Group of Person of Indian Origins (GOPIO) Queensland held its marquee annual event, India Day Fair, on 10 August, at the Roma Street Parklands Amphitheatre, to celebrate Indian Independence Day.
GOPIO, representing the Indian diaspora — over 25 million reside outside India, is a platform to share expertise, profession and culture for mutual benefit. The Indian community living outside India celebrates India’s Independence Day to remember those who sacrificed their lives for freedom of mankind. It was indeed a very proud and significant day for all Indians as well as to GOPIO members and the local population.
The celebrations began with the auspicious “Gayatri Mantra” recited by the DJJS (Divya Jyothi Jagran Sansthan) group, as guests were received the “traditional Indian way using garlands and tilak”.
The event was attended by various dignitaries including Hon Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, Hon Consul of India in Brisbane, Mrs Archana Singh, Hon Minister Glen Elmes (Minister for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Multicutural Affairs and Minister Assisting the Queensland Premier), Hon MP Freya Ostapovitch MP for Stretton, Desley Scott MP and shadow minister for community services on behalf of leader of opposition, Mrs Anastacia Palaszuk, Paul Stewart, Assistant Commissioner of Police for Queensland, David Forde, Jim Verghese – CEO of Springfield Land Corporation and many well-known faces from business and society.
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, who has been attending most of the group’s events since 2010, officially inaugurated the function. He spoke of the contribution which the Indian community is making to Brisbane and Australia. He spoke of Hyderabad as one of the sister cities of Brisbane as well about the G20 summit to be held in the city towards the end of the year. “I am looking forward for Hon Indian PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the G20 summit,” he said.
Minister Glen Elmes and Honorary Counsel for India in Queensland Mrs Archana Singh, along with GOPIO Queensland chapter President Yousuf Alikhan, raised the flags of Australia and India, with the national anthems of both the countries being sung in unison by the huge crowd.
In his address to the gathering, Alikhan talked about the organisation (GOPIO) in general and the major events being held in the region ranging from taxation, superannuation to leadership development workshops and social and cultural events. “The main outcome of this harmonious, multi-cultural and multi-racial event is to promote multiculturalism, improve cultural tolerance and promote community harmony. It provides an opportunity to showcase the cultural and regional diversity of India to the wider Queensland community,” he said.
Hon Minister Glen Elmes in his address spoke about the bond which the diaspora had with India and how happy he and his ministry were to provide the grant for this iconic event.
Honorary counsel Mrs Archana Singh spoke of Independence struggle and what it meant for the nation and its diaspora all over the globe. She spoke of the areas of development and progress being made by Indians globally.
On behalf of leader of opposition, Mrs Anastacia Palaszuk, Desley Scott MP and shadow minister for community services, spoke of the contribution and local integration of the community. The patron of GOPIO Queensland, Maha Sinnathamby, was represented by Jim Verghese (CEO of Springfield Land Corporation). He delivered the patron’s message and spoke on Mahatma Gandhi’s statue project (to be inaugurated by Indian PM Mr. Narendra Modi while he is in Brisbane for G20 convention in November). GOPIO Queensland presented the “Lifetime Community Services Award” to Dr. Thakor Patel and was presented to him by Professor Sarva Danam Singh. Dr Patel’s involvement included Radio 4EB, FICQ, ICA, apart from serving the community through his Kedron Park based medical services.
The day-long event featured a live band and dance performances by some of the best local and national dance groups.