Racism, politics and classical heritage formed theme of ASAF’s June dialogues

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On 12 June, the Australian South Asia Forum (ASAF) held a Crossroads Dialogue and Caravan Showcase event at the Essence of North India restaurant in North Ryde.

ASAF (www.asaf.org.au) was formed with the purpose of disseminating quality information related to South Asian heritage, culture, politics and business, with the view to providing advocacy and camaraderie to those sharing the heritage or having an interest in South Asia (or the Indian sub-continent comprising the eight countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka). Since inception in 2013 ASAF’s membership has become more and more representative of the cultural diversity within the South Asian region as well in multicultural Australia.

At the Crossroads Dialogue, based on the theme ‘Count & Be Counted: Perspectives of South Asian heritage parliamentarians’, three NSW parliamentarians spoke about their shared Indian sub-continent heritage, their upbringing and foray into politics. Coincidentally all three—Mehreen Faruqi (Lahore), Daniel Mookhey (Chandigarh) and Trevor Khan (Ludhiana)—have Punjabi roots albeit are first, second and third generation of immigrants respectively, providing a fascinating evolutionary view of the immigrant story.

The Q&A after their discussion turned out to be a lively affair given the keen interest of South Asians in politics and the upcoming federal elections. The presence of other ASAF friends such as Hon. John Alexander (Federal MP and Liberal candidate for Bennelong), Dr. Geoff Lee (NSW MP for Parramatta) and Lyndal Howison (Labor candidate for Bennelong) made the proceedings even more informative.

The Caravan Showcase featured a brief cultural presentation of an exquisite Sri Lankan classical dance by the Vidusha Nartana dance group, mellifluous Afghan classical music by sitar maestro Sayd Sarshar with Ali Sarshar accompanying on table, and vibrant soulful Sinhalese singing by Hemal, Ari and Tanuja. The Caravan Showcase unfailingly highlights the commonality of the culture and people of the dynamic Indian sub-continent region.

The event also featured a ‘Racism! It Stops with Me’ campaign short film sponsored by the City of Ryde and made in collaboration with its partners Macquarie University and Salvation Army. ASAF made a commitment to sign up as a campaign partner to Jonathan Nanlohy, the council’s Community Projects Co-ordinator.

“It was a wonderful, rich, cross cultural smorgasbord with intellectual food for thought, musical delight and opportunity to make new acquaintances and friends,” said Ash Gholkar, president ASAF Inc.

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