Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Little India and Ethnic Enclaves in Auckland?


Do Indian migrants to New Zealand wish to create Little India and ethnic enclaves in their adopted country?

Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust, run by Jeet Suchdev had a vision of BUILDING SEPARATE culturally appropriate rest homes for Indians. I personally was and am against this idea of separatism and creating of Little India in New Zealand when the government and Department of Ethnic Affairs are promoting integration and oneness.

Jeet Suchdev, head of Bhartiya Charitable Trust and person behind culturally appropriate separate facilities for Indians (Photo:Thakur Ranjit Singh)

I attended the inaugurating meeting held at Mt Albert War Memorial Hall earlier this year. One of the ardent supporters of this separate development is Vinod Kumar, Chairman of Hindu Council of NZ and proprietor of Mega Mitre 10. He spoke in favour of such a development.

I spoke against the idea of SEPARATE BUILDING AND DEVELOPMENT BASED ON RACE.  I am not against the idea; I am against separate racial development. I said:

There is NO need to build special homes for Indians-there are already existing ones which could have a wing which is culturally and socially appropriate and sensitive. That is exactly what Waitakere Indian Association was negotiating with the then Waitakere City Council.  Indians should stop creating ETHNIC ENCLAVES in NZ. If they want to create Little India in NZ, they should have stayed back in India. If all 200 or so ethnicities in NZ start building their own socially/culturally appropriate facilities, then what is the use of migrating to New Zealand? WE NEED TO INTEGRATE.”  

It appears Indians and ardent supporters of this project regarded Thakur as anti-Indian and rejected my suggestion. Now there appears to be a change of heart and THEY ARE DOING EXACTLY WHAT I HAD RECOMMENDED. They are going to have a wing of an existing facility for Indians. This is what came in Jeet Suchdev’s announcement on Facebook.

“First Culturally Appropriate Rest Home for South Asian Communities.
It is an historic moment for the South Asian Communities in New Zealand, wherein a dream to deliver a culturally appropriate rest home for the community elders is being fulfilled. On Thursday, November 29 2012, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Bupa Care Services and Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust to move forward with delivering culturally appropriate care for the elders of the South Asian Communities. Bupa has joined hands with Bhartiya Samaj to cater to the culturally appropriate needs of the community by allocating a separate wing within its David Lange Care Home Facility. This new wing would be named as “Aashirwad (Blessings)”, after the dream project initiative of Bhartiya Samaj.”

So you have it there. Beating the drums of Bhartiya Samaj. I must commend Jeet Suchdev for his efforts in having culturally sensitive facilities. However, these should be wings in existing homes, as has been done now. I however will always be against SEPARATE DEVELOPMENT FOR INDIANS ONLY. India is a good place for that- not Aotearoa - we want integration and living together, as all our festivals teach and enhance.

Indians may disregard and discount my views, coming from a non-Indian. I may be classed as a non-Indian by Indian leaders in Auckland who think Thakur Ranjit Singh, (whose Grandfather Bansi was from Karouli Rajasthan, India) is not a “real” Indian because he is a Fijian.

However, Indians cannot disregard the views of a distinguished Indian academic, journalist and commentator Dev Nadkarni. At the fourth Hindu Congress in Manukau on 12 May, 2012, he said the following on the gap between mainstream and Indian Media during media and information part of the seminar:

Dev Nadkarni, Indian Academic, Journalist, Media Commentator and founding Editor of Indian Weekender:Having made a conscious voluntary choice to make NZ their home why do ethnic groups want to create cultural ghettos?(Photo:Thakur Ranjit Singh)

 “Every once in a while, Indian community leaders announce some programme with tags like cultural appropriateness. Culturally appropriate this and culturally appropriate that. Every time we do that we reinforce the insularity stereotype in the mainstream.

Having made a conscious voluntary choice to make NZ their home why do ethnic groups want to create cultural ghettos? Why not look at expanding their cultural offering into the mainstream instead? After all, the political systems here as well as the politicians are open to change and inclusiveness and diversity. Why not try to merge first rather than create a separate system while reaping the benefits of the mainstream system. 

And many of these leaders move mountains campaigning for the queen's awards to add after their names. Queen's awards! How culturally appropriate is that! It's also interesting to see many leaders sporting queen’s medals when they are making republic day speeches... But that's a different story. “

Very well and truly said, Dev Nadkarni. But NO INDIAN MEDIA IN AUCKLAND WILL PUBLISH THIS. This is because Indians, Indian media and Indian journalist are beaten into submission by Indian lynch mob which attacks anybody who speaks any truth that is supposed to bring disrepute to a community. To this day, yours truly, Thakur Ranjit Singh remains suspended as vice president of Waitakere Indian Association, at insistence of this lynch mob, for bringing “disrepute” to Indian community (whatever that means) by saying truth about India, its corruption and treatment of women. Seeing that Indian media had become lapdogs which abdicated its role as a community watchdog, being too near the business, community leaders and politicians through whom they gain their advertising dollars, a watchdog had to come along.

This blogsite, FIJI PUNDIT is a result of that suppression. Keep on reading Fiji Pundit for stories and thoughts the lapdog media will never bark.

[Endnote: Jeet Suchdev and Bhartiya Samaj have removed me as friend from Facebook because of issues I raised about attempts at creation of ethnic enclave and Little India in Auckland. So much for transparency]