Community reps meet Minister for Multiculturalism on Lord Ganesh Video

Sydney, 11 September, 2017

Community Reps with Minister Ray Williams re Lord Ganesh Video

I was pleased to be able to organize a meeting of the Indian community Representatives with The Minister for Multiculturalism, The Hon Ray Williams & Chair of Multicultural NSW, Dr Harry Harinath, today in the Multicultural NSW Offices in Parramatta, Sydney to discuss the Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA) offensive video involving Lord Ganesh. The Chief Executive Officer of Multicultural NSW, Mr Hakan Harman, was also present.

Community reps included people from not only Hinduism faith but also from Sikhism and Islamic faith. Seventeen community leaders took part in this meeting, and they included Mr Jagtar Singh, Ms Pallavi Sinha, Mr Gurdeep Singh, Ms Anju Kalra, Mr Surinder Bhogal, Mr Shamim Khan, Mr Brijrajsinh Jhala, Mr Premjitsinh Rathod, Mr Sri Ranga Reddy, Pandit Athreya Ramachandran, Pandit Krishnamurthi Venkataraman, Mr Chirag Parikh, Dr Manish Bhutada, Mr Anagan Babu, Mr Tara Chand Sharma, Dr Nihal Agar and myself (Dr Yadu Singh).

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Every rep expressed their unhappiness with the video. Lord Ganesh is one of the most revered deity of Hinduism and is invoked before every religious activity among Hindus. The video is an advertisement for Lamb. Alcohol is also shown to be served in the video. To people from Hinduism faith, associating Lord Ganesh with meat and Alcohol is inappropriate, incorrect, offensive and hurtful.  They also felt that use of deities and religious figures of any religion for commercial use is wrong. It was also felt that the timing of the ad video was particularly hurtful as the video came out only a few days after Indians celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi all over the world. Reps also felt that video like this don’t help the multiculturalism in Australia and end up creating disharmony and undermine cohesion in the community.  They generate a bad image of Australia, which, otherwise, is a successful example of multiculturalism. A rep also mentioned that Meat and Livestock Australia receives funding from the Government sources, which meant that our taxes are being used to abuse our beliefs and portray our deities inappropriately. This is unacceptable.

Community reps urged the Minister and Multicultural NSW to take the matter of the offensive Video up with relevant authorities, including relevant ministers in the Federal Government, and get the video taken out of circulation. The minister was also urged to get the standards of advertisement reviewed to ensure that public videos are not allowed to use religiously insensitive and offensive  materials.

The minister agreed that the community is offended and agitated. He agreed to write a letter to the Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and to the Federal Government authorities, seeking remedial action.

A proposed protest march to MLA offices in North Sydney is a potential step which our community is planning, but it has been postponed for some time to see the outcome following the discussion today. There will be community consultation in this regard sometime in the future.

Community reps thanked the Minister and Dr Harinath for the meeting.

Dr Yadu Singh

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Attacks on our temple is not going to be tolerated

I have been aware of the fresh attack on Sri Mandir Temple in Auburn on 19th March, 2011. Bullets were fired at it. The situation is pretty scary for every one but specially so for the Priest or PunditJi who lives there along with his children in the temple premises. I am aware that the local police is investigating the incident.

The email  to me on Monday, 21st March, 2011, said;

 There were some shots fired at the Auburn Sri Mandir on Saturday, 19 March
Some incidents have taken place at Minto where people have entered temple put graffiti, thrown eggs, and also demanded something from the priests.”

I had already contacted temple committee people like Mrs Leela Gune, with our support. We have also contacted the priest.

Over the last few years, there have been several attacks on Auburn Sri Mandir temple, last one only a few months ago. Police investigated that matter too. Despite that, attacks have not stopped. They seem to have been escalated.

This last attack and the previous attack have been covered by  The Indian newspaper.  I have read the latest coverage which provides detailed and balanced information on this matter. Every person who cares for the issue of this nature, community harmony and freedom to practise religions should read this coverage  and give a thought to what is going on and what has to be done.

We do not attack anybody’s place of religion and we should not tolerate someone else attacking ours.

We need to come together to demand effective action in these matters.

I also believe that the attack on Sri Mandir temple is not an issue just for me, you or temple committee but it is an issue for every body else in NSW who is decent, tolerant and fair-minded. We need to support the temple committee and Hindu Council of Australia and be a part of the team to demand effective action.

To the Temple committee and Hindu Council, we are with you  for this matter! You can count on us!

The problem is clear but solution is not. We, as a community, have to think about the solution and the strategy. Keeping quiet is definitely not an option.

Australia is a multicultural society and there is no place for attacks on the places of religions.

I and  my close friends including the executive committee of Council of Indian Australians Inc had a discussion on this matter last Tuesday and have resolved to work with the temple committee and Hindu Council of Australia actively.

I also believe that the coverage on temple attacks should not be confined to only our community newspapers. It needs to be covered in the main stream media too.

Having said that, we do have to express our appreciation and admiration to The Indian newspaper for covering these attacks so prominently. Well done, The Indian newspaper.

We are a part of NSW and we need to go beyond our own ethnic media for a wider coverage, impact and support.

This is an issue for all peace loving and tolerant NSW communities, not just for the Indian Australian community.

Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/25th March, 2011

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