Sydney, 11 September, 2017
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).
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