GOPIO anniversary doubles festival of joy
People of Indian Origin (PIO) are at the heart of India and their contributions to the progress and development of the countries in which they reside bring pride and honour to their motherland, a senior official of the Indian Foreign Service has said.
Sanjay Verma, Counsellor and Head of Chancery at the Wellington based Indian High Commission, said that it was heartening to witness PIOs doing well in their chosen field of activity in New Zealand.
“They foster the spirit of goodwill and brotherhood, not only among themselves, but also among other members of the New Zealand society and various ethnic groups,” he said, speaking at the fourth anniversary of the New Zealand branch of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) held at Alexandra Park in Greenlane, Auckland on Saturday, October 27, 2012.
Among the other special guests were Members of Parliament Melissa Lee, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (National), Dr Rajen Prasad (Labour) District Court Judge Dr Ajit Swaran Singh, India New Zealand Business Council Chairman Wenceslaus Anthony and Bank of India (NZ) Limited Managing Director Nageshwar Rao, the main sponsor of the event. “GOPIO is an international body that brings together Indians, fostering peace and harmony. It is gratifying to note that the New Zealand branch accounts for more than 10 chapters located in many cities, an impressive achievement, compared to other countries which have a larger number of PIO,” he said.
Ms Lee described Indians as the ‘cultural fabric of New Zealand.’ She said that Indians were among the early settlers, among whom were people employed in the Otago goldmine. “They contributed to the progress of that region. The involvement of Indians is seen in almost all areas of the New Zealand economy,” she said.
Editor’s Note: Jacqueline Leckie, Otago University Social Anthropology Department’s Programme Coordinator, has traced history of Indians from India, encapsulating the trails, trauma and tribulations suffered in her book, ‘Indian Settlers: The Story of a South Asian Community.’ “The first gold discovered in Otago, which led to the rushes of the 1860s, was found by Edward Peters, an Anglo-Indian from Goa. The permanent Indian community can trace its origins to the arrival of two Sikh brothers, around 1890,” she said in her book.
“Most subsequent settlers were from Punjab or Gujarat. Until 1945, most of the settlers were male, some intermarrying with local women, Maori and Pakeha. The first Indian business, Abraham Singh & Co, was established in Wanganui in the late 1890s. Since then, settlers have applied themselves to the full range of jobs and enterprises, from scrub-cutting and running fruit shops to dairy farming and professional work.” The book was released in Parliament on November 13, 2007 (Indian Newslink, November 1, 2007).
Ms Lee said that Indians have enriched the quality of life and enhanced the status of New Zealand over the years. Significant platform Mr Anthony said that GOPIO provided a major platform to promote the interests and welfare of PIO. “The Organisation has a noble vision and laudable and achievable aims and objectives. Diwali is a great time for people to get together and celebrate. The Diwali Lamp lights up happiness. “Happiness is not a luxury but a necessity,” he said. Later, Ms Lee presented a copy of the recently published book, ‘The Indian Diaspora’ on behalf GOPIO to Indian High Commissioner Avanindra Kumar Pandey, received by Mr Verma.
Bombay Hills Chapter
GOPIO New Zealand National President Alkesh Sharma announced the formation of the latest Chapter of the organisation in Bombay Hills. The new Chapter is led by President Panth Lal Daroch. Among the other office-bearers are Dr Baljit Singh (Vice-President), Jaswinder Sandhu (General Secretary),Rajinder Singh (Joint Secretary) and Shinder Singh (Treasurer).
Mr Sharma admitted that the total number of members (180) was insignificant compared to the population of PIO in New Zealand but added saying that a membership campaign, now underway, will witness vast improvement in the coming years. He quoted India’s Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh as saying, “GOPIO has emerged as a leading organisation providing a unique platform to the vast Indian Overseas Community for promoting their interest and realising their aspirations. It has contributed significantly to the process of engagement between the Government of India and the Indian Diaspora. The bonds between the motherland and people of Indian origin across the globe are valuable and precious. It is my hope that they will continue to flourish.”