Indian apex body vows to become inclusive, diverse and dynamic

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New team under Narendra Bhana to address formidable challenges

Narendra Bhana: Newly elected President, New Zealand Indian Central Association (INL File Photo)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, April 6, 2022

Coping with the existing and emerging challenges, closer and more effective outreach to all segments of the Indian community, promotion of social cohesion and inclusion, addressing issues of discrimination, racial inequality and other forms of segregation and modernisation of the organisational structure are among the issues that will be addressed by Narendra Bhana, the incoming President of the New Zealand Indian Central Association (NZICA).

The New Team at NZICA

Mr Bhana, who was elected to the post in a straight contest at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Association held virtually on Saturday, April 2, 2022, said that he was keen to draw upon the experience and expertise of senior members of the Association and integrate with the enthusiasm and fresh ideas of the younger generation in ordering a meaningful transition.

Among the others elected to various posts were Manisha Morar of Wellington (Vice President),  Prakash Biradar of Auckland (General Secretary), Jay Randhawa of Waikato (Assistant Secretary) Hansa Naran of Pukekohe (Treasurer).

“NZICA is the most trusted and time-tested organisation with social and moral values, financial integrity and sense of purpose. I am grateful to the members for their confidence in me and my team and together, we will work towards achieving our objectives,” he said.

He brings with him 13 years of experience at the 102-years-old Auckland Indian Association, three of which were as President, three years as Vice-President, four years as the Treasurer and one year each as the Chairman of the Founding Committee, Website Committee and Youth Committee.

He said that the Indian community is growing in New Zealand and that it is heartening to see many of our people as successful entrepreneurs, professionals and high-ranking government officials. Our children are making their mark as scientists, engineers, doctors, IT professionals and media personalities,” he said.

Paul Patel: An eventful tenure at NZIC (Now Immediate Past President) Photo Supplied

Formidable challenges 

Mr Bhana said that it was heartening to note that NZICA will mark its 97th Anniversary this year and complete a century in 2026.

However, he acknowledged that NZICA faces several challenges today, the most formidable of which is to prove its continued relevance in a changing world of changing expectations and opportunities.

“Although we are 96 years old, NZICA is still not accessed by all associations and registered bodies of our community. We are becoming increasingly diverse, and hence the goals and aspirations of our people are also constantly evolving. As the population of people of Indian origin continues to rise (current at about 230,000), we have to reinvent ourselves and express our views on issues of importance strongly and clearly,” he said.

According to Mr Bhana, issues of immediate interest are the return of about 750 migrant workers who are stranded in India for the past two years because of border closure (most of their visas have already expired), young couples separated from each other because of non-issue of visas, closure of the parent and extended family visa categories, low or no intake of international students from India, security, law and order and other socio-economic issues.

“We need to properly implement our current strategic plan which includes Leadership, Preservation of culture, women empowerment, and Youth Advancement. We also need to improve our operational efficiency, enhance cooperation with the Indian High Commission and assist in improving bilateral relations with India,” he said.

Achievements listed

Presenting his Annual Report, outgoing President Paul Patel said that during his three-year tenure, NZICA recorded significant achievements, despite severe Covid-19 restrictions.

These included close engagement with Immigration New Zealand on ‘Culturally Arranged Marriages,’ meeting with INZ officials in Mumbai with Immigration Minister in January 2020 and consultation on the ‘2021 Residency Visa Pathway.’

His engagement with the Police (he is a member of the Police Commissioner’s Ethnic Focus Forum) helped in obtaining one-off payments from British American Tobacco Company

A Veteran of NZICA: Prakash Biradar (Photo Supplied)

Among the early speakers at the AGM were India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand Muktesh Pardeshi, INZ Deputy Secretary Alison McDonald, Victoria University Wellington Associate Professor and author of recently published NZICA book ‘Invisible,’  Jacqueline Leckie, Massey University Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley and Palmerston North Branch Committee Members Shilpy Arora and Tushar Gaikwad.

The Meeting inducted Madanjeet Bange of the Country Section and Ishvarbhai Rambhai of Pukekohe Indian Association into the Life Membership of NZICA.

NZICA Community Service Awards were presented to Bhanuben Ravji of Central Districts Indian Association, Lingappa Kalburgi of Auckland Indian Association, Suresh Ramji of Indian Association (Manukau) New Zealand and Manjula Parsot of Wellington Indian Association.

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