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Democracy getting flagged in New Zealand

Mahesh Bindra – For Web Edition- Unchecked immigration a recipe-Mahesh Bindra

India is the world’s largest democracy and has been so since 1947.

Kiwi Indians are proud of this heritage, which is now an inherent part of the culture of the Indian Diaspora.

New Zealand has one of the strongest democracies in the world. If we are not careful, we might lose that title. And this government is surely testing this status.

The word ‘Democracy’ is derived from Greek words ‘demos’ (common people) and ‘kratos’ (rule, strength); simply put, it is ‘People’s Power.’

Former US President Abraham Lincoln said in his Gettysburg address was that Government of the people, by the people for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.  I’m not sure that the government have this at the heart of what they do.  I have a strong belief in democracy and the importance of it for all nations, ethnicities and cultures.

Editor’s Note: The Gettysburg Address, delivered on November 19, 1863, is regarded as historic and a turning point in the American history. The address was a major event delivered during the American Civil War at the dedication of the ‘Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. About 18 weeks earlier, the Union Armies had defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Perishing concept

Democracy is perishing from this earth – brought about by the arrogance of governments which think that adding an extra word to indicate a completely different meaning to an instruction is ‘grossly overstating it.’

The reaction of this government to the extra word in the Hindi translation of voting instructions for the flag referendum is an insult to Kiwi Indians.

I really cannot overstate my concern enough about democracy in this country when such disdain is shown by its government.

Getting language and the pronunciation of that language is vital.

We are a multi-cultural society in New Zealand; we have welcomed other cultures either as migrants or refugees with open arms, and they are integrating their culture with ours and they want to vote as New Zealanders do.

The Second Language

The flag referendum, although flawed, is one such.  We have to also welcome their language – for English is often not their first language.

So, making a mistake in translating such an important instruction as to how to make one’s vote count – a mistake that lends itself to the reader voting a particular way.

A way that Prime Minister John Key wants people to vote.

Of course, this would make anyone think that Mr Key wants the Hindi-speaking people to vote this way. It is not their fault and we think this is an attempt to con them in to voting for a new flag.

This is an outrageous abuse of power and personal ambition. This is not democracy. Democracy is about being fair to all people regardless of their race, religion or language.

Mahesh Bindra is a Member of Parliament on NZ First Party List. He is the Party’s Spokesperson for Law & Order, Corrections, Customs, Ethnic Affairs, Land Information New Zealand.

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