The Journey through the Years 2007

Indians in New Zealand marked the 60th Anniversary of India’s Independence with two separate major functions, once again demonstrating the belief that they cannot work together even to celebrate a solemn occasion such as ‘Freedom Day.’

India Trade Group Inc, established in November 2006, organised a grand Trade Exhibition and Cultural programme respectively at the Aotea Centre and ASB Centre. Although well organised, the Exhibition failed to attract large crowds.

The Indian Government was becoming increasingly concerned with fake marriages, which inadvertently contributed to great pain and suffering to women and it was considering enacting appropriate legislation to bring perpetrators of fraudulent marriages to justice and protect abandoned brides overseas.

Special Occasion

Indian Newslink published a unique, 48-Page Report on South Indian Classical Dances with its March 1 issue, commemorating the Bharata Natyam Arangetram and Kuchipudi Rangapravesham of Ratna Venkat on March 10. Governor General Anand Satyanand, Prime Minister Helen Clark, Trade Minister Phil Goff, Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter, Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard, Indian High Commissioner Kadakath Pathrose Ernest were among the dignataries present at the event held at the Dorothy Winstone Centre at the Auckland Girls Grammar School.

Ms Clark said Ratna’s debut was a fitting start to the Auckland 2007 Festival.

Young Indian brides abandoned by their husbands in India were seeking justice from the New Zealand government, saying that they were victims of fraud and deception. Heartbreaking tales emerged from victims who were traumatised by what they had gone through and were desperate to seek any avenue for redress.

The Indian government launched a frontal attack on human traffickers in India, warning that it would not hesitate to invoke various legal provisions to bring the offenders to justice. Leading the pack of offenders was opposition BJP member, Babubhai Katara who was arrested at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, trying to board a flight to Canada with a woman and a child using the passports of his wife and son.

The Education sector was a major beneficiary in the Government’s annual Budget, with an allocation of $10.3 billion.

Indian Newslink reported a bizarre case of the murder of Auckland housewife Afroz Akhtar Miah (Polly) in Bangladesh on May 22.

Fiji’s interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama drew his country further into the jungle of diplomatic chaos by expelling the New Zealand high commissioner Michael Green, resulting in rhetoric from Wellington.

Electionlink launched

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Opposition Leader John Key launched Electionlink pages of Indian Newslink along with their respective Parliamentary colleagues and supporters on two separate days in June at our offices in Auckland.

Our 60-page Special Report to mark India’s Independence on August 15 was hailed as unique documents with long shelf value.

The New Zealand government adapted a “wait and watch” approach on Fiji over the promised general elections in 2009. Prime Minister Helen Clark welcomed the move but warned that the exiting sanctions against Fiji will be lifted only after positive moves could be seen.

The government was on a warpath against family violence, launching a new $14 million campaign to quell its occurrence within various ethnic communities.

Chief Families Commissioner Dr Rajen Prasad said that no civilised society should either accept family violence as a norm or condone its existence or occurrence.

An Indian Newslink editorial expressed concern over the collapse of eight finance companies that left innocent investors high and dry. It also lauded the Government’s move to enforce the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act with right for victims to prosecute the spammers.

Mahatma in Wellington

Governor General Anand Satyanand unveiled a statute of Mahatma Gandhi near the Wellington Railway Station on October 2, designated by the UN as the International Day of Non-Violence. The Indian Government gifted the statute to the people of Wellington. Among those present were Mayor Kerry Prendergast and Indian High Commissioner Kadakath Pathrose Ernest.

Ahmed Zaoui, an Algerian, who was branded a terrorist and held in custody, got his freedom, thanks to a ruling by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority.

The Government ordered a probe into bureaucratic bungling in New Delhi that led to the denial of visas to about 20 businesspeople that were to be part of a delegation to New Zealand. No reasons were given for the denial and immigration minister David Cunliffe said that denial of visas to such a large number of delegates was prima facie unacceptable.

Immigration New Zealand launched an inquiry into allegations of graft among its officials both locally and internationally, following revelation of a job scam involving a number of migrants and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The appointment of Kamlesh Sharma, a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service to the post of Commonwealth Secretary General was hailed as trailblazer in international politics and an acknowledgement of the growing influence of the world’s largest democracy.

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