Krishna and Kanti OAM
Thank you, Madam Speaker. My good friend Kanti Jinna likes to share a legend regarding the arrival of Zoroastrian migrants in India. Experiencing religious persecution in their homelands, they determined to find somewhere they could practise their faith in peace. They had heard of a certain king named Jadi Rana who ruled in what is now the Indian state of Gujarat, and specifically that he was a fair and just man.
According to the legend, when the migrants from Persia arrived with their foreign faith and foreign language, King Jadi Rana used a vessel of milk to point out to them that his kingdom was full and didn’t need any newcomers. In response, the Zoroastrian priests took the vessel of milk, carefully added a spoonful of sugar, stirred until it dissolved, and handed the now sweetened milk back to the king. Jadi Rana got the message and extended his welcome to the migrants.
Kanti, who was born and raised in Fiji, has said, quote, ‘I see our roles here as migrants to be the proverbial sugar that can enhance the quality of life. Not only will we be happier, [but] the country will be richer too’.
I like this comparison, Madam Speaker, and I thought of it today as I prepared to rise to speak a few simple words of congratulations to another Canberran whom I am blessed to call my friend. Dr Krishna Nadimpalli was born in a small village in India that had no electricity, no roads, and no schooling past year 5. But Krishna quietly put his head down, walked each day to a neighbouring village, and became the first person in Gummampadu to complete year 10.
That was not the end of his education, however. Krishna went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in geology, two master’s degrees, and finally a PhD in geoscience. In 2000, he moved to Australia to work as an environmental scientist at the University of Canberra. He has laboured tirelessly the past 19 years not only in his career but as a volunteer serving the Indian, Hindu, multicultural and multifaith communities. He founded Canberra’s Telugu School and currently serves as chair of the Hindu Mandir. He has also been involved in the introduction of the Art of Living Foundation’s program to help rehabilitate those in Canberra’s jail.
I rise today to congratulate Krishna for being awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia earlier this year. He is clear evidence that so many migrants who join us here in the nation’s capital really are like the spoonful of sugar in milk, enriching our entire community. I know Krishna well, and I therefore know that, in his humility, he would wave aside my congratulations. In fact, regarding his OAM, he has said, ‘It actually inspires me to do more. I have decided to retire and devote my life to community service’. We here in Canberra are lucky to such men and women as neighbours.
I wish to take this opportunity, Madam Speaker, to also congratulate Kanti, who is the source of the legend I shared a few moments ago. He too was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, though this honour came to him last year. Kanti has aggressively sought education throughout his lifetime, studying in Fiji, New Zealand, the UK, and Australia. But his contributions go far beyond his career. For ten years now, he has served as the vice chairman of the Hindu Council of Australia, and he cofounded Canberra’s Hindu Temple and Cultural Centre. Other endeavours of his range from a neurosurgical project in Fiji to working here at home to improve aged care services for culturally and linguistically diverse Australians.
Like Krishna, Kanti is a gentle man who would shy away from receiving such attention, but I feel that it is important, Madam Speaker, to publicly acknowledge the achievements of both these men. They and their families are representative of so many in our multicultural community who bring their intelligence, wisdom, passion, and generosity and help to make Canberra a sweeter place to live for all of us. Thank you.