New UIA chief to continue ”˜good’ community work

Newly elected UIA President Amarinder Bajwa

Neena Badhwar

United Indian Association’s (UIA) newly elected president Amarinder Bajwa talks to TIDU about his aspirations for the umbrella organization. With claims that UIA represents 20 regional associations and has a huge membership that works and strives together towards a body that is united to help achieve common goals in a harmonious and cooperative manner for the Indian community, Amarinder Baweja responds to the questions posed to him by The Indian Down Under:

TIDU:  Can you tell us about yourself and your committee’s plan in the coming year?

AB: I am an entrepreneur, run a small business and driven by the passion and commitment to serve my community. I do not claim to be perfect but I try to do my best for my family and for the community.

My committee is committed to participate and cooperate with all and to take up challenges that face our communities. We intend to serve all and serve with our best efforts in bringing harmony and help the communities assimilate with mainstream Australia. We plan to execute programs and undertake activities that would help to develop skills and resources to deal with community problems and aspirations.

TIDU:    Since its institution in 1994, can you describe some of UIA’s milestones that it has achieved being the umbrella organisation of the Indian community in NSW?

AB: UIA, in its journey since 1994, has successfully strived to bring the communities together with participation from each and every group representing Indian diaspora. UIA has endeavoured to deliver community harmony, raise concerns of the communities to highest levels of state and federal governments. It has achieved its share of success in fighting for the rights of students, communities and promoted culture, heritage and community harmony. It has helped individuals, raised funds to address unfortunate incidents and natural calamities in Australia. It’s the social fabric working at its best, cooperatively and helping communities.

TIDU:  UIA has been trying to find a permanent place of its own – an Indian community centre. What’s the progress in this area?

AB: UIA has been working on this issue for the last couple of years now, but this involves big investments and resources. An Indian Community Centre is a target and we are pursuing it with the government of the day. Also I’d like to reiterate that UIA is run by volunteers and any help from the government, NGO’s and individuals that can help us in achieving our goals becomes very important.

TIDU:  Although UIA is doing a lot of good work, there is some criticism that the organisation’s constitution allows undemocratic representation by some individuals who allegedly represent self-serving associations. Comment?

AB: UIA’s framework is very democratic. The organisation has passed the testing times many times and it has come out with flying colours. I understand that there may be some people that may have different way of thinking but that’s acceptable in democracy. Me and my team are committed to build bridges.

TIDU:    The news went around that singer Mika Singh who came for the UIA Friendship Fair last year costed UIA $33,000. Don’t you think that this money could have been better used for community or the centre the community needs. We could have used some seasoned  local singers who are equally good for much less and encouraged them. The community feels that $100,000 in the association account due to the two consecutive year grants given by the past state Labor government has been wasted?

AB: Mika Singh’s performance was a star attraction last year that connected UIA with its younger diaspora. We cannot put a dollar value to the sentiments and love of the music/ heritage and euphoria that this performance created. Everyone enjoyed the performance. Could we have saved that money and dumped into our banks ”“ yes, we could have, but the smiles and happiness that crowd showed that day was priceless. UIA is for its people and community.

We assure you and your readers that we shall leave no stone unturned to achieve our goals including community needs. Every UIA function/ Seminar/ Forum carries performances by local talent including many performances on India Australia Friendship Fair.

TIDU:    What kind of promises has UIA been able to get from the current Liberal government considering the Indian vote was a big factor in changing the course in some of the seats in the recent elections?

AB: It is still early days of Liberal Government. UIA has started engaging the new team under Premier Barry O’ Farrell. UIA sincerely hopes that our engagement with the Liberal Government would bring lot better outcomes for our community. We look forward to work closely with Geoff Lee from Parramatta, Premier Barry O Farrell and all others and engage them for our community development projects.

TIDU:    What are the current issues and concerns for the Indian community UIA will be focusing on?

AB: The Indian community is highly regarded as well as highly respected community in Australia. UIA is engaging various agencies, governments, NGO’s and individuals to undertake skills trainings, seminars on women issues, help for students, offer personality development and provide resources as required for everyone. UIA is committed to provide best outcome for the Indian community.


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