Tribute to the Founder & Publisher of Indian Newslink on his first Anniversary
Ravin Lal, Founder & Publisher of Indian Newslink (15.10.1949 to 28.11.2019)
On November 28, 2020, it will be a year since Ravin Lal left us to be with the Heavenly Father.
Editor’s Note: However, as per the Hindu tradition, following the ‘Tithi’ based on the Lunar Calendar, his first Anniversary was held on Sunday, November 8, 2020 at his residence in Papakura, South Auckland. About 100 men, women and children of his immediate family and friends attended the event.
Modest years in Fiji
A man of few words, Ravin however inspired others to achieve the utmost goals of their lives.
Born in Suva, Fiji and educated at a Catholic School, his vision in life was to take risk and explore the unknown. He always believed that if people who do not try will not know the joy of winning and the lessons of losing.
Journalism was his passion, but not as a Reporter or a Staff Writer but as a good Sales and Marketing person. Once he said, “If you can sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo, then you can be called a very good salesperson.’
I have known Ravin for the past 30 years as a friend and as a member of my extended family.
Ravin worked for Fiji Sun in Fiji before migrating to New Zealand.
Passion for journalism and marketing
Arriving in a new country, he carried his charismatic personality to launch a career and joined a Forestry magazine publishing company as Sales and Marketing Manager. Hard work, ability to communicate well and serve customers with uncompromising principles and high standards of professionalism made him a well-known personality within the industry.
I remember the day in the Winter of 1999, when he called to say that he was going to start publishing a Newspaper in English for the Indian community.
Indian Newslink launched
He asked a few of us to his place in Paraguayan and work on editing and layout of his first publication (deep-laid issue). From thereon, he had no occasion to look back and made Indian Newslink a household name in our community.
Ravin loved sports but never chose any particular game as his favourite.
But to my surprise, in early 2000, he associated himself with a group of people from Fiji who were organising Veterans Football for former Fijian players in Auckland.
Arin Lal and others performing the Anniversary ceremony for Ravin Lal
Annual Soccer Carnival
He knew that it would receive community attention and support and hence turned it into an annual Carnival and Family Festival. He rightly chose the Auckland Anniversary Weekend and launched the first event in 2001. He undertook the challenge of finding sponsors and selling tickets.
Bill McKinlay Park in Panmure was chosen as the venue and it was the start of Fijian International Veterans Tournament with a Festival.
There were food stalls, activities for children, boxing exhibition matches, arm wrestling, milk drinking competition and much more.
Soon, the event grew to become the largest Fijian Football event in New Zealand, with Fijians from all over the world evincing interest in participating and attending the annual event.
Football was run by a Committee of Soccer professionals, whilst the events were run by Ravin.
I was his Administration and Football Spokesperson.
Arin Lal with her family (from left) Shalini Singh (Sister), Sharda Lakshmi (mother), Ronan (son) and his Partner Tayla Jelavich, Xeno (nephew) and Arvind Singh (brother) at the first Anniversary of Ravin Lal
Safety and security
Every year, the anxiety was to ensure the safety of the players and thousands of families attending the Carnival. Soccer matches around the world are not immune to riotous behaviour and hence event management becomes even more strenuous.
The Indian Newslink Veterans Soccer Tournament and Carnival is an event that used to run as long as five days, with equally high running tempers as the games match or betray expectations.
There were many tense moments, and again Ravin displayed that is a master organiser.
Other employees of Indian Newslink did not have privy to the organisational challenges and problems but were aware of the last-minute hassles relating to the presence of the ambulance, first aid and nursing staff. These were sorted out and as the Veteran Soccer Tournament and Carnival closed every year without a major incident.
There was pride, joy and most important of all, sigh of relief every year.
The Indian Newslink Veteran Soccer Tournament and Carnival is a tribute to the late Ravin, undoubtedly one of the greatest organisers. As Fijians play the game, they will pay homage to this great man and promote goodwill and friendship.
Trust in people
He took risks and trusted people around him until he was deceived by a few people, which led him to vow not to organise Football in any form. The rest is history. A few us know very well how a divided community spelt the demise of a professional and colourful event.
However, Ravin’s vision did not stop there, he kept on building for the Indian Community and went on to be a Leader in ethnic Newspaper publications.
He launched the Indian Newslink Sports Awards in May 2012, the first of its type in the Indian community. This was a project after his heart. He organised all aspects of the Sports Awards, including securing sponsors, marketing the event, selling tickets, organising the venue, appointing Judges, the Master of Ceremonies and coordinating with them on all aspects of the Programme.
This was later expanded to include Community, Arts and Culture Awards. His favourite word was ‘Partner,’ and it was rare for him to call anyone by name.
Ravin had a way with people, which none of us could imitate but only admire.
Ravin cheated death on several occasions.
One experience that he would never wanted to talk about was when disaster struck while fishing in Fiji. It was a sunny afternoon and he and his good work mate, the late Moses went to the sea. They went beyond the breakers in an open dingy with a small engine. While returning, their boat capsized in deep waters with sharks lurking around them.
They were about eight kms out from land and their only hope was to swim.
Both shook hands and said ‘goodbye’ but promised that they will meet again either on Earth or in Heaven. It was their sheer determination and comradery that motivated them to swim for hours and reach ashore. Both kept their dangerous encounter a secret for few days until one of them whispered into the ears of a friend. Soon, it spread like wildfire.
A straight shooter who spoke his mind, Ravin twisted the arms of a few people in his life but never meant any harm. Even his last few months on earth he tried his best not to be a burden.
A person of courage and believer of doing something for all, Ravin left behind a legacy.
All of us should celebrate his life on the first anniversary of this departure from this world.
Mahendra Singh was a close friend and relative of the late Ravin Lal. He is self-employed and lives in South Auckland.
The above Report has been sponsored by