Parramasala: politics and beyond

Sydney, 8th October, 2014

Parramasala is a key festival, organised by the NSW Government. Held in Parramatta, the heart of Western Sydney, it is in its fifth year. Starting out as an Australian festival of South Asian arts and culture, it is now very multicultural. Performances include those from the cultures of South America, the Pacific Islands, the Middle East and Europe, besides the Indian subcontinent.

According to the Parramasala organisers, 44 per cent of the performances are from the Indian subcontinent backgrounds, and 36 per cent of these are from India, while the other 56 per cent are from a wide and diverse range of backgrounds. There are more than 20 nationalities and cultures represented at Parramasala 2014. Importantly, 96 per cent of the Parramasala performances are free events, which is impressive and commendable.

While Parramatta precincts, especially Prince Alfred Park and Riverside Theatre, will continue to be the centre of the festival, Harris Park, the Little India of Sydney, will be included for the first time. Harris Park Bollywood Block “Curry On” party on Saturday, 18 October, will have a parade, cultural performances from a stage in the roundabout of Wigram and Marion Streets, and food carts, serving delicacies by popular restaurants of Harris Park. This should definitely be an added attraction for those attending Parramasala.

The Parramasala board is ably chaired by Dr Harry Harinath and steered by Di Henry, an internationally renowned producer and director of events, exhibitions, operations, media campaigns and marketing. It is in able and competent hands, and can’t go wrong.

Looking at the program list, one cannot but admire the variety and quality. Whether you like street parades, Bollywood performances, Indian cultural dances, comedy, Flamenco dances, Belly dances, Kurdish music, African performances or Pacific Island dances, Parramasala has it all. Really, what more can one ask for from a festival?
Shiamak Davar group will be performing, and a Qawwali event is included too. Popular drama “Kanjoos” (Miser), directed by talented Saba Zaidi Abdi is part of it too.

The South Asian Film component will showcase talent from South Asian film professionals.

It is clear that Parramasala 2014 is bigger and definitely better than before.

Organized by Destination NSW, and Partnered by Parramatta Council, Parramasala is destined to achieve its due place in the cultural calendar of NSW.

That Parramasala is an important event for the Indian sub-continent community was evidenced by some social media commentary about who was invited and who was not invited for the launch of Parramasala at Harris Park on 27 August, 2014.
Its importance was further established when two Indian community newspapers had a debate over the festival. I don’t intend to comment about any controversy, nor do I want to take sides in a slanging match.

I will, however, say this: Parramasala is essentially a Govt of NSW event, supported by the Parramatta Council. They do have the right to select the board and the program director. They are the ones who have the rightful authority to organise it the way they want to do it. Parramasala is neither a pure nor an exclusively Indian sub-continental event. It is much beyond that, and it must stay that way.

While it is always important to be inclusive and consult as many stake-holders and interested parties as possible, it is never going to be possible to consult everyone who might consider themselves stake-holders. In any case the Parramasala board is accessible to all who wish to be heard; we can write to them or call them with our suggestions and feedback.

Similarly, it is never going to be possible to invite everyone for any event. Parramasala is no exception. Parramasala cannot invite every single South Asian business in Sydney (there are reportedly thousands of South Asian businesses); nor is it practical for all the community groups and associations to be invited for key events. We need to be pragmatic and realistic.

We need to see the bigger picture.

If I have to say anything more on it, I will say that Parramasala Board should make a list of people it should consult and a list of people it should invite for key events. This list should be based on some objective parameters, not the “liking” or “disliking” of some of the people who are associated with Parramasala. Networking ability and reach in the community should probably be part of such parameters. I could not quite understand why talented film professional Ana Tiwary was not invited. After all, Ana works with ABC, and in fact her acclaimed documentary on Indian students was screened in Parramasala last year. There is definitely scope for fine-tuning the networking and invitation lists for any Govt-assisted or organised event, using objective criterion.

Parramasala was initially launched by NSW Premier, Kristina Keneally, in 2010, soon after the Indian student issue had made headlines in India and Australia, and just a few months before the NSW state election in March 2011. It attracted a lot of attention, especially from the Indian sub-continental communities. The media too covered it prominently. There was, however, some uncertainty about its continuation last year, until the NSW Govt finally decided to continue funding it. In fact, the launch of Parramasala last year was quite disorganised, and even the Parramatta Mayor, John Chedid, was not in the loop, solely due to politics of people who pulled strings in the previous NSW Govt. John Chedid has been a strong supporter of Parramasala in general, and a strong protagonist in taking part of Parramasala to Harris Park. I might add here that most of the members from the Parramatta Mayor’s advisory committee (myself included) on Parramasala were not even aware of the launch last year. “Favoritism” was the only criterion for last year’s launch invitations. It was childish, and not a smart move by any means.

Parramasala, which started out as a festival of South Asian arts and culture as its focus, has now become a truly multicultural event. Even though it is not a necessarily bad move, I believe South Asia must continue to be its focus. I suggest that efforts must be made to have at least 60 per cent of the performances from South Asian background.

Parramasala has all the ingredients of a truly popular festival in a successful multicultural state like NSW, if we all work together. Taking the cue from what Prime Minister Tony Abbott said recently, we all need to be part of “Team NSW for Parramasala” led by the Premier and Chair of Board of Parramasala. “Team NSW for Parramasala” obviously will include NSW Govt led by Premier Mike Baird, Destination NSW, Community Relations Commission, Indian sub-continent communities and sub-continental media.

May I also suggest to members of the Indian sub-continent community and the media to not worry about what Parramasala is giving them personally, but ask what they are giving to Parramasala to make it the most successful event this year and beyond?

If I were running Parramasala, or had the ears of Parramasala Board, and they were listening to me, I will do everything to ask as many people of the Indian sub-continent community and the media, and supporters of multiculturalism in NSW, to join the campaign to not only promote it through their social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but also to make sure they attend the event from 17-19 October, 2014.

The Parramasala logo will be in my profile picture on Facebook and Twitter, starting 10 October. I urge everyone in my network, and in my friends’ network, to do something similar to get the word out.

Parramasala is a festival for me, my family and friends, and I, like them, will be attending, and promoting, it with enthusiasm.

Published in Indian Sun news magazine http://www.theindiansun.com.au/parramasala-2014-politics-and-beyond/

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————–
Dr Yadu Singh is a Sydney based cardiologist and the President of Indian Australian Association of NSW. He is an active member of the community. He is also active in social media and writes regularly in his Blog http://www.yadusingh.wordpress.com More details of Parramasala: http://www.parramasala.com

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Congratulation, Dr Harry Harinath, New Chair, NSW Community Relations Commission (CRC)!

Sydney, Thursday, 11th September, 2014

Dr Harry HarinathDr Harry Harinath has been appointment by the NSW Government to be the new Chair of the Community Relations Commission (CRC) yesterday.

Congratulations, Dr Harry Harinath!

Dr Harinath is a prominent Australian of Indian heritage, and is a well-respected medical doctor.

He has been a respected member of Medical profession for 40 years. He was part of NSW Cricket for 30 years. He served NSW Cricket as its director for many years. He has been a commissioner of the CRC for the last 2 years. He is the current Chair of the Board for Parramasala festival – Australian Festival of South Asian arts & culture.

I, as a member of Indian Australian community, as well as a member of medical profession in NSW, welcome Dr Harinath’s appointment.

I have no doubt that he will take CRC to newer heights, with his consultative, non-confrontationist, helpful, encouraging and inclusive style of functioning.

With Harry as the Chair of CRC, multiculturalism in NSW is in safer and capable hands! 

We look forward to working with him for the interests of our community.

Finally, thanks and congrats are also due to NSW Government -Premier, Mike Baird and Minister for communities, Victor Dominello, for making an outstanding choice for the position of new CRC Chair!

Dr Yadu Singh

www.twitter.com/dryadusingh

http://www.facebook.com/dryadusingh

au.linkedin.com/in/dryadusingh/

India House in Sydney: what is this about & why do we need it?

INDIA-House2

(See an important update at the end of this post)

The Indian Australian community in Australia comprises of about 400,000 people, out of which about 150,000 reside in New South Wales. Ours is a growing community and about half of our people have migrated to Australia during the last ten years.

Every community is unique and has its special characteristics and requirements.  In this sense, we are no different from the other multicultural communities in Australia.   Many of these requirements can be fulfilled by a Community Centre, which acts not only as the centre for all community/social interactions and mentoring/guiding services, but also for entertainment activities.  Private family occasions like weddings and other events can also take place there.  Any such centre should have sufficient space and facilities to cater to a range of activities.  This Centre should be able to self-sustain financially, and should be run professionally.

Despite being a major community, we do not have this  community Centre, which is in total contrast with other communities like Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Serbian, Croatian and others, many of which are smaller than ours, but do have such community premises.

India House has been talked about for more than 20 years but nothing obviously has happened. Talks and visions should have moved to something realistic and something fruitful by now, but it is yet to happen. We believe that it did not happen only because serious and sincere efforts were never made.

Projects of this nature require huge capital to make it happen.  We strongly believe that finances can be raised if there is a group of dedicated & committed people in our community who have integrity, vision, determination, perseverance, willingness and capacity to work on the plan for 3-5 years. The fund raising components must have multiple components, and it should include fairs, charity drives, direct contributions from the community, and also sponsorships from governments and businesses.

Our initial spadework informs us that there is sufficient goodwill for this huge venture in our community. We recognise that the biggest hurdle in this huge task is the distrust community members have towards community groups/leaders because they have not been transparent, accountable and result oriented, and in fact, some have used their groups for financial benefits. To make it worse, some have become branches of political parties. It is a common knowledge that finances generated from events, small and large, have often been mismanaged and possibly misused. The fund sourcing process therefore must remain ethical, transparent and must be supervised by at least two reputed finance professionals. This fund-raising must have the charity status and tax concessions.

We wish to take this project earnestly and start the process by donating the entire amount saved after expenses from the INDAUS FAIR on Sunday, 11 August 2013, which will take place at Rosehill Gardens, Rosehill Race Course, Rosehill, NSW. We will outline our detailed plan and the process of fund raising soon.

Our plan is to have a nodal group of 10 people who will do the initial work, using the expertise in law, planning, project work, finance, Real Estate, accounting and marketing among others.

This will be followed by a meeting with community representatives/leaders and members of media with the purpose of brain storming, exchanging ideas, revising and fine tuning the project. Media is so essential for this project and this project will be an “inclusive” work as far as practicable.

The Project will be super headed by a management committee, Board of Trustees and Advisory Council, and will have membership with defined benefits of such membership. The guiding principle will and must always be transparency, accountability and proper governance with an added motto of “service with integrity”.

More info from dryadusingh@gmail.com, www.yadusingh.wordpress.com  and www.indaus.org.au

Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/2nd May 2013

President, Indian Australian Association of NSW Inc

————————————- UPDATE: 31st Aug, 2014 https://yadusingh.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/india-house-in-sydney-update/ ————————————-

Dr Yadu Singh, Sydney, Australia

Welcome to my site!

Let me introduce myself. I am a cardiologist and live in Sydney, Australia.  I am also a Physician or Internal Medicine specialist with MD. I obtained my basic medical degrees and training [MBBS and MD]  from the prestigious institutions in India. My specialist training as a cardiologist was in Australia which led to FRACP [Fellow of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians].  I work in Sydney, NSW.

In addition to being a doctor, I have a keen interest in any matter which has anything to do with Australia, India and Indian-Australians. I consider myself well-informed about what is happening in Australia, India and the World. I love my community. I am in the community work and leadership because I enjoy doing it and wish the best for the community. It is definitely not due to any personal benefit.

This Blog is not about medicine. This is all about my political views on variety of issues. I urge you to not drag my profession while debating with me on political/social views. I am not a member of any political party. I am a keen observer of politics, however. I am a social/political commentator too.

Australia is my home since 1991. I live in Australia physically, mentally and socially. Australia is my “Karm Bhumi or Place of work”, but India will always remain my “Matra Bhumi or Birth place”, with a significant emotional bonding, and a place deep inside my heart. I love Australia and India both. I support Australian cricket team in every match except when they play with the Indian team. When that happens, I become neutral and rejoice with either winning team! [Just kidding!].

I identify myself as an Australian when choosing between Australian and any other identity as I share my value system with Australian value system and Australia is my home. When dealing with regions, religions or languages from India, I am an “Indian” first and anything else second. I love India dearly as it is the place of my birth, but I love Australia no less because it is a great country and it has given me so much. I have no doubt that Australia is a great place to live and work, and Australians are fantastic people. Australia has my total loyalty!

Unlike some, I do not believe that Australia is a racist nation, although I recognise that there are some people who hold racist views, just like any other country of the world. Such people are a tiny minority. Vast majority of Australian people, like any other country, are fair-minded people and are not racist. Systems, rules, Laws, regulations and Governments in Australia are not based on racism or racist agenda.

I wish to see Indian-Australians to be well-integrated among themselves and within Australian general community, both socially and politically. I want to see Indian Australians in the state and federal parliaments. I will never support an Indian Australian politician however if he/she is not a good person and if there is a better alternative candidate in the contest, irrespective of race, religion or gender of that candidate.

I am a strong advocate of good Australia-India relations. I want to see these relations go to newer heights.

I am comfortable with people who have integrity and decency, irrespective of their race, religion, gender or political views, but  I detest those who exploit vulnerable people like students and new immigrants. I am not a fan of those who do not have any idea or understanding of “conflict of interest”.

I am a strong believer and a supporter of the multiculturalism and Multicultural Australia. To put it simply, multiculturalism to me is about freedom to practise and enjoy my own culture, enjoy other cultures, let others enjoy their own cultures and to integrate with the general Australian culture, ethos  and values, which must always remain supreme. I believe in integration, not segregation. I like good and decent people from all sections of the Australian society, irrespective of their race, religion, beliefs, culture or political persuasion.

I have been active  in the community over the years. Details of my community work can be found here.  http://tinyurl.com/7opu4tv

ABC Radio National Video about me is here. https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fradionational%2Fvideos%2F10154646233077378%2F&show_text=0&width=560

ABC Radio National Audio “How one immigrant fell in love with Australia” is here: http://ab.co/2f9zQfe

ABC article is here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-25/indian-doctors-immigration-experience-he-learnt-about-a-fair-go/7960734

I encourage you to go through my Blog posts and make comments, if necessary. I want to network with you and encourage you to join me via Twitter, Facebook or  this Blog.

I recognise that you may not agree with every thing I say, have said, do, or have done. Irrespective of that, I encourage you to join me in debating on these matters, provided you have something positive to contribute. I am reasonably open-minded and have learnt to see merits in a well-argued point of view. I value your views, as long as you identify yourself while making your comments. I respect even those views which are not aligned with mine, provided they are advancing a debate on a topic. I believe that diversity of views and opinions is a positive thing for the community.

I am keen to network with people from wide spectrum of fields, using face to face interactions and social media.

I can  be reached via Email  dryadusingh@gmail.com, Twitter  www.twitter.com/dryadusingh, Facebook www.facebook.com/dryadusingh and Linkedin http://au.linkedin.com/pub/yadu-singh/52/581/864.  

Thank you for visiting my site.

With best regards

Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/Australia

www.twitter.com/dryadusingh

http://www.facebook.com/DoctorYaduSingh

www.facebook.com/dryadusingh

http://www.linkedin.com/in/dryadusingh

(Edited 9 November, 2016)