The Council of Indian Australians (CIA) was launched with a bang at a gala dinner on Jan 28th 2011 to celebrate the Indian Republic Day and Australia Day. The dinner, planned in less than five weeks, was attended by about 550 people, including New South Wales Premier Ms. Kristina
Keneally, Leader of the Opposition Mr. Barry O’Farrell and several other political personalities from both Labour and Liberal parties and Indian Consul General in Sydney Mr. Amit Dasgupta.
The charisma of Dr. Yadu Singh and his team was unmatched. There were three functions to mark Australia and India Day in Sydney in one week. The UIA could collect around 250 to 300 people including politicians, the India Club could muster 70-80 people while the month-old CIA, at a very short notice, gathered the maximum 550, including top-most politicians of the state.
The capacity crowd in the huge Bowman Hall in Blacktown listened with rapt attention the pledge made by CIA President Dr. Yadu Singh, a Sydney’s famous Cardiologist to the Indian Australians of serving the community by putting service before self, of unity, of transparent governance. The ten pledges were:
1) We will work with high level of integrity and accountability following proper governance.
2) We will put community’s interests above our own interests.
3) We will follow and pass the test of “conflict of interest” principle in whatever we do.
4) We will never secure pecuniary benefits during our term and in particular will never take “commission” for our work.
5) We will be non-political and will not allow any political party to control us.
6) We will remain religion, region and language neutral in the context of Indian Australian community.
7) We will keep the media and the community informed about our plans, activities and achievements and will be 100% transparent.
8) We will not allow people who have conflict of interests to be a part of our team.
9) We will represent the community appropriately and will enhance the reputation and image of the community.
10) We will work on changing the image of community leaders and perceptions about them.
So, the CIA is now established and in existence. The CIA is carrying a big burden on its shoulders of proving itself different from other such community organisations in the times to come.
The first success the CIA achieved was the presence of top politicians from major political parties at the first function itself— the Premier of the State and the Leader of the Opposition. This, itself, speaks of the respect the organisation and its leaders command in State politics.
Dr. Yadu Singh took this opportunity to apprise the gathering about the work done for the community even before forming the CIA that included securing over $ 250,000 refund for the Aeronautical students and that is no mean effort.
Dr Singh introduced each speaker as they on came on to the stage. The first to speak was Ms Michelle Rowland, MP who represented the Hon Julia Gillard, The Prime Minister of Australia. Senator Marise Payne represented the Hon Tony Abbott, The Federal Leader of Opposition. They both described their personal experiences with India and Indian Australian community. They paid glowing tributes to the Indian community.
NSW Premier, Ms Kristina Keneally, who was looking stunning in an Indian “Churidaar and Kurta along with along with a matching dupatta,” mesmerized the guests with her fantastic speech where she talked about Australia-India relations, the business partnerships, the AR Rahman concert, Paramasala festival, Indian subcontinent community service awards and Parliamentary Friends of India which NSW Government has organized over the last 12 months. This was followed by yet another excellent and touchy speech by Mr. Barry O’Farrell, Leader of the Opposition who described how close both India and Australia were – in particular how both countries fought together in the Battle of Gallipoli. He also talked about how both countries enjoy the common culture “of the sport of cricket”. He described how proud he is with the achievements of Indian Australian community in various fields.
Dr. Singh introduced Mr. Stepan Kerkyasharian (CRC Chairman) as a person who is always there when the Indian community needs any help and described his experience of working with CRC for Indian students’ issues. He spoke very highly of the Indian Australian community in NSW and its achievements.
Mr. Amit Dasgupta, the Consul General [CG] of India was introduced by Dr. Singh as a “Karma yogi” and a Consul General who has achieved so many things for India in Australia. Mr. Dasgupta informed the gathering of Prime Minister of India’s approval for an Indian Cultural Centre in the Sydney consulate that is soon moving to a bigger accommodation.
The evening was made even more exciting with the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition going to each table and making the guests feel good by having photographs and also having some lively chat with the guests.
The Council of Indian Australians, in partnership with Basava Samithi (Sydney), awarded a community service award to Dr. Chandrasekhar Gowda for his extensive services to the community. The felicitation was read out by Deepti Sachdeva of NDTV and a memento was presented by Premier Kristina Keneally.
The programs that added color and excitement to the function included Bollywood dances, Bhangra, classical dances, and Indian fusion music from “Surya” live band which was enjoyed by all. The spectacular dance performance by Bollywood actress, Sanghmitra Kumar, was the highlight of cultural segment of the evening.
Dr Singh introduced the Committee members to the guests and talked about the wonderful work his team had done – particularly in putting this function in less than 5 weeks time. He went on to outline the plans for the future and the programs the Council is likely to take in the months and years ahead.
Dr Singh talked about the natural disaster that struck Queensland where an estimated 22 lives were lost and estimated damage bill is in excess of 15 billion dollars. He said that in a small way, the Council of Indian Australians is contributing to the cause by donating a sum of A$2,000 from its existing funds carried over from its last year’s function rolled into the Council’s funds and another sum of A$5,100 raised in the form of auctions of memorabilia – an AFL Jersey singed by Mr. Kevin Sheedy, and two cricket bats signed by the great Indian Cricket all rounder – Kapil Dev. In total this new body – hardly less than few months in existence has donated $7,100 to the Queensland Flood Relief Fund.
Mr. Bhart Bhushan of Bathla Group and Mr. Ajay Raj Deshwal, owner of the Maya Da Dhaba took part in the auctions with a big heart and in the process each contributed to $3,000 and $2,100 respectively. The Council of Indian Australians thanked both Mr. Bhart Bhushan and Mr. Ajay Raj Deshwal for their whole-hearted support for the noble cause.
Mr. Ashwani Sharma of Hindu Council of Australia [HCA] donated the cricket bats. Dr. Singh acknowledged this donation and thanked Ashwani Sharma and Hindu Council of Australia for this great gesture. This donation from HCA is entirely consistent with the great work they do for the needy people.
Gigaforce and Macquarie Bank, made the evening very interesting by organizing lucky draws.
Maya Da Dhaba provided excellent food with wine. Ajay Deshwal did a lot more for this function than what was expected. Every guest who came for the function went with some excellent comments – the most important comment being “how can we be a part of this exciting team” and help in building a strong Council of Indian Australians!!
Vote of Thanks was given by the secretary, Mr. Stanley D’Cruz who thanked everyone for participating in the function. He also exhorted Indian Australians to work with the newly formed organisation in the interests of the community. The function closed at midnight.