guests were also entertained throughout the evening with vibrant dances presented by the popular Shiamak Group.

An eight-minute short film on FIAV’s achievements and involvement within the community was played during the event with a special mention of FIAV’s hardworking committee. Acknowledging the contribution of women to the Indian community FIAV also presented Community Service Women’s Awards to the following hardworking women: Mrs Dilpreet Jaswal, Mrs Chhandashi Bandopadhayay, Dr Krishna Parekh, Mrs Sudesh Singh, Mrs Lindsay Ganjoo, Mrs Narmatha Ravi , Mrs Coreen Da Gama, Dr Chitra Chandran, Dr Rama Rao and Ms Anindya Gaur.