Indians in India and the Indian Diaspora the world over will mark India’s Independence Day on August 15, 2012.
India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand Avanindra Kumar Pandey said that this is a proud moment for India.
“The ‘external world’ has recognised our country’s progress in science, space, political unity, economic growth and in nation building. India’s strive towards eradication of poverty and promoting literacy among its population have also been recognised and appreciated,” he said, speaking to Indian Newslink on the eve of India’s Independence Day.
He said that the world is also recognising the rise of India and China as the two great giants of Asia.
Paying tributes to the people of Indian origin in New Zealand, Mr Pandey said that the early settlers had to struggle, suffering colonisation, discrimination and a number of other challenges.
“We are proud of their record. Indians are known as hard working, law abiding, dedicated and non-interfering people. It is a matter of pride that they are recognised and respected for their good attributes,” Mr Pandey said.
MercyAscot Hospital Radiation Oncology Clinical Director Dr Chellaraj Benjamin echoed those sentiments during his brief speech at the Independence Day celebrations organised by Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust at the Aotea Centre on Sunday, August 12.
“Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our nation stood for nonviolence, love for each other and tolerance for others’ culture, religion and language.
“Today India is not a country but a continent. It is the largest democracy in the world and promotes the vision of the Mahatma,” he said.
Leader of the Opposition David Shearer, Labour MPs Phil Goff and Dr Rajen Prasad, National MPs Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Dr Jackie Blue and Melissa Lee, New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters, Bharitya Samaj Patrons Dr Bruce Hucker and former Labour MP Dr Ashraf Choudhary and Indian High Commission Counsellor and Head of Chancery Sanjay Verma, Manukau District Court Judge Dr Ajit Swaran Singh and ANZ Bank Head of South Asia Ramesh Subramaniam were among the guests at the event.
More than 2000 people were present to hear speeches and witness a three-hour long variety entertainment programme.
Manukau Indian Association
Auckland businessman Wenceslaus Anthony was the main speaker at the Independence Day celebrations organised by the Manukau Indian Association at its premises in Papatoetoe.
Outlining India’s freedom struggle over a 90-year period starting with the Sepoy Mutiny 1857 and ending with Independence in 1947, he said thousands of Indians showed resilience, patriotism, determination and commitment, sacrificing in the process their careers and lives.
Quoting Jawaharlal Nehru (Independent India’s first Prime Minister) as the country became free, he said, “Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny and now the time comes when we will redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially.”
A number of other speakers, including the editor of this newspaper, paid homage to the leaders and common people for their sacrifices towards India’s freedom.
The Indian High Commission will conduct a flag hoisting ceremony on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 1030 am at India House, 128 Knights Road, Lowe Hutt (Wellington).
Mr Pandey will read out a message from Pranab Mukherjee, India’s President and greet members of the community and other invited guests.
The Auckland Indian Association and the Waitakere Indian Association will be conducting India’s Independence Day functions respectively at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre at 145 New North Road, Mt Eden on August 19 at 1030 am and at the Henderson Intermediate School (70 Lincoln Road, Henderson) on August 26 at 12 pm.
1. Indian High Commissioner Avanindra Kumar Pandey
2. Dr C S Benjamin hoisting the Indian National Flag at the Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust Independence Day celebrations on August 12 in Auckland
3. A group dance at the Bhartiya Samaj Independence Day celebrations
4. Members of the community at the Manukau Indian Association Independence Day function held in Auckland on August 12.
5. Three Bengali dancers who performed at the Manukau Indian Association function
Pictures of Mr A K Pandey and Bhartiya Samaj functions were by Narendra Bedekar and pictures of Manukau Indian Association were by Paramjit Dutt