Western suburbs community groups lash out at Parramasala board

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Sections of the Indian community based in Western Sydney have voiced dissatisfaction with the planning and launch of this year’s Parramasala festival. Community members and others vocal in the Indian community say that the invitees to the launch were not representative of the Indian community of the western suburbs. According to these people, the Board of Parramasala has not taken the time or made the effort to consult and include important sections of the western Sydney sub-continental communities.
Dr Jagvinder Singh Virk of Glenwood says that the “board of Parramasala has proved itself to be naïve regarding the western suburbs of Sydney”.
Dr Virk says that, “Parramasala spends millions every year to organise this fair yet the number of people from Western Sydney who attend Parramasala are far less than the number of people who attend other community fairs organised on a small level by the ethnic communities without any government support. These ethnic organisations do not receive grants from the government but they still they perform better than Parramasala.” Dr Singh says that, “The sub-continental communities of the western suburbs have big promoters in Sydney who do shows all year around. None of them were invited to the launch or have been consulted yet on the festival.
“I am unable to understand one simple thing: if you are organising these big festivals to support the
ethnic communities but do not involve the local community groups, businesses and leaders, what is the point. Last year I attended Parramasala’s business forum and I was disappointed to see that out of
300 attendees, only two were from ethnic communities. If these forums are for ethnic communities where are their representatives?”
Businessman Kamal Athwal says that he is disappointed the Parramatta mayor’s office did not make an effort to be more inclusive and consult people from the subcontinent who are active in the western suburbs and who have worked with the mayor’s office on several occasions in the past. According to Kamal, the launch gives the impression that Parramasala is going to be run by a select coterie with, disappointingly, the blessings of the local government. Kamal says that it’s unacceptable for the local government of Parramatta to not have mechanisms in place to have more broad-based consultations with several sections of the subcontinental communities.
Another community member who didn’t wish to be identified expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of consultation with community groups in the western suburbs. This person says that several important community associaitons were left out of the consultation process, if at all there was such a thing. According to this person, the Indian community has been bypassed by a board and planning committee that has made up its mind on what the festival should be like.
Radio presenter Rajiv Chaudhri says that Parramasala has lost touch with the communities of the western suburbs. Rajiv argues that the Parramatta council should be working with neighbouring councils on Parramasala as the sub-continental communities are spread over several suburbs of western Sydney. He says that neither south Asian businesses nor community media groups were involved with a view to spread the word and get more involvement from South Asians as well as other sections of the community.
Talking to other people in the western suburbs it is clear that some sections of the subcontinental communities of the western suburbs of Sydney feel excluded and disappointed with the way the festival is being organised.
The question is can there be a festival showcasing the cultures of the Indian subcontinent with little representation for the local communities of Sydney? Supporters of Parramasala counter this saying that it’s hard to consult all groups in the community. Parramasala, they say, is a government funded festival and is meant to showcase Australia’s multicultural society.
Published in The Indian Sun, Sydney

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