The community struggles to save a seniors association
The troubling news of Kingston Indian Seniors Citizens Association KISCA’s failure to flourish (Indian Link, April 2015), came as no surprise to the community.
Liladhar Jeraj, President, Fijian Indian Senior Citizens Association, as if facing a ghost, and quite unwilling to accept reported facts, was first to call.
At the club luncheon, Dr Prem Phakey, President, Indian Senior Citizens Assn., expressed his worry about the unacceptable premise. After briefly discussing the setbacks hovering around KISCA, Phakey offered to sit with the KISCA Working Committee, get down to the nitty gritty of the problems, and offer any technical assistance KISCA may require.
Dr Nalin Sharda, President, Northern Region Indian Seniors Association (NRISA), opined that various causes menacing the probable closure must be explored and studied. “NRISA is regularly attracting new members, and providing the required services,” said Nalin.
Just as surprised, Dr Santosh Kumar, ex-NRISA president, suggested that KISCA may consider improving the variety of programs it presents to its membership, and also further its association with the City Council towards enhanced membership.
Arjan Tuli, President, Indian Seniors Association West, finds himself at a loss to describe his disbelief. Dr Probodh Malhotra, Editor, ISCA newsletter, proposed that KISCA may try to rid itself of the thappa of being a Fijian-Indian association if wanting to increase membership.
S. K. Auplish, Chief Coordinator, Indian Seniors Forum, e-mailed his incredulity from India, and proposed to consider the matter further on his return.
Anand Shome, an acknowledged social worker, said that FIAV hall in Little India is free of charge, and that they get tea and nibbles from a restaurant for only $2.50pp. His veiled recommendation is that to explore options, to relocate to augment membership, and to save resources, could be the obvious key to the survival of KISCA. Shome proposes that if each member contributes $2.50 per meeting if in Little India, KISCA may need funding from no other source.
Vishnu Prasad, a Fijian Indian ex-Treasurer, quite sympathises with Mona Raju, the founding president, for she is unwell, aged, and also appears to be one of a few members truly dedicated to the cause of KISCA.
Other Fijian-Indians I contacted chose not to return my calls.
KISCA membership, which has stagnated at sixty-plus for some years, consists of about ten Indians, two South Africans, two Sri Lankans, and the rest Fijian-Indians. A small association struggling to survive, KISCA is plagued with factions, who attend prominent functions alone. What a way to go!
A justified outburst came from Mona Raju, currently the Secretary: “If people are so concerned with KISCA winding down, why aren’t they stepping forward to come and support the functions we do have.”
“I get very disappointed with those who are quick to give their opinions but reluctant to put their hand up to do anything. This is not a Fiji Club for only Fijians to take positions of responsibility.”
The pervasive community response is that an association, if threatened with failure, must adopt drastic measures, even if unsavoury. If relocation and change of name towards survival means sacrificing a few opposing members, so be it; the continued existence of the association remains a preferred option.