Builder of communities and their voice

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Alastair McClymont

Close to 20 years ago, as a junior staff solicitor, I was told that someone had come selling advertising space in a new community newspaper and I was given the responsibility to see what it was all about.

Ravin Lal had come to our office and started the sales pitch and naturally enough, he had us signed up almost immediately, such was his perfectly crafted sales pitch.

Issues of engagement

I still remember that first conversation as the subject of the advertising was finished with pretty quickly as we moved onto Fijian politics, immigration law, the Indian community in New Zealand and how we could all work together the betterment of that community.

It was on Ravin’s invitation that I started writing some articles for Indian Newslink and have continued doing so until this day.

Just recently, the pressure put on this government over the debacle over Partnership Visas bore fruit, with the government intervening with a new policy. That very clearly showed the power of the media in ethnic communities to affect change.

It was this very subject that I recall discussing so animatedly with Ravin 20 years ago; how to build communities, how to get those communities to have a united voice, and how to use the power of that united voice to affect positive change.

What Ravin had established, and built, with Indian Newslink is a testimony to his vision. From humble beginnings, the newspaper now has Ministers of the Crown and MPs clambering to have their voices heard, to respond to criticism and to convey their message.

Relevant source of information

I recall soon after the newspaper started, we requested a copy of a client’s file from Immigration New Zealand (INZ). In the file, I found a copy of an opinion piece published in Indian Newslink. I was curious as to why INZ investigators felt that the article was an important piece of evidence, but the fact that so quickly this publication was seen as a relevant and important source of information and opinion was quite striking.

But much more than that, Ravin’s work was to build communities, to create a community voice, to give that voice a platform, to celebrate the communities successes, to debate issues of concern, to celebrate and award those in the community who achieved so much.

The very things that we first spoke of 20 years ago, Ravin managed to achieve, and the fact that his legacy with Indian Newslink was able to continue after he moved onto other projects, and will continue well into the future is again testimony to the fact that Ravin identified a desperate need for a community voice, and successfully implemented an outlet for that voice, which has proven to be so successful, and so influential over the years.

I am proud to have worked with Ravin for so long on this project, and delighted that he is receiving the recognition today for everything he has contributed to the media, to the community and to this country which can only get stronger with a united community voice.

Alastair McClymont is Principal of Auckland based McClymont & Associates (Barrister & Solicitors) and Immigration Specialist.

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