Veer Khar calls upon the collective responsibility of all Kiwi-Indian associations to represent Kiwis originating from all corners of India

Questioning is the very fundamental of human quest for informed decision-making and the same is signified by the very first shloka in Bhagwat Geeta: Daratrashtar asking Sanjay about the details of the war at Kurukheshtra.

I feel equally blind and ask Kiwi-Indian community in general and the community organisations in particular: What is happening to us – the Kiwi-Indians when we celebrate events or the way we get represented?

Take for example the Diwali celebrations. Starting with total prostration, we call upon “masters” to the stage to lecture us about everything but the desired. These personalities invariably talk about Indian cricket, butter chicken or rogan josh and also showcase their awe about the popularity of Bollywood and we clap and clap and feel exalted.

We then get into a frenzy of photo shoots with ‘dignitaries’ and once they are gone, we are also almost done. But there are winners in all this and these are the trusts, radio stations and even individuals who play the ethnic card and use the dumb funding agencies to bolster their commercial targets. Overall the Kiwi Indian shows that he/she is still devoid of any self-respect.

How about the impact of the representatives like the list candidates of the Indian origin in our Parliament? It is important to understand that we still have no say in the selection of the list candidates and one should not misunderstand the term representation with selection.

These parliamentarians definitely must have done something that earns them a seat in their respective political parties, but unfortunately they never indulge in organising and shaping the community to become a formidable force in New Zealand affairs.

Even with a decisive 155,000 strong population; we are not able to coherently voice the strength that could play a decisive role in the national election results. Sometimes it seems that the chaos may be suiting better as organised people would have monitored the performance.

In all this; where are the elected representatives of our community organisations? New Zealand Indian Central Association is unfortunately a stagnated organisation of yester years. Its constituents are so self-decimating that the branch at New Plymouth is already closed for many years, the one at Palmerston North is still breathing just because one man is holding the fort for decades and branches like Hamilton, Country Section, Rotorua and Christchurch are stagnated and are awaiting the final exit.

The branches like Wellington and Auckland are asset conscious and cocooned to shut out any fresh breeze. The practice of close door policy has left these ageing associations short of any juice to function and this in turn has led to sprouting of individual owned trusts who are free to trample upon the Mana’ – of whatever has been left. The multitude of religious domains with “wise” men and women preachers redefining our dharma is a sad story in itself.

Does this mean that we have the collective responsibility of making it imperative for Kiwi-Indian associations to be elected bodies with representation open for Kiwis originating from all corners of India? If the answer is that yes we need all-encompassing associations like Manukau Indian Association then in pursuit of empowerment and self-respect (Mana’); all self-respecting Kiwi Indians should support such a model and be the change that they want to see.

Today Kiwi-Indians are not only the farmers and dairy owners; they come from all walks of life. These professionals who form the body of the Kiwi Indians need to step in and take charge of their own future and voice concerns that Indian heritage is much more than a Bollywood dance. Call to brace for empowerment is definitely a timely imploration to claim the Mana’ that we deserve!

Veer Khar is president of Manukau Indian Association.