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These 2 Indian Families Have Kept Their Culture Alive in Timaru City of New Zealand

Registered in 2012, the Cultural Society helps promoting Indian cultural celebrations along with all the diverse communities

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Keeping Hindu Culture Alive
Very few Indian reside in Timaru city, New Zealand. Wikimedia
  • The South Canterbury Indian Cultural Society bagged the award for arts and culture by the Trustpower Timaru District Community Awards
  • Very few Indians live in Timaru but they show cooperation and solidarity when it comes to celebrating Indian festivals
  • Battu and Hari family are an example of the Indians keeping their culture alive in a foreign land

New Zealand, August 23, 2017: In the recent 2017 Trustpower Timaru District Community Awards for New Zealand, South Canterbury Indian Cultural Society bagged the winner’s prize in the arts and culture category. The award recognizes the efforts put in by the Cultural Society to spread its cultural celebrations with the majority of the people.

Post the victory, Timaru Herald’s reporter Rachael Comer visited two humble and welcoming Timaru Indian families. Her purpose was to investigate how miles away from the homeland to a strange land, the families have successfully kept their cultural identity alive.

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The first door that the reporter knocked was the Battu Family. In September 2011, Akhil Battu along with wife Ravinder Battu moved to the Timaru city with their three-month-old daughter. Hailing from Punjab, the Battus resided in Auckland. But after four months, Primeport Timaru offered Akhil a job.

Akhil, who is a marine engineer, has traveled to many parts of the world. For a long time, he had stayed away from home. But now that he has his own family, he chose New Zealand to start a settled life.

The Battus have settled well with their two daughters Mannat and Mehar, who are six and two years old respectively. While the Kiwi lifestyle has been great for the Battu family, the Indian couple has not forgotten their culture.

Their decor of their house is an Indian and New Zealand mix. Many of the items, including the curtains, are Indian.

The couple also dines on Indian cuisine throughout the week. The daughters carry Indian cuisine for school lunch. However, it is not enforced on the children, it is them who love the Indian food. Mannat even shared how her friends at school love her lunch.

The couple also ensures to speak their native language and have explained to the children about the importance of knowing multiple languages. Punjabi is the most preferred language of use at home.

The couple prefers to have a spiritual belief rather than a religious belief. The whole family does meditation on a daily basis. The parents, as well as the kids, watch Indian TV channels. They are also vegetarian.

Mr. Battu admitted that his pay grade in India was better than his job in New Zealand, but he wanted a higher standard of living for his family.

The couple agrees that the few Indians who live in Timaru are extremely cooperative.

Next was the Hari family who had been living for quite some years now in the Timaru City. In 2003, Kashyap Hari hailing from Gujarat, came to Timaru when there very few Indians. Hari worked as a chartered accountant in the same firm as his brother.

He did go back to India in 2008 and went to a function with his parents where young girls and boys could meet. That is where he met his wife, Namrata. The couple got married and came to Timaru.

Namrata expressed her amazement as she recalls how she had never been out of India. She felt different initially but gradually settled.

The couple now live in Timaru with their two children. The Hindu family is strictly religious. Kashyap Hari imported a copper temple from India where the family prays every early morning. The family usually lights a candle while praying.

The family’s favorite food includes dahi, chapati, and rice. The family also celebrates a number of Hindu festivals to keep their culture alive.

The South Canterbury Indian Cultural Society:

Registered in 2012, the Cultural Society helps to promote Indian cultural celebrations along with all the diverse communities. Many Indian festivals such as Holi, Rakhi, Navratri, Diwali etc. are hosted by the Society for all of the New Zealand to enjoy. On the Diwali celebrations, more than 500 visitors come to the event.

Indian hospitality, including singing, dancing and Indian food is exclusive to these events. It is a sincere effort to promote the Hindu culture.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter @Saksham2394


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

 

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Integration of Jammu & Kashmir to Indian Mainland Brings Uniformity to Economic Policies of Both Regions

Altering the long-held governance structure was just the beginning to resolving the long-standing Kashmir problem

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Jammu, Kashmir, Indian
Much has been discussed and debated over these decisions. Pixabay

The special status of Jammu & Kashmir has been revoked and the state has been bifurcated into two Union Territories. Those are the facts. Much has been discussed and debated over these decisions. But it is time to consider its future implications now. Altering the long-held governance structure was just the beginning to resolving the long-standing Kashmir problem. The real uphill task remains. How do these steps result in the development of Jammu & Kashmir and bring it closer to achieving peace and stability? That is the crux of the matter; the end goal.

A key enabler of these outcomes can be the achievement of higher economic growth and development of the region. The integration of Jammu & Kashmir to the Indian mainland brings uniformity to the economic policies of both regions. All laws applicable to other Indian states will now be applicable to it. This puts the region on a level playing field and allows faster percolation of decision making at the Centre down to the most granular level.

Earlier, laws passed by the Indian Parliament had to be separately ratified by the state legislature in Jammu & Kashmir, which caused immense delays in implementation and the region suffered as a result. For instance, a week after other states joined the GST network, the government of Jammu and Kashmir had to pass its own resolution to integrate itself into the national tax framework. And this was a law in which the former state had an interest in clearing. The gestation periods are much longer for other acts. As the Prime Minister pointed out, the Right to Education Act was still not applicable to Kashmiri students. Such limitations had impeded the decision-making process and prevented effective economic development.

The economic limitations were further exacerbated by Article 35A, which prevented non-residents from buying land in the region and availing facilities provided by the state government. When businesses could not acquire the most basic assets for setting up an enterprise, economic activity was bound to be muted. The very nature of legislation curbed economic development and, thus, eliminated all avenues of growth and prosperity that could have benefitted the Kashmiris themselves.

Jammu, Kashmir, Indian
The special status of Jammu & Kashmir has been revoked and the state has been bifurcated into two Union Territories. Pixabay

The extent of economic inefficiency that has existed until now with respect to Jammu & Kashmir can be realised from the fact that the region was the largest recipient of central funds until now with little to show for it. An analysis by the Institute for Competitiveness shows that between 2005-06 till 2018-19, Jammu & Kashmir received around 10.5 per cent of the central grants-in-aid, which was the highest among all states. The second-highest share of these central grants were received by the state of Uttar Pradesh at around 9 per cent. That these allocations are grossly disproportionate can be seen in the light of their population shares where Jammu & Kashmir is home to 1 per cent of India’s population while Uttar Pradesh is the country’s most populous state accounting for over 16 per cent of its population.

Not only has Jammu & Kashmir been the recipient of the highest share of central grants but is also heavily dependent on them as its own revenue-generating capacity has been fairly limited. In fact, more than half of the state’s revenue, or 53 per cent to be precise, are derived from the central grants-in-aid. If central taxes are taken into consideration, this share shoots above 70 percent.

Thus, its own capacity of generating revenue accounted for less than 30 per cent of its total revenue receipts. This is yet another reflection of the lack of economic exuberance within the region, which has stymied its government’s revenue-generating capacity through both tax and non-tax sources. Moreover, these funds have also not been managed well. Jammu & Kashmir has had a history of improper financial management with the ratio of gross fiscal deficit to the state’s GDP at an average of 5 per cent over the last four years against a national average of 3 per cent for the same period.

There have, however, been recent discussions that the former state was already quite advanced on certain social parameters. Life expectancy, for instance, is the third highest among all Indian states at 73.5. But, if a broader measure is considered like the Human Development Index, the ranking of Jammu & Kashmir has slipped two places from 9 to 11 between 1990 and 2017 with a current score of 0.68 that is quite close to the national average of 0.64. Thus, its performance has not been exceptional even on the social outcomes.

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It must be admitted that there is no surety that after coming under central control Jammu & Kashmir will perform better economically. But the opening up of the local economy to outside actors will be akin to India’s liberalisation moment of 1991 when it opened up its economy and integrated with the outside world. As the legal impediments to free movement of people and access to assets like land have been removed, the economic focus of the state can now be broadened beyond tourism and agriculture. Industrialisation can slowly expand its prominence in the local economy. Thus, the elimination of the special status and more centrality of governance should beget higher availability of economic opportunities and wider avenues of growth for the people for Kashmir who have been long denied of the same.

(Amit Kapoor is chair, Institute for Competitiveness. He can be contacted at amit.kapoor@competitiveness.in and tweets @kautiliya. Chirag Yadav, senior researcher, Institute for Competitiveness, has contributed to the article. Their recent book, The Age of Awakening, is now on stands.) (IANS)