It is the time of the year when the countdown has begun for the year-end celebrations and welcoming the New Year.
The end of the year is often considered as the time when everyone takes a break or pauses from their otherwise busy lives to take stock of the life in general.
The Indian Weekender is taking this opportunity to take stock of this year and what it brought for the Kiwi-Indian community.
To begin with, 2017 was an important landmark year for the Indian community in New Zealand as it marked the completion of 125 years of recorded history of Indians in New Zealand.
Earlier in the year, the New Zealand Indian Central Association (NZICA) launched an exhibition of pictures titled Mokka – The Opportunity depicting the emotional and valiant journey of the Indians in New Zealand.
Indeed, it has been a long time since the first generation of Indian settlers has arrived in the Land of Aotearoa.
You all are allowed to take a pat on your backs, if you feel like, for being a part of a community whose roots are so deeply entrenched in the history of this country.
Similarly, there was another exhibition held in Wellington this year titled Honour and Duty: A Tribute to Sikh Valour organised by the Sikh Foundation New Zealand, celebrating the Indian connection with ANZAC and war efforts.
This is a theme so eternally hard-wired in the Indian Weekender’s DNA, which we espouse time and again, and often unabashedly, as it is defining a factor of our identity.
The Kiwi-Indians not only belong to this land of Aotearoa but also have shed their blood and sweat in the making of the New Zealand nation, as we know it today, so it enjoys a place in this country which is inferior to no other community.
The year 2017 offered an opportunity once again to celebrate our long and proud existence in this country.
The size of the community has not only grown in size and scope, but also in ambitions.
The growth in ambitions is so abundantly reflected in the expectations community has begun to set up on our politicians in parliament.
Apparently, many in the community are becoming less satisfied with the presence of Kiwi-Indian List MPs in NZ Parliament and expecting someone to break the barrier and enter the parliament as an electorate Kiwi-Indian electorate MP.
Labour MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan tantalisingly came close to breaking that barrier in this year’s election, when she almost won the Maungakeikei electorate.
Although she couldn’t win the seat, in the end, however lot of people took satisfaction from the number of votes she polled, probably thinking in their minds that it signifies the numerical strength of the Kiwi-Indian community in NZ.
To what extent that imaginary thinking was justified could be a matter of debate, but what is beyond any debate is the fact that the ambitions and self-belief of the Kiwi-Indian community is incrementally growing.
This year would also be remembered for a path-breaking step in the direction of strengthening the emotional connection between the Kiwi-Indian community and India – a country that community considers as either their original or spiritual or cultural home.
For long the Indian diaspora in New Zealand had been longing for a deeper and emotional connection with the government of India, especially after Narendra Modi had become the Prime Minister and revolutionised the way India connected with its global diaspora.
However, Indian diaspora in NZ could not find a place in the diaspora-narrative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This exception was fixed for good, when the Government of India sent one of its most popular ministers among global Indian diaspora – Minister for State, External Affairs, Gen. V. K. Singh, to participate in The Indian Weekender’s signature event – ‘Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame Honours’.
The Indian Weekender has been organising Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame Honours since the past five years with a single-minded goal of recognising the biggest and the most inspirational achievers within the Indian community in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s topmost political elites have always acknowledged The Indian Weekender’s leadership and commitment in facilitating Indian communities’ contribution to New Zealand’s society.
In 2017, the Government of India also acknowledged that commitment by sending their top Minister to the biggest formal event of the Indian diaspora in NZ.
The commitment of the Government of India towards the diaspora in NZ was further strengthened when a new Consulate office was opened in Auckland in November this year.
According to many veteran leaders and members of the community, the opening of Consulate office had fulfilled a long-felt demand, which traces its origin to almost 40 years in the past.
Indeed, there were many moments to cherish for the Kiwi-Indian community in 2017.
However, like everywhere else in life, the community had its sobering moments too in 2017.
The increase in the size of the community in NZ translated to increase in the number of tragic deaths primarily from the road and water-related incidences, reminding everyone that many new migrants are choosing to leave their common sense behind before setting out to enjoy the beautiful landscape that this country offers.
The student deportation issue gained much public and media attention this year, bringing distress to many individual families and the broader Kiwi-Indian community.
Nevertheless, there were more emotional highs, than lows, for the Kiwi-Indian community in this year. It can safely be concluded that 2017 was a mixed bag of emotions for the Kiwi-Indian community.