The Labor Party bestowed the coveted McKell Award on Balaji Venkatarangan of the Australian Indian community. Balaji Venkatarangan has been a grass roots Labor member for over 18 years. Balaji has been a prominent social and political leader within the Labor party and in the wider Australian community.
After migrating to Australia over 20 years ago, Balaji joined the Labor Party and played an active role in many elections. He tirelessly worked for the success of Labor candidates in the Western Sydney region of Parramatta, Reid, Granville, Prospect, Greenway and Chifley. Balaji worked for Labor candidates Paul Elliot, Laurie Ferguson, David Borger, Kin Yeadon, Julie Owens, Nathan Rees, Chris Bowen, Ed Husic and Perear Esbar and contributed to ensuring their success. Balaji is one of the founder members as also the Steering Committee member of Sub-Continent Friends of Labor.
He is a delegate of AMWU Union – UGL Rail Auburn. Balaji has been a nominee for Premier’s Sub-continent Cultural Award 2011 and a nominee for the NSW Volunteer of the year 2010. He had been elected Vice President, ALP Merrylands Branch. He was also elected Vice President, Holroyd Municipal City council. Balaji visited India as part of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s trade delegation in September 2012. During India’s foreign Minister S M Krishna’s visit to Australia, Balaji played a role in conveying to him the sensitive nature of the Indian students’ issue. He also discussed the sale of uranium to India from a Labor Party point of view. He was on the Advisory Board of Paramasala for 2010-2012. He is the President of an NGO – IAAFA Inc (Indian Australian Arts & Film Association) that is devoted to training children in Indian art and music.
In 2012 he Contested Council Elections from sthe eat of Holroyd East Ward against all odds and managed to get a swing in favor of Labor. This is considered a good outcome for the Labor party in adverse conditions. Balaji is also involved from time to time in projects like Clean-up Australia, raising funds for Victorian Bush Fire Appeal, raising funds and awareness for the Cancer Council of Australia etc.
Published in The Indian Sun, Sydney