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Some 15,000 Indian expatriates celebrated India's Independence Day on Sunday in what has come to be known as the biggest annual Diaspora gathering in Australia.
The India Fair 2001, organised in the western Sydney suburb of Fairfield, was presided over by New South Wales Premier Bob Carr.
The guests included Philip Ruddock, the Australian minister for immigration and
multicultural affairs, and Indian Consul General Madhusudan Ganapathi.
According to a conservative estimate, the fair attendance has gone up by
around 20 per cent from last year. The organisers, United Indian Associations (UIA), said around 15,000 people had turned up.
"This occasion has helped not only in bringing the Indian community together
but also in transporting one back to India," Ganapathi told Indo-Asian News Service.
Carr, a Labour Party stalwart, was easily the crowd favourite, as Indian community members and other fair guests cheered him loudly.
"India Fair 2001 is a celebration of the fact that India continues to be a democratic and secular state even after 50 years of independence," Carr said.
While announcing a grant of Aus $10,000 to UIA, Carr also congratulated the Indian community for making quick strides in fields like IT.
Carr, who is considered to be an Indophile of sorts, also mentioned that the Indo-Australian community also made generous contributions every time there was a state or federal natural disaster.
Ruddock said the country was already taking the highest number of skilled settlers from nations like India.
The fair hosted, like its predecessors, an impressive cultural show consisting of traditional dance and song routines.
The highlight of the cultural program included an appearance by renowned Indian fusion music star Bally Saggu, who was in Sydney for an entertainment show.
The organisers also honoured young Indian talents, achievers and community activists on the occasion. Two-and-a-half-year-old Aneesh Mysore and teenager Govind Pillai were among those to be honoured.
Aneesh has been mentioned by Guinness Book of World Records for
being the "Youngest Talented Boy" for memorising hymns from the Vedas.
Govind Pillai was in the news recently for executing, what was considered,
an almost impossible project for Microsoft.
Beside the usual commercial and food stalls, an environmentalist group had
also set up stall in India Fair 2001. "Global Village Group is endeavouring
to promote awareness about environmental issues both in Australia and India,"
volunteer Usha Arvind said.
"We are also trying to popularise Indian species like neem, mahogany (Indian and Latin American), sandalwood and brahmbooti (Bacoppa spp) in Australia," forest scientist Subash Sharma said.
Indo-Asian News Service
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