Indpendence Day message is for resurgent India

By Neena Badhwar

Fifteenth August, even in Sydney, belonged to India. As nationalists from various parts of the city got down from trains at Central Station to join the ritual flag-hoisting at the Indian Consulate, in Belmore Park across the street, there were also greetings from chanting by Hare Krishnas celebrating Janmashtami on the same day.

At the Indian Consulate, many office-goers made it for the 9 AM flag-hoisting before they would start the day; a large number also comprised of seniors who were in no hurry – rather enjoying the occasion to meet and greet their friends and  acquaintances.

The Indian Consul-General in Sydney, Mr Vanlalvawna, read the President’s message that expounded his vision of an egalitarian Indian society that did not discriminate on gender or religious grounds, a society that was sharing and compassionate as in the culture he grew up in. The recently elected President, Ram Nath Govind, also remembered many of the freedom fighters, not Gandhi ji alone, who sacrificed their lives to get India its freedom.

The Indian PM’s Independence Day message from the ramparts of Red Fort was full of energy for a resurgent India. He highlighted his Government’s achievements on economic front and in ridding the Indian society from corruption. His vision of India was of everyone owning a house, having access to electricity and water, and farmers doubling up their income    by 2022.

In the evening, the Indian Consulate celebrated India’s 70 years of independence at a special ceremony by inviting NSW Minister of Multiculturalism and Minister for Disability,  Ray Williams, Minister for Finance, Hon.
Victor Dominello MP, Minister for Finance, Services and Property; Hon. David Elliott, MP, Minister for Counter Terrorism, Minister for Corrections, and Minister for Veterans
Affairs;  other Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Council, included Hon. Geoff Lee, MP, Hon. Jodi Mackay, MP, Hon. David Clarke, MP, Hon. Mark Taylor, MP, Hon. Jonathan O’Dea MP, and Hon. Daniel Mookhey, MLC; Mayor of Randwick,
Consular Corps; representatives from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NSW
State Office; Consul Generals of Japan and Egypt and representatives from Indian associations, business and community.

Following singing of Australian and Indian national anthems, Consul General Vanlalvawna said that the visits by PM Modi in 2014 and by Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull to India in April this year had laid a solid foundation to take the bilateral relations to the next level.

“We have developed greater frequency of contacts between our business communities and also there is upswing in our cultural contacts. The number of visitors from both sides have increased and the Indian student population here in Australia is growing by the year.

“NSW occupies an important place in the relationship between our two countries, the strength of NSW in areas of smart city development, skill in high tech manufacturing, is helping to promote people collaboration for true strategic partnership,” Mr Vanlalvawna said.

The NSW Multiculturalism Minister Ray Williams reflected that India’s independence did not come without struggle, without hardship, challenges and great loss before, ultimately, the wonderful achievement in 1947.

“When you think and reflect on all those issues, it is so symbolic of the Indian people, their hard work, effort and achievement, and today, as we stand in NSW, there are over 200,000 people of Indian ancestry who make an outstanding contribution to the State of NSW,” Mr Williams said.

Narthana School of Dance from Newcastle provided light entertainment as people mixed and mingled over snacks and drinks, took pictures (especially with Jodi Mckay who was a hit in a Saree) for posterity and,  of course,  Facebook.

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