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Friday, October 22, 2021

A Note To India

Happy 75th, India! To mark Independence Day this year, what message would you like to send to the homeland?

Reading Time: 12 minutes 

It’s been a year unlike any other for India, and for many in the diaspora, it’s been a whirlwind of emotions to be away from the motherland. Whether it’s the inability to visit home, watching the country fight a pandemic from afar, or prayers for our loved ones to stay safe and sound, our hearts have gone out to the country, one way or another.

So on this 75th Independence Day, we asked you to dig deep and tell us: what is your message to India?

 

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The Hon LISA SINGH (Sydney)

Former Member, Federal Parliament. Source: Supplied
Former Member, Federal Parliament. Source: Supplied

 

Dear India

I have missed visiting your colourful markets, riding through your bustling streets in your rickshaws and exploring your enchanting architecture. Most of all, I have missed your people, my friends.

My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones in the Covid-19 pandemic and all those who have been terribly impacted.

But in a time of distress, I’m uplifted by stories of hope. Like support for India’s struggling artisan weavers who, through an all-female Weavers Resource Bridge, have been able to continue their ancient handloom craft. I was pleased to support them and overjoyed when my pashminas arrived in Sydney all the way from Kashmir.

I have been reflecting on the Salt Satyagraha and Gandhiji’s struggle against the Raj that led people through a philosophy of non-violent resistance. Through those struggles, you have become a proud independent nation.

My great-grandparents had left India 20 years before the Dandi March, to work in one of the colonies under harsh indentured labour. But I would like to think that if they had still been in India, they would have joined the millions of Indians who fought for an Independent India.

Happy Independence Day. Jai Hind.

 

 

SANDEEP PANDIT  (Melbourne)

Television chef, (MasterChef Australia & India Unplated) and IT professional. Source: Supplied
Television chef, (MasterChef Australia & India Unplated) and IT professional. Source: Supplied

 

 

My Dear India

Soon you’ll see the sunrise of the 74th Independence Day. Draped in the lights of this day, I shall be in a silent prayer for you, because you’re not just a nation to me, you’re my individuality.

I owe everything to you; I’ve learnt so much from you. You’re a land of ancient cultures and wisdom, a land of peace and abundance, but above all, you’re a land that embraces everyone who wishes to come to you.

Dear India, the situation in the world today may have kept me away but you’re never away from my heart. Being an Indian is not a symbol of my nationality, it’s an aspect of my proud identity. Thank you for everything that you’ve given me and taught me. Thank you for nurturing me and for being a mother to me. I hope to see you soon, perhaps at the dawn of your 75th year of Independence, celebrating that momentous occasion, in your warm embrace. God bless you!

 

 

EDMOND ROY (Sydney)

Journalist and broadcaster. Source: Supplied
Journalist and broadcaster. Source: Supplied

 

Dear India

Not that long ago, we had a tryst with destiny, and our leaders pledged to serve the millions who suffer, to end poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality.

In a mere seventy five years, that promise has all but evaporated, as the new regime displaces secularism with sectarianism, scientific endeavour with superstition, competition with monopoly and honesty with corruption.

The father of the nation is being written out of our history, our founding prime minister an easy scapegoat, our institutions mere shadows of their former selves.

India, a once proud multi-religions, multi-cultural landscape now subsumed by one religion.

Wake up, India, before it’s too late.

Eternal vigilance is the price we pay for what we enjoy.

I’m afraid we have not been vigilant.

But the idea of India, of a land that embraces many a caste, creed and colour is worth saving.

Our founding fathers wrote one of the world’s best constitutions, a template of ideals, a manuscript of their dreams, for a new nation taking its rightful place in the world.

Let’s not let wannabe fascists and usurpers taint our tryst with destiny.

Let’s reaffirm our commitment to redeem the pledge our forebears took to build a ‘noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.’

It’s an idea worth fighting for, worth saving, worth preserving.

Sincerely yours.

 

 

Dr. PRIYA SRINIVASAN (Melbourne)

Dancer, choreographer and writer. Source: Supplied
Dancer, choreographer and writer. Source: Supplied

 

Enigma

Dharani…75 years young, you have put your colonial yoke aside. You have moved on, so it seems. Oh great Elephant remover of obstacles, you have taken so many strides on the global stage. Moving ahead… educated girls, working women, strong leaders all in their own right. Glamorous movie stars, classical, contemporary, popular dancers, actors and musicians make an incredible India. Upwardly mobile on many fronts with billionaires, millionaires, middle class growth in all the sectors, spelling bee champions, scholars, engineers, tech geniuses, entrepreneurs, even CEOs in Silicon Valley are not beyond your reach, so it seems. Riches abound with ancient texts and Booker Prize winning novels.

And yet shacks sit beside shopping malls. Plastic and diamonds, mud huts and call centres, rags and Christian Dior weave a warp and weft as caste and class inequities continue. United houses of prayer, temples, mosques, gurudwaras, churches, once together yet now apart. Cannot blame the master from across the sea anymore, when the masters now, jabbed with Covax, preach while they cannot, see or hear the cries. The cries of brutal and unspeakable violence of bodies, women, dalits ripped apart with iron rods on buses, hanging in the fields. The silent killings of double XX or murder in the name of Kamadhenu who has already been skinned for her leather by the CEO who grows fatter and richer.

Incredible India I search for the promise you were on the stroke of midnight in 1947. So much possibility. How can we find you? How can we help create you in the vision we need you to be?

 

READ ALSO: Indian flag: How many of these facts did you know?

 

DD SAXENA (Melbourne)

Managing Director, Riverina Oils&BioEnergy. Source: Supplied
Managing Director, Riverina Oils&BioEnergy. Source: Supplied

 

Dear India

I have lived in Australia for 25 years, but the sense of belonging, identity, and deep-rooted affection for India remains strong within me.

I still read The Times of India before the local newspaper, still cheer for India at the Olympics, and still back India at the MCG in a cricket match.

As Indian diaspora, we are the flag-bearers and custodians of India’s image, and a representation of its talent, knowledge and excellence in our professions. We are the catalysts for creating an image of Brand India, soft power influencers, and bridges for economic, social and political gaps between Australia and India.

As Founder/Promoter of Riverina Oil – one of the largest and most successful Green Field investment in Food/Agri business in Australia – I am proud to claim that the plant was 100% designed in India. 80% of the equipment came from India, and some of the brightest Indian engineers worked for us here. The largest exporter of Canola Oil from Australia and the largest refined oil company here, it is rated as one the best plants in the Asia Pacific. This has raised the profile and image of Indian engineering capability, skill sets and entrepreneurship. In one more generation, Indians will be making an impact / contributing like they do in the US, UK and Singapore. Our values such as a strong sense of community and ethics, will help the Indian diaspora not only to succeed but become a role model in Australia.

 

 

VIVEK BHATIA (Sydney)

CEO and MD, Link Group. Source: Supplied
CEO and MD, Link Group. Source: Supplied

 

Dear India

You turn 75 years young today as an independent nation. It has been an incredibly tough year for the world, but even more so for you. A lot has been written, said and seen about the challenges faced by you in the wake of the pandemic, especially the devastating impact the Delta variant had in early 2021.

Your resilience and ability to bounce back have been tested many a time, but perhaps never so wide and deep as in the last twelve months as every single part of you hurt, bled and wept.

Bruised and battered, you have started to re-emerge from the horror with your usual nonchalant shrug and with a smile of hope.

You have grown a lot as a nation through the formative years and now in the exuberance of youth, it is sometimes tempting to move on defiantly without much contemplation. Whilst the focus should always be on the road ahead as opposed to the rear-view mirror, some incidents do warrant a moment or two of reflection and even perhaps an analysis of “lessons learnt”. Why, one may ask? Because you would never want your 1.3 billion children to face this kind of fear, anxiety and hopelessness ever again.

We all learn from our mistakes – be it complacency or unpreparedness, especially during an onslaught of adversity. I’m confident you will too; the first step is to acknowledge and accept that there are lessons to be learnt for us to emerge better and stronger.

This is your big 75 milestone – I can’t wait to celebrate you in all your glory!

 

 

DOLLY KIKON (Melbourne)

Anthropologist. Source: Supplied
Anthropologist. Source: Supplied

 

Gandhi in our lives

Our Naga elders always spoke about Mahatma Gandhi. We were told he understood our problems and struggles as a community. In 1947, he met a delegation from the Naga Hills at his ashram in Bhangi colony in Delhi. He assured them of his unstinting support and calmed their fears about the newly independent country.

Since then, the Indo-Naga conflict deeply impacted lives. The experiences of violence and militarisation have been brutal. Generations of Nagas, including mine, grew with the conflict and the violence.

As young university students studying in Delhi during the 1990s, we were drawn into conversations between Naga elders and Gandhians. They spoke about the path of non-violence and finding a solution to the Indo-Naga conflict. The discussions focussed on the limits of violence in pursuit of political goals.

Our Naga elders were excited to visit Bhangi colony after the meetings. As students, we were confused why they wanted to go there and walk around. Later, we realised that it was a place of pilgrimage.

Lessons about non-violence are challenging because practicing it takes a lifetime. Today, in my note to India, I – a proud Naga – would ask the country to visit Bhangi colony and walk there like our elders did.

 

READ ALSO: India’s Freedom Struggle: Iconic Landmarks

 

Dr. ARUN SHARMA (Melbourne)

Medical practitioner, Convenor Celebrate India. Source: Supplied
Medical practitioner, Convenor Celebrate India. Source: Supplied

 

My beloved India,

I know in a historic sense, 75 years is still very young, and one should not expect too much especially after being ruled for over eight centuries and left dry to disintegrate (as predicted by some).

I know it has taken time to become free from the past and stand on your own feet. But slowly and surely you are building confidence in yourself, restoring pride in youth, bringing our original Indus culture back and moving towards a strong, independent BHARAT. And now, this pandemic has shaken the world and you were badly hit as well. But braced with our ancient spiritual values, rich culture, religious depth and resilience, I am sure you will rise stronger and better than before. Your people will embrace righteousness again and not get easily confused by a few selfish leaders and their divisive mandate.

Dear Bharat Mata, you have embraced all regardless of religion, colour or origin, and looked after us all like your own. You are more tolerant than any country on this earth. From so far away, the least we can do, is to stand right beside you!

Vande Mataram.

 

DR YADU SINGH (Sydney)

Cardiologist and President, Federation of Indian Associations of NSW. Source: Supplied
Cardiologist and President, Federation of Indian Associations of NSW. Source: Supplied

 

My note to India

In my view, it’s about time that India has responsible politics, with focus on policy rather than populism. Affirmative action in form of reservation system is stifling the merit in favour of the caste, which in long term is not good, especially in the fields of medicine and science. After all, India needs top notch doctors and scientists. A timeline for diluting reservation should be developed. Injustice against any segment of the society is wrong, irrespective of whether the victims are from SC/ST segments or from the upper castes. SC/ST Act is being increasingly misused and its misuse must be addressed. Overturning of the Supreme Court’s March 2018 decision about SC/ST Act by the current Government was a bad policy.

It’s preferable if India has a “National Cabinet” like what Australia has and COVID is managed as a national objective. Blame game and point scoring are bad. On the subject of faiths, Indian governance must treat all faiths with equality. Like other faiths, freeing Hindu temples from the Govt clutches is a must. They should be managed by Hindus and their funds should be used for the nurturing of Hinduism. Finally, India not only needs a uniform civil code but also an effective population control policy. Polygamy must be banned and having more than two children should be penalised.

 

 

VINAYA RAI (Adelaide)

Educational counsellor. Source: Supplied
Educational counsellor. Source: Supplied

 

Dear India

I grew up in an India that was inclusive and empathetic to diverse people, those who were not like the majority in traditions, looks, professions, religious practices…

As a child, I grew up with Muslim neighbours. Ours was a small street where they were the only Muslim household, but all the kids played together. They even went to the temple, with the rest of us, for Kannada tuitions with the priest. Today, as adults, they say they feel marginalised like never before – and this breaks my heart.

At college I came across students who were from the Northeast. We called them ‘Chinese’ or ‘Tibetan’, simply because we heard others refer to them that way. But once we learnt that they were from Mizoram or Tripura, we remembered that and moved on.

I remember when reservation started in the early 1980s, as a form of affirmative action to raise the quality of life for historically disadvantaged sections of our society. Within a few years there were people in positions that they could never have dreamed of without that positive leg up in education and employment.

Today I read about how some of the women’s hockey team were maligned based on caste when our team lost. I read how difficult it is for people from the Northeast to live in other parts of the country.

After 75 years of Independence, where are we?

 

READ ALSO: Wondering where to buy Indian flags in Australia?

 

DIPEN RUGHANI (Sydney)

CEO, Newland Global Group. Source: Supplied
CEO, Newland Global Group. Source: Supplied

 

Dear India

As we celebrate our 75th Independence Day I am very proud of the spirit of our freedom struggle, our resolve to build an India of our dreams and our growth-led journey so far. The rising India is an epitome of faith, courage, and resilience.

I am a proud Australian Indian, who strongly believes that “India’s time has come”. India’s growing strategic, economic, and global significance is a message for each Indian abroad to be a co-traveller in this journey – by globalising and investing in its development goals.

My hope is for India to move forward with stronger accountability, transparency, effective governance led by timely execution. My wish is that the aspirations of my fellow countrymen are fulfilled, delivering inclusive, equitable and sustainable growth.

I take immense pride in the natural partnership of both Australia and India, based on our shared values of democracy and the rule of law. I believe Australia can be a development anchor in India’s growth story. Australia’s innovation, technology, resources, and investments can script a new chapter of building a dependable Australia India partnership for the future.

On India’s 75th Independence Day, I promise to centre my role of what can “I” do for my INDIA.

 

SANJIV DUBEY (Sydney)

Level 3 High performance cricket coach and Phys Ed teacher. Source: Supplied
Level 3 High performance cricket coach and Phys Ed teacher. Source: Supplied

 

Medal-worthy!

Even though I have lived in Australia for over two decades now, I would like to thank my country of birth, as I feel that I am ‘Made in India’. Whatever I’ve accomplished – and the kind of person I’ve become – is because of my upbringing, culture, and experiences in India.

I’ll always be seen as an Indian-Australian and I don’t have a problem with that, I’m proud of my ancestry and background. In fact, the names my son goes by, are a nod to my village in India and to legendary cricket player Kapil Dev!

These past Olympics, the country did us so proud: our hockey stars got us a medal after 41 years, and our first gold medal in athletics.

During these difficult corona times, I urge families back home to stay strong and be positive. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Jai Hind, Jai Bharat.

 

 

VANDANA MOHTURE (Sydney)

Mindset coach and Human behaviour specialist. Source: Supplied
Mindset coach and Human behaviour specialist. Source: Supplied

 

Dear India

I love you and I miss you. I haven’t been home for 2.5 years now and it pains my heart to learn of what you have been through in that time. It’s a real test when you can’t be there for someone you really love; and all of us outside of India are going through this test right now.

In the world that we live in today, there is a lot of blame, a lot of shame about who did what, how things went wrong, etc. As a mindset coach, I believe that my clients are whole and able; with all their strengths and flaws, they are capable of change, if they are committed to it. And that is exactly what I believe to be true about you. No matter what has happened so far, if we decide today that we want to empower each other and rise, we sure can! If every person focuses on not what others did wrong, but what he/she can do better, we will advance like never before. Let us embrace the uniqueness of everyone, despite the multiple differences we are born with. Let us enrich our nation with love, compassion and mutual respect.

Much love.

 

READ ALSO: Indian Independence Day: State of Nostalgia


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