The Indian Association of New Zealand (IANZ) has done it again.
In a move that is unprecedented, women will make up one-third of the Association’s Executive Committee.
At its Annual General Meeting held earlier this month, 10 women were elected to the expanded 30-members executive for 2018-2019.
“This is in keeping with IANZ’s philosophy of gender-equality, diversity and inclusiveness,” Veer Khar, who was elected as IANZ President, said.
He takes over from outgoing President Suresh Ramji.
Ram Lingam was re-elected as Vice-President and Roy Kaunds as General Secretary.
Diverse and Versatile
Mr Khar said that the Committee members included people from Gujarat, Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Fiji, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
“We are one of the most diverse and inclusive among all Indian associations,” Khar said.
The Executive Committee is made up of professionals who have greatly contributed to the Indian diaspora’s growing clout in the wider community.
It includes one PhD holder, two research scholars, four engineers, five bankers, teachers, educators, an architect, a film maker, a GP, a clinical psychologist, a chemical analyst, consultants, small and medium business operators and social workers. The representation also comes from various religious affiliations.
“We want to do some real work in the community and raise awareness of local issues. We can only do this if we have the intellectual capital,” Mr Lingam said.
Mr Kaunds, known for his outspoken advocacy of the ‘New Diaspora,’ said that the first task of the new team would be increased visibility and expand membership.
“The Association is expanding its digital footprint in the coming months. For starters, we are shifting our Committee meetings to teleconferencing to save time and resources. Our website is being upgraded to become more interactive. We have started a Twitter handle and have professionals advising us on our social media initiatives. Besides this we have a three-pronged strategy to reach out to the wider community which includes, sporting, cultural and educational projects. We are reaching out to women, youth, seniors and everyone in-between,” he said.
Multimillion Dollar Centre
The flagship of IANZ will be the new seven million-dollar, three-storey, 600-capacity, multi-use Diversity Centre that is nearing completion at Tui Road in Papatoetoe.
Mr Khar, who has been the driving force behind the Diversity Centre said that IANZ had made arrangements to purchase the adjoining property to the Centre.
“The building is 70% complete and we are looking at a year-end move-in date. The Centre will become the social and cultural hub for the entire South Auckland community,” he said.
IANZ has come a long way from humble beginnings in 1979 when it started, in hired rooms, as an informal school to teach Indian children their mother tongue. Then known as the South Auckland Indian Cultural Society Inc, the main aim was to preserve and promote Indian culture, hold language classes, celebrate festivals and pass this heritage on to a new generation.
“The world around us, the diaspora and our original name has changed, but not our original objectives remain the same,” Mr Khar said.
The New Team
The following have been elected as Office-bearers for 2018-2019.
Veer Khar (President), Suresh Ramji (Chair Estates/Second Vice President to be confirmed), Ram Lingam (Vice President), Roy Kaunds (General Secretary), Keshav Govind (Assistant Secretary), Monark Panchal (Treasurer), Arishma Chand (Assistant Treasurer), Priyanka Raina (Web-Coordinator).
Executive Committee Members:
Anita Munshi, Balubhai Mistry, Hansa Naran, Hira Dhaya, Jeet Suchdev, Jeet Wadhwa, Jotsyna Mistry, Laxmiben Morar, Manish Sharma, Munish Bhatt, Murad Padania, Narinder Kumar Singla, Nishma Pattni, Paramjit Dhatt, Prakash Grover, Primla Khar, Rita Moza, Suhas Shanbhogue, Surinder Pal Singh Bajaj, Surjeet Singh Suchdeva, Vasanti Govind.
The new team at the Indian Association of New Zealand