The story of Dr Gaurav Sharma’s rise in New Zealand parliament, which is indeed just a beginning yet, has so much to inspire that it instantly connects with almost every segment of the Kiwi-Indian community.
There is no escaping from the fact that every time a member of the Kiwi-Indian community rises in politics and becomes a Member of Parliament is a moment of pride and glory and deserves an undiluted appreciation and celebration.
Be it the story of Labour Party’s recently re-elected member of parliament Priyanca Radhakrishnan or National’s outgoing MPs Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi or Dr Parmjeet Parmar, or former MPs including New Zealand First’s Mahesh Bindra or Labour Party’s Rajen Prasad, they all have been inspirational in many different ways.
To be fair and respectful to all of them their individual successes and subsequent contributions – if not in anything else – then at least in instilling some self-belief within the community have always been hugely appreciated.
In that regard, the inspiration from Gaurav Sharma’s rise in politics is of the next level as it makes an instant connection with everyone in the Kiwi-Indian community.
First and foremost is Gaurav Sharma’s solid foundation in high-quality education.
It is important to note for people of Indian-descent – regardless of their present countries of residence, one key defining element is seeing - “education as the ladder of upward social mobility.”
For uninitiated, one of the very basic DNA of the entire Indian diaspora all around the world is the special place of “education” as the most valued “ladder for upward social mobility.”
It is almost an unwritten rule and aspirations within a large segment of the Indian-descent people to provide best possible education to their children in the hope that high-quality education will lay the stepping stones for them to succeed in life.
In fact, a large number of members of the Indian diaspora migrates to different parts of the world in pursuit of “better education” for their children.
To give a context, for decades, India has been known as a global powerhouse for producing world-class graduates, doctors, engineers, and lately IT specialists and business professionals.
In that respect Sharma’s phenomenal educational background as a child in Auckland Grammar School then as a medical graduate in the University of Auckland and subsequent career journey as a medical doctor and overseas assignments in international institutions like World Health Organization and United Nations is something that reverberates with every Kiwi-Indian household.
This is an aspiration secretly shared in every Kiwi-Indian household where parents work hard and strive to provide the best possible education to their children and expect them to shine in every aspect of their respective careers.
In appreciation of this basic social ethos of our Kiwi-Indian community, the Indian Weekender had covered Gaurav Sharma in 2015 in our face of the week segment, long before he has laid out his political ambitions in the open.
The story informs us that Sharma born in a place called Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh, India, first arrived in NZ at the age of twelve, almost twenty years ago, and quickly started showing his talent in school and college education, which is indeed inspirational for everyone.
Dr Gaurav Sharma’s CV minus his recent political success alone will establish chord with every house in Kiwi-Indian community as a medical doctor (GP) who has previously been involved in public health, policy, medicine and consulting in New Zealand, Spain, USA, Nepal, Vietnam, Mongolia, Switzerland and India. He also has a Masters in Business Administration from The George Washington University in Washington DC where he was a Fulbright Scholar.
The early struggles that new migrant families face in this country
One another silent, but significant aspect of Sharma’s inspirational story is the immense challenges that almost every new ethnic minority migrant community faces in this country – the story of financial struggles, the economic deprivation and the will to survive against all odds in an altogether foreign country.
In many interviews given to mainstream media, Sharma has opened his heart and explained his deep connection with Labour’s social justice movement emanating from the perils of homelessness that his father had to endure in early years of their settlement in this country – something which most members of Kiwi-Indian community.
Nothing mentioned above is to dilute Sharma’s own handwork, diligence, passion and commitment in his life journey so far, but to point the fact that his entire family’s story could very easily resonate with a lot of Kiwi-Indian households.
There would be many in the community who would be inspired by the arduous journey that his new migrant family has successfully endured in this country.