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VOL 28 No.

Print Post Publication No. 23572300014

Annual Subscription incl. postage & handling $17
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September 2016

Indo-Oz ties to strenghten with
Harinder Sidhu

Ms Harinder Sidhu, Australia’s High Commissioner to Delhi with Sydneysiders Harpreet Singh, Professor Balkar Singh Kang, Harry Walia and Manjinder Singh

Inside this Issue:
Page 8: Vijay Badhwar talks to Harinder Sidhu, Australia’s High Commissioner in Delhi
Page 13: Neeru Saluja talks to Reena Koak on her beauty pageant ‘Touch the Soul’
Page 19: Nitasha Bhatia on mental health issues and Indian community

Himesh Rashammiya

Marie Ross

Gurdas Maan

Karisma Kapoor

Reena Koak

Page 20: Sumi Krishnan frustrated with Indian serials, gets hooked to Pakistani dramas
Page 22: Mother of all mothers, 83-year-old Marie Ross who has cared for 200 kids
Page 29: Fix your posture with Dr. Tilak Kalra and stay healthy
Confluence - Festival of India in Australia from August - November
Himesh Rashammiya and Gurdas Maan on the way down under
, Reena Koak brings Karishma Kapoor to Judge Aussie Beauty Pageant

The Indian Down Under PO Box 99 Thornleigh NSW 2120 Ph (02) 9875 2713 Mobile: 0414 155 402 Email:

02 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER September - October 2016

August - September 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 03

04 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August - September 2016

August - September 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 05

as taught by S.N.Goenka

A Special 10-Day Hindi-English
Vipassana Meditation Course
For the Indian-Subcontinent Community
starting on March 15, 2017

(Multilingual Facilities Available)
To help understand Vipassana Meditation, join in for


on Sunday, November 6, 2016 from 11am to 1pm.
at Vipassana Meditation Centre, Blackheath NSW
For More Info on Vipassana Visit:
For Open Day Transport or other enquiries, call:
Sumi on 0405 131 569
or Pratik 0425 391 121
Vipassana Meditation is a practical technique which enables one to
lead a more positive, balanced and happy life. It is non-sectarian,
scientific, result-oriented technique of self-observation.”
- S.N. Goenka

06 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August - September 2016

Editor's Letter

Thankfully for India,
Olympics is over

Editorial/Advertising Enquiries: 02 9875 2713
Postal Address: PO Box 99, Thornleigh NSW 2120.
Principal Editor: Vijay Badhwar
Associate Editor: Neena Badhwar
North America : Parveen Chopra
Sports Editor: Kersi Meher-Homji
Delhi Reporter: Ritu Ghai
Third Eye: Rekha Bhattacharjee
Political Columns: Cyprian Fernanades,
Karam Ramrakha
Bollywood: Neeru Saluja
Films and Art: Neeru Saluja, Abhishek Sood,
Sumi Krishnan, Devaki Parthasarthy,
Neena Badhwar, Rekha Rajvanshi,
Manju Mittal
Body-Mind-Spirit: Dr Sunder Das, Kanaka
Ramakrishna, Faith Harper, T Selva
Sport: Kersi Meher-Homji, Gaurav Joshi
Fiji Diary: Karam Ramrakha
Cookery: Promila Gupta
Children Section: Esther Chaudhary-Lyons
Classical Music: Sumi Krishnan, Kris Raman,
Lokesh Varma
Travel : Vijay Badhwar, Kris Raman
Humour: Melvin Durai, Santram Bajaj
Seniors Column: Santram Bajaj
Beauty: Devaki Parthasarthy, Ritu Ghai,
Akvir Kaur
Community: Neena Badhwar,
Kersi Meher-Homji,
Vijay Badhwar, Sumi Krishnan, Neeru Saluja,
Savitha Narayan, Manju Mittal
Photographers: Raj Suri and Jordan Anjaiya
Graphic Design: Dhiraj Kumar Showaan,
Nayanesh Gandhi, Dinesh Verma, Bharat
Bhushan Chopra/Bhagwati Multimedia

billion Indians took a
sigh of relief when
two medals in
Olympics came India’s way
after 11 excruciating days of
wait, when its main hope in
shooting and then in
wrestling passed it by, athletics and swimming anyway a far cry. But there is
nothing new in this, nothing unexpected. Olympics
after Olympics it’s been
the same story; we introFor a nation of a billion, two measly medals (PV Sindhu’s silver and Sakshi Malik’s bronze)
spect for some time,
exposes the lack of attention to sports in India.
whinge and complain, but
eanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s
then it’s the same sorry story repeating again.
speech from the ramparts of Delhi Red Fort was
Sport is not in our culture, we don’t admit; we don’t have
game changing vis-à-vis his Government’s earlier
the infrastructure, we do not acknowledge; we have no strucconciliatory
tones. Mr Modi cannot be accused of not trying
ture in place to scout early talent, we tie ourselves in knots to

boldly carried out such gestures that could be
acquiesce; the funds don’t reach their desired destination, we
termed outrageous in diplomatic terms, like his unscheduled
deny; we are plain simple incompetent to let the few
detour to Lahore to wish Nawaz Sharif a happy birthday. But
resources we have to atrophy, we look sideways. But we are
Pakistan thrives on Kashmir issue, receiving sizeable funds
ever ready to join this delegation or that committee in hoards
from foreign governments on the pretext of curbing terrorism.
to cheer our Olympians on their foreign jaunts. Always!
It is not in their interest to sort out the violence in the valley.
It’s a sight to behold on a Saturday morning on the lush
Pakistani High Commissioner in New Delhi raised the bar
green sporting fields in every suburb in Australia – tiny tots
by directly inciting Kashmiri people, fomenting further unrest
in their colourful uniforms playing soccer or netball, in their
that has been continuing in Kashmir now for over a month.
whites playing regular cricket or training in the nets on
PM Modi had to respond in kind, which, he did, by asking
Thursday afternoons. A team of volunteers is always there to
Pakistan to stop glorifying terrorism. There are a plethora of
coach their young teams, telling them the nitty and gritty of
issues of human right abuses in Balochistan and by extending
their footwork and giving them exercises to build up their
a hand of friendship to people in Balochistan and Pakstamina, picking up the early signs of a talent that can in
Occupied-Kashmir, PM Modi has responded in kind.
future represent Australia in a Test match or the Olympics.
Indians do not have an African heart to excel in Athletics
nor a size 17 Thorpe imprint for the pool, nor are there
resources commonplace that anyone innate in Chhattisgarh or
Orissa, Haryana or Tripura can be polished to shine the star
in them. To find an Olympian, matching talent and resources
is absolutely paramount. Or, else, there may be some strategic sports which can make headway in India, such as it should
not be left only to the privileged to access cricket and tennis
Two lone medals – a Silver and a Bronze in badminton and
wrestling, nonetheless, raised louder aplomb in India than
over one hundred medals of another country, passé due to
such human excellence being commonplace as Phelps winning
23 Golds by himself, more than all the medals India has won
in its Olympic history.
In the same vein, Fiji’s Gold in Rugby, that too by defeating Great Britain, was as much of a celebration of the true
Prime Minister Narendra Modi giving his Independence Day
Olympic spirit for the tiny nation.
speech from Red Fort in Delhi on August 15.



August-September 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 7


An exclusive interview with Harinder Sidhu, whose family
came to Australia from Punjab, via Malayasia/Singapore.

Haridner Sidhu presented her credentials to India’s President,
Pranab Mukherjee, in Delhi early this year.

By Vijay Badhwar
Australian prime ministers took immense pride
in becoming high commissioners in
England, two of them – Andrew
Fisher and Stanley Bruce – even
resigning from their positions to
become high commissioners in
It is indeed an honour to represent your adopted country at the
highest level amidst a culture you
belong to, in a landscape that is
exclusive (in the Australian High
Commission in Chanakya Puri in
Delhi, with peacocks dancing in
your backyard), meeting people you
only dreamed about and a bevy of
helping hands at your command at
your slightest gesture.
In the case of Harinder Sidhu,
Australian High Commissioner in
New Delhi, it is well-earned and
deserved after years of hard work as
a senior bureaucrat to be in an oasis
after the desert storms of Damascus,
having been left there to be the last
to leave due to her knowledge of the
local culture and Arabic language.
Ms Sidhu is considered a MiddleEast expert also having served in
Egypt prior to her posting in Syria.
Her father Ajaib Sidhu is an
electrical engineer from the Punjab
in India, later settled in
Malaysia/Singapore when it was
still one nation. Harinder’s mother,
Jagjit, is an English language
teacher. The young family decided
to settle in Australia in 1974.
“We call our eldest daughter
Indra, but when she was born, as
was the custom, the name had to


start with letter ‘H’. My father-inlaw provided the solution suggesting
preceding Indra with ‘Har’,” Mrs
Sidhu recalls fondly.
The family (as does the whole
Indian community) feels proud that
Harinder has been given the opportunity to be the ambassador of two
cultures, to be able to contribute and
enrich them both. The senior Sidhus
will be visiting their daughter later
in the year to experience it first
But, before that, TIDU readers
can share part of the scene as summarised in the following questionanswers:
Through your appointment,
you now connect four or even five
countries – Australia, SingaporeMalaysia, India and Bhutan. How
do you feel, virtually being at
home in India? Do you feel special
representing as Australia’s High
Commissioner compared to visits
to India before?
-It is a great privilege to serve
my country as the Australian High
Commissioner to India. Of course
it is a very different experience to
visiting as a tourist, as I have done
previously. In my current capacity,
I carry responsibility for all facets
of the Australia-India relationship.
I am deeply committed to seeing
that relationship grow and improve
during my tenure.
How did you feel presenting
your credentials to the President
of India? Any highlights you will
like to share with TIDU readers?
-The credentials ceremony itself
was a very serious and solemn occasion, held at Rashtrapati Bhavan. I

presented my credentials together
with the new ambassadors of
Ukraine and Iraq, and the new High
Commissioner for the United
Kingdom. It brought home to me
the great honour of this appointment. I found the President (Pranab
Mukherjee) to be most gracious,
knowledgeable about Australia and
thoughtful in his discussions with
me after the ceremony.
What is your short/long term
vision towards Australia-India
relations? How close is the much
talked about trade agreement
between the two countries to finalisation?
-I hope to support the deepening
of the Australia-India relationship
over my tenure. My primary interest is to see the bilateral economic
relationship grow, with greater and
more active trade and investment in
both directions. While India has a
very significant need for Australian
resources, I think there is enormous
scope to diversify the economic
relationship into other areas such as
technology and services. Much of
the economic relationship is underpinned by people-to-people links,
for example through the large numbers of Indians studying in Australia
at present.
I hope to see this grow as well.
And finally, I hope to see the very
strong relationship we have built on
defence and regional cooperation
also to continue to strengthen and
You were here in Australia
during Finance Minister Arun
Jaitley’s ‘Make in India’ campaign. Is there a progress on any
of the issues raised?

8 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August-September 2016

Harinder Sidhu's father Ajaib Sidhu and mother, Jagjit
-Mr Jaitley had a very good and
successful visit to Australia. From
the Australian perspective, he raised
the profile of and interest in India
among those he met, and more
broadly. I understand that there has
been progress on many of the issues
raised, chief among them a greater
interest by Australian funds management in investing in India.
With elections now settled,
will there be any change in bilateral policies, such as Uranium sale
-The Australia-India Nuclear
Cooperation Agreement is in force
enabling commercial discussions for
the export of uranium to take place.
Australian Government policies
toward India have generally been
bipartisan. While there are sometimes differences of emphasis, both
sides support a stronger relationship
with India and recognise the benefits this will bring to Australia.
With Festival of India soon
happening in Australia, will there
be an input by your office in the
festival? Any plans to reciprocate
similar Australian celebration in
-We warmly welcome the
Festival of India in Australia. I am
delighted to see the quality and variety of events being planned which, I
Australians’ understanding of and
interest in India’s people and culture.
I know the Indian High
Commissioner, Navdeep Suri, has
been working very hard on this
Festival and I genuinely wish him
and his team every success. Our

state and territory governments are
providing a range of support to the
Indian High Commission in
Canberra to deliver the Festival of
India in Australia. These include
assistance in securing venues as
well as significant funding support.
The Australian Government is
committed to its cultural engagement with India and has continued
to build on the momentum created
by Oz Fest in 2012-13. Oz Fest was
the largest Australian cultural festival ever staged in India, and included events featuring Australian
music, art, food, films, literature,
dance, comedy and sport. The festival travelled to 18 cities across India
and included over 100 cultural,
business, education, science and
political events.
Bollywood, have you had any
opportunity to meet some of the
favourite stars, like Shah Rukh
Sadly, no. But it is early days
and perhaps I will in the future.
The Indian community in
Sydney feels proud of you. Any
message for them?
I am myself very proud to come
from the Indian community in
Sydney. I have found many of our
young people, in particular, to be
most impressive – smart, hardworking and successful. They are making an enormous contribution to
Australian society. Hopefully my
appointment can show them – and
our girls and young women in particular – that they can use their talents and abilities to achieve whatever they want to in life.


Slow and steady, India rises
By Karam Ramrakha
n 15 August, 1947, I was
14 and we gathered
around our radios in Fiji
and heard Pandit Jawaharlal
Nehru's measured tones as he
uttered those famous words,
"Long years ago we made a tryst
with destiny, and now that time
comes when we shall redeem our
pledge, not wholly or in full
measure, but very substantially.
At the stroke of the midnight
hour, when the world sleeps,
India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which
comes but rarely in history,
when we step out from the old to
new, when an age ends, and
when the soul of a nation, long
suppressed, finds utterance."
What remains in my memory
is the iron grip that Britain had
on India, its rampant brutal rule,
arbitrary prison sentences for
independence seekers. Gandhi,
the apostle of ahimsa, served
more than 15 years in British
prisons, not only in India but also
in South Africa.
As children, we joined in the
movement and sang and prayed
"Meri Mata ke sar par taaj rahe,
yehi hind mera aazaad rahe."
Even this song was the subject of
censorship. Preventive detention
was the order of the day.
Each of us who lived that
stormy period, when we Indians


India’s first Prime Minister, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru giving his iconic ‘Tryst with destiny’ speech in Indian
Parliament on the midnight of Aug 14, 1947.
suffered hatred and derision, can
now hold our heads high. India is
ringed with enemies; we have
flashpoints like Kashmir, divisions and dissents galore, but we
can hold our heads high.
Today, there is Indian presence not only in my native Fiji,
but in South Africa, Malaysia,
Britain - where the Patels outnumber Smiths in the London
phone directory - and United
States where 36 per cent of doctors come from India. Also

Guyana, Trinidad and Surinam
in the Caribbean where we have
had Indian Prime Ministers.
There is strength in numbers
but we Indians do not know how
to harness it. Despite that India
has progressed by leaps and
bounds. As an Indian once said
to me, “China will advance by
coercion, but we in India will
advance democratically. It will
take longer for us to realise our
goals but we will get there."
Slowly, with Indians domi-

nating so many fields of endeavour, particularly technology, we
can raise our heads high and
hope for the best. But we have
far to go. The Mahatma tried to
abolish and integrate those we
now call Dalits but seventy years
on it still remains a festering
sore. Oh, yes, we used to sing as
children ‘Hindu Muslim Sikh
Isaai, Apas me sab bhai bhai’.
We are still short of that goal.
Do I sound at 83 somewhat
maudlin? Yes, indeed, I confess I

do. But I know that as an Indian
I see India as a generous and
honourable country playing a
role nationally and internationally despite all the setbacks and
divisions that it faces within and
outside. Independence Day is a
day which brings us all together.
It is a time to seek what unites
rather than what divides us.
Today, we have again a
strong man at India's helm, a
highly talented and charismatic
leader who faces strong opposition from the old and outdated
forces in India. It is no easy task
for him to reach 1.2 billion people and to be all things to all
men, as politicians are often
expected to be.
India, if I may conclude, has
come a very long way. As the
departing British mocked us that,
if they left, the steel frame which
held the umbrella of India would
collapse and we Indians would be
unable to govern ourselves. That
challenge we have overcome but
we cannot drop our guard or be
complacent. If we all thought of
India first as we all can without
compromising any nationality or
citizenship that we hold, India
will remain a secure country as it
seeks to outpace China in
progress, and provide a secure
homeland for its 1.2 billion
strong people.
God Bless India. Vande Matram!

By Karam Ramrakha
o my beloved Fiji, my
country of birth, a small
dot on the world map, has
stunned its guru and mentor
Great Britain in Rugby. Verily it
was the classic master and pupil
realisation of the saying Sattar
janney guru, bahatar janney
And who was there to present
the medals. No less than a Royal
Princess of Great Britain to
whom the Fijian medallist paid
homage by kneeling and clapping
their hands three times, a ceremony known as "coba" but pronounced "thombo" in Fijian custom and accorded to superiors.
In Fiji, Rugby enjoys an honourable place and indeed the Fiji
Sevens who were there to
receive their medals showed
great humility, some in prayer
positions, looking heavenwards.
The icing on the cake came for
them when they were given an
opportunity to show homage to a
Royal Person from Britain, a
country they loved and paid deep


Sky. In Fiji, the British taught
cricket in only specific schools,
especially for white children.
Soccer was left to us Indians.
Cricket and soccer demanded
level playing fields and cricket
demanded special equipment.
The answer to the British was
Rugby. After all, all rugby
needs is a ball and it became
popular not only in Fiji but also
in Tonga and Samoa. These
three countries provide a cradle
for Rugby and perennially produce international players.
The Fijians (or I-tauke as
Fiji calls them while Fijians
refers to all in Fiji) took to
Rugby like ducks to water. In
the fifties the "Flying Fijians"
as they would be called would
come and play Australia and
were considered a national
The English team can at
least take heart from the fact
Britain’s Princess Anne conferring the Olympic gold medal on Fiji’s rugby team, which beat Great Britain. that the seeds, their forbears
under Queen Victoria planted in
respects to.
means a person who comes from Man to Fiji seemed to come out Fiji in 1874, have borne fruit on
The Fijians called the White heaven. This was because the of the horizon and thus Vavalagi the international stage, despite
Men Vavalagi which literally boats which bought the White means a Man from Under the the pupils outranking the master.

August-September 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 9


Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressing the Nation on the occasion of 70th Independence Day
from the ramparts of Red Fort in Delhi on August 15, 2016.

Modi's Baloch comments irk Pak
hile Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
held India responsible for the ongoing violence in Kashmir in his Independence Day speech on
August 14, Narendra Modi retaliated by pointing out to
Pakistani oppression in the western Balochistan
province in his August 15 speech.
“I want to speak a bit about the people in
Balochistan, Gilgit, Baltistan, and Pakistan-occupied
Kashmir,” Modi said. He said it was time for
Islamabad to explain to the world “why it has been
committing atrocities on people in PoK and
Balochistan”. He also hit out at Pakistan for supporting
terrorism. This, he said, was in contrast to the way
Indians reacted with sorrow when terrorists slaughtered
school children in Peshawar. “That is the nature of
India. But on the other hand, look at those who glorify
terrorists. What kind of people glorify terrorists?


What kind of people celebrate when people are killed?”
A Pakistan official reacted by saying Modi’s speech
had “crossed a red line” by opining on the domestic
Pakistani issue of Balochistan. The comments “could
set back relations in a far more serious manner than
anything that’s gone before,” he said.
Islamabad has long accused India of fanning turmoil
in Balochistan, which is troubled by both a separatist
insurgency and jihadist violence.
A few days later, Pakistan too legal action against
three top Baloch leaders who had allegedly backed
Modi's supportive words on Balochistan. Five cases,
including that of sedition, were registered against
Brahamdagh Bugti, Harbiyar Marri and Banuk Karima,
a senior police officer said. In Paris, exiled Baloch
leader Munir Mengal said, Modi had made the remarks
on humanitarian grounds.

New Delhi: Prime Minister
Narendra Modi addressed the
nation for the third time from the
ramparts of the Red Fort on
August 15. Commemorating 70th
Independence Day of India, his
speech touched upon his governmentʼs discernible achievements
over the past two years.
He stressed that unity is the
only way to move the country forward. He reiterated the end of
social discrimination, and zero tolerance for violence.
Modi also made a clarion call to
his countrymen to make continuous efforts to realize their collective dream of “Ek Bharat,
Shreshtha Bharat” (One India,
Best India).
“India is not 70 years old, but
it is a journey of 70 yearsʼ postcolonial rule. Sardar Vallabhai
Patel unified the country, and now
it is our duty to make this country
as the best nation. To attain good
governance, everyone has to fulfill
his or her responsibilities - be it a
Panchayat or Parliament, be it a
Gram Pradhan or a Prime Minister
-- to strengthen every democratic
institutions,” Modi said.
Modi described the Indian
economy as the most preferred
investment destination in the
world and promised to bring inflation down to the targeted 4 perent.
"Be it the IMF, the World Bank
or the World Economic Forum,
they have all declared India to be
the best destination for global capital," said the Prime Minister.
The Goods and Services Tax
regime that is being called the
most radical reform in independent India's indirect tax system will
bring significant benefits to the
economy, Modi said and thanked
all political parties for supporting
the legislation.
Modi listed areas where he said
India has made significant
progress in the past couple of
years, notably financial inclusion
through Aadhaar, expanding energy services to the needy, and

faster delivery of public services
like the issuance of a passport.
The task of financial inclusion
was impossible as many people
were locked out of the mainstream
institutions, he said.
"But the impossible task was
made possible by adding 21 crore
people in the Jan Dhan Yojana,"
he said. The Pradhan Mantri Jan
Dhan Yojana helps the poor to
open bank accounts.
Modi said the government was
trying to link all government
schemes with Aadhaar to avoid
leakage of benefits.
"We have connected 70 crore
Indians to Aadhaar and social
security schemes," he said in his
Similarly, while it took six to
eight months to get a passport earlier, it just takes a couple of weeks
now even though about two crore
people apply for it annually compared with about 20,000 earlier,
he said.
On energy, the Prime Minister
said, renewable sources are his
government's focus, notably solar
and wind. So far, he said, 13 crore
LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs
have been distributed for a price of
Rs. 50 each and the target is 77
crore bulbs. "These 70 crore LED
bulbs can save 20,000 MW of
electricity worth Rs 1.25 lakh
To reach electricity to the
remote corners of the country,
50,000 km of transmission lines
are being installed now as opposed
to 30,000-35,000 km earlier, said
the prime minister.
"After 60 years of freedom,
only 14 crore LPG (cooking gas)
connections were added. But we
have added more than four crore
new connections in just 60
Modi also claimed to have
turned around public sector enterprises, saying Air India, BSNL
and Shipping Corporation of India
are now making operational

Mehbooba pins Kashmir hopes on Modi, blames Pakistan for unrest

New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on
Aug 27 squarely blamed Pakistan
and separatists for fuelling the
ongoing trouble in the Kashmir
Valley that has been seething with
public anger and violent anti-government protests for the past 50
Mehbooba was on a whirlwind
visit to Delhi for a meeting with
Prime Minister Narendra Modi to
discuss the situation in Kashmir
where at least 71 people have been
killed since the July 8 killing of
Hizbul Mujahideen commander
Burhan Wani.
The Chief Minister said she
exchanged views with the PM on
finding a way out of the "Kashmir
imbroglio"."The Prime Minister is
very concerned and is as hurt as we
are with the deaths in Kashmir,"
she said and blamed Pakistan for
inciting the violence and provoking
youth to attack security forces and
police stations.

"I want to tell Pakistan, if it has
any sympathy for Kashmiris, it
should stop provoking (Kashmiris)
to attack police stations," she said.
This is for the first time that
Mehbooba has directly blamed
Islamabad for causing trouble in
Kashmir. Previously when in opposition, she was known to have a soft
spot for Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists.
She said Pakistan lost a "golden
chance" to resolve the Kashmir
problem when Modi went to Lahore
in December last and later when
Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Islamabad for a Saarc conference
early this month.
"It is time for Pakistan to
respond (to India) if it wants peace
in Kashmir," said the Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP) leader who
heads a coalition in the state with
BJP as its ruling ally.
The meeting was her first with
Modi since the unrest began.
August 27 marked the 50th day

The Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Ms. Mehbooba Mufti
meeting the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, in New Delhi on
August 27, 2016.
of curfew and shutdown that have
crippled normal life across
Kashmir. More violence erupted in
the state after the body of a man,

10 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August-September 2016

allegedly chased by security forces
during a stone-pelting protest a day
ago, was fished out of the Jhelum

Education institutions, shops,
private offices and other businesses
have not opened in seven weeks.
Some government offices have been
functioning but with thin attendance.
Mehbooba said she pitched for
talks "with all stakeholders" to end
the current impasse. She, however,
asked separatist leaders to shun violence "if they want to talk".
The Chief Minister said "Indian
democracy has enough space to
accommodate the dreams of
Kashmiris", adding the resolution
of the Kashmir issue was only possible during Modi's government.
"If during his time, the situation
doesn't change then it will never
change. I have hopes that when the
Prime Minister says there will be a
dialogue with everyone, then it
would happen."
Mehbooba made a passionate
appeal to Kashmiri protesters for
peace and sought "one chance" to
solve the Kashmir issue.


Whistleblower to hand over
Scorpene submbarine data to
Australian government

Reports in Australia about the leak of capabilities of India’s Scorpene submarine fleet
rasied huge concern in the Indian government.
New Delhi: The leaked data on Scorpene
submarine has changed a few hands, after
being taken from DCNS by a subcontractor,
before reaching the whistleblower who gave
it to The Australian newspaper, and will be
handed over to the Australian government
on Monday, said a report by the journalist
who broke the story.
The report by Cameron Stewart also
said that the authorities in Australia are
aware who the whistleblower is.
"He has not broken any law and the
authorities know who he is. He plans to surrender the disk to the government on Aug
29," the article said.
The journalist, in a series of tweets, also
said that he will release documents related
to weapon systems on Monday.
The Indian government has so far maintained the leaked information does not cause
any major concern, while analysis of the
data is on to ascertain the level of information contained.
Indian Defence Minister Manohar
Parrikar on Aug 27 said the leaked infor-

mation did not contain data on the weapon
systems. Stewart however tweeted calling
the statement "wrong" and said: "Will
release (self-censored) weapons doc
The report in the weekend edition of
The Australian meanwhile told the story of
how the 22,400 documents from French
DCNS reached the newspaper continents
away.According to the report, the information, which has had both India and France
in a fix, was delivered to the whistleblower's mail box.
It also said that the whistleblower's hope
is that this would "spur the Turnbull government and DCNS to step up security to
ensure Australia's $50 billion submarine
project does not suffer the same fate".
"He says he is a whistleblower and
maintains that revealing to the world, via
The Australian, that this classified data
exists in a dangerously uncontrolled form is
worthwhile because it will serve Australia's
interests even if it causes an international
furor," said the report.

New Delhi: The 14th edition of Pravasi
Bharatiya Divas (PBD) will be held in
Bengaluru January 7 to 9, 2017, and around
3,000 people are likely to participate in the
event, it was announced on Friday.
Launching a new logo and a portal for
the three-day event here, External Affairs
Minister Sushma Swaraj told a press conference that format of the annual function
has been changed and the event will now be
"result-oriented" instead of a cultural function.
Participants can register themselves
through the portal that also gives all the
information and details about the event.
The registration fee has been reduced this
time and fixed at $100 for the January 9
event, she said.
The main function of the event will be
on January 9 that would see a participative
session with the diaspora.
There would also be a Youth PBD on

January 7.
Sushma Swaraj said that Prime Minister
Narendra Modi's fervent engagement with
the Indian diaspora has had an impact and
the number of participants in this year's
event has gone up.
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is celebrated in
India each year to mark the contribution of
the overseas Indian community to the development of India.

August-September 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 11


BAPS head
Pramukh Swami
passes away at 95
Ahmedabad: Pramukh Swami Maharaj,
spiritual guru and head of Bochasanwasi
Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan
Sanstha (BAPS), passed away at
Sarangpur in Gujarat, ON August 13 at
the age of 95. The last rites were conducted on August 17.
As the news spread, thousand of his
devotees started thronging temples of his
sect in various cities and towns mourning
his death. Condolences poured in from all
quarters. Posting a picture of the spiritual guru holding his folded hands, Prime
Minister Narendra Modi posted on
Twitter: “HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj
was a mentor to me. Will miss his presence.” After his Independence Day
speech in Delhi, he rushed to Sarangpur
to pay his homage to the guru.
Pramukh Swami, the fifth spiritual
successor of BAPS, was born as Shantilal
Patel at Chansad village in Vadodara on
December 7, 1921. He left home in 1939
to become a sadhu. He was just 28 when
he was appointed as BAPS pramukh
(president). He became the spiritual guru
of BAPS in 1971 after Yogiji Maharaj,
the fourth spiritual successor of BAPS,
passed away.
During his lifetime, he created and
consecrated 1,100 temples and giant cultural complexes like Swaminarayan
Akshardham in New Delhi and
Gandhinagar. In his first overseas tour
after becoming guru, he consecrated the
first BAPS mandir in New York in 1974.
At the age of 62, Pramukh Swami suf-

fered a heart attack. Later, in 1998, he
underwent a heart bypass surgery in New
York. In 2012, he also got a pacemaker
implant in Ahmedabad.
In 2000, he addressed the Millennium
World Peace Summit of Spiritual Leaders
at the United Nations and in 2004, he was
awarded the Lifetime Achievement
Award from the US government. He travelled extensively, both in India and
abroad, holding “satsangs” and creating a
large base of devotees.
Former US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton and Democratic candidate for
president sent her condolences,
“Pramukh Swami didn’t just teach virtues
– he lived them every day.”

Our food not only curries, tikkas:
'MasterChef Australia' contestant
New Delhi: From her fellow
global palette, but there are still
contestants to judges, she
many misconceptions attached to
made everyone on the sets
it, said Nidhi, and many believe
of "MasterChef Australia"
it is "very fattening, hot, oily
fall in love with "desi"
and time-consuming. It is nothspices. Nidhi Mahajan,
ing like that, apart from the rich
whose exit from the globalcuisines, if we talk about our
ly-renowned TV cooking
daily, routine food it is not at all
show was an emotional
oily, hot or time-consuming.
affair, says Indian cuisine
"Indian food is just not about
goes way beyond the miscurries and tikkas. We have so
conceptions that people
many other dishes which are feracross the world have about
mented, pickled, baked, sautéed
it. "I would love to tell peoand steamed."
ple that there is nothing as
She left a long-lasting impresmassive as Indian cuisine
sion on the judges -- Matt
and each dish, each ingredi- Nidhi Mahajan made it to Top Preston, Gary Mehigan and
ent, has a history behind it 24 of the cooking show before George Calombaris, and even
and how it became a part of
world-renowned chef Marco
her elimination in May.
our cuisine," Nidhi told
Pierre White -- for her "desi"
IANS in an email interview from Adelaide.
gestures. Her decision to bow at the judges' feet
"Indian food has made its place on the glob- "as a mark of respect" after elimination brought
al platform. People around the world love everyone to tears.
Indian food for its flavours and versatility,"
Nidhi, who shifted to South Australia's
added the former call centre employee, whose Adelaide in 2013 with her husband, asserted
roots are in Chandigarh.
that "desi" cuisine is quite popular on the show
She found her way into Season Eight of itself and that "people are crazy about Indian
"MasterChef Australia", which is aired in India food and judges love Indian food".
on Star World and Star World HD, for her
She first stepped into the kitchen to cook on
expertise in traditional Indian cooking. She her own when she was all of 12, and has been
entered the kitchen with a mission to put the pursuing her love of cooking ever since. Nidhi
"desi" style of cooking on the global map.
looks up to chefs like Sanjeev Kapoor, Vikas
Thus, among the dishes she cooked on the Khanna, Jamie Oliver and the late Tarla Dalal.
show were creamy lemon pepper chicken with
Nidhi has degrees in commerce, accounting
paratha and potato wafers; Aussie Classic and finance, the TV show has given her a boost
Indian Way (one episode required the contest- of positive energy. "My life has changed a lot.
ants to use Australian elements like meat and I feel more positive and confident in my abilities
three vegetables and give it a twist -- so she and I am living my dream life to have cooking
gave it an Indian twist); goat curry with fried as my profession."
bread, cucumber raita and pickled onions; and
She has already set up a home-catering busitea-infused parfait, cornflake and ginger wine ness. A restaurant is in the pipeline and she
hopes "to set it up by end of 2016 or start of
Indian food might be finding a spot on the 2017".

Hillary or Trump - Who will be better for India?

By Parveen Chopra

New York: Traditionally, India and India
Americans lean Democrat. But there is
also this belief that Republican administrations have been more beneficial for India –
viz the civil nuclear deal inked udner
President George W. Bush. Another interesting fact is that when young, Indians in
America lean Democrat, when older and
more prosperous many shift their allegiance to the Republican party.
This election season, given Donald
Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and
nativism, you’d think there will be zero
support for him. Not true. In New Jersey,
Indian Americans for Trump political
action committee has cropped up. And
Shalabh Kumar, an Illinois businessman
close to the Modi regime who has floated
Republican Hindu Coalition and has donated hugely to the Trump campaign, has
planned a rally in September to be
addressed by Trump in New Jersey.
At The South Asian Times published
from New York, we asked a some notable
Indian Americans, who will be better for
India - Trump or the Democratic nominee
Hillary Clinton?
Vibhuti Jha, principal with Ashcroft
Sullivan, seems to think that this is an
unnecessary conversation. “The US

Presidency is all about protecting and
defending American interests. If any country fits in that essential profile as a potential partner or a willing ally, that relationship attains higher importance in the pecking order.
“Both Trump and Hillary will pursue a
strong relationship with India, given the
current geo-political necessities facing US
in its global pursuit of happiness! While the

12 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August-September 2016

Democrats have had a more esoteric,
romantic allure to India due to its commitment to have-nots, the Republicans have
pursued a more pragmatic opportunistic
relationship defined by business interests
and strategic defense tie-ups.”
Dev Makkar, secretary, IndianAmericans For Trump 2016, maintains
that Trump will be better for India.
“Hillary Clinton will be an extension of the

Obama Administration, a proven anti-India
administration. From April 2015 to March
2016 alone Obama gave most sophisticated
military hardware worth $1.62 billion to
Pakistan despite strong opposition from
some American lawmakers and India.
History speaks for itself: Republican
Presidents are more friendly with India.
“Hillary is a dangerous candidate for
Americans and other peace loving nations
around the world. During her 2008 presidential run she threatened to “totally obliterate” Iran with nuclear weapons. Her
contribution to the destruction of Libya in
2011 was almost gleeful and is known to
the entire world. Her tacit support to Saudi
Arabia has given birth to ISIS.”
Nilima Madan, a community leader,
feels there is no clear choice this time for
Indian voters as both candidates are
flawed. She said, “Trump’s policies may
or may not be guided by his craziness. On
the other hand, Hillary poses little change
from President Obama's eight years. Her
long, long experience is touted as her
asset, but some find it a liability.
“USA does not take deep interest in
India per se and has its eyed peeled on the
Middle East. India has to make itself
noticed and has to make effort to nudge
things to serve India's own interests and


Vaanie Krishnan, a Bharatanatyam
star emerges on Sydney horizon

In every aspect it was Vaanie’s night, the calibre she showed, the expressions, the bhavas, and her
understanding of the music as she danced.

By Neena Badhwar
t was as if it wasn’t an
Arangetram but a seasoned Bharatnatyam
dancer giving a performance. Vaanie Krishnan made it
look so easy, so matured and in
total control of the stage that
some 400 invited guests on July
9 at the NSW University
Science Theatre gave a standing ovation that they had witnessed a star in the making.
It comes from the family: mother Sumi
singer, and a
violinist grandfather who choreographed a
special item for the Arangetram.
Live Web cast made the 10,000
Kms distance irrelevant as the
family back home in Kochi
cheered and felt proud of their
A disciple of renowned
teacher and Bharatnatyam dancer
trained under her for the last ten
years. It was a night of so many
revelations how young Vaanie
had grown into a beautiful young
woman who was confident on
stage and performed each item
with grace and perfection.
One does not realise how


much hard work goes into organising an Arangetram besides years
of training. It is sheer dedication
on part of the child and also the
parents to spend every weekend
morning for practice and the

teacher equally putting in all her efforts
into moulding a young
girl into a dancer. Not to mention
continuing the commitment to an
art form from a distant culture.
Vaanie commenced with a
Jathiswaram followed by the main
item of the recital, a Varnam
composed by LalgudiJayaraman
in RagamNeelambari set to
AdhiThalam. Vaanie brought
forth the poetry of the composition to life showing the Nayika’s
growing impatience as she waits
for Lord Muruga, the God who
comes on his dancing peacock.
Vaanie excelled in her Abhinaya
and footwork through all the
PremaAnandakrishnan on Vocal,
Sanjay Ramaswamy on Vocal,
BalajiJagannathan on Violin,
Venkhatesh on the Flute, the team
of live musicians showed in their
coordinated efforts a vision and
understanding of the grandeur set
by both the composition of
Balakumar and Vaanie’s challenging ability to rise up to this

fantastic ensemble.
Padma Balakumar, an exponent of Bharatnatyam in Sydney,
said on the night, “I am so happy
and proud to see Vaanie perform
her Arangetram tonight. Vaanie
practiced diligently and at times
suggested few ideas which I took
on board. She is a girl who has
blossomed into a beautiful young
woman and has performed beautifully tonight.”
The second half of the evening
Ardhanareeshwari where Vaanie
depicted both the masculine
Shiva and the feminine Shakti
She exuded charm, ease as a
young emerging artist who not
only performed but also took her
creativity further to produce her
version of an unsung hero
‘Karna’. Vaanie chose a difficult
subject which many experienced
dancers would have found challenging, the Karna Kunti conversation.
Music composed by her
grandfather, TM Mahadevan,
Vaanie wrote the lines in English
herself. With English lines enacted by Sanjay Ramaswamy over
PremaAnandakrishnan, the entire
team brought to fruition the

‘Natya ang’ of the ‘Conversation’
and the ensuing Kurukshetra to
life. Unable to travel, at the age
of 90 years, her grandfather and
grandmother saw her Arangetram
via live web cast.
The evening continued with
KanchadhalayaDakshi in praise of
the Goddess Kamakshi and the
finale Thillana in Madhuvanti.
In every aspect it was
Vaanie’s night, the calibre she
showed, the expressions, the
bhavas, and her understanding of
the music as she danced. She not
only seemed to be enjoying herself at each and every step and
moment, Vaanie showed tremendous stamina right up to the last
Was Vaanie tired of it all. No,
not really, as she thanked each
and every one who had supported
and helped her in her journey in
learning this ancient dance form.
We hope the calibre and the commitment Vaanie has shown on her
Arangatram night,she may be an
artist to watch for, a second generation
Bharatnatyam to a different level

August-September 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 13


Great Indian acts come to Aussie shores
Confluence – Festival of India will run through November and the
festival gala event is at the Sydney Opera House on September 18.
By Sumi Krishnan
he Confluence - Festival of
India is an ambitious project bringing professional
acts from India, which is being
held from August to November.
Said the High Commissioner
Navdeep Suri when it was
launched in July, “Working
closely with India’s Ministry of
Culture and the Indian Council
for Cultural Relations and in
association with the Australia’s
Department of Communications
and the Arts, we have chosen
some of the finest elements from
the rich tapestry of Indian culture
and civilization for our friends in
In the spirit of the festival
TIDU recommends its readers
some performances and the artists
who shall adorn our shores as
part of the Festival.
The attractive semi new age
acts that will be popular with first
generation Indians are Raghu
Dixit and Sonam Kalra Sufi
Gospel music, with their ensemble of excellent artists; for drama
Piya Beharupiya, directed by


Atul Kumar, brings
Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night with
25 artists from India Nautanki
style; for classical beats you cannot go past the Hindustani duet
couple Saskia Rao and Shubendra
Rao on Cello and Sitar accompanied by Bobby Singh to be presented at the Parramatta Lennox
Theatre on the 21st September.
In addition, we have mainly
Odissi dance acts brought by
Nrityagram as Shriya, a celebration of female power.
Kalakshetra is presenting
'Jatayu Moksham' in Canberra in
November 2016. However, it is a
shame that Sydney will miss out

on seeing this fantastic
Other free events include
Bollywood workshops, Yoga,
Cricket Connect and Khadi
Fashion Show. If there is one
event that readers definitely
should go to it is the Gala
Festival to be held at the Sydney
Opera House on the 18th of
September. Tickets are nominally
priced at $20 for all patrons. The
Gala Festival comprises of a variety of top acts, including Raghu
Dixit, Sonam Kalra, local dance
schools and artists Ruchi Sanghi
School of Dance and Madhuram
Academy of Classical Dance.

Kalakshetra dance

Nrityagram dance ensemble

Sujata Mohapatra, a sculpture in Odissi dance

By Sumi Krishnan

atraj Cultural Centre’s
55th Spirit of India concert was presented under
the umbrella of the Government of
India initiative, Confluence Festival of India concerts being
held in Australia.
Aptly introduced by the
Master of Ceremonies, Divya
Sriram of Madhuram Dance
Academy, as the doyen of Odissi
dance, Sujata Mohapatra performed a solo Odissi repertoire
with an ensemble of four musicians. On Pakhawaj Eklabya
Muduli, on Violin Ram Chander
Das, on Flute Soumya Ranjan
Joshi. All three from India. The
vocalist Krishna Chandra Roy was
from Australia, who was chosen
to sing for the performance at
short notice and did an exemplary
job. The stand out feature of
Odissi form of dance is its
‘Tribhangi’, the S shaped three
fold bending of head, chest and
pelvis, which are distinct uniquely
mirroring the temple sculptures
found in the regions around
Bhubaneshwar and Konark of
Sujata began the evening with
Mangalacharan in praise of Lord
Vishnu dancing to Raag Gujari
Todi set to Thri taal.
This was followed by a
‘Nritta’ pure dance piece in a


Natraj Cultural Centre 's director Mohinder Dhillon
with Sujata Mohapatra
Sujata Mohapatra - brilliant performance
Bageshwari Pallavi unfolding of
the dance as if sculptures have
come to life through musical rasa
creating distinct moods interspersed with intricate rhythmic
patterns expressed through footwork particular to this type of
Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra,
the Guru of Sujata and that of
Odissi dance itself, has created
many pallavis for each of his
dance students like an artist who
plays with colours on his canvas.
Choreographed by this great
master, the Bageshwari Pallavi set
to taal Ek Tali, music composed

Panigrahi, the famous ‘Tha Jham
Tha Thari Jham’ was a standout
traditional and exhilarating piece
to watch. The conversations
between the Pakhawaj and the
Dancer’s foot work in a sawal
jawab, ranged across an interesting yet uncomplicated rhythmic
exchange through the Pallavi.
Sujata’s ability to maintain her
perfect postures even whilst dancing to these fast rhythms in movement and footwork was unsurpassed. The next item presented
was ‘abhinaya’ which was expression dominant. A visual and aural
treat bringing to life the Oriya
song ‘Kedachandha’, the recital

14 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August-September 2016

comprised of the stories of
naughty Krishna.
As Krishna defeats and finally
conquers in body and mind, the
body of Puthana, the Bull
Dhenuka and the Bear Vakasura,
Kalinga the Snake. Ending with
Vishwaroopam when scolded for
eating mud in his open mouth.
These stories have been seen in
many styles across various dance
styles. Yet the choreography of
Kelucharan Mohapatra was scintillating in the beautiful composition of Mishra Kaafi, composed
by the well-known Odissi composer Bhubaneswar Mishra. The
recital concluded with Moksha or
Awakening, a piece dedicated to

the Goddess in Raga Bhairavi set
to Ek Tali, another gem by
Bhubaneshwar Mishra and Guru
Kelucharan partnership was
brought to life here in Sydney,
oceans away from the birthplace
of this exemplary art form.
Both Natraj Cultural Centre
and Indian Consulate have to be
congratulated for bringing these
artists to our shore. Despite the
fact that the event was poorly
advertised and marketed, the audience of about 200 patrons, mainly
Australians, establish the fact that
no matter where one comes from,
if a body of work is excellent it
can be a moving experience for
many who have never been
exposed to it.


By Neeru Saluja

The charming actress,
Karishma Kapoor, still
remains popular thanks to
her graceful looks and classy
style statement. As soon as
she was announced as the
judge of the Miss/Mrs/Mr
India Australia pageant, she
created a stir in Sydney

Reena Koak is the founder of Miss India Australia Corporation, who conceptualised the
Miss India AU - Touch the Soul and Mrs India AU - Touch the Soul platform

t's that time of the year again. On 25th
September, women and men from all over
Australia shall come together on one platform to
showcase the best of beauty and brains.
Three year in making, Miss/Mrs/Mr India
Australia (also Miss Teen India Australia) - Touch
the Soul has made its mark in the community where
contestants compete for the coveted title. The winner of the 2016 contest will be crowned by
Bollywood actress Karishma Kapoor and will go on
to participate in an international pageant.
Behind this contest is the hard work of the organiser, Reena Koak. "Our goal through this contest is
to teach all young women/men how to speak, be
presentable and truly be your best selves. We provide a platform for them to come up, present and
speak for themselves and that's why each finalist in
my pageant is different. They are different as they
grabbed the opportunity and defined themselves in a
courageous manner than the rest. It's not a cakewalk
to walk the ramp, present your best and be able to
move out of your comfort zone.”
Every year the contest aims to bring a different
outlook, thus becoming bigger and better. The
rounds of the contest match the standards of an
international pageant, and this year the swimsuit
round is a latest addition. With contestants applying
all year round, finalists will be shortlisted to undergo rigorous training from the best experts of the
industry before the grand finale.
Besides fame and admiration, the contest also
aims to allow the title holders to act as ambassadors
for their community and work for a nominated charity. Last year’s winners Tanya Bali (Miss India
Australia) and Deepanshu Dhiman (Mr India
Australia) have both been involved with charity
events in Australia and also got a chance to participate in an international pageant in Jamaica.
Last year’s event was attended by Bollywood
queen Soha Ali Khan as the judge and chief guest.
Keeping with the tradition, this year’s chief guest is
actress Karishma Kapoor who has ruled the film
industry for decades. “The charming actress still
remains popular thanks to her graceful looks and
classy style statement. As soon as she was
announced as the judge, she created a stir in Sydney.
She is also a perfect example of a single mother of
two kids. She carries herself with elegance, a combination of beauty and brains and can be a great role
model for our contestants,” says Reena.
With a strong message of ‘celebrating womanhood’ and ‘empowering men’ to their best, the pageant is one event that not only brings a Bollywood
star to Sydney, it aims to turn young men and
women from down under into confident, proud,
people who are beautiful, intelligent and competent
enough to compete in international pageants and
represent Australia.
“I am sure some may get real opportunities to
become stars in their own right, the pageant might
help them polish their personalities,” says Reena
with a smile.


For more details, log in to

August-September 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 15


Bollywood stars selfie at IFFM 2016
ydney got its own reflected glory of
Indian Film Festival Melbourne
(IFFM 2016) when IFF, Sydney was
launched here. ‘Bollywood and Beyond’
sponsored by Westpac Group with ten films
selected to be screened August 17-21 was
held at Cinema Paris, Fox Studios. The two
movies that were part of the opening night in
Sydney were ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ and
Bengali film ‘Rajkahini’.
Said Mitu Bhowmick-Lange, director
of Mind Blowing Films, on the night,
“Cinema is a medium that connects us all
no matter where we are from. This year
the movies we have curated are on
the theme of women empowerment.”
The screening of the two
movies in Sydney was followed by Q&A session
by Tannishtha Chatterjee
Indian community came
to watch the movies with
the crowd gathering
around the two actors
Tannishtha and Rituparna
for selfies and pictures after
the shows.
Goddesses’ was an experimental film by director
Pan Nalin who brought
together seven women
and gave them 15 days
through their scripts.
“They chose their own
roles that they wanted to
play,” said Tannishtha.
To a question in the crowd
that the movie actually left
one viewer disturbed, she
said, “This is what all those
women talked and discussed as
they went through the workshop
prior to the shoot which lasted
for 30 days.”
‘Angry Indian Goddesses’
revolves around many issues –
single mother bringing up a child
and her corporate lifestyle, a gang


Mitu Bhowmick-Lange at IFFS

rape, family not accepting a lesbian relationship and a marriage, an NRI trying to break
into Bollywood, a housewife in an unhappy
relationship and not being able to conceive,
a court case going on for years, a gun, murders and many more
issues when one puts
under one roof.
“There are no
solutions,” said

16 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August-September 2016

Westpac Group's Rebecca Berry (extreme right)

about rape and eveteasing, “When I
Udwin’s movie on
Nirbhaya rapists I
was shocked to see
the response of one
of the main rapists,
it was numbing to
hear him. I guess
only education can
help, that too, over
a long time. The
change in the
mindset on the
women can’t come
without it.”
Indians got to
e Srijit Mukherji, director of film Rajkahini with Rituparna Sen
stars who
come calling with
h u g e
going ecstatic at
Square when this
year’s chief guests
Rishi Kapoor and
Neetu Singh turned
up for the flag
hoisting ceremony
to celebrate India’s
Independence Day
along with Indian
Dr Yadu Singh with Tannishtha Chatterjee
Consul General in
Melbourne, Manika Jain. Bollywood pres- Batra, famous director Anurag Kashyap of
ence is a big drawcard for the crowd that ‘Raman Raghav II” and the recent ‘Akira’
pours in from all over Melbourne. Telstra’s fame, Bengali film ‘Rajkahini’ director Srijit
Bollywood dance competition conducted by Mukherji with actor Rituparna Sen all
Malaika Arora Khan is an established descended in Melbourne with their movies.
Mitu Bhowmick-Lange must be congratBollywood event with dancers competing
from very young to old. Simi Grewal, Richa ulated for bringing this great festival to
Chadha, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Radhika Sydney and the choice of movies that were
Apte (actress of the film ‘Parched’), selected in this year’s festival.
We need to support Mind Blowing Films
Pakistani actor Fawad Khan of ‘Kapoor &
Sons’, Punjabi actor Amarinder Gill, ‘Ek for the Sydney segment of the film festival
Main Aur Ekk Tu’ film director Shakun and obviously need more Bollwyood guests
to visit Sydney like what the lucky
Melbourne always gets.

Rishi Kapoor at IFFM


Tigress of Bengali cinema roars in Sydney
Rituparna Sengupta spoke exclusively to TIDU in Sydney where
she was at the ‘Indian Film Festival’ to
introduce her latest film ‘Rajkahini’.
By Neeru Saluja
Sengupta is in her finest
moment of glory. As the
ruthless, foul mouthed and
courageous madam of the
brothel caught in a crossfire
during the partition of India,
the film ‘Rajkahini’ has
brought out her best.
In Sydney for the
opening night of the
Festival’ organised by Mind
Blowing Films,
Mukherji and actress
introduced their film
‘Rajkahini’ to a Bengali
film loving audience. After
the introduction, Rituparna
talked to TIDU and we
ended up in a heart-toheart conversation outside
the cinemas munching
out of a bucket of popcorn!
Rituparna is an
Indian film actress
known for her work
in Bengali and
Hindi films. She
Award for her
performance in
Dahan, having
audiences with
her powerful
in films by
Rituparno Ghosh, Aparna Sen
(Paromitar Ek Din), and Tarun
Mazumdar (Chander Bari).
Though she has been ruling
the Tolly film industry for the
past two decades, Rajkahini is
the film which is close to her
heart. “This movie has not only
given me accolades and recognition, but also gave me a lot of
strength as an actress. We don’t
know what kind of trauma and
fear people went through during
the partition time. This film is a
tribute to our forefathers”.
Portraying the role of a prostitute didn’t come easy to
Rituparna. “Srijit was very hard
on us. He brought the best out of
me. I had to transform myself to
become Begum Jaan, the head of
the brothel and had to talk in foul
language. It was a complete
makeover and my director wanted me to do full justice to the
role. He pushed me to my limits.
I used to sometimes cry and he


told me ‘don’t think you are a
superstar, you are the madam of
the brothel,” says Ritu.
Be it Begum Jaan or any
other strong female character, Rituparna has
always made a difference
films. “I

being an
want to play as many
characters as I can. As an
actor I’m a free bird, I want
to touch different horizons.
I’m a director’s actor and
really thankful to my directors for letting me play various shades of roles,” tells
Known as the tigress
of the Bengali cinema,
Rituparna is still going
strong after two decades.
She has showed her
strength in commercial
as well as parallel cinema, and both remain
her forte. She was

introduced to parallel cinema by
Rituporna Ghosh and has always
been a big supporter of regional
cinema. “Bengali cinema has
always showcased the best of literature and best of films. I have
done a few movies in Hindi and I
loved doing them because of
their huge changing concepts.
Hindi cinema has gone to the
next level, I call it a positive cinema. At the end of the day, I feel
comfortable with both the
worlds. My commitment as an
actor is with the director, not the
genre or the industry.”
Besides acting, Rituparna is
also an established dancer and
writer. “I write a fortnightly column called ‘Ask Rita’ in The
Telegraph which specialises on
relationships and topical issues.
After Sydney, I will fly directly
back to India where I’m performing on Rabindranath Tagore’s
‘Shyama’. “
So how do you balance being
an actor, writer, dancer and a
-“Balancing everything is the
biggest challenge of life! If you
do less for the family, you feel
guilty, and if I’m saying no to
my work due to my family commitments, then also I feel guilty!

I love my kids but I also love my
passion for acting. I’m a workaholic, every day I wake up and I
see how much more life has to
offer. I’m a very positive person
and can only see the positive side
of life and people,” reveals
With changing times, has the
film industry been more open to
married actresses who want a
work-life balance?
“The mindset is changing for
Indian cinema. Age for actresses
is not a taboo anymore and they
are not written off once they get
married. This change has come
across in the past five years and
actresses like Vidya Balan,
Aishwarya Rai have proved that
we can break open the gender
bias. It’s been quite a process but
now there is no looking back.
Why is marriage and commitment always about women? We
have the same psyche, same
desires, same aspirations, then
why is there a difference between
men and women when it comes
to career choices? If a married
actor can flirt around with ten
actresses, why not a married
actress have 10 husbands in a
film?” questions this bold
actress, aptly referred to as the
tigress of Tollywood!

In ‘Rajkahini’ Rituparna Sengupta plays the ruthless, foul mouthed and courageous madam
of the brothel caught in a crossfire during the partition of India.

August-September 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 17


By Neeru Saluja
he makes me ROFL and I’m sure she
has the same effect on you. She is the
talk of the town, the spice to the kitty
parties and the muse of MIL-DIL relationships. You have to admit a slice of Pammi
Aunty lives in every Punjabi household!
Pammi Aunty’s hilarious videos with
Sarla behenji and cribbing about her MBA
(Maha Batmeez Aurat) daughter-in-law
have become an internet sensation. The
first video went live on 14 May and now
each video gets 1 million views within a
few hours. With a purple towel over her
head, a mask on her face and enormous
pink glasses, Pammi Aunty thinks she is
the ‘coolest’ lady in town.
Now let’s meet the ‘cool Aunty’ who is
actually a man – Ssumier Pascricha. A TV
actor, singer and photographer, Ssumier
was born and brought up in a typical Delhi
Punjabi household. Doing theatre and
mimicry since the age of 10, Ssumier’s
overnight sensational icon was born out of
a game with his nephew over Snapchat. “I
was exploring the cool App and liked an
icon which became ‘Pammi Aunty’. I did a
few videos on Facebook and was only
entertaining my friends. I do not know
when it became viral and how the world
came to know about it!”
Pammi Aunty has fans all over the
world now – ranging from India,
Australia, UK, Canada to even Nigeria.
“There are some countries which I have
not even heard of! I feel blessed when people tell me they are smiling because of me.
Cancer patients are saying they are laughing because of me, a lady told me her mum
was depressed and stressed but now she
was smiling after watching my videos.
Many fans tell me they can relate her to
their chachi, nani while some admit outright they have an MBA at home!”
Not many know, but Pammi Aunty
found her innings in Australia.
“I shifted to Australia because my
dad never liked my acting. My friends
lived in Australia and I wanted to
continue my passion there. I first
came to Australia in 1999 with
business offers for exporting
marble and granite in
Melbourne and Sydney.
I fell in love with the
country and came
back to study in
Perth in 2004
till 2008.
Within a
month, I
got a
job as
a n


with an Indian
radio in Perth and
became an established theatre artist
in the Indian circle.
I also did odd jobs
like working in a
restaurant and

18 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August-September 2016

Ssumier Pascricha and in the garb of Pammi Aunty
in marketing. I
owe my success to this country. I came to
Australia as a kid but it
made me a man.”
Australia made you a
man but now the world
recognises you as a woman.
Was it a deliberate
choice to be a
woman, not a

“This is something what I tried and it
worked. I don’t care how she looks, I care
what she says. It’s a great honour as
women are more expressive than men.
They don’t hide anything or keep things in
their heart. Pammi Aunty doesn’t worry
about what she says and speaks her heart
out. She is a strong personality and a true
Punjabi, full of life and never takes life
After you became a woman are you
getting a lot of female attention?
“Oh yes! I’m getting more female
attention being a woman than being a man!
That makes Pammi Aunty a lesbian! I’ll
reveal a secret to you, Pammi Aunty is
very liberal about gay issues. On
Independence Day she released a video on
how Handa’s son is getting ready for marriage and two days before the marriage he
declares he is gay. Pammi Aunty tells
Sarla behenji: at least they saved on the
jewellery! These are the kind of issues I
would like to highlight in my videos.”
Pammi Aunty has a bright future. With
offers for TV and reality shows, there are
also talks about a movie made on her.
“Pammi Aunty wants to enjoy life and
not take anything to heart. She is a creation
of my observance from my childhood.
When the videos stop making people
laugh, Pammi Aunty will not exist.”
Till then, enjoy her gossiping, rants,
quarrels, Pokeman, Bollywood and much
Hore Ki (what else)!!!


The more you talk about it the less shameful it becomes. It’s like
any other lifelong condition, there needs to be a better
understanding of it as a legitimate medical problem.
By Nitasha Bhatia
parna Nancherla, an Americanborn Indian comedian, is speaking
openly about her personal battle
with depression in her stand-up shows.
Earlier this year, Variety Magazine
named her one of the ‘ten comedians to
watch out for in 2016’. She has made a
name for herself on the American stage,
now regularly featuring on numerous television shows, including Conan O’Brien’s
late night talk show.
But what strikes me most about
Aparna isn’t her clever, witty and hilarious punch lines. Instead, it is her courageous choice to use her humour to address
the topic of mental illness, an issue which
is endemically stigmatised within our
The term ‘mental illness’ encompasses
a multitude of disorders that often have a
debilitating effect on individuals and their
loved ones. Some of the most common
forms include anxiety, depression, bipolar
disorder and schizophrenia.
In Australia, mental illness will affect
one fifth of the population at some point
Department of Health). Yes, one in five
people. This could be your child, brother,
sister, mother or father. It is an illness that
does not discriminate and can affect anyone at any time.
While awareness of mental health conditions is gaining momentum in the wider
Australian community, it is an issue that
continues to be marked only by silence
within our Indian community. According
to the Queensland Health Department,
Indian-Australians are considerably less
likely to seek help for mental health conditions compared to the rest of the
Australian population. This is despite
Indians experiencing similar levels of psychological distress to other Australians.
Last year, BBC journalist Attika
Choudhary created a powerful video that


delved into the hidden mental health issues
within the South Asian community. The
YouTube video featured an Indian father
who was suffering from depression and
the inability for his own family to understand what was happening to him. The
video highlighted how mental illness is
often mistaken for personal weakness
within the South Asian community.
When we are physically unwell there
always seems to be some remedy readily
available. When you have a headache, you
are told to drink the Tulsi tea. When your
tooth is hurting you chew on some cloves.
However, when we are feeling down, we
are told to ‘be brave betee’ and just keep
going. We have been conditioned to be
stoic and get on with it. However, being
stoic only masks the problem leading to
more pain and misery in silence.
It was a heart-wrenching conversation
I had with a close friend of mine that put
this in perspective for me. She opened up
to me about the depression she experienced in the years following her marriage
breakdown. “I felt as though my heart had
been ripped from my chest. I had no motivation, no will to live, I didn’t want to go

Deepika Padukone had confessed publicly that she was depressed
during the filming of Happy New Year.

anywhere. I wanted to shut myself away
from the world.” She said “My family did
not want to hear about it, they thought I’d
eventually snap out of it but I just continued to suffer in silence”.
This might be because in our culture
the concept of izzat (honour or prestige) is
deeply rooted in our social milieu. As
Indians we celebrate the accolades, from
churning out the finest doctors and
lawyers to ensuring our children get into
selective schools, moving to bigger houses and buying flashier cars. On the
whole, our community is doing well and
we should rightfully feel gratified.
Unfortunately, anything that doesn’t
fit into our cultural norms are looked
down upon. To admit to mental health
issues would bring sharam (shame) to
one’s family since it is so deeply stigmatised within the Indian community.
Consequently, we contrive a façade that

focuses only on the ‘good’ times and conceals the ‘bad’. We maintain our izzat at
the expense of an individual’s health.
celebrities like Anushka Sharma and
Deepika Padukone have started speaking
about their own mental health issues in an
attempt to challenge the existing beliefs.
In an essay published on Deepika’s website, she spoke about her experience with
depression and the misconceptions perpetuated within our community. “The most
common reaction is, ‘How can you be
depressed? You have everything going for
you. You are supposed to be the number
one heroine, plush home, car, movies…
What else do you want?’ It’s not about
what you have or don’t have.”
Indeed, it is not a question of what you
do or don’t have. It is an illness that can
potentially impact anyone.
One of the biggest obstacles for people
suffering from mental illness is confronting the public stigma. As long as we
continue to associate mental illness with
sharam, our community will continue to
fight a losing battle.
Even though it is commendable that
celebrities are beginning to publicly speak
about mental illness, that in itself is not
enough. The movement to change must
also come from the grassroots level. We
all have a role in creating a mentally
healthy community. It is important for all
us to check up regularly and ask those we
love if they are okay and open a dialogue
within our group of friends and families to
challenge the stigma. If we follow in
Aparna and Deepika’s footsteps we are
one step closer to breaking the silence.
As Aparna has said ‘the more we talk
the less shameful it becomes’.

Aparna Nancherla, the Indian American comedian, is speaking openly about her
personal battle with depression in her stand-up shows

August-September 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 19


Pakistani TV serials beat
Indian serials hollow
By Sumi Krishnan
or God’s sake! Indian serials!! horrible!!! intolerable, distasteful and
completely lacking in social value and
an utter waste of time. From music to their
screaming long monologues, unending storylines and dialogue deliveries, overdressed
bejewelled women against a background of
artificial settings, poorly written and predictable plots, horrible camera angles that
keep switching between each actor’s face at
all the important turns and twists in stories
until the next advertisement. Pleeease!! Give
me a break!! Everything screams ‘Crass’.
Winning in every which way, starting
with its storyline, cinematography, dialogues, acting and the progression of the
story through a mere 25 to 30 episodes,
Pakistani serials beat any Indian serial from
every angle. Ekta Kapoor, are you listening?
Fantastic writers like Faiza Iftikhar, Vasey
Chaudhury and Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar
who keep the stories spinning, do not
require an ARY or a HUM TV to continue
to drag a serial to over 800 episodes meaninglessly.
Most Pakistani serials revolve around
women and women’s issues, which would
make you think that the heroine’s role is
more important than that of the male actors.
If so, you are in for a surprise. Yes, there is
the criticism to be levied that the serials usually do involve love triangles a plenty, the
‘Evil Phoophi’ or the cruel mother-in-law,
yet there are those better ones that revolve
around stories truly worthy of being told.
Directors like Humayun Saeed, Babar
Javed, and others do not hesitate to deal with
difficult topics in all their shades of grey.
There are psychological thrillers made possible only because Pakistani television has
an awesome group of writers whose magnificent dialogues are spell binding and you are
To mention a few of these serials,
‘Dastaan’, starring Sanam Baloch and
Fawad Khan, Ahsan Khan and Saba Qamar


is a story that deals with love across borders, playwright Samira Fazal brought the
novel ‘Bano’ by Razia Butt to life. The
intensity of the storyline is captured well by
its crisp editing and direction which deals
with the rioting, rape and pilfering that
occurs during the partition of India, yet it is
not as dark as it seems.
Stories from around regional Pakistan
are indeed a peep into the variance in culture, costume and the language of Urdu.
The more guttural rural Urdu mixed with
Punjabi or the sophisticated Urdu mixed
with Persian. I find the dialects fascinating
possessing an ability to express shades of
feelings in ways which can only be defined
in Urdu.
Serials which reflect the rural cultural
ethos, brave enough to deal with sadly backward socio-political issues are ‘Sadqay
Tumhare’ starring Mahira Khan, which won
the award for the best serial in 2015;
Familial feudal fights between Lords in rural
Pakistan juxtaposed against returning foreign educated Pakistanis who strive to make
a difference in ‘Tum Ho Ke Chup’, starring
Humayun Saeed and Ayesha Khan, both
powerful actors; not so rural yet carrying a
similar scenario more modern form of
rebellion against male oppression ‘Bhai’
starring Noman Ijaz.
While Indian serial ‘Ishk ka Naam
Safed’ deals with the treatment of widows
with the usual Indian touch of hullabulla,
watch ‘Ek Nazar Meri Taraf’, where
romance pours and spills off the screen
between Babar Ali, one of Pak TV’s hidden
gems, and Alishba Yousuf. This serial deals
with widowhood, adultery and social double
standards and is based around a family of
three sons and a widowed mother.
For psychological thrillers, you cannot
go past the gripping Bashar Momin starring
Faisal Qureshi, one of the most versatile
actors in Pak TV today. His powerful performance of a man driven by abuse in his
childhood to become an abuser himself,
whilst extreme in certain respects, drives a

Humayun-Saeed-and-Mehwish-Hayat in Dillagi

20 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August-September 2016

Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan, the hit pair of the hugely popular Humsafar

A still from Sadqay Tumhare
punch. ‘Kafir’ starring Humayun Saeed and
Ayesha Khan is another psychological
thriller with Humayun acting in a negative
role as a rich spoilt man driven to possess
until the heroine exposes him.
Some fantastic storylines and acting,

serials set in UK, Dubai and USA which
deal with Pakistani migrant settlement and
western issues are ‘Jackson Heights’ starring abused wife and mother Marina Khan
who works as a the beautician and Noman
Continued on page 21

A still from Pyare Afzal


Debonair actor Fawad Khan charms Melbourne
By Manju Mittal
awad Khan, Pakistani heart
throb who now has the
hearts of a billion Indians
and NRIs after he entered
Bollywood a year before last.
Fawad Khan is charming, gorgeous and has Bollywood and his
fans clamoring for more. A new
Khan in Bollywood who may take
the mantle of Aamir, Shah Rukh
and Salman.
Fawad Khan is young, and
daring enough to take up lead
roles such as the one in ‘Kapoor &
Sons’ in which he played an
Indian son who finally comes out
of the closet to declare that he is
gay. He debuted in ‘Khoobsurat’
with the pretty Sonam Kapoor earlier. Fawad Khan has built up a
huge female fan following, both in
his home country and now in India
‘Humsafar’ with beautiful Mahira
Khan (cast opposite Shah Rukh
Khan in the movie ‘Raees’ to be
released in early 2017) was one
that became a hit with the Indian-


subcontinent community both
back home and abroad. Fawad has
acted in a few Pakistani TV serials
but left when he started to get
offers from Bollywood.
Melbourne for the 5th Indian Film
Festival of Melbourne (IFFM
2016) as its guest.
His interview in live conversation with Jon Faine at 774 ABC
Melbourne discussed cinema and
censorship. Fawad was interviewed along with filmmaker
Anurag Kashyap, actress Richa
Chadha and IFFM Director Mitu
Bhowmick-Lange. He told ABC
Live program about similarities
between the two countries.
“Indians and Pakistanis are essentially the same,” he said, “A number of Pakistani actors are crossing over to India to work in the
world’s biggest film industry,
Bollywood,” He revealed though
that he wants to improve his dancing skills, for sure.
“I have been very lucky for
what I have been offered so far.
My boundaries are limited to

number of films that are offered to
me but I am pretty open and
receptive to material that comes
my way. I swear to God I wish I
could dance or sing. I watch these
people and wish I could move like
them. I must say I am having a
great time in Bollywood,” Fawad
shared, “This festival is a way to
remind the world that Australia is
a multicultural country and our
love of cinema is just one thing we
have in common. So I want everyone to enjoy the festival, and reassuringly they do.”
The ‘Kapoor & Sons’ actor
earned another feather in his cap
on Awards night on Friday by
IFFM 2016 when he received
‘Diversity Award’ at Mind
Blowing Films’, a festival that
recognises diversity, excellence
and achievement in Indian cinema.
Fawad Khan was in Melbourne
for the 5th Indian Film Festival
of Melbourne and spoke
to ABC Live.

Continued from page 20
Ejaz a Pakistani Taxi Driver in USA whose struggle
to stay true to their identity and conscience is well
directed; ‘Bilqees Kaur’ starring one of my
favourites, Bushra Ansari in a standout performance as a cigarette wielding stingy strong
Muslim woman and owner of a Pakistani
restaurant settled in England for 30 years
whose unwelcome and unaccepted daughterin-law helps her see the light of the day;
‘Main Abdul Qadar Hoon’ is a unique story
written by Sarwat Nazir, starring Fahad
Mustafa and Faisal Qureshi, two friends who
meet in New York. The story is the journey of
a young man’s search for his own identity both
in Pakistan and in USA; ‘Kuch Pyar Ka
Pagalpan’ is a romantic comedy starring Fawad
Khan, Ayesha Khan and Sanam Baloch, on the
theme that everything foreign or American is not glitter and glamour. Despite poor story lines, the invaluable camera’s romance with the protagonist and the
writer’s spellbinding dialogues leave me feeling
warm and glowing so typical of yesteryear ‘Mills
and Boon’ books in ‘Zindagi Gulzar Hai’ starring Sanam
Saeed and Fawad Khan story of hate that turns into
love; unacceptable marriages that go right like Zid;
‘Humsafar’ a story of a divorced couple who come
together for their cancer affected child; a real
tearjerker. ‘Pyare Afzal’ starring Humza Ali
Abbasi and Aiza Khan reminded me of the
romance of Guru Datt’s film ‘Pyaasa’ with the
serial using as its title song ’Jaane wo kaise
log the jinko pyar se pyar mila’.
Serial Pakeeza’s dominating, rude, violent husband, ‘Udaari’ on sexual abuse of a
minor, ‘Chup Raho’ heroine’s torturous
brother-in-law when finally in ‘Dillagi’ the
heroine tries to challenge her man, amazing
story lines and plots these Pakistani writers
keep coming up with dramas that not only bring
to light the social problems, they capture it with
class and hook you yet save time since they come in
ad-free slots on YouTube! I, for one, am a true and
devoted fan of a culture that gives me a peep into
Pakistani Muslim issues to someone who hails from
south of India and now lives in Sydney.

Fayzal Qureshi

Ayesha Khan

Ayeza Khan

Hamza Ali Abbasi

Ushna Shah

Zahid Ahmed

August-September 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 21


By Neena Badhwar
he is 83-years-old, has survived
breast cancer and chemotherapy, and
has a condition called pulmonary
embolism. Marie Ross, recently, had a hip
operation, too. All the usual problems
associated with old age.
But one thing that sets her apart from
many other old people is that her life is that
of pure dedication and love. Marie does
not live for herself. She is on a mission.
She is currently nursing a 4-month-old
baby, that too with Down Syndrome, as a
pre-adoptive parent and carer.
And this is not just one special need
baby that Marie has looked after; she has,
in the last 43 years, cared for 200 babies,
some of them special need kids, who have
been placed in her home for a short-term
The babies remain in her care until the
Department of Community Services
(DOCS) finds families suitable to give
them long-term foster care or even adopt
them. Many children that Mrs Ross has
looked after have been placed in good
homes or at times they have gone back to
their biological parents or kinship.
“These kids are lovely,” she says, and
give me tremendous happiness, especially
the special need kids. “I attend many seminars and workshops to keep myself updated and also talk to nurses and doctors at
Westmead Hospital and health clinics who
have helped me with advice.
“The doctors would say that if they can
hold toys in both hands, it means they are
progressing well. But if they drop one toy
to hold another one when given then they
are not growing. When these little achievements I see in the children I care for, those
are very satisfying moments for me,” she
Marie Ross and her husband Bernard
became members of Centacare and
Barnardos and also registered with DOCS
as foster carers when their younger daughter turned seven in 1973. They took in
Kelly who came to them when she was just
one month old due to a mother who had
psychiatric issues and could not look after
her. Kelly stayed on till she was 13-yearsold when she signed her own adoption
papers to be with Mrs Ross. She is now a
Social Worker with Life Without Barriers
and gives talks about her adopted family
and her positive upbringing.
Ross’s is a happy home full of toys,
prams, mobiles and swings, a welcoming
place where young babies are given refuge
when there is no one to look after them:
for several reasons, due to problem with
birth parents, drugs, a mother too sick to
look after her baby or parents with psychiatric issues.
The DOCS workers assess the situation
and place these children in out-of-home
care with people who can provide a safe,


Mrs Marie Ross with the antique pram, which she bought for
her first child, a daughter who is now 57-years-old. All the
roughly 200 kids she has had in her foster care over 43 years
have slept in this pram, says the grandmother who has been
honoured with an Order of Australia Member (OAM).
secure and happy environment for these
kids. At times there can also be cases of
sexual and physical abuse.
“I used to look after older kids but
sometimes they can be a bit handful. So, I
decided to look after only little kids and
that, too, for short periods. Longest to
have stayed is Kelly and Justin who are
now part of our extended family. For the
last few years I have been looking after
new-born babies as young as one-day-old
when I pick them up from the hospital.”
I visit Mrs Ross with my neighbour
who now has little Kiran (not his real
name), a happy, healthy two-year-old.
Kiran was looked after by Ms Ross till he
was eight months old when he found a
home next door in permanent foster care.
We are pleasantly surprised that Kiran,
on seeing Marie, first smiles, then puts his
cheek right next to her as if he remembers
her and her loving, nurturing home and
care she gave him soon after his birth. One
can immediately see the bond between this
great grandmother and him.
“He was one-day-old but was one of
the most beautiful little babies,” she says.
“When the child is found a home, the
foster parents come and pick up the child
and I have to help them with transition. It
is only for 4-5 days or so when I demonstrate to them how to bathe the baby, feed
and any other special requirements,”
Marie says.
So does she come across any problem,
any issues?
“I have had some babies with medical

22 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August-September 2016

issues. There was one who had to go
through numerous operations to rectify a
medical condition and all my time was
spent visiting doctors and hospitals. That
was a trying time. Also, medical bills just
pile up on you. You do get reimbursed but
at times it can be a bit overwhelming,” she
Marie shows us her antique pram
which she bought for her first child, a
daughter who is now 57-years-old. “All
the kids who came to our home have slept
in this pram,” says this proud grandmother who has been honoured with an Order
of Australia Member (OAM) and many
There are a pile of newspaper articles
on her for providing care for almost 43
years since. Her husband Brandon passed
away 16 years ago but Marie has plodded
One wonders if the kids keep her
awake or cry which are normal issues with
young children. The Down Syndrome baby
now in her care sleeps 10-12 hours every
night. Maries cuddles her, “She is a very
good baby. We are taught how to hold her
in a special way because they are to be
looked after with care.”
Not only has Marie made life better for
these kids, she has also nurtured them with
love and affection at a time when they are
extremely vulnerable, needing 24-hour
care and love.
Mrs Ross has been given care of kids
from different nationalities. She has looked
after a boy whose mother was from Nepal

and the father a Pakistani. The mother was
refused visa to stay and she could not go
back as her family clearly told her it was
not good for their honour. They said to
give up this baby born out of wedlock if
she ever came back to Nepal. This boy is
now five-years-old and has been placed
with a family of three where the other two
are of Australian and Indian backgrounds.
Marie has also looked after a girl of
Indonesian and Bangladeshi mix.
There is not enough data available but
some children from Indian background are
trickling in and ending up in foster care
due to various reasons.
The most recent statistics from the
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
(AIHW, 2015) show that, as of June 2014,
there were 43,000 Australian children living in out-of-home care. 41per cent are in
foster care, 48.5per cent are in
relative/kinship care and 3.9 per cent are
in other forms of home-based care.
Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020
(COAG, 2009) noted that while primary
and secondary prevention are important,
children who have suffered maltreatment
must be afforded necessary support and
services. Ultimately, the preference is for
children to be safe and cared for in their
own family, but where that is not possible,
children require a sense of safety and stability.
Maries Ross is one great grandmother
who is trusted, loving and exactly knows
how to look after these kids. She gives me
a beautiful poem about caring for a special
need child:
“A meeting was held quite far from
earth / ‘It’s time again for another birth’,
/ Said the angels to the Lord above, /‘this
special child will need much love’ / His
/Accomplishments he may not show and /
He’ll require extra care /From the folks he
meets way down there/ He may not run or
laugh or play /His thoughts may seem quite
far away/ In many ways he won’t adapt /
And he’ll be known as handicapped / So
let’s be careful where he’s sent / We want
his life to be content / Find the parents who
will do a special job / They will not realise
right away / The leading role they are
asked to play / With this child sent from
above / Comes stronger faith and richer
Soon they will know the privilege given
/ In caring this gift from heaven / Their
precious charge, so meek and mild /Is
heaven’s very special child.
(Foster Care Week is from September 1117 when a picnic is held to celebrate,
acknowledge and raise awareness of the
invaluable work of foster carers in our
community. To becoming a foster carer:


It was sheer magic to watch ‘Krishna’!
By Neeru Saluja
hile India was celebrating Janamashtmi
enacting ‘Raas-leelas’
and building ‘Dahi Handis’,
Sydney was treated to a musical
spectacular show based on Lord
Krishna, the most loved god of
Hindu mythology. ‘A Magical
Journey with Krishna’ at
Riverside Theatre, Parramatta
took the audience on a memorable journey based on courage,
love, dharma and karm.
The plot of the musical
revolved around Sunaina, a girl
who along with her parents has
just moved from Mumbai to
Sydney. While her parents are
busy settling into their new life in
Australia, she struggles to cope
with the change. As she is
brought up with a faith in
Krishna to fix everything, the
Lord himself appears in front of
her and takes her on a journey
depicting his own story and
teaching her the valuable lessons
of life.
This starts the magical journey from the time when Lord
Krishna was born till he slayed
his evil uncle, Kansa. With
enchanting music, spectacular
dancing, dazzling costumes and
commendable acting, the play
transits from the modern and
mythological eras to depict the
magic of Lord Krishna on
today’s generation.
With a cast of 100 dancers
and actors, the show left an everlasting impression on the spectators – adults and kids alike.
Every act stood out with its
unique costumes, dedicated choreography and amazing performance by the actors and dancers.
The enlightening visuals of rain,
thunder, rivers, mountains and
beautiful props of matkis, gajras,
swords, aptly described each
scene and the mythology of
The cast for the show comprised of people from all age
groups and ethnic backgrounds.
Auditions for the play took place
six months ago from the students
of the dance school though it was
a tough competition for selec-


tions. After competing with
another 35 competitors to bag the
main role, 9-year-old Sunaina
stole our hearts with her innocent
and playful acting.
Behind the scenes of this
spectacular show is Sumati
Lekhi, the director of Swastik
Institute of Dance. A Krishna
devotee herself, Sumati wanted
to weave Krishna Leela in a magical way that will appeal to people brought up in Australia.
“Since my childhood I have participated in janamashtmi celebrations but I didn’t want my production to be the typical Krishna
Leela. That is why the plot
revolves around a child who has
just moved from Mumbai to
Sydney and Krishna shows her
the path. I also wanted to show
how as migrants we face all
kinds of problems, but our faith
and our love for Australia helps
us to cross all obstacles,” says
Sumati, who established her
institute in 2007 soon after
migrating to Australia, is an
award winning Kathak performer
and was the head of the dance
department of Delhi Public
School. Dancing is her passion
and she has been dancing since
the age of five. Though highly
accomplished in dance, she gives
all the credit for the show to her
team and supporters. “My cast
and cooperative team has been
working very hard for the last six
months. They have dedicated one
day of their week and close to the
show also their weekends for this
show. Despite their full time
jobs, school or family duties,
each and every participant gave
hundred percent commitment and
it is their hard work which is on
show tonight,” declares Sumati
By staging this drama, Sumati
Swastik Dance and team have
provided a complete family
entertainer for our kids who
learnt the teachings of Lord
Krishna through a beautiful
medium of story told through
dance. Khushi, my daughter is
one kid who enjoyed it the most.
It was an unforgettable performance, really!

‘A Magical Journey with Krishna’ was presented in a way to appeal to the audience brought up in
Australia, says Sumati Lekhi, the director of Swastik Institute of Dance, which presented the show.

Conference to celebrate International Hindi Divas

indi Divas is an annual day
celebrated on 14 September in
Hindi-speaking regions of India. It
is an Indian government sponsored event
which is celebrated by government offices
in India as well as overseas and also by the
NRIs. It serves to promote and propagate
the Hindi language, its importance is
competitions and other services held on
the day. The event also serves as a
patriotic reminder to Hindi-speaking
populations of their common roots and
unity. For the diaspora worldwide it is a

day that celebrates Hindi language and
keeps their connection with India alive.
Indian Literary & Art Society (ILASA
Inc.) will be celebrating ‘International
Hindi Divas’ on September 17 from 10am
to 4pm at Lecture Theatre 104, Level 1,
New Law School Annexe, Eastern
Avenue, University of Sydney, NSW.
Hindi is gaining momentum as the
Indian community has been galvanising
support for the language to be accepted in
school curriculum when ACARA
(National curriculum authority) finally
gave Hindi green light and a team of

curriculum K-10. Slowly and steadily
Hindi has been gaining ground at the
university level also with students taking it
up in short 10-week courses which are run
by the Centre for Continuing Education,
Sydney University.
ILASA along with Bharatiya Vidya
Bhavan, and The Indian Down Under
Conference’. There will be sessions on:
Role of Hindi in Bilateral Trade between
India and Australia, Hindi at University
and School level, Media & Community,

Hindi Literature in Australia and Hindi
Translation & Interpretation. ILASA
would need volunteers to help with the
The conference is sponsored by the
law firm Kaden Boriss and Government of
India Tourist Office, Sydney, Bank of
Baroda and Union Bank.
There has been a huge interest from
community members who will be
attending the conference to hold
discussions on the above topics. Please
call Rekha Rajvanshi on 0403 116 301 for
further information.

August-September 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 23


Lisa Singh re-elected Senator from Tasmania
m a s s i v e
Senator Lisa Singh
re-elected, despite
her relegation to
the sixth position on her
party's ticket
in favour of a
union boss.
She took
ahead of her
Senator Catryna
Bilyk, who has also
been returned.
attracted more than 20,000
below-the-line votes, allowing

her to retain her seat from sixth on the
party ticket.
She said it was a historic result.
"I'm very pleased with the campaign
I've run. I ran a dignified campaign based
on integrity and respect for others," she
said. "We have shown that the impossible
is possible."
Senator Singh has retained her seat,
but lost her position as a parliamentary
She had previously blamed factional
deals for her relegation on the ticket, but
said she harboured no resentment towards
the party for her relegation on the ticket.
Lisa was elected to the Australian
Senate representing Tasmania in August
2010 and began her term in July 2011, following in the political footsteps of her
grandfather Ram Jati Singh, who was a
member of the Fijian Parliament in the
1960s. She is considered the first person

of South Asian descent to be elected to the
Australian Parliament.
In October 2013, the Leader of the
Opposition, Bill Shorten, appointed Lisa
to be the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary
to the Shadow Attorney-General. She was
promoted to Shadow Parliamentary
Secretary for the Environment, Climate
Change and Water on 24 June 2014.
Lisa is a passionate supporter of
Australia-India relationship and is developing and strengthening ties between both
countries through her role as an Australian
Senator. In 2014, Shri Pranab Mukherjee,
the President of India, conferred on Lisa
Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award for her
exceptional and meritorious public service
as a person of Indian heritage in fostering
friendly relations between India and
Lisa is the mother of two sons and
lives in Hobart.

National workshop focuses on Hindi teaching
By Rekha Rajvanshi
he Victorian School of Languages
held a National Hindi Workshop on
July 22, at Thornbury, Melbourne,
attended by academics, teachers and
resource developers, writers and publishers
of Hindi journals in Australia. The workshop
was opened by Ms Manika Jain, Consul
General of India in Melbourne.
There is need to develop good teaching
resources and appropriate material for all
stages with growing demand of Hindi at
school level. To meet and discuss and share
teaching methods, the Australian National
University in Canberra had held a similar
national workshop in July last year.
Hindi in Australia has come a long way
since it was introduced in Indian community
schools run on weekends about 30 years ago.
Later, it was included as a 2-Unit subject in
HSC in 1995. It became an SSCL Hindi subject to be taught in Saturday Schools at
Liverpool and Seven Hills in NSW. Since
then the community has been galvanising
support from over 70 Indian organisations
for Hindi to become a public school language
Although Hindi is taught in some schools
such as the West Ryde Public School in
NSW and Rangebank Primary School in
Victoria, it needed the national body to
develop a uniform national curriculum. It
took two years for ACARA to finally develop the curriculum which is now available for
schools to take it up if they opt to include
Hindi as a subject in their respective schools.
As a result of the consistent and persistent effort from the community, Hindi is now
being taught in three primary schools as a
subject in NSW and some of the schools are
trying it out at after school level by some
volunteer teachers to see how much interest
there is from the students as well as parents.
Dr. Peter Friedlander, Senior Lecturer in
Hindi at the Australian National University
in Canberra, spoke at the workshop about the
link between language and culture and
importance of learning Hindi language.
The first session of the workshop was


Participants in the National Hindi Workshop held by the Victorian School of Languages.
devoted to teaching Hindi at Primary level.
Mrs Aparna Kumar talked about teaching
strategies that she found useful in her classes
and described her approach to teaching
Hindi. Mrs Anushree Jain presented some of
the challenges in teaching mixed ability students and described some of the teaching
resources that she herself has developed. The
third presenter in this session was Mrs Pooja
Verma who presented examples of materials
that she had developed for teaching Hindi to
students of non-Indian origin.
The second session, ‘Secondary and
beyond’, began with a speech by Mr Frank
Merlino, Principal of the Victorian School of
Languages, who described the role of VSL in
promoting Hindi and announced that VSL
plans to develop teaching of Hindi through
distance education. This was followed by a
presentation by Mrs Mala Mehta of the
IABBV Hindi Sunday School in Sydney on
the role and activities undertaken by her
school. She showed a video clip of the reenactment of Gandhi ji’s Dandi March by
her students. Hindi teacher Ms Kulwinder
Kaur presented examples of teaching Hindi
and showed use of ‘smartboard’ software in
preparing interactive lessons. This was followed by two presentations by Mrs Amita
Malhotra and Mrs Manjeet Thethi describing
strategies they use for teaching Hindi to senior secondary students.

24 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August-September 2016

Victorian School of
Languages completes 30
years of teaching Hindi
he first centre for teaching Hindi
was opened at Brunswick 30 years
ago. This landmark occasion was
celebrated at the Hindi National workshop. Dr. Dinesh Srivastava, whose
efforts led to the establishment of the first
centre for teaching Hindi at VSL (then
Saturday School of languages) did the
honours by cutting the 30th anniversary
cake. It is noteworthy that the number of
centres teaching Hindi at VSL has grown
since then to nine and includes metropolitan as well as country areas. Every year
approximately 500 students study Hindi
at these centres.


Dr Peter Friedlander described Hindi
courses at ANU, Canberra and the upheaval
that the recent review of ANU courses has
caused in the session dealing with teaching
Hindi at the tertiary level. Dr Ian Woolford,
Lecturer in Hindi at La Ttrobe University in
Melbourne, followed, describing Hindi
course at the La Trobe University.
Mrs Rekha Rajvanshi ran an interesting
group workshop on the use of poetry in
teaching Hindi Language. Her activities
engaged Hindi lovers present on the occasion

and they were encouraged to write a poem on
‘Ghar’ (house).
After an Indian vegetarian Lunch, two
more sessions were held. The first dealt with
Hindi media, culture, art and literature. The
presenters included Dr Dinesh Srivastava
(Print Media); Dr Subhash Sharma (Sahitya
Sandhya - Melbourne Literary Scene); Mrs
Rekha Rajvanshi (Sydney Literary Scene);
Mr Harihar Jha (Getting Published); Dr
Nalin Sharda (Poetry and Hindi Cinema);
Mr Vipin Gaindhar (Theatre and Radio) and
Mrs Anita Barar (Art-paintings, theatre and
radio). The final session was on research and
future plans. Dr Peter Friedlander spoke
about a global research project involving
academics in Singapore and Australia to
investigate why do people choose to study
Hindi in different countries. Dr Dinesh
Srivastava presented a list of research questions related to VSL enrolments in Hindi and
participation of students from various states
in year-12 Hindi examination. He also made
some specific suggestions about involving
Hindi organisations to persuade mainstream
schools in introducing study of Hindi in their
schools. During the workshop, several Hindi
books written by authors residing in
Australia and those published by the V.S.L
and sketches made by Mrs Anita Barar
accompanying poems by Mahadevi Verma
were displayed.

Body Mind Spirit

By Dr Sunder Das
here are many expressions in the
English language, which relate to
the eyes, like ‘apple of one’s eye’,
‘an eyesore’, ‘see eye to eye’, ‘give the
eye’ and so on. Out of all the anatomical
references current in day-to-day conversation, the eye seems to be mentioned four
times as frequently as other parts of the
The awesome Russian monk Rasputin
is reported to have had a powerful gaze,
which few people could return without
feeling afraid. Many yogis in India are
credited to have ‘soul searching’ eyes.
The ‘third eye’ has been celebrated in
mystical literature. This concept originated
in the Hindu culture and is known as the
eye of understanding, situated in Ajna
Chakra in the middle of the forehead.
Many meditators of the East roll their eyes
towards the Ajna Chakra to awaken their
inner vision.
In ancient Egypt, the eye was considered the womb of the Goddess from which
the gods were born. The sun gods Osiris
and Ra were often associated with the eye.
The Greeks, the Sumarians and the
Mexican Indians represented the eye as
one of the mystical symbols.
R.A.Wilner, in her book “Charismatic
Political Leadership’, speaks of the cold
eyes of Kamal Ataturk, the hypnotic eyes
of Nasser and Hitler, the piercing eyes of
Lenin and the luminous eyes of Mussolini.
Jimmy Carter is supposed to have cold
eyes, but his broad smile and the ability to
make easy eye-contact with people seem to
win him friends all over the world. John
F. Kennedy and Jawaharlal Nehru were
able to make charismatic eye contact with
people. Benazir Bhutto had loving eyes,
which charmed everyone who came in
contact with her.
Although many Americans say that
Richard Nixon avoided looking at people
in the eye, or even looking at the lens of a
TV camera, he made up for it by his
sophistication in interpersonal encounters.
His celebrated interviews with David Frost
are examples of this ability.
With animals and human beings, the
gaze determines dominance or submission.
The dominant person stares while the subordinate one lowers the head or looks
away. Teachers who undergo assertiveness
training are told to look directly at the
offending pupil’s eyes while commanding
him/her in a firm tone of voice.
Sometimes the submissive role of lowering the eyes is necessary for survival, on
a job for instance. Sergeant Carter may
walk around and glare at Gomer Pyle, but
Gomer must stand at attention with eyes
straight looking ahead. However, if roles
of dominance and submission are already
established, the dominant person no longer
needs to control the situation with the
direct stare, except when there is rebellion
in the ranks.
Recent research has shown that both
younger and older women engage in more
gazing and show a higher frequency of
eye contact than men. However, they usually modify their looking behaviour such
as gazing down or frequently breaking eye
contact. On the other hand, when men
look, they hold a direct, unbroken gaze.
In a book entitled ‘Gender and non-verbal


behaviour’, J.J. Haviland and C.Z.
Malatesta point out that gender differences
become apparent at an early age.
It is difficult to explain why these differences exist and how they are maintained from childhood to adulthood. Perhaps the finding that
eye contact occurs in greater
amount in people, who are more
affection oriented, could explain
why women tend to maintain
their gaze consistently. Women
are known to be more affiliative
than men.
Michael Argyle and R.Ingham have
also found that women tend to increase
their looking while listening. In a crowded lift, both men and women tend to
decrease their eye contact although
females in crowds of their own
gender are likely to be friendlier
towards one another. Men crowded with men are likely to become
negative and unfriendly.
In the United States of America,
many studies have been done to elicit the
pattern of eye contacts between blacks and
whites. Even in the late 1950s in South, a
black man’s gaze at a white woman was
construed as rape, a 15-year old black boy
being lynched in Mississippi for just staring at a white girl.
Recent studies have shown that the
infant is born with a relatively mature
visual system and that eye contact is the
primary channel for bonding between the
infant and the caregiver. Rene Spitz has
noted “that the nursing infant does not
remove, for an instant, its eyes from the
mother’s face until it falls asleep at the
breast satiated.” Much of the infant’s
energy is spent on looking at the caregiver
and following her movements with the
eyes. As early as nine months of age,
human infants are attracted to the eyes
than to any other stimulus.
Cultural differences do exist in the
degree and character of eye contact.
Michael Argyle thinks that in extraverted
culture (Australia is an example) more
gazing can be expected. In cultures that
can be said to be introverted, as those in
some parts of India and Japan, more selfpresentation behaviour and greater control
over the information emitted about the
self, can be expected. Therefore less gazing may result.
In societies such as in Uganda and
among the American Indians, in which
mothers carry their infants on their backs,
there is less chance of a baby looking into
the mother’s eyes. It may be expected that
when these babies grow into adulthood,
they would tend to gaze less at other people’ eyes. It may also be expected that
such child rearing practices can result in
great need for interpersonal space.
Each culture implicitly expects a
‘moral’ looking time. Too long a gaze
could suggest intimacy or dominance, and
too little may be construed as lack of
interest or dishonesty or suspicion.
Some Middle Eastern people are very
sensitive to non-verbal communication,
and for them eye contact is very important. Indians, Pakistanis, the Japanese and
some North European people have a tendency to orient themselves towards others
without looking directly into the eyes or
the face.

It seems that more than anything else,
travellers from one
country to

need to learn patterns of eye contact, and
the rules of proximity first, and then only
the other nuances.
There are many clinical applications to
the study of eye contact. Autistic children
avoid eye-to-eye contact. Any attempt to
force such a child to fixate upon an adult,
makes it to shield its eyes with the hands.
A plausible explanation for this behaviour
is that autistic children in a state of high
behavioural and physiological arousal and
therefore they would seek a reduction of
perceptual stimuli, such as eye contact.
One interesting outcome of averting the
gaze by an autistic child is that it is rarely
attacked by other children in a playroom,
possibly because the gaze avoidance is
construed as submissive behaviour.
The tendency to avoid eye contact is
also found in adult schizophrenics espe-

cially when the topic under discussion
relates to their patient status. Paranoid
schizophrenics, who feel eyes looking at them, fear the destructive effect of a glance from
In people who are clinically depressed consequent
on bereavement, there can be
selective reduction in eye
contact. In rare cases of multiple personality, changes in
expression of the eyes indicate the emergence of another personality.
In psychotherapy, empathic therapists
who often produce the most positive
changes are seen to have meaningful eye
contacts with their clients. Moreover, they
do not look away when the client expresses emotion. Clients, who in the beginning
have difficulty in maintaining eye contact,
become more able to do so with improvement in their condition. Some existentially
oriented psychotherapists get their clients
to ‘commune with’ their eyes in the mirror, resulting in the discovery and expression, of feeling in an integrated way.
Paul Bakan, a psychologist, has
devised an interesting and ingenious test
with the eyes to determine a person’s cognitive-affective style. He uses the CLEMS
(Conjugate lateral eye movements) as an
indicator. If a person is asked a question
and his/her eye movements monitored, an
analytical, verbal person will glance
upwards and to the right. Bob Hawke, the
former Prime Minister of Australia, shows
this pattern very clearly. People, who are
artistic, intuitive, holistic and spatial, will
glance up and towards the left.
There are innumerable ways in which
the eye has been used as a symbol of mental perception. It is therefore appropriate
to say, “I see, therefore I know.”

The ‘third eye’ has been celebrated in mystical literature. This concept originated in the
Hindu culture where the belief is that it is situated in the
Ajna Chakra in the middle of the forehead.

August-September 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 25


where every house is a temple

Barong dance – a performance of fight between good and evil

The must visit temple is Tirta Empul. Inside are spring baths
believed to cure physical ailments

By Vijay Badhwar
very morning, outside
every house door, at shops
and restaurants, on car
dashboards, there are offerings of
colourful flowers, called Canang
Sari – white flowers in the east for
Ishvara, yellow flowers in the west
for Mahadeva, blue or green flowers in the north for Vishnu, red
flowers in the south for Brahma
and ‘Kembang Rampai’ arranged
in the centre for Pancha Dewata.
Beyond, the landscape is lush
with many shades of green, leaves
of many sizes and shapes interspersed with bright hues of reds,
blue and yellows flowers, frangipani everywhere making a fashion
statement also in women’s makeup. Even the bare branches of
hardwood trees make sculptural
shapes and designs that make the
natural scene merge with the
streetscape virtually littered with
paintings, stone and wood carvings.
We are in Ubud, homestaying
with a popular local artist, Jati, in
the surrounds of hanging creepers
and dense trees amid the sounds of
flowing water and chirping birds; a
far cry from the chaos and traffic
jams of Kuta and other notorious
beaches, which, too, are good for
a change of scene and also worth a
visit for beach eateries, pubs and
shopping malls. Nusa Dua is class,
and a compromise between budget
and action is Seminyak if Kuta is
to be avoided.
Before leaving for Bali we
debated if to avail a good package


deal for a resort. It would restrict
us not to explore, we thought, and
that proves right on reflection. We
did visit one for an extended lunch
experience. Hotel Tugu Lombok,
stretched alongside an expansive
beach was, indeed, a luxury worth
experiencing. But will it, after a
day or two, become boring, I am
not sure.
For Australian tourists to Bali,
a hired car with a driver is a good
option for $45 per day all inclusive, flexible hours and unlimited
kilometres (the premium grade
petrol is 65 cents/litre). The mere
company of the driver we had was
worth the money as he recited the
Gayatri Mantra, revised Ramayana
and the local twists to Hindu epics,
took us to places on tourist trail
and advised on showrooms to shop
from (that he may have fancied,
but it did not matter to us as we
had nothing to buy).
The must visit temple is Tirta
Empul, especially the tree at its
entrance. Inside are spring baths
which are believed to cure all
physical ailments. The Balinese
talk about Sagar Manthan by
Devatas and Danavas in search of
‘Amrit’. They believe that the
springs were brought by Lord
Indra by piercing the mountainside
as the local rivers were poisoned
by a ‘Danawa’. The serenity of the
place is amazing but for the two
modern palaces on top of the hill
connected by a rather extravagant
arch bridge. It is said that the
buildings were constructed at the
behest of Dr Sukarno who loved to
watch bathing women through a

Picturesque Bali with volcanoes, lakes and green fields
telescope (which, we’re told, is
still there) and invite the most
beautiful among them to his playground.
The temple trail continues with
Uluwatu – for its hilltop location
alongside the turquoise blue waters
of the sea, Royal Temple for its
gardens and the temple on Beratan
Lake with the misty backdrop of a
mountain and expansive gardens.
It’s a pity, though, that all the temple gates are locked most of the
time with no daily service for the
installed deities, only open on
select few days in the year when
there are colourful processions.
There are several volcanoes to
visit, but the one we went up on
(just as a tourists’ tick off), Mt
Batur, 1770 metres, could have
been easy missed. Although, there
are spectacular views of the lake,
the effort is not worth it to see a
rather unspectacular crater, partly
Continued on page 27

26 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August-September 2016

Lake Temple

Continued from page 26
collapsed. We nearly had an accident as the volcanic ash lumps roll
under the feet no matter how carefully one descends.
A visit through a coffee plantation is definitely worth for a taste
of real Luwak coffee as well as
several teas they serve, along with
a walk through a thick growth of
clove and cinnamon trees. The coffee plantations are a recent experiment in the region as also in
Vietnam, the quality not quite at
par with its South American counterpart but quite strong to drink.
One also misses the teas that are
available in India and Australia,
especially if one is used to drinking white teas as fresh milk is not
commonly available.
Spas, massage and beauty parlours abound in multitudes
throughout Bali, akin to phone
shops in India. Every few metres
there is a sign board for standard
services of Balinese massage or a
beauty treatment, around $7-10
per hour.
A visit to nearby Lombak
Island is easily arranged by fast
boat with a pickup from the hotel,
all inclusive for $75 return. It is a
long bus ride, though, to the coast
and then another 90 minutes by
ferry with several waiting points
along the way that amounts to most

First time travellers Bina and Jose got totally smitten with Bali
of the day gone for travel.
Due to recent popularity of
Gillies Islands catering for the
younger generation, the boats are
overpacked with people. At
Lombak there is a stark contrast
from the smiling Balinese to rather
reserved locals, also a change of

scene with mosques replacing the
ubiquitous temples.
Outside the tourist areas in
Bali, availability of vegetarian
food is rather limited to a chop
suey, mix of a few beans with tofu
or a vegetarian pizza. But there are
plenty of fruits, including coconuts

Pooja left in front of every home

to quench a big thirst. Artistically
cut and displayed fruit platter
always accompanying a breakfast
menu makes a healthy start for the

Bali is definitely worth a visit,
if not for anything else, then just to
feel as an instant Rupiah millionaire on arrival, a mere $100 fetching you as much!

Statues around homes

Lush green rice paddies in terraces

Kamlesh Chaudhary, a flag-bearer of Indian culture
he Indian community deeply
mourns the loss of Kamlesh
Chaudhary, truly a quiet achiever
who loved and lived Indian culture, its
language and traditions to its core, and
promoted them on the Australian landscape to the fullest, humbly and purposefully. His sudden death on July 12, when
he was holidaying in Fiji, was a hard
shock to everyone. Kamlesh was 58years-old.
Right from his young years, Kamlesh
Chaudhary was interested in poetry. He
initiated an organisation, Nirjhar, when
he was an engineering student at Pilani,
which raised an interest in poetry at the


college.After working in India initially,
Kamlesh went to Singapore with his fami-

ly, later moving to Australia in 1996 with
his employer IBM. Thirteen years ago,
he started to work with the Railways in
Sydney, always taking responsibility and
so easy to work with, according to his
But it were community related activities that made him dear to the community
– his love for poetry, interest in Yoga
which he taught children for several years
at Pennant Hills, and Hindi language
teaching which he always campaigned
for. Can you imagine his dedication when
Kamlesh stood outside schools requesting
parents to fill up petitions supporting
Hindi language teaching programme.


Kamlesh fully immersed himself in
community activities, once even joining a
yoga teachers’ course in Munger in
Bihar, India so that he could impart the
knowledge in the right format.
He was involved with Gayatri Parivar
right from its inception in Australia and
made it an every year regular event in
many homes in Australia. Last year,
Kamlesh took the reins in Australia as
Gayatri Parivar’s acting president.
Kamlesh Chaudhary is survived by his
wife Archana and two sons Ankur and
Kirit. The Indian community has lost an
important friend and educator. May God
bless his soul.

August-September 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 27

Body Mind Spirit

The right way to sit, stand, and sleep for
staying healthy all your life.
By Dr Tilak Kalra
ome 20 years ago, a lady who complained of pain in
the abdomen area and had been cleared of any abnormality after extensive tests started me thinking to conclude that it had to do with her sitting posture. I noticed that
she sat in a position where there was no pressure on her tail
bone. I recommended her to buy a haemorrhoid ring and sit
Posture is defined as the characteristic of how a person
holds his or her body while standing, sitting, sleeping or
We spend at least one third of our life sleeping or lying
in bed. Studies have shown that deprivation of sleep or having poor sleep can lead to deteriorating health outcomes
including coronary heart disease, obesity and diabetes. It
can also lead to lack of concentration, tension headaches and
migraines. Sleeping with a bad posture can lead to
headaches and also reduce cervical, lumber and hip functionality.
The Better Sleep Council says that there are basically
three main sleeping positions with different variations of
each. Those who work on computers or sit in front of a
screen not correctly, could end up with long term pain and
Incorrect standing posture also can lead to some long
term serious issues later in life. Incorrect standing posture
will affect the neck and shoulders and later on can create
breathing problems.

Figure 2


Sleeping on the back with arms on the side is considered
a good position as long as high pillows are not used, especially for those who have back problems. Variations are
where you keep your arms on the tummy, sides or above the
head. One can also keep a pillow under the knees to relieve
pressure on the lower back. Figures 1 and 2 show one without the pillow while the other with the pillow. Pillow supports the neck which is very important. Back sleepers tend
to snore more and invariably suffer from sleep apnoea.
2. Sleeping on the Stomach

Figure 3

Sleeping on the side is a good sleeping position provided one keeps the back reasonably straight and knees together. Variations can be placing hands under the neck or pillow
and/or at right angle to the body as shown in Figure 4.
Another variation is placing one’s upper leg similar to
COMA position as shown in Figure 5. In the latter case the
person twists his lower back which can lead to lower back
and hip problems. It can cause some discomfort in the shoulder.
The other variation of sleeping on the side is in foetal
position as shown in Figure 6. This can lead to curvature of
the spine and significant problems later in life.
Sleep specialists recommend sleeping on your side in order
to rest more comfortably and decrease the likelihood of
interrupted sleep. The most comfortable position involves
bending the knees slightly upwards towards the chest as
shown in Figure 4.
Although Sleeping on the side is decidedly the best position, we all do move during our sleep in particular as we
age. One can also use a pillow in between the knees and it
will help placing the knees together Figure 7.
Use of a pillow is also very important. Using a big pillow can be harmful for your neck. Supporting your neck
with a pillow is very important as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 6

During the early years of my practice there was one
patient who was coming regularly for treatment and who
was not responding well to the treatment. After further
investigation, I found out that he used to sleep on his stomach. Once that was changed, his headaches were alleviated.
From there on I investigated various sleeping positions and
how these positions affect the human body.
It is important to note that the quality of sleep is also
very important. One needs a good sleep for 6-8 hours in
order to charge ones’ bodies, to be ready for work the next
day. When one cannot fall asleep within 30 minutes, their
brain is active and they start thinking about the day’s work
and worrying about the next day.
The aim is to stop mind wandering by a simple technique. If a person starts counting into multiplication of 3 i.e.
3,6,9,12,15 or reverse counting - 1000,999,998,997,996...,
they will not be thinking about their work or any other
thing. Their mind will be concentrating on this exercise and
they will fall into sleep in a very short span of time. My
experience is that this exercise helps at least 80 per cent of
Generally, people who sleep on their stomachs tend to
have headaches and cervical dystrophy.

Sleeping on the stomach is not a good position because
your neck is twisted towards left or right. This can lead to
neck problems over time. It can also lead to back pain
because the curvature of the back is not supported. This can
also affect breathing. People who sleep on their stomach
report increased restlessness caused by frequent tossing and
turning in an effort to get comfortable. They generally suffer with headaches.

Figure 7

3. Sleeping on the left or right Side

Figure 4

Most of us spend our day in a sitting position. These
days we spend a lot of time in front of a screen, either a TV
or a computer. The most common positions are shown in
Figures 8, 9, 10 and 11.

1. Sleeping on the back

Continued on page 29

Figure 1
Figure 5

28 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August-September 2016

Figure 8 (Sitting at an angle )

Body Mind Spirit
Figure 9 (Sitting at the front of the chair)

Figure 16

Figure 12

Figure 13
Figure 10 (Sitting at the back of the chair)

Figure 17

Figure 18

Getting up from a Chair
Figure 11 ( with a cushion at the back )

In all sitting positions the body weight is at the bottom
of a person. If the back is supported then all of the body
weight does not fall on the bottom. This can be achieved by
sitting at the back of the chair or by placing a pillow or a
cushion as shown in Figure 11.

Sitting in front of a computer

Figure 14

During a typical day we get up from a chair 50-100
times. The majority of people use their hands to get up. This
places the full body weight on the shoulder. This can affect
Patients who get up from a chair using hands as shown in
figure 14 and figure15, may take a long time to recover. It
is apparent from the pictures that the whole body weight
falls on the shoulders. The correct way to get up from a
chair is to bend forward and use the legs to get up without
using hands. This is shown in Figure 16.

Although majority of people stand correctly, some who
are taller than the average tend to bend their neck and upper
thoracic area forward. This can lead to scoliosis in the upper
back and shoulder pain after a few years. In old age it can
cause breathing problems. These postures are shown in figures 17 & 18. However, in case you have developed shoulders going inwards and upper back leaning forward, you can
correct it slightly by doing simple exercises.
While standing keep your hands at the back instead of
front. This will open up your shoulders. In serious cases you
can roll up a small towel and place this in the middle of your
back horizontally between C-7 and T-12 and lie on a hard
surface as shown in picture19.

Figure 19

Figure 15
As a rule, the middle of the screen should be at eye
level. The back should be straight and supported. This is
demonstrated in Figures 10 and 11.
The arms should be at right angle to the body and be
supported. This can be achieved if you place your chair
under the table and rest your arms at the table. Raise the
level of the chair so that the arms of the chair are at the same
level as the table. Now place your arms on the arms of the
If you are working with a mouse then your elbow should be
slightly higher than your hand. This can be done by placing
a small hand towel under your elbow. This is shown in
Figure 13.
In the sitting position your upper legs should be almost
parallel to the ground. In fact, the angle between the top of
your thigh and the knees should be about 10 degrees
Lower legs should be at right angle to the ground.

People who tend to keep their head in a particular direction, invariably, do not know about it. They develop this at
some time to relieve pain. This can be corrected if a person
sits in front of a mirror and corrects his/her posture. If one
does this two to three times in a day for about a week their
posture will be corrected.
Courtesy: Sleeping position and their effects on health.
Singapore PATIENT conference 2014; Sleeping positions
from Wikipedia; The Better Sleep Council
(Dr Tilak Kalra is a qualified Acupuncturist practicing
for the last 30 years specialising in headaches, migraines,
frozen shoulder, whiplash, knee pain, hamstring, heel spurs
and injuries due to wrong postures. He has successfully
treated Gout, Shingles and sprains with Specific Frequency
Micro current.)

August-September 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 29

Santram's Grey Page

Health and Wellbeing
study by the University of Western Ontario,

By Santram Bajaj
ast month Sydney experienced a very
unusual weather with heavy rains and
strong winds. Many people were
exposed to severe cold, particularly pensioners who could not afford to heat up their
homes properly. I hope all have got their flu
shots to protect themselves in this season.


A word of caution about
bottled water

Healthy, low fat
breakfast ideas
Breakfast, the first meal of the day is the
most important one, say nutritionists.
According to them if you skip your breakfast
your metabolism becomes slow, resulting in
weight gain.
It is not a good idea to indulge in greasy
food during breakfast. Take a pick from these
healthy options.
Muesli with curd and fruits : You have to do
very little here. Take 5-6 tbsp of ready-made
muesli, add curd, chopped nuts and fruits and
eat. But before buying muesli ensure that it
does not contain added sugar and has more
rolled oats than corn-flakes.
Honey brown bread toast : Toast your bread
crisp. Drizzle half a spoon honey on both
sides, sprinkle some white pepper powder,
chopped nuts and eat.
Egg white veggie omelette : In a bowl add 23 egg whites, chopped tomatoes, onions,
green chillies, 3 tsp semolina and salt and
pepper to taste. In a non-stick pan, drizzle one
tsp olive oil and pour the egg mix. Cook on
both sides. Serve hot.
Sweet toast : Toast two slices of brown
bread. In a bowl take 3-4 tsp grated cottage
cheese. Add 1 tbsp powdered brown sugar
and mix well. Cover it with another slice and
grill for 2-3 minutes. Serve with mint chutney.
Sweet chili bread : Take 10 cloves of garlic,
3-4 tsp red chili powder, 2-3 tsp sugar, salt to
taste, 1 tsp olive oil, one small chopped tomato and grind to a fine paste. Take one tsp of
this dip, spread it on a slice of bread, top it
with another slice and grill for 2-3 minutes.
You can store this dip in the refrigerator for
over a week.

Health Hints
Citrus fruit extract may prevent kidney
stones: Kidney stones are small, hard mineral deposits that form inside the kidneys. High
blood pressure, diabetes and obesity can
increase the risk, and the reported incidence is
on the rise.
The compound hydroxyl citrate (HCA) can
dissolve calcium oxalate crystals, the most
common component of human kidney stones,
said the study that prepares the groundwork to
design an effective drug for the painful condition.
Don't take pills with juice, stick to water :
Study by medical association shows fruits
affect absorption of several medicines.
Washing down pills with juice, particularly of citrus fruits, makes the medicine less
effective, the Indian Medical Association
(IMA) has warned.
Orange and apple juices have been shown
to lower the absorption of certain drugs, thus
compromising their effectiveness. On the
other hand, grapefruit juice increases the
absorption of some drugs. This can turn normal doses into toxic ones, according to a

Consumers are paying 2000 times more for
the convenience of drinking out of a bottle.
Fairfax Media survey of bottled water
sold in Sydney's cafes, supermarkets
and convenience stores has found
seven out of 34 brands are "purified" tap
water. According to a recent article in the
Sydney Morning Herald, Nature's Best, based
in Sydney, treats tap water and slaps "pure,
safe" on the label of a 600-millilitre bottle,
which is typically marked up by 1720 per cent
to $2 in shops across Australia.
Fairfax Media spotted farcical claims on
labels, such as "Suitable for vegetarians and
vegans" on Aldi's Northbrook spring water
E. Sydney Water adds small but effective
amounts of sodium, fluoride and chlorine,
among other things, to produce high-quality
tap water that's safe to drink. Consumers are
paying 2000 times more for the convenience
of drinking out of a bottle.


An examination of 350 food products with
the words "nature" or "natural" on the label
has found that half of these do not form part
of a healthy diet, according to the ABC
Health and Wellbeing.
The survey was undertaken by the Living
Lighter campaign, an anti-obesity initiative
run by the Heart Foundation and Cancer
Council of Western Australia.
Half of the products with the words
"nature" or "natural" on the label were essentially junk food.

General information
about some drugs and
Honey : Honey is a sweet fluid made by honeybees from the nectar of flowers. It is generally safe, but there have been reports of certain toxic types of honey made from plants
from the Rhododendron genus and others.
Honey is easy for the body to absorb and use.
It contains about 70-80 percent sugar. The
rest is water, minerals, and some protein,
acids, and other substances. Honey has been
used for wounds, skin problems, and various
diseases of the stomach and intestines. The
antibacterial effects of honey are well-known.
Research has been done on the role of honey
in long-term wound management, as well as
the treatment of ulcers, burns, Fournier's
gangrene (a life-threatening bacterial infection), and diabetes. However, more highquality studies are needed to make firm conclusions on the use of honey.
Glucosamine : Glucosamine is a compound
that is naturally made in humans. It is
involved in the creation of molecules that
form cartilage. Evidence supports the use of
glucosamine sulphate in the treatment of knee
osteoarthritis. It is believed that the sulphate
portion may help strengthen cartilage.
Glucosamine is often taken together with
chondroitin, which comes from cartilage.
Glucosamine has also been studied for possible benefits on wound healing, skin conditions
such as psoriasis, and the prevention of
migraine. More research is needed in these
areas. Research shows that glucosamine is
well tolerated for up to three years. However,
people who are allergic to shellfish should
avoid using Glucosamine. There have been
concerns about the effects of glucosamine on
insulin and blood sugar. However, some
recent studies suggest that glucosamine may
not affect these measures. This remains an
area of controversy.
Zinc : Zinc is a trace mineral that is needed
for many important functions in the body. The
human body contains approximately 2-3
grams of zinc, mostly in the skeletal muscles
and bones. Zinc is also found in the kidney,
pancreas, retina, teeth, hair, skin, liver, blood
cells, prostate, and testes.

Zinc is available through foods such as
beef, pork, shellfish, peanuts, and legumes.
Zinc has been found to be effective for treating diarrhoea, stomach ulcers, and zinc deficiency. There is good evidence to support its
use for acne, ADHD, herpes simplex virus,
immune function, and sickle cell anaemia.
There is still controversy on the role of
zinc for many other diseases. Much evidence
is conflicting or unclear.
Vitamin D : Vitamin D is found in many
foods, including fish, eggs, fortified milk,
and cod liver oil. The sun also adds to the
body's daily production of vitamin D, and as
little as 10 minutes of exposure is thought to
prevent deficiency.
The major role of vitamin D is to maintain
normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which forms and maintains strong bones.
Vitamin D may also protect against osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cancer, and
other diseases.
In children, vitamin D deficiency causes
rickets, which is a softening or weakening of
the bones. In adults, vitamin D deficiency can
lead to osteomalacia, which causes weak
bones and muscles.
People who may be at a high risk for vitamin D deficiency include those who are elderly or obese, those with limited sun exposure, and babies who are exclusively breastfed. People who have conditions such as cystic fibrosis (mucus build-up in the lungs) or
inflammatory bowel disease are also at risk
for vitamin D deficiency.

Wife to husband; “Our new maid is a real
Husband: “Why, what happened?”
Wife: “She stole two of our towels?”
Husband: “Which ones?”
Wife: “The ones we ‘pinched’ from the hotel
in Shimla.”

The remedies and tips have been taken from
reliable resources like Newspapers. If in
doubt, please consult your doctor as no
responsibility, whatsoever of the accuracy or
otherwise can be accepted by ‘The Indian
Down Under’ or the writer of this column.

Mediterranean diet may help maintain brain health
lderly people who follow a Mediterraneanstyle diet may benefit
from better brain health and a
lower risk for cognitive
impairment later in life,
according to a new U.S.
The Mediterranean Diet is a
lifestyle – including foods,
activities, meals with friends
and family, and wine in moderation with meals. Strive for
seven to 10 servings a day of
veggies and fruits. Switch to
whole-grain bread and cereal,
and begin to eat more wholegrain rice and pasta products.
Keep almonds, cashews,
pistachios and walnuts on hand
for a quick snack.
Try olive or canola oil as a
healthy replacement for butter
or margarine’. Herbs and


30 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August-September 2016

spices make food tasty and are
also rich in health-promoting
substances. Season your meals
with herbs and spices rather
than salt.
Eat fish once or twice a
week. Fresh or water-packed
tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel
and herring are healthy choices. Grilled fish tastes good and
requires little cleanup. Avoid
fried fish, unless it's sautéed
in a small amount of canola
Choose low-fat dairy.
Limit higher fat dairy products
such as whole or two percent
milk, cheese and ice cream.
Switch to skim milk, fat-free
yogurt and low-fat cheese.
A high intake of simple
sugars and carbohydrates may
have adverse effects on the

Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

Hindi Humour

225 years old Ghantwala Sweets’ Seventh generation
Sushant Jain with wife Sonia

September - October 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 31


If you live in an apartment
By T. Selva
anded properties are getting scarce and expensive
in Sydney and other major
cities in Australia and potential
house buyers are turning to
apartments and condominiums as
an option.
Studio units are in demand
among young couples and bachelors, and developers are building
smaller versions of homes, some
measuring 500 sq ft and below.
Several buyers have asked
how they can apply the ancient
Indian science of architecture,
Vasthu Sastra, in one large room
which incorporates the living and
dining area, kitchen, bedroom
and bathroom.


The flow of energy is based
on the shape of a structure,
which should be square or rectangular, to ensure even distribution of life force. It does not matter if the space is big or small.
However, the placement of
things may be different from that
of a landed property with a bigger space. First, you need to take
the compass reading to determine
the location the unit is facing.
This can be done by holding a
compass and standing at the main
doorway of the unit, facing outwards.
In a high-rise unit, the direction of the apartment unit should
be seen and not the entire apartment site.
Following this, take the entire
length and width of the unit and
divide the space into three to get
the eight quadrants. For instance,
if the unit faces North, the studio
apartment is regarded as an auspicious entry in Vasthu.
The main door to the Northfacing unit should be located in
the North-East and it should open
towards the right when entering
the unit to allow easy flow of
subtle energy. Although such an

should be sited in the North-West
corner of the unit, which is the
air quadrant and suitable for this
purpose. The kitchen should be
located in the South-East quadrant and the stove should be
located facing East when cooking. Avoid black and grey tabletops because such colours will
promote dullness and lethargy.
The ideal place for the dining
table should be rectangular and it
should be located in the South.
The property owner should
face South when having his
meals, for improved digestion
and health.
The living room can be in the
North sector and the apartment
wall colours should be pleasant
and in soft shades. Avoid black,
grey and blue on the walls and

apartment will not have concrete
partitions, Vasthu can still be
observed in the placement of
amenities in the designated
quadrants. The bed should be
rectangular in shape and it should
be placed in the corner of the

South-West quadrant facing East.
Use mood lighting to create a
relaxing ambience. Avoid any
mirrors which can reflect your
image when sleeping because this
can result in disturbed sleep and
bad dreams. The bathroom

Dr T. Selva is the author of
the bestseller book Vasthu Sastra
Guide and is the first disciple of
7th generation Vasthu Sastra
Master Yuvaraj Sowma from
India. To get a copy call Devi at
0412623017. He can be reached
at Website:


The Punjab-Georgia Farmer Exchange Program

he word spread quickly through the
farming community in Georgia:
thousands of Indian farmers, mostly from the northern state of Punjab, were
heading to Georgia to buy large parcels of
fertile land.
“Who’s selling it to ’em? That’s what
I wanna know,” Jack Turner said to his
friend Conrad Brown, as they sat in the
annual meeting of the Georgia Farmers
Association (GFA).
“Heck if I know, but I heard they’re
getting it dirt cheap. Like $500 an acre.”
“Whoa! I never heard of dirt so
cheap. You sure it’s in Georgia?”
“Yes, it’s Georgia all right. Saw it on
the Internet with my own two eyes.”
“Dang! How come we can’t find land
so cheap?”
“I dunno, but I heard Indians are good
at bargaining. That’s what my friend
Ronnie says. He used to own a Quality
Inn in Gainsville and tried to sell it to an
Indian guy for $4 million, but the Indian
guy said, ‘Just sell me the Inn for $1 million, you can keep the Quality.’”
“And did he sell it to him?”
“Yes, it’s now called Quantity Inn.
They allow ten guests per room.”


Meanwhile, thousands of miles away
in Punjab, two farmers were discussing
the opportunities in Georgia.
“I’m dying with excitement,
Satwinder. I looked at a map and Georgia
is next to Florida. My cousin, Sukhdeep,
lives in Florida. When I tell him I might
be visiting him soon, he will be dying
“I hope your cousin is smarter than
you, Mandeep. We’re not going to the
state of Georgia — we’re going to the
country of Georgia.”
“Country of Georgia? You mean
Georgia is an independent country now?
When did it break away from America?
Stupid Google hasn’t updated their maps.”
Meanwhile, in the country of Georgia,
two farmers were drinking tea and discussing the influx of farmers from India.
“There’s just too many of them coming. Every day, another plane-load.”
“You want the government to stop
giving out so many visas?”
“Yes, that would be a good idea. But
not until my brother and sister get here.”
“Oh, Mohinder, you can’t just bring
your relatives over. It’s not fair to the rest
of our village.”
“That’s true, Kulwinder. But if they
all come here, we’ll be back in India.”
Meanwhile, at a tavern in Tbilisi, the
capital of Georgia, two men were drinking Kazbegi beer and arguing about the
benefits of allowing Indian farmers to purchase so much land.
“What do you have against the Indian
farmers anyway, Levan?”

32 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August-September 2016

“They’re so different from us, Zurab.
Look at them. They wear turbans and
they speak a strange language and they’re
using up all the carbon dioxide.”
“You mean they don’t breathe oxygen
like us?”
“No, you idiot. I’m talking about all
the plants they’re growing.”
Meanwhile, at a courthouse in Tbilisi,
the authorities were pleased that they had
finally caught one of the foreigners doing
something illegal and brought him before
a judge.
“You’ve been accused of operating a
pharmacy without a license. Is it true?”
“Yes, it is true, your honor. But it is
not my fault. You see, my name is
Charanmanjayavarun. People are having
trouble pronouncing it, so I say, just call
me Farmer C. Next thing I know, people
are coming from all over Georgia, asking
me for medicine. So I bring some from
India. Ayurvedic medicine. I’m only trying to help.”
“Do you have something for back
pain? My back has been killing me.”

“Come and see me. I will give you a
special mattress from India. Ayurvedic
Posturepedic. Your pain will disappear.”
“You brought a mattress from India?”
“Well, it is really a mat. I am exaggerating about the ‘tress’ part. But it is
very good for your back.”
“Thank you, Charanma … Farmer C.
You are free to go.”
Meanwhile, back in the state of
Georgia, Jack Turner and Conrad Brown
were studying a map.
“So that’s where it is, Jack … I didn’t
realize it was so close to the mountains.”
“Are you sure we’re doing the right
thing? We don’t even know how to speak
“We can’t afford to pass this up. Look
at the incentives the government is offering us: land subsidies, free water, lifetime
supply of suntan lotion. They need new
farmers to replace the ones who’ve left.”
“This is really crazy. We’re going
there and they’re coming here.”
“Yeah, I know. What is this world
coming to?”


1. Mat28082016AS. Suitable match for our
son, Australian Citizen, B.Com., LLB, LLM, 5’9’’,
age 31, lawyer in a multi-national law firm in
Sydney. Seeking preferably local Sydney girl, professionally qualified, age 26-31 years and career-oriented girl from Hindu family. Please reply to:
2. Mat28082016RM. Looking for a suitable
well qualified match for Punjabi khatri boy born Jan
1990 5'11" tall fair working as chartered accountant
in a very reputed company as senior accountant in
Sydney. Australian citizen.
3. Mat28082016SV. We invite a suitable match
for our daughter, 164 cm tall, 33 years this Sept,
Chemical Engineer from Uni of Q. Belongs to a
well-settled and respected Hindu family in Australia
since 1970. Comfortable in both Indian and
Australian cultures, speaks good Hindi. Looking
for boys from similar background, medico, dentist,
IT professionals or in a good business, non-veg,
non-smokers are welcome to respond with a photo
4. Mat16052016MM. Match for my daughter
Hindu Gujarati Australian born brought up vegetarian well cultured 28 year old girl, beautiful, fair, tall
5.7, educated completed Diploma in Paralegal and

also Completed Bachelor of Business and Currently
Studying Bachelor of Law - University of Western
Sydney Rose Hill Part time while working full time
with Department of Immigration. Looking for a
Hindu, fair, tall and handsome, vegetarian non
smoker and non drinker preferred, 5.10ft to 6 ft. tall
highly educated please contact by email -
5. Mat170616MS. Looking for a suitable match
for boy, 39 year old, 5’ 8” tall, divorcee. Running an
Australian Grill restaurant. Hindu, educated, good
traditional values would like a girl from Australia
with similar values and traditions. Divorcees can
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August - September 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 33

34 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August - September 2016

The Kersi Meher-Homji Column

India start sensationally in West Indies

Virat Kohli smashed a double ton and R. Ashwin scored 113
and took 7 wickets in the first Test in Antigua.

By Kersi Meher-Homji
he Anil Kumble – Virat Kohli
partnership worked splendidly in
the first Test against the West
Indies in Antigua. It must be very satisfying for Kumble as it was his first Test
as India’s coach. And what a debut!
India's emphatic triumph by an
innings and 92 runs last month is their
biggest win outside the subcontinent, surpassing the victory by an innings and 90
runs against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo in


September 2005. Apart from the above
two huge victories, India's two other
wins by an innings margins outside the
subcontinent are by an innings and 46
runs against England at Leeds in August
2002 and by an innings and two runs
against Australia at Sydney in January
However, India's biggest Test win is
by an innings and 239 runs against
Bangladesh at Dhaka in May 2007.
India won the toss and batted brilliantly before declaring at 8 for 566.

Mali Richards (seen with father Sir Viv Richards) presented the
double ton painting to Virat Kohli.
Kohli scored a magnificent 200 (with 24
fours) adding 105 runs for the third wicket with Shikar Dhawan (who made 84)
for the third wicket and 168 for the fifth
wicket with Ravichandran Ashwin (113).
The Windies were dismissed for 243
and 231, off-spinner Ashwin capturing 7
for 83 in the second innings. He was the
worthy Man of the Match.
Legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar
congratulated Kohli, Kumble and Ashwin
to set up India's biggest margin of victory outside the sub-continent. Former

India skipper and iconic orthodox leftarm off-spinner Bishan Singh Bedi
expressed the hope that the team crushed
the West Indies 4-0 and reach no. 1 in
Test ranking.
India started the second Test in
Kingston well to take a commanding 304
run lead in the first innings. After dismissing the West Indians for 196
(Ashwin taking 5 for 52) India amassed 9
declared for 500, opener Lokesh Rahul
scoring 158 and Ajinkya Rahane an
unbeaten 108. The Test ended in a draw.

Kumble among top three bowlers in Test history
BBi = Best Bowling in an innings, BBT=Best Bowling in a Test,
5w/i = 5 wickets in an innings, 10w/T = 10 wickets in a Test.

nil Kumble, the new coach of
Team India, is statistically
among the top three bowlers
in the annals of Test cricket. All three
bowlers to take more than 600 Test
wickets are spinners - Sri Lanka’s
Australia’s Shane Warne (708) and
India’s Kumble (619).
Like Warne, Kumble was a legspin and googly bowler while
Muralitharan was an off-spinner who
confounded batsmen with his doosra.
The fourth highest Test wickettaker is Australia’s fast-medium
bowler Glenn McGrath (563 wickets
at 21.64 in 124 Tests).
Among these four top bowlers,
Kumble is the only one to score a Test
century, 110 not out against England
in The Oval 2007 Test. Warne came
close, 99 against New Zealand in the
Perth 2001 Test. Kumble is only the
second bowler to take all 10 wickets
in a Test innings. It was against


Pakistan in the 1999 Delhi Test. The
other bowler to grab all 10 in an
innings was England’s off-spinner Jim
Laker, 10-53 against Australia in the
1956 Manchester Test. They are the
only two in this exclusive all-ten
wickets in an innings group in the 139
year history of Test cricket.
To quote Rahul Bhattacharya from
CricInfo, “No bowler in history won
India more Test matches than Anil
Kumble, and there probably hasn't
been a harder trier either. Like the
great tall wrist-spinners Bill O'Reilly
and his own idol BS Chandrasekhar,
Kumble traded the leg-spinner’s
proverbial yo-yo for a spear, as the
ball hacked through the air rather than
hanging in it and came off the pitch
with a kick rather than a kink.”
The innings victory in Antigua this
July must have provided Kumble with
pleasant but painful memories. In the
May Antigua 2002 Test against the
West Indies he bowled a memorable

spell despite a heavily bandaged fractured jaw. During that Test a blow
from fast bowler Mervyn Dillon left
him spitting blood on the pitch. But he
kept batting for four overs. Refusing
to fly home for surgery he came on
the field, his head sheathed in bandages like a warrior’s and resembling an
astronaut. Despite a broken jaw he
bowled 14 consecutive overs and dismissed Brian Lara.
Holder of many Indian records, he
will be remembered for influencing
memorable wins in Headingly,
Multan, Kingston and Adelaide.
He was India’s captain in the 2008
controversial Sydney Test remembered for India’s spinner Harbhajan
Singh accused of calling Australian
batsman Andrew Symonds “a monkey”. Much has been written on this
unpleasant episode. Skipper Kumble
showed that although mild in manner,
he can take false accusations head on
and not succumb to injustice.

August-September 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 35

The Kersi Meher-Homji column

Sri Lanka thrash Australia in Kandy
thanks to Mendis magic
hat a topsy-turvy Test in Sri
Lanka! Can you imagine a team
bowled out for 117 and trailing
by 86 runs in the first innings triumphing
by 106 runs? This was in the first Test
between Sri Lanka and Australia in Kandy
where Sri Lanka won to lead 1-0 in the
three-Test series.
It was Test cricket at its best; it had its
ups and downs and ups, fast scoring at
times with screeching brakes applied in
the final two epic hours.
It was gripping how Australia’s Peter
Nevill and injured Steve O’Keefe stayed
together for 105 minutes scoring only
four runs.
Boring? Not a bit of it. Absolutely
It appeared impossible for numbers 7
and 10 batsmen to survive the last three
hours, especially as the No. 10 batsman
O’Keefe had pulled hamstring the previous day and was to be sent home after this
He could barely walk and running was
out of the question. Still he faced 98 balls
and survived 105 agonising minutes
against top quality spinners on a spinner’s
paradise and scored four runs.
Although only four runs were added by
the gallant pair off 178 balls, it was excit-


Kusal Mendis’s 176 runs outscored Sri Lanka’s total of 117 in the first innings and
Australia’s 161 in the second, making him worthy man of the match.

ing. I could not move from my seat as I
saw ball after ball defended by Nevill and
O’Keefe as if their life depended on it.
About time this new rule of injured
batsmen not allowed a runner is revisited.
I do realise that some batsmen in the past
– especially Ranatunga of Sri Lanka a
decade ago – were taking unfair advantage to have a fleet-footed runner instead.
But genuine injury as O’Keefe suffered

did deserve him a runner. He just could
not run. Australia must have lost almost
25 runs due to this.
First Australia was on top leading by
86 runs in this Test. Then arrived Sri
Lanka’s Kushal Mendis on the pitch. His
176 runs (with 24 fours and a six)
changed everything. His splendid innings
outscored Sri Lanka’s total of 117 in the
first innings and Australia’s 161 in the

India-Windies 2nd Test

second. Magical Mendis was the worthy
man of the match.
Not to forget Sri Lanka’s slow left-arm
spinners Rangana Herath (4-49 and 5-54)
and debutant Lakshan Sandakan (4-58 and
3-49) and Australia’s off-spinner Nathan
Lyon who took five wickets in the match
and 200th in his Test career.
Sri Lanka won by 106 runs. Pity, so
few were present to cheer their players
beating the strong no. 1 Test team. It was
Steven Smith’s first defeat as Test captain. As a consolation, he was the only
Australian to score a fifty in this exciting
The do or die defence by Nevill and
O’Keefe reminded me of the 1961
Adelaide Test between Australia and the
West Indies.
Needing 460 runs to win, Australia
were on their knees when nine wickets
down for 207. A certain defeat was looming when no.11 batsman Lindsay Kline
joined Ken Mackay. They survived for
the last 100 minutes adding 66 runs for
the unbroken last wicket to ensure a draw
for the home team.
But history was not repeated in the
Kandy Test. Disappointingly for
Australia, the rain did not come to save
them the match!

Four year-old Shayan
shows promise

Chase’s heroic century
frustrates India in Kingston S
t looked only a matter of
time before India won
the second Test in
Kingston to take a 2-0 lead
in the four Test series. India
held a huge 304 run lead
thanks to centuries by opening batsman Lokesh Rahul
and Ajinkya Rahane. Offspinner Roston Chase, playing only his second Test,
took 5 for 121.
India pressed on the
accelerator to grab four
West Indies wicket for only
48 runs in the second
innings on the fourth day.
Only a matter of time, said
the experts.
Then came a big transformation. Known more for his
off-spin bowling, tall 24
year-old Chase changed it
all on the final day. He
scored an unbeaten gutsy
137 (15 fours, one six),
adding 93 runs for the fifth


Roston Chase, known more for his off-spin bowling (he did take 5
for 121), scored an unbeaten 237.

Blackwood (63), 144 for the
sixth wicket with Shane
Dowrich (74) and 103 for
the unbroken seventh wicket
with skipper Jason Holder
(64 not out). Thanks to

Chase the Test was drawn.
For his five wicket haul and
an unbeaten match-saving
century Chase was the worthy Man of the Match. India
leads 1-0 in the series with
two more Tests to follow.

36 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August-September 2016

hayan Jamal is only four
years old but is talented
and determined. He has
been included in the Under-12
team of his Hamdard Public
His school cricket coach from
Delhi told India’s eminent cricket writer Bipin Dani, “I found
talent in this boy and have
included him in the U-12 team.
He has potential and talent to
play with the elder boys. He
loves batting but I have also
been trying him to bowl at
the nets.
“He has now been practicing
with older boys and I can vouch
that he is the most talented
among all other boys. If he continues to train like this he will
certainly become a good cricketer”. Later, his father Arshad
Jamal told Dani in Kashmir
Times, “His elder team-mates
are Shayan's fans. I spotted talent in my son when he was hardly 18 months old. After getting
up from the bed every morning,
he used to ask me to switch on
TV and watch the match with
him. When I saw that the boy is
curiously watching the game on
TV, I took him to nearby
Subhash Complex, where he

Shayan has been chosen for
Under-12 team of Hamdard
Public School in Delhi.

saw young boys playing cricket.
“He liked the place and insisted to visit it everyday. I took
him to a local club here. He
waited for my arrival at night
and whenever I come home, he
is ready with bat and ball to play
with me. He has superb technique and hunger to play...
Inshallah, he may play one day
for India”.

The Kersi Meher-Homji Column

Swashbuckling Sehwag Soaking pitch robs India
awarded MCC membership
of top Test ranking
ndia’s dynamic opening batsman
Virender (Viru) Sehwag was recently
Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) membership. “He will be able to enjoy all
privileges at Lord’s, the Mecca of
Cricket”, said Rhys Hayward, the
Digital Editor at MCC, world’s oldest
and most exclusive cricket club.
“Sehwag will enjoy all the normal
rights and privileges of a Full Member
of the Club”, Hayward told India’s eminent sports writer Bipin Dani over the
phone from Lord’s in London. “He will
get free entry to Lord's for all matches”.
Sehwag has only played one Test at
Lord’s, London, in 2002, in which he
scored 84 and 27 runs. Overall Sehwag
played 103 Tests from 2001 to 2013
scoring 8,586 runs at an average of
49.34, hitting 23 centuries and 32
fifties, highest score being a fabulous
319. This was against Pakistan in
Multan in 2003-04 where he reached his
triple ton with a six.
Viru compiled Test runs at a faster
pace than anyone in the history of cricket. No wonder he has been described as
Swashbuckling Sehwag.
MCC has more than 300 Life
Members and the Honorary Life
Memberships are awarded to famous
cricketers (men and women) and offi-


oaking pitch and outfield due to earlier heavy rains have robbed India of
no. 1 ranking in Test cricket. India
had to win this Test against West Indies in
Port-of-Spain to retain their top position.
A draw and Pakistan would get the top
I could imagine the Indian supporters
chanting “Rain, rain, go away” while the
Pakistani fans singing “Barso ré” [heavy
After Sri Lanka whitewashing
Australia 3-0 in the series in Sri Lanka in
mid-August, Australia lost its no.1 Test
That time on virtue of winning the
series in West Indies 2-0, India shot up to
be the top-ranked Test nation. But they
had to win the final Test in Port-of-Spain
in Trinidad to retain their no.1 spot. A
draw or loss would mean Pakistan will
jump to no.1 in Test cricket.
Prior to the Port-of-Spain Test India
(112 points) had one point lead over
Pakistan (111) who drew the Test series 22 against England in England a week earlier.
Unfortunately, with the draw in the
final Test due to rains and wet outfield,
Pakistan is now the top-ranked nation in
Test matches.
This could have been avoided if the
West Indies Cricket Board had better dry-


cials associated with cricket.
Viru is the 23rd Indian player to be
awarded this honour. The last one was
Anjum Chopra, the woman cricketer,
earlier this year.
Viru Sehwag and wife Aarti were
delighted at this honour.

ing system like “super soaker”. It rained
heavily on the first two days but the sun
did come out on the following two days.
Thus inefficiency and poor weather cost
India the numero uno(number one place)
in Test cricket.
Australia shares the third place with
England (108 points each).
How the mighty Australians have fallen! And it was not just Sri Lankan left-arm
spinner Rangana Herath who captured 13145 in the final Test in SSC Colombo and
28 scalps in the three Test series at 12.75
was the destroyer of Australia.
Almost every Sri Lankan player contributed to their victory; rescuing them
from 117 runs all out in the first Test in
Kandy and being 5-26 in the final Test in
Apart from fast bowler Michelle Starc
(who took 24 wickets at 15.16 in the
series), Australia failed to live up to their
reputation. Lack of application was the
main reason for their batting collapses
after promising starts.
After their convincing victory over
Australia, Sri Lanka has risen to no.6 –
overtaking South Africa.
Australia’s record in Asia has been
shocking of late, having lost badly to India
in India: 0-4 in 2012-13, 0-2 in 2010-11
and 0-2 in 2008-09. Spin bowling on subcontinental pitches has been their bugbear.

Sindhu, Sakshi, Dipa to get Khel Ratna

PV Sindhu won a silver in women’s
badminton singles
New Delhi: The Sports Ministry
on Aug 22 announced that Rio
Olympics medallists -- shuttler
P.V. Sindhu and wrestler Sakshi
Malik -- will receive the country's highest sporting honour,
Khel Ratna award, along with
gymnast Dipa Karmakar and
shooter Jitu Rai. The award
includes a cash prize of Rs.7.5
Sindhu bagged a silver in badminton women’s singles. Sakshi
won a bronze. Dipa Karmakar

Pairing with Serena Williams, Indian American
Rajeev Ram won silver in mixed doubles tennis.

Wrestler from Haryana, Sakshi Malik
brought home a bronze.

came 4th I artistic gymnastics.
And an Indian settled in
America, Rajeev Ram, also won
a silver with Serena Williams in
mixed doubles tennis.
Dipa's coach Bisheshwar
Nandi has been selected for the
Dronacharya award along side
Team India skipper Virat Kohli's
coach Raj Kumar Sharma, athletics coach Nagapuri Ramesh and
boxing coach Sagar Mal Dhayal.
Gopichand received the coveted

award in 2009.
President Pranab Mukherjee
will give away the awards at
Rashtrapati Bhavan on August
29, which is celebrated as the
National Sports Day.
Sindhu and Dipa were accorded rousing receptions at their
hometowns on return from the
Olympics. "It was my first
Olympics. I was very excited.
My aim was to play well and give
my 100 percent. I never thought
of medal. We took it match by

match and prepared the strategy,"
said Sindhu on Monday.
Her coach Pullela Gopichand
said the world has seen only
glimpses of what Olympic Sindhu
is capable of.
Meanwhile, the Tripura government welcomed Dipa with
open arms in Agartala. Tripura
Chowdhury said national sports
awards to Dipa and her coach
would benefit Tripura sports.
"I will try extremely hard to

get gold medals in the forthcoming Asian Games (2018 in
Jakarta), Commonwealth Games
(2018 in Australia) and 2020
Tokyo Olympics. I shall try to
deliver my best in future," said
Dipa, who set a record by becoming the first Indian gymnast to
qualify for Olympics in 52 years.
Tripura Education Minister
Tapan Chakraborty declared a
holiday on Aug 23 at all educational institutions in the state in
honour of Dipa.

August-Septmber 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 37

38 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER August - September 2016

September - October 2016 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER 39

40 THE INDIAN DOWN UNDER September - October 2016