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Religious groups win funding promises as NSW election looms

… while the dream of an all-inclusive India House stands forgotten

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Elaborate funding promises by both side of politics have been made to NSW’s Indian community in the lead up to the 2023 elections. The largest of these are to faith-based groups.

  • $3.75m for a Hindu cultural and education centre (Labor)
  • $2.75 m for the Glenwood Sikh Centre (Labor)
  • $900,000 over four years to help Indian communities celebrate major events and festivals across the state. (Liberal-Nationals Coalition)
  • $1 million to recognise and revitalise Little India Harris Park as a cultural precinct (Liberal-Nationals Coalition)

The funding promises for religious groups have been welcomed in the respective communities with much fanfare, even though they are non-budgeted promises as of now. The Hindu and Sikh centres however come at the cost of an ‘India House’ which would allow all to enjoy the community facilities rather than be segregated along religious lines.

The Hindu and Sikh communities are two of the largest growing faith groups in Australia. In recent years they have begun to garner much mainstream attention, whether for their soft power, their grand celebrations at which the mainstream is warmly welcomed and included, their sense of service, indeed even for their substantial – and growing – professional contributions to the nation at large.

That they have converted themselves into an attractive and significant vote bank says much about the clout they have built, through sheer dint of hard work and application.

Yet in a community already divided along religious lines, this raining of funds – while welcome – needs deeper evaluation on long-term impacts, prior to funding being granted.

Perhaps Multicultural NSW, who have been called on in the past to resolve conflict on religious issues, could have a greater say on how these funds should be applied if granted.

The long-cherished dream of an India House or an India community centre, for the community as a whole to use and enjoy irrespective of faith, now stands forgotten.

The Indian communities in Perth and Melbourne did well to capitalise on it all when the joint enthusiasm was high, securing enviable premises now used for a multitude of purposes. For Sydney though, it looks like that goal is well and truly obsolete.

Is the Sydney Indian community going to be divided along religious lines? If it is, it is a sad indictment of a community willing to be led by the gush of communal forces – one that is allowing India’s domestic issues to exert an influence in our new lives here. We have grown to become a coherent force that has thus far shown that it can make an impact in a myriad of ways on mainstream culture. Perhaps we need to consider how this can continue, allowing for better growth of the Indian diaspora as well as more meaningful contributions to the land we have now adopted as home.

Read also: Coalition’s election promises: $3.5m windfall for temples and gurudwaras

Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni is the Editor of Indian Link.

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