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Indian Republic Day

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank the India Australia Association of Canberra for recently inviting me to join with them in celebrating Indian Republic Day. Although this celebration was held on Saturday, 3 February, the actual date of the holiday is 26 January, the same date as Australia day – a wonderful coincidence for a community organisation that is dedicated to promoting understanding and appreciation of the cultures of both India and Australia.

Indian Republic Day honours two important events in India’s history. First, the Indian National Congress proclaimed the Declaration of Indian Independence on 26 January 1930. It then took another 17 years for India to achieve independence from the British Raj, and it did so without a constitution of its own. Within two weeks, a drafting committee had been tasked with writing a new Indian constitution. This document was eventually accepted and signed by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 24 January 1950, and two days later it came into effect.

For the past 41 years, the Indian Australia Association of Canberra has worked to remove barriers and facilitate relationships between the Indian and Australian communities in the territory. They do this by creating inclusive events and offering support to Indian migrants who settle in the region and to those who require assistance with disability, aged care or other community services. I am personally grateful for all the association and its volunteers do to help develop Canberrans of Indian origin.

I felt honoured to be invited to attend the Republic Day celebration on 3 February by newly chosen association president Sandi Mitra, and I enjoyed myself immensely. It is always good to be with the Indian community as they are so full of life! I am never satisfied with just observing as an outsider at these kinds of events. Instead, I want to experience the culture to the best of my ability. It is only when we immerse ourselves in other people’s cultures that we truly begin to fully understand and appreciate them.

To this end, it didn’t take much to convince me to get off my chair and onto the dance floor, joining others in enjoying a popular Indian song. As I embraced the music and danced to his alluring rhythms, my love for our Indian community increased, as did my desire to know more about them.

I encourage all in this Assembly to really get to know their fellow Canberrans from all of our multicultural communities, and not just as occasional visitors. We really need to know and understand migrant and refugee Australians, who have brought with them from the lands of their birth much that they wish to share and much that will make this great nation even richer.

Madam Speaker, I wish the India Australia Association of Canberra all the very best for a successful year. May 2018 see them achieve their objectives, including even greater service to the entire ACT community.

Thank you.

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