Posted By

Tags

Youngster prepares for Vienna global meet

The Indian community could look forward with pride to the achievements of one of its young members, who is preparing to attend an international conference in Austria next month.

Arish Nilesh from Gisborne will be among the chosen delegates from various parts of the world to participate in the fifth Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC), scheduled to be held on February 27 and 28, 2013 in Vienna under the theme, ‘Responsible Leadership in Diversity & Dialogue.’

Mr Naresh applied for a place at the Forum on behalf of the New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Councils (NZFMC).

He was among more than 4000 applicants who went through a rigorous selection process based on their backgrounds, qualifications, and a project that encouraged diversity and dialogue.

Know thy neighbour

Mr Naresh chose ‘Knowing people in your neighbourhood’ as his Project.

“Most people have Facebook friends halfway across the world but do not know about the people living next door. This is a project for everyone but it has a special focus on young people. I do not believe that politicians can make a difference. People can. People have local knowledge to make a difference locally,” he said.

Integrating migrants

Following a suggestion by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, during his term as Prime Minister of Spain (2004-2011), then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced the formation of UNAOC to foster understanding between countries, cultures and religions, with a special emphasis on developing young talents across the world.

At its first meeting held in Palma de Mallorca, Spain on November 27, 2005, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that among the greatest challenges of the new organisation was to generate practical measures to address a number of issues.

“These include successful integration of immigrant population of diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. The Alliance should also distinguish between those values and achieve good democratic governance with assured human rights. We should also recognise and respect the richness and potential of human existence,” he said.

Responsible leadership

Dr Michael Spindelegger, Austria’s Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister for European and International Affairs said that the Global Forum should take stock of a number of issues including establishing a new understanding of identity.

“Cultural diversity and integrity are universal Human Rights and fundamental conditions of human dignity. At the same time, human rights facilitate the respect for and the protection of cultural diversity,” he said.

He said that there was also a need for new concepts that acknowledge the treasure of diversity, cultivate inclusive societies and spark a new kind of pluralism that boosts peace and fosters social progress.

“Changes to obsolete narratives about ‘the self,’ and ‘the other’ can be brought about only through joint action by governments, private organisations, the society, religious bodies, academia, professionals, youth and the media. Responsible leadership means maximising the human profit,” Dr Spindelegger said.

Racial discrimination

Mr Naresh said that the theme is particularly relevant today, with leaders spending more time printing reports than taking action.

“It is time for political, cultural and religious leaders to start taking responsibility and action rather than just focus on philosophical and ideological aspects,” he said.

He said that his speech at the Forum will advocate policies and programmes that would promote racial integration and harmony.

He would also speak about the lack of investment in migrant empowerment, particularly funding cuts to the ‘Settling In’ programme.

“A small group of people might not change the world but they can highlight issues that produce the spark for change. I believe in making my voice heard when I attend any conference. I also believe that there is no point of going somewhere if you are not going to make a difference,” Mr Naresh said.

The Fiji scene

He said that as a native of Fiji, he had heard people saying that racial discrimination should be eliminated.

“Racial tension in Fiji is due to politicians. They make discrimination a policy driven platform,” he said.

As a teenager, Mr Naresh was youth minister for reconciliation for youth parliament in Fiji and a member of the Steering Committee of the National Youth Board.

Following his migration to New Zealand in 2006, he began his association with NZFMC, which he said provides support for migrants and refugees and helps in building the capacity of young people.

Mr Naresh said that he was a beneficiary of such support and that his family, including his wife Sonia back his initiatives.

He became Secretary of the Youth Council and Vice-President of the Wanganui Multi-Cultural Council. He was a member of the Steering Committee that organised festivals and administered social websites.

He was elected to the post of President of the NZFMC Youth Council in 2008. Last year, he launched the ‘Resource Kit’ for young migrants at a conference held in Wellington (see Indian Newslink, April 15, 2012).

Moving to Gisborne, he established the Gisborne Multicultural Council early in 2012 with Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon, District Council Environment and Policy Manager Hans van Kregten.

Share this story

Related Stories

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Indian Newslink

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement