A Tale of two fairs: Triumph and Disaster

INDIA DAY 2017 Crowd


Recently two fairs were organised in Sydney to celebrate 70th Indian Independence Day, one by Federation of Indian Associations of NSW (FIAN) and the other by United Indian Associations (UIA) at two different venues. FIAN organised a hugely successful INDIA DAY 2017 to celebrate Indian Independence Day in Parramatta Park on Saturday, 12 August, 2017. Around 15,000 people attended the extravaganza throughout the day. This was FIAN’s 3rd such celebration, starting from 2015. INDIA DAY has now become an iconic event, popularity of which is unmatched. Hard work involved in seeking  sponsorships and promotion of the event by the FIAN team led by Dr Yadu Singh is paying off handsomely.

Several ministers, MPs, MLCs, Councillors, community leaders, representatives from Indian media, and SBS were present there. NSW Ministers, Ray Williams and Matt Kean, spoke highly about the
contributions of Indian Australians and congratulated them for the 70th
anniversary of India’s Independence. Similarly, Julie Owens, Parramatta
MP, Michelle Rowland, Greenway MP and Jodi Mckay, Strathfield MP
spoke glowingly about India and Indian Australian community. Consul
General of India in Sydney, Mr B. Vanlalvawna, addressed the gathering
with the feeling of patriotism, pride and appreciation about the INDIA DAY
celebration and the community.

FIAN president, Dr Yadu Singh, thanked and praised his team for their hard work and expressed his pride not only in his Indian heritage, but also his Australian identity. Jai Hind and Jai Australia were his slogans, which were loved not only by the crowd, but were also covered by SBS national news that evening.
FIAN delivered a class entertainment programme, which culminated in a spectacular fireworks. INDIA DAY has now become a key event of not only Indian Australians but also of the multicultural communities in Western Sydney.

India Australia Friendship Fair, on the other hand, organised by UIA, a week later on Sunday the 20th August, 2017 touched a new low  for fourth year in succession by attracting a paltry crowd of estimated 300 to 350 people. Pictures by Harmohan Walia don’t tell lies.

More VIPs than people

Empty chairs and stalls greeted the disappointed revelers. The photographs  are  proof of the poor attendance. Somehow, it was almost anticipated that UIA will fail, hence many Political leaders including local MP, Michelle Rowland, did not attend the UIA fair.

UIA’s Fair was moved from Fairfield Showground to Olympic Park in 2003 and that was a great success. Many years later, it moved to Blacktown area, which turned out to be a major failure. For more than 5 years now, the UIA has been losing its relevance and its fairs have been on a steady decline.

The stall owners lamented there was hardly any crowd, contrary to what was projected, leading substantial losses. There has been some talks about stall holders and sponsors considering to ask about the refund of their money. Even the Ministers and other VIPs were shocked to find such a poor numbers at the fair that was touted to be celebrating India Independence Day.

The media were shocked to find people not enough by the standard and the expectation of a fair. Many community members are questioning the need and justification for UIA to organise any further Fairs. UIA had its heydays and now they are in the terminal and irreversible decline.  Their relevance and networking in the community is almost non-existent. The quality of leadership under current president, John Kennedy, has become a matter of ridicule. Mr Kennedy does not seem to have necessary leadership qualities to lead UIA, a fact which is proved by consecutive failures of UIA fairs over the last 4 years of his rein. Sadly, he appeared to be more focused on contesting recent Council election, while still holding his position in UIA, rather than concentrating on the job for UIA.  He failed in this too, and ended up getting only a few hundred votes as a Council candidate. This is a very sorry state for UIA.


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About Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar is an accomplished journalist with over 38 years of experience in the profession in various capacities. He was a sub-editor in Patriot and later Chief Sub-editor in The Hindustan Times, New Delhi. He has several published articles and reports in Patriot and HT. Published reports in The Blacktown Sun in Sydney. He had also been a tutor in journalism in the University of Western Sydney. He is currently Editor at The Indian Sub-continent Times, Sydney.

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