Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP), an organisation set up to support India’s largest opposition party, is increasingly becoming vocal across Australia. OFBJP had spoken to The Indian Sun last month on various issues faced by Indian community in Australia. In another interview given to The Indian Sun, Ashwin Bora, took a stand on Little India, Victorian Government’s Trade Mission to India and on PBD. Excerpts from the interview
Can you provide us details about Chai Pe Charcha Event recently held?
OFBJP Australia achieved a great turnout for it’s unique event ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ (Discussion at Tea), which was simultaneously organised in four cities across Australia – Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
After a series of successful events in many cities in Australia, OFBJP Australia undertook this event with main aim of raising awareness in Indian-Australian Community, build better relations between India and Australia at different levels, and to earn maximum support from Indian-Australians for BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Is Chai Pe Charcha a theme based event if so what was the discussion point in this and the result?
The theme of this event ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ was based on a similar campaign being run in support of BJP in India and to recognise the contribution of Tea vendors to society, who have been ridiculed by the largely unpopular Congress Govt.
In an unparalleled success OFBJP Australia connected with over 800 members of the general public and provided them a platform to express their views on many subjects including India’s political future, General Elections 2014 , India-Australia relationship etc.
A massive Social Media campaign was ran live throughout the even registering over 1k tweets in the day that was registered with key senior BJP leadership too. In this social media drive, OFBJP Australia published views of the general public on topics like “Mere Sapno ka Bharat” or ‘India of My Dreams’. These statement and responses can be viewed on OFBJP’s twitter page.
Mr Vijay Jolly, Convener of Overseas BJP and Dr Rajini Shareen, Co-convener of Overseas BJP also addressed the Indian community through a video message.
Where did the Congress government in India go wrong with NRIs based in Australia?
The Congress government has been in power in India for the last decade in India. The current Congress Government in India does not give high priority to Indians settled in Australia.
There are various issues that they could have addressed in a much better way, but because it was a low priority area for them, they hardly seemed to care.
In general the Congress government takes all the NRIs for granted. They just look up to them for their dollars, but are not interested in their welfare.
On the issue of support for Domestic Violence victims:
There needs to be more support from the Central government in India for NRI women and men who are victims of domestic violence. There needs to be more information about support available for the victims.
There needs to be more support for deserted brides. But the Congress government seems hardly bothered about these significant issues that affect NRIs across the globe.
They just look to NRIs for investment dollars. They forgot that they have some responsibility towards NRI welfare as well.
Information and support for victims of domestic violence is an important issue. They will be able to attract more investment into India if they are seen as a government which gives priority to the welfare of NRIs as well, rather than just chasing their investment dollars. Once the trust is there, investment and benefits will flow back to India in due course.
On the issue of attacks on Indian Students in Australia:
The Congress Government in India kept sleeping until more than 10,000 Indian students protested on the streets of Melbourne and Sydney for their security concerns. The response by the Congress Government was very late.
The visiting Congress Minister – SM Krishna instead of showing concerns towards victims seemed more interested in criticizing the choice of their courses. On the National TV in India Minister SM Krishna was heard saying: “Why do our boys need to go and study Hair Dressing in Australia? Why do our boys have to go and learn how to do facials in Australia?”
Perhaps Congress Ministers only wants people to study science and engineering. This old school of thought is not relevant in modern times. There needs to be dignity for all kinds and spheres of work.
The point is that it is a student’s decision what he wants to study. He deserves to be safe on streets no matter what course he is studying.
Also, they should have consulted broadly with the student and student leaders as well, rather than just consulting with few handpicked elites and senior community leaders who had very little idea about the issues that were being faced by visiting Indian students.
Clearly the Congress government failed the Indian students and their families back in India by taking a laid back attitude on this another significant issue.
On the Issue of Little India:
The issue of Little India in Dandenong has been going around in the media since March 2011. Various Central ministers and politicians from the Congress party have visited Melbourne since then, but no one has bothered to visit Little India in Dandenong.
These visiting Congress Ministers should have visited Little India in Dandenong and consulted directly with the traders, rather than spending time visiting places like MCG etc. A visit by Indian Minister to Little India would have sent a very strong message to the local authorities.
On the Issue of Consultation and Involvement with the local Indian community:
Whenever you have a Central Minister from the Congress Party visiting Australia they only choose to meet and consult with a few handpicked local community leaders. They do not make any effort to meet with broader Indian-Australian community. They do not meet with the youth. They hardly seem to care.
On poor turnout at the Pravasi Bharti Diwas in Sydney:
The Congress government is not in touch with NRIs in Australia – a fact that was made clear by the low turnout during the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas in Sydney. Had the Congress government in India treated the NRIs in Australia properly there would have been a full house at PBD Sydney but evidently that was not the case.
Also there was hardly any involvement of local youth in the whole project. Not surprisingly the local youth stayed away from the event.
PBD Sydney could also have been used as a platform to raise awareness about Domestic Violence and give out information regarding support for victims of domestic violence. They could have raised the issue of Little India over there. But clearly their priorities seem to be something else rather than NRI welfare.
On Pravasi Bhartiya Awards to Indian-Australians:
Coming to the Pravasi Bhartiya Awards, many eligible Indian-Australians deserve it, but have been ignored by the Congress government during the last ten years of their rule.
On the timing of Victoria’s Trade Mission to India in September 2013:
For some strange reason DSDBI chose to tour India in its most inauspicious week. In the week of “Shraad” there is complete halt on any new business activity. People in India don’t start even smallest of new venture or start any new partnership during this time due to their religious beliefs.
The DSDBI choose the worst possible time of year to take a trade delegation. They need to consult broadly with local Indian community, including the youth. For any successful business relationship one has to not only understand the trade partner but also respect its ways and traditions.
An extended community consultation would have prevented this blunder. But whether it is with the Trade Engagement Program India or with the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, the DSDBI has chosen to just consult with a closed group of local community figures and have avoided involving or consulting with broader community. So the results have not been as good as they could have been.
Lastly any comments on the General election in India now that the dates have been announced?
I will simply use Ex PM Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Line for this GE 2014 too –
Andhera Chatega, Suraj Niklega, Kamal Khilega.
More information on OFBJP can be found at –
Published in The Indian Sun (Indian Australian Magazine)