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PUBLISHER/EDITOR Neeraj Nanda M: 0421 677 082

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SAT NEWS BUREAU/Australia (Melbourne) Neeraj Nanda

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october-november 2019

Festivals to spice up the multicultural ethos


elbourne: It's come again and will keep coming. The last three months of the year are all set to dazzle with the festive season, 2019 is no exception. Big and small events and celebrations are already happening. Victoria's multicultural atmosphere will no doubt, add to the festivities. Different communities will mix with each other and exchange gifts and sweets. Dlwall Is on our door step and Christmas not far away. Some of you will be going overseas and celebrating with friends and relatives. Those who are here the fun will not be less. And this season we will once more pledge to maintain respect for each other's faith's and culture. This is the best bet to preserve multicultural and secular Victoria and Australia. Dlwall (also spelled Devali in certain regions) or Deepawali, popularly known as the "festival of lights", is an important festival in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, celebrated for different reasons, occurring between mid-October and mid-November each year. For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and Is celebrated in families by performing Laxmi pupa and

traditional cultural activities In homes. For Jains, Dlwall marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BC. For Sikhs,Dlwall is celebrated as BandhiChhorDiwas. In recent times, inIndia, Australia andother countries, Dlwall is celebrated by people of all communities irrespective of region or religion. It reflects the multicultural dimension which unites people into humankind. Dlwall fairsare held in all prominent Australian towns by Indian organisations and attended by people of all faiths and communities. It is also known as the 'Indian X-Mas' to many Australians. The name "Diwali" is a contraction of "Deepavall", which translates Into "row of lamps". Dlwall involves the lighting of small clay lamps (diyas or dipas) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. But these days electric lights light up homes and offices. During Diwall, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends. Dlwall as per belief commemorates the return of Lord Rama, along with Slta and Lakshmana, from his 14-year-long exile and vanquishing the demon-

address P O Box 465, Brentford Square, Vic. 3131 Phone: (03) 9884 8096; Mobile: 0421 677 082 Email:


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DISCLAIMER South Asia Times (SAT) is a monthly newspaper published in English (2 pages in Hindi) from Melbourne, Australia. Contributors supply material to SAT at their own risk and any errors will be corrected as quickly as possible. SAT does not accept responsibility for the authenticity of any advertisement, text content or a picture in the publication. No material, including text or advertisements designed by the SAT or pictures may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the editor/publisher. Opinions/stories/ reports or any text content are those of the writers/contributors and not necessarily endorsed by the SAT. - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

king Ravana. In Joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capitalof Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen Diyas. The festival startswith Dhanteras on which most Indian business communities begin their financial year. The second day of the festival, Naraka Chaturdasi, marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama. Amavasya, the third day of Deepawall, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Vishnu, who in his dwarfincarnation vanquished the Ball, and banished him to Patala. It is on the fourth day of Deepawall, Kartika ShuddaPadyami, that Bali went to patala and took the reins of his new kingdomin there. The fifth day Is referred to as Yama Dvitlya (also called BhaiDooj), and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes. Meanwhile, in Melbourne the festival season has begun and the cultural scene has been picking up. Big Dlwall fairs will take place soon, This year, Celebrate India will be having Diwali@ Fed Square on 19 October, 2019 in the city, on 20 October, 2018 AIII DlwallMela will be held at the Springers Leisure Centre, Keysborough among many other Dlwall events. Dlwali related fairs and other events arealso planned In different suburbs. Many good movies are also gearing up for release in cinemas during this season. Shopping is great fun and has already started. Indian and South Asian shops in Little India, Dandenong and different suburbs are full of Diwali stuff and Indian Sweet shops are gearing up for all those who have a sweet tooth. Christmas and New Year eve festivities and parties are not far away. Exciting and fun filled days lie ahead. The community will be active and enjoy the season in a typical multicultural atmosphere. Living, working and enjoying together will further enhance our togetherness. Australia and Victoria’s democratic, secular and diverse ambience adds to our strengths as we celebrate each other’s joy. South Asia Times (SAT) will bring you all the reports of the fun filled days ahead in Its hard copy, website and social media. We at SAT wish all the best to you and your family for the festivals. These festivities, no doubt, are manifestations of our faiths, dreams and the real world. It boils down to – Many communities, One humanity. —Neeraj Nanda

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Big entertainment at the Casey Garbha Night By SAT News Desk


elbourne: The fourth consecutive Casey Garba Night was held this year on 27 September 2019 with great enthusiasm and gaiety.

Thousands attended and danced with the music at the Casey Stadium, as the event progressed into big festivities. The local businesses supported event was attended among others by Mr. Adem Somyurek, Minister for small business,

Kaushaliya Vaghela MP, Manoj Kumar, ex Labor candidate Forest Hill and the Mayor of the City of Casey Amanda. The office bearers Suresh Patel, Rajnikant Patel, Yogi patel, Nilesh Patel, Nikhil bhai and others of the Casey Multicultural

Festivals Organisation did a good job. Minister AdemSomyurek in a Tweet said, “I couldn’t get to Gujarat during my visit to India but the Gujaratis have come to my electorate. I joined thousands of Gujarat is as they celebrated Garba - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

at the Casey Stadium with Kaushaliya Vaghela who being a Gujarati herself got a rock stars’ reception. The excellent event that went into the mid night will remain in the memories of the community for a long time.

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Neighbourhood Watch Tarneit Central’s community award ceremony a success By SAT News Desk


ELBOURNE, 14 September: The Neighbourhood Watch Tarneit Central organised a community awards day and the continuation of International Yoga Day today at the Tarneit Rise Primary School. It was attended by various community groups, MPs and local area counsellors. It was great to see a lot of activities and cultural programs organised by children and other

performers. Those attending included Joanne Ryan MP for Lalor, Kaushaliya Vaghela MP for Western Metropolitan, Sarah Connolly MP for Tarneit& Wyndham City CounsellorsCr. John Gibbons, Cr, Walter Villagonzalo, Cr. Intaj Khan and Victoria Police officers. Maureen Bathgate from Neighbourhood Watch Victoria also attended the event. The team that made great efforts to make this event successful were Sanjay Sethi

(Secretary), Hyder Hussaini (President), Vijaya Kedia (Vice President), Hima Himani (Media Spokesperson and executive member)Venkat Nookala (executive member), Reeti Jaiswal (executive member) and Sanjay Patel (executive member). Other who supported and supported included Melbourne Telengana Forum, Federation of Australia Telangana Association, Sonika from Home Loan Studio,

Danny Sharma from Subway, Pradeep Kumar Das from Gardenview Homes, Abdul Mujeeb Syed & Jamal from TrueValue Real Estate and the Auzzies Group & Burnley Homes. The organisers have thanked Neeraj Nanda South Asia Times (SAT), Jitarth Jai Bharadwaj– SBS, A1 Media – Sana Zia & Sumair Masood, Sanjhi Awaz Radio and Shri Photos for the media coverage of the event. —Supplied.

It was great to see a lot of activities and cultural programs organised by children and other performers.

Little India Shopping Fest 12-13 OCT 2019 By SAT News Desk


ELBOURNE: The Little India Traders Association (LITA) is organising a massive shopping bonanza in Little India, Foster Street, Dandenong on 12-13 October 2019. The shopping festival will coincide with the festival season including Diwali in October. The event is being supported by the Dandenong Council and the Development Victoria. Big shopping, cultural, food, Henna, rides, fashion, and entertainment is planned during the two days of the festival. Discounts for visitors will be offered and a variety of festival stuff will be available. Little India, Dandenong is one of the longest standing and prominent Indian market in Victoria which has about 30 specialized stores including fashion, restaurants, music, grocery, hair and beauty parlour, museum, accountants fromdifferent ethnicities like Indian, Fijian, Pakistani, African etc. Little India was established about 25 years ago in Dandenong on the Foster

Street near the Dandenong Railway station. In 2015 the Victorian Government led by Danial Andrews announced Little India, Dandenong as the first ever an Indian CulturalPrecinct of Melbourne. The organisers, the newly formed LITA is an association of about 21 odd members lead by Mr. Hitesh Shah (Dulhan Exclusives) as a President and his team includes Mr. Sayeed Khan of Shalimar Groceries as Vice President, Mrs. Sudesh Singh (Saree Sansar) as a Secretary and Mrs. Shameela Singh (Nikita Fashion) as the Treasurer. The main aim of the Little India Traders Association is to promote Indian/South Asian culture and heritage in the wide multi-cultural society of Victoria and to promote Little India as a brand. Most of the traders have been running their business sinceabout 20 years. Due to the current down turn and global financial crises and also huge influence of online shopping businesses in Little India have been suffering massive loss of Income and many struggling

to survive. To beat thisthe initiative of the Little India Shopping Festival-2019 came into existence. A similar event was organized

in 2012 which was a grand success with around 10,000 attending it. Little India Traders Association has invitedall - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

to come on 12-13 October and support the local traders during this shopping festival. —Supplied

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‘Raksha Bandhan’ celebrated at the HSV Cultural Centre


ELBOURNE, 14 September: The 4th HOTA Forum Raksha Bandhan event was celebrated on 14th September 2019 at the HSV Cultural Centre in Carrum Downs, Melbourne with great enthusiasm. The night commenced with prayers by Mrs Rukumini Ashok Kumar and Vedic chanting by children of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan (DJJS). Deepa Prajwalana (lamp lighting) was performed by representatives of various organisations present - Dr. Ramani Kadachan, Mrs Sandhya Padmanabhan, Parsu Sharma, Dr. Mandvi Bharadwaj and Mrs Sarabjeet Kaur. Mr Vikas Sharma from DJJS welcomed guests, followed by address of Smt. Geeta Devi - Chair of HOTA Forum Victoria. She stated that Raksha Bandhan is a community collaboration of several organisations working together. Chief guest, Ms. Sonya Kilkenny, State MP representing Carrum

Downs in her speech recognised the important contributions of the Hindu community in Victoria to multicultural Australia. Thereafter, the Rakhi ceremony was performed where youth tied Rakhi to eminent guests. Hindu Society Victoria (HSV) president Dr. Siva Kadachan, Mr Parsu Sharma-Luital JP of Help Himalayan

Youth Foundation, Dr Raju Adhikari, President, South Asian Community Australasia Link Group (SACLG) and Ms Sonya Kilkenny MP participated in the Rakhi ceremony. This year’s guest of honour was former Governor of Mizoram Hon Dr Kummanam Rajasekharan, who was visiting Australia from his home state of Kerala. He

spoke on the significance of Raksha Bandhan in terms of ‘Karma’ – each one’s contribution or action to help community at large. The 2019 “Tejaswini - Woman of Substance” award was presented to an inspirational community leader, educator and Vedic exponent Mrs Prem Arya, for her invaluable services to the Wyndham community by initiating a - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

project to enhance health and break isolation of seniors. Mr Chidambaram Srinivasan from Multicultural Arts Victoria presented the award. Representatives from more than forty-five organisations including Sri. Durga Mandir and Vaishnav Sangh, their committed members and supporters enjoyed the evening.

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south asia community 10 South Asia Timestimes Andrews Govt. to celebrate Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday by illuminating Melbourne landmarks and $ 200,000 funding for 18 events

october-november 2019

By SAT News Desk

also be lit in saffron on 12 November in honour of the occasion, including the Bolte Bridge, the Arts Centre, Melbourne Museum and AAMI Stadium. The Labor Government’s Sikh Celebrations and Events Fund will support 20 events this year, including: • The Humanity Walk in the Melbourne CBD, with 20,000 Victorians expected to attend • Geelong’s Humanity Walk, with participants walking from Rippleside Park to Steampacket Gardens • The Multicultural Community Parade to be held in Bendigo on 27 October • The Guru Nanak Sikh Society Shepparton for celebrations running from 8 to 13 November • Punjabi Sath Melbourne, which will run the Guru Nanak Birthday Literary


ELBOURNE, 19 September: The Victoria Government is supporting Victoria’s Sikh communities as they kick off celebrations for the 550th birthday anniversary of Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Minister for Multicultural Affairs Richard Wynne today announced that 18 organising groups will share in $200,000 to hold a range of events throughout October and November in 2019 – fulfilling a key election commitment. Sikh communities right across the world celebrate Guru Nanak – the first Guru and founder of Sikhism. These events are considered the most sacred in Sikhism. Buildings and landmarks around Melbourne will

Sikh communities right across the world celebrate Guru Nanak – the first Guru and founder of Sikhism. These events are considered the most sacred in Sikhism. Function • The Travels and Teachings of Guru Nanak Art Exhibition at RMIT University.

Warm send off to the outgoing Indian High Commissioner Dr. A M Gondane By SAT News Desk


ELBOURNE, 11 September: The outgoing Indian High Commissioner in Australia, Dr A M Gondane today said relations between India and Australia had progressed but talks on a free trade pact between

the two countries remain conclusive. The High Commissioner mentioned the importance of the rising number of Indian students in Australia and Melbourne being their main destination. Mr. Gondane also without naming Kashmir, detailed the Indian government’s recent steps there and wanted the Indian diaspora to clarify any issues

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they have with the Indian diplomatic missions. He was addressing a select gathering at the Indian Consulate called to catch up with him as he has ended his three years’ term as the High Commissioner in Canberra. The Indian Consul in Melbourne presented a memento to him appreciating his personality and the work he did in Australia. Mr. Gondane refused to name his successor, when asked by SAT, but said the name was being finalised and is likely to be known by next month. The outgoing High Commissioner mixed and talked with community members and others present and posed for photographs. - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

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Lowest number of visas granted in a decade under Australia’s Permanent Migration Program in 2018-19

By Neeraj Nanda


ELBOURNE, 5 September: The Morrison Government granted the lowest number of visas under the country’s Permanent Migration Program, in a decade. Also, this year’s Migration Cap has been reduced from 190,000 to 160,000. A media release from the office of The Hon David Coleman MP, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs says, “160,323 visas were granted in 2018-19 under the Permanent Migration Program, the lowest number in a decade.”

“This year we’ve reduced the cap for the Migration Program from 190,000 to 160,000, “it further discloses. But Minister for Immigration, Citizenship,

Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said the Government will continue to increase its focus on regional migration.

“Our population plan will ease the pressure on the big capitals while supporting the growth of those smaller cities and regions that want more people,” Mr Coleman said. “We’re also dedicating 23,000 places for regional skilled migrants and have announced two new regional visas to help fill some of the tens of thousands of job vacancies in regional Australia. “We’re directing migration to those smaller cities and regional areas that are crying out for more people and those regional economies that simply cannot fill jobs with local workers.” The migration program also continues to focus

on growing the Australian economy and filling skills gaps, with 109,713 visas granted under the Skill stream of the 2018-19 program - about 70 per cent of the program. “Skilled migrants have high employment participation rates, low unemployment rates and good annual earnings,” Mr Coleman said. “We’ll continue to back those migrants who bring critical skills into the country – those who work hard, pay taxes and contribute to funding essential services for Australians.” “47,247 family visas were also delivered in the 2018-19 Migration Program,” says the media release.

Rallies supporting and opposing abrogation of Art. 370 held in Melbourne By SAT News Desk


ELBOURNE, 15 September: Rallies in

support and opposition to the Indian government’s abrogation of Article 370 giving special status to Jammu

and Kashmir were held here at the Parliament House and the Federation Square. The supporting rallies at

the Parliament House and Federation Square were organised by Kashmiri Pundits and the All India - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

Diaspora, Victoria, Australia. The opposing rally at the Federation Square had a cross section of people.

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Products only available at above stores, unless indicated otherwise. Not available at Coles Express or While stocks last. Some products or varieties may not be available at all stores. We reserve the right to limit sale quantities. Savings, single sell prices and unit prices shown off regular selling prices. - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

• Village Lakeside • Waverley Gardens • Werribee Plaza • Wyndham Village

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Bollywood top 20 with Sid Vohra every Friday 6 pm at SBS PopDesi By SAT News Desk


ELBOURNE, 27 September: Fans here are now enjoying a fine mix of Bollywood news laced with top entertaining songs. SBS Radio has launched a new show SBS PopDesi’s Bollywood Top 20 with Sid. It kicked off on Friday, September 27, the show ids now broadcast every Friday at 6 pm. Each week, #1 Breakfast Host in the UAE, Sid Vohra, will present the freshest Bollywood entertainment news and the hottest songs of the week. “I’ve always been passionate about Bollywood and presenting the show with a twist to just songs being counted down on charts, is what I am really excited about. The Bollywood top 20 will present that extra punch and oomph tailored to the Desi community. This show will offer something to every listener – whether it’s a blast from the past or a future hit or a track which brings out the grooviest best in each of us – a guaranteed Friday

chartbuster experience awaits!” he said. Sid Vohra is the voice behind the #1 Breakfast Show airing on UAE’s Bollywood Radio Station – City1016. Having been in the radio industry for the last 15 years, Sid has been working with some of the most prestigious media houses in India as well as in the UAE – hosting some of the biggest events with some of the

biggest stars from the Indian film industry. Apart from being a prominent voice-over artist, Sid has also been hosting shows on Emirates Airlines for their in-flight entertainment system since 2015. Mandi Wicks, SBS Director of Audio and Language Content, said: “SBS PopDesi is a popular destination for 24/7 hits in Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil,

Telugu, Bangla, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada and Urdu languages. We’re excited to be working with Sid who will bring his talent and passion for Bollywood to Australia for the first time.’’ Other SBS PopDesi highlights include: - Non-stop Desi hits with the Bollywood Session every Monday – Friday from 5 pm - Bhangra Nights every

Wednesday – Saturday from 8 pm - Desi Dance Party every Friday – Saturday from 9 pm Audiences can access SBS PopDesi via live streaming on; on Digital TV: go to channel 305 to listen; on Digital Radio: simply search for the station name SBS PopDesi; via the SBS Radio App available on App Store or Google Play. Source: SBS

COMMUNITY ROUNDUP At the Indian High Commissioner’s farewell

A view of the Hindi Diwas event at the

Indian Consulate

Dance item at the AIII Ganesh Festival

Sunil Shetty in Melbourne - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

At the House Full 4 trailer launch

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Wishing you & your family a happy & bright


Matt Fregon MP

State Member for Mount Waverley

Address: 1/40 Montclair Ave, Glen Waverley VIC 3150 Email: Tel: 03 9561 0511 Website: Follow Matt on Facebook: MattFregonMP - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

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Zee5 – Labara streaming platform unleashes South Asian entertainment tsunami in Australia

By SAT News Desk


ELBOURNE, 18 September: Indian/ South Asian entertainment enthusiasts are in for a big bonanza in Australia, with the Zee5-Lebara digital platform bringing in about 100,000 hours of on demand movies, originals, TV programs, videos and news content to customers.

Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 Global, says Australia is a key market for ZEE5 as the digital entertainment destination continues to expand globally. “Australia is an extremely important market for us as we expand across the globe and we’re extremely excited to announce our very first partnership with local telecom operator, Labara Australia.”

“With this partnership, we’re looking to increase our presence in Australia using Labara Australia’s subscriber base which will now have access to the best of Indian entertainment on any device of their choice,” continues Anand. Ash Saini, General Manager, Labara Australia, says “We are thrilled to have partnered with ZEE5 in Australia and we cannot wait for all our users

to sample the huge library of content that ZEE5 has to offer.” “With a huge appetite for Indian entertainment amongst our ethnic market, we are very excited to launch our bundles with ZEE5 subscriptions and we aim to ensure that every individual on the go uses ZEE5 as a one stop destination to consume the best of Indian entertainment,” continues Saini. Zee5 is available in 17 languages and includes leading Hindi TV shows (e.g. Kum Kum Bhagya and Jodhaa Akbar); the latest ZEE5 Originals (e.g. The Final Call with Arjun Rampal, Kaafir with Dia Mirza) and 2000+ movies (e.g. Simba with Ranveer Singh, Kedarnath with Sara Ali Khan and Sushant Singh Rajput, and Veere Di Wedding with Kareena Kapoor Khan). Popular Tamil TV shows (e.g. Sembaruthi, Yaaradi Nee Mohini and Poove Poochoodava), blockbuster Tamil films (e.g. Mapla Singam, Mersal and Kalavu) - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 Global, says Australia is a key market for ZEE5 as the digital entertainment destination continues to expand globally. and ZEE5 Originals (e.g. Auto Shankar and Thiravam) are also available to subscribers, along with 60+ live streaming TV channels including India’s largest news stations. ZEE5 is available using Samsung Smart TVs, Apple TV, Android TVs and Amazon Fire TV, and via Google Play Store, iOS App Store and

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Law Council condemns Senator Malcolm Roberts of One Nation for saying the family courts are contributing to family violence


ELBOURNE, 25 Sept, Medianet: The Law Council has condemned as dangerous suggestions by Senator Malcolm Roberts of One Nation that the family courts are contributing to family violence and called for family violence awareness training for all members of parliament. “It is inappropriate to be blaming victims, the courts or judges for any person lashing out and hurting another person,” Law Council President, Arthur Moses SC, said today. “Politicians must be careful not to use words that may incite those currently engaged in the system or dissatisfied with a court outcome to engage in violence.” Mr Moses labelled as “irresponsible and plain stupid” comments by made One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts blaming the family law system for violence by men.

“These comments could incite violence against partners, children or judges of those courts, or provide excuses for some men to blame anyone else but themselves for hurting a partner or child. The comments of Senator Roberts will undermine, not assist, concerns being raised by some members of the community for law reform as to how custody matters can be dealt with in a less adversarial manner.” “The Joint Select Committee Inquiry

announced this week provides a critical opportunity for Parliament to examine holistic options to reform the system, including recent recommendations by the Australian Law Reform Commission. The Law Council has offered its support to the Inquiry but it needs to be free from bias and pre-determined outcomes.” “But let me be clear – the Inquiry will have no hope of achieving any meaningful reform and will quickly lose support if it is overshadowed by these disgraceful comments or misguided by myths. Reform has to be based on facts not slogans.” “This Inquiry must be about finding long-term solutions to a crippled family law system. This will assist vulnerable children, mothers, fathers, families and victims of family violence. Not apportioning

blame or seeking to excuse the inexcusable. “Cases of family violence are serious matters to be heard and determined by the courts and prosecuted by the police, not Parliament. If parties are unhappy with outcomes, these can decisions reviewed. “I acknowledge Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Attorney-General Porter have said earlier comments reported by Senator Hanson about the raising of domestic violence issues in family cases were wrong. The reported comments by the Senator were plainly wrong.” “However, Prime Minister Morrison, Attorney-General Porter and Committee Chair Andrews now need to condemn these latest remarks by Senator Roberts in the strongest possible terms and ensure the Inquiry is conducted in a manner that is safe and

respectful. Otherwise, the situation will quickly deteriorate and this Inquiry will harm not help children, mothers and fathers” Mr Moses said. “The Law Council strongly recommends all parliamentarians including those who participate in this Inquiry be provided with family violence awareness training at the outset to help them undertake their important roles in the Inquiry but also considering any recommendations from the Inquiry. “This training is important to assist them to better understand these issues, engage appropriately with stakeholders, and reach meaningful policy solutions.” “There is also an urgent need for additional funding for legal assistance and family violence services to help those most vulnerable people in our community in their time of need.”

SBI opens branch in Melbourne By SAT News Desk


ELBOURNR, 30 September: The State Bank of India (SBI), India’s largest commercial bank, has become the first Indian bank to establish an office in Victoria. Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Steve Dimopoulos joined the Indian government representatives to mark the official opening of State Bank of India’s first Victorian office at 420 Collins St, Melbourne. Steve Dimopoulos said, “We are delighted to welcome the State Bank of India to Victoria – the first Indian bank to set up operations in our State.” “This investment by India’s largest commercial bank is testament to our thriving financial services sector and our highly skilled workforce.” Mr Dinesh Kumar Khara, Managing Director (Global Banking and Subsidiaries), SBI, said the strong Indian presence in Melbourne and the State’s economy were among the key reasons for the bank’s decision.

From left to right: Mr Pranay Kumar, SBI CEO for Australia New Zealand, Mr Raj Kumar, Indian Consul General in Melbourne, and Mr Dinesh Kumar Khara, Managing Director - Global Subsidiaries and Remittances, SBI. “It’s a great privilege to have our presence in the vibrant and business friendly city of Melbourne. I am confident that our footprint in Melbourne will further strengthen the relationship between the two countries, its people and the banking

community,” Mr Khara said. “Invest Victoria provided facilitation assistance to SBI which included helping them to build a business case for its first expansion in the region, “ says a release posted on Twitter. Victoria is home to world leading Indian businesses

including Suzlon, Cipla, Cyient, HCL, Infosys, L&T TS, Ramco, Samvardhana Motherson Group, TCS, Tech Mahindra, Ugam Solutions, Wipro, Zoonga and Zomato. Headquartered in Mumbai, SBI is India’s largest commercial bank, with more than 450 million - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

customers, 22,000 branches, and over 23 per cent market share of deposits and advances. - This report is based on media releases by the Victorian Government and the Invest Victoria. SAT was not invited at the opening of the bank to cover the event.

southSouth asia times 19 Asia Times

october-november 2019

Happy Diwali - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

south asia 20 South Asia Timestimes

october-november 2019

Mahamahopadhyaya Bhadreshdas Swami felicitated at the Parliament of Victoria, praises Australia’s tolerance & harmony


ELBOURNE, 30 August: Worldrenowned Sanskrit scholar, Mahamahopadhyaya (Prestigious Scholar) Bhadreshdas Swami of the BAPS was recognised for his contributions to Hindu Philosophy by the Parliament of Victoria amidst the presence of a distinguished gathering of MPs, community members and followers at the Parliament’s Federation Room. The Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads and Brahmasutras are the core pillars of Hindu philosophy and the Vedic way of life. It has been nearly 150 years since a bhashya, or commentary, on any of the Upanishads, Brahmasutras and the Bhagavad Gita – collectively known as the Prasthantrayi – has been written. Addressing the gathering Mahamahopadhyaya Bhadreshdas Swami said, "diversity comes from our scriptures. Let us live together and enjoy this precious life with love and peace.” Those present included Honourable Shaun Leane & The Honourable Colin Brooks, Former President of the Legislative Council Mr. Bruce Atkinson, the Consulate General of India in Melbourne Mr. Raj Kumar, Mr. Craig Ondarchie MLC (Member for Northern Metropolitan), Mr. Abhijit Bhide (Hindu Council of Australia), Mr. Rajiv Baheti (Hindu Organisations, Temples and Associations Forum) alongwith members and leaders from Indian organisations who joined in the felicitation. Bhadreshdas Swami is a world renowned and eminent Sanskrit scholar and an ordained monk of the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS). His achievements span from six Master degrees in various Darshans (philosophies), a PhD in Sanskrit from Karnataka State Open University, a D. Litt as well as the Mahamahopadhyaya (Prestigious Scholar) award by Kavikulguru Kalidas Sanskrit University in Nagpur, India and the Indian government. His academic achievements span certificates from 62 universities, 7 books on Vedic literature and more than 25 books being edited in the field of Sanskrit and Vedas.

The Parliament of Victoria invited Bhadreshdas Swami to the Parliament House during his first week tour in Victoria. The lineage of commentaries (Bhashya) on the Prasthantrayi is a part of India’s intellectual heritage. Now, in the 21st century – inspired by Pramukh Swami Maharaj and blessed by Mahant Swami Maharaj – Bhadreshdas Swami has advanced this tradition by writing a commentary on the Prasthantrayi according to principles of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, the Swaminarayan Bhashya known as the Akshar-Purushottam Darshan. After 1,200 years this is the first time a Bhashya has been written by one author on all three texts of the Prasthantrayi. Furthermore, Bhadreshdas Swami has written the ‘Swaminarayan-SiddhantSudha’ – a vadagrantha that offers an exposition and justification of philosophical principles. For such a vadagrantha to be written by the Prasthantrayicommentator (bhashyakar) himself is unprecedented in the history of Vedantic literature. Thus, the creation of these texts by Bhadreshdas Swami is considered by many scholars to be this century’s most important work in

Vedanta philosophy. The Parliament of Victoria awarded a certificate of honour for his contribution to the study of Sanskrit and Vedanta in Hindu philosophy. Addressing the assembly, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, The Hon. Colin Brooks said, “The Hindu community is a vital part of our Victorian community. It is vital for us to understand the Hindu faith, traditions and culture. I had the opportunity to look into the extraordinary work he has done and the challenges he faced in producing it. You (Mahamahopadhyaya Bhadreshdas Swami) have enhanced the Hindu culture. Your work from another part of the world has profound influence on us all here and not just the Hindu community in Victoria. On behalf of Victorian Parliament with the greatest respect and sincerity I wanted to say thank you for that work. And I’m thanking the broader Victorian Hindu community for the engagement you provide, the diversity and all the things you bring to our community.” The former President of the Legislative Council Mr. Bruce Atkinson MLC added, “We are delighted to welcome you here today. It is always a great pleasure for us to have distinguish visitors who do come, and provide us with perspectives and some chance to reflect. It’s important for us to have the inspiration from the people like yourself. Being here, helping us to meet the challenges. For strengthening our understanding, through ensuring that we, as the members of parliament and leaders in community, in particular in this space, to understand the importance of taking people with us and respecting the dignity of humanity. Thank you for being

here and I trust your visit to Melbourne will be a successful one.” The Consulate General of India in Melbourne Mr. Raj Kumar also addressed the assembly on behalf of the Indian government and honoured this extravagant scholarly achievement. On this auspicious occasion Bhadreshdas Swami addressed the audience by acknowledging his gurus by saying, “I would like to dedicate this honour to the lotus feet of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and my beloved guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj. Whatever strength, knowledge and inspiration I have is solely due to their grace and blessings.” Furthermore, he went on to explain his own personal experience, “I have been traveling in Australia for the past month. Here in Victoria, I have seen the great work the elected members of - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

Australia are doing to promote multiculturalism in this country. I have observed the sincere worship of tolerance and harmony on this beautiful land. I have also realised the strong bond that exists between the Parliament of Victoria and various cultural communities.” Explaining the bhashya he said, “Scriptures such as Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita teach us how to understand our self and how to understand others. They teach us how to love our self and how to love others. They guide us to accept the existence of other people, other communities, other cultures and other religions. They inspire us to celebrate the diversities of cognitions, conceptions and beliefs. We learn to tolerate and to respect others from these scriptures. With this thought in mind, we decided to present this special gift to the Parliament of Victoria.” On behalf of BAPS Australia and the Hindu community Bhadreshdas Swami presented the Parliament of Victoria with a special gift of the six volumes of the Swaminarayan Bhashya. In celebration of this historic event, all of those present at the assembly expressed their deep admiration. Proud to have witnessed such proceedings, all experienced the significance of the scholarly work completed by Bhadreshdas Swami.


october-november 2019

southSouth asia times 21 Asia Times

Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary celebrated at the Indian Consulate By SAT News Desk


ELBOURNE, 2 October: The 150th birthday of Mathama Gandhi was today celebrated at the Indian Consulate, Melbourne by the Consulate and the Australia India Business Council. An exhibition of photographs of the important milestones of his life was inaugurated by the Hon. Kaushaliya Vaghela MP and the Indian Consul General Mr. Raj Kumar. Later ShriramIyer gave a compact talk 'Belief in Leadership: The Gandhi Way'. Shriram traced Gandhi's leadership style with steps of 'Belief' in leadership the Gandhian way, non-violence, noncooperation, and truth. A power point presentation along with small skits about the Mathama’s life episodes added shine to the talk. He also sang Gandhi's favourite bhajan - Vaishnav Jan Ko...Kaushaliya Vaghela and Mr. Raj Kumar also addressed all those

An exhibition of photographs of the important milestones of his life was inaugurated by the Hon. Kaushaliya Vaghela MP and the Indian Consul General Mr. Raj Kumar. present. It was a unique event that touched India’s freedom struggle led by the Mathama and how his belief pushed his actions into a success. A select number of prominent community activists and members attended the function. - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

south asia 22 South Asia Timestimes


october-november 2019

Merchants of misinformation are all over the internet. But the real problem lies with us

By Will J Grant* and Rod Lamberts*


all it lies, fake news, or just plain old bullshit misinformation seems to flutter wilfully around the modern world. The truth, meanwhile, can take tedious decades to establish. It seems that every day, new “alternative facts” are peddled in the public realm. YouTube’s algorithm reportedly promotes fake cancer cures, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “troll factory” floods the internet with toxic propaganda, and a fake health booklet in the US advocating against vaccines recently fuelled a major measles outbreak. In Australia in recent days, a pro-coal Facebook group claimed Sydney’s Hyde Park was trashed by those who attended Friday’s climate strike. But the photo, shared thousands of times, was actually taken in London, months ago, at an unrelated event. And this week Labor called for an investigation into whether social media giants are damaging the democratic process, claiming that during the May election Facebook refused to take down fake news about the party’s “death tax”. As the saying goes, a lie can get halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. But while this saying clearly resonates in our current age of misinformation, the idea itself dates back at least 300 years.

Misinformation is not a new phenomenon Some claim the idea of the fast travelling lie was crafted by Winston Churchill in the mid-20th century; others by author Mark Twain at the end of the 19th. Yet the saying, or at least the sentiment underpinning it, is probably much older. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a Baptist preacher of Victorian London, cited a version

of it in 1855, describing it as an “old proverb”. Author Jonathan Swift, of Gulliver’s Travels and A Modest Proposal fame, is said to have written in 1710 that “falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it”. So the recognition that lies disseminate far more quickly than the truth appears to be several centuries old. This matters because while social media may have ramped up the problem of misinformation, the root causes remain the same - our cognitive and social biases. It’s us! There are huge bodies of research on what motivates us to not only believe, but seek out information that isn’t true. But often the simplest explanations are the best. We tend to do and believe things that people we like, admire or identify with do and believe. It reinforces the bonds among our families and friends, our communities and countries, and is often referred to as the consensus heuristic. You see it in action, and use it yourself, every day. Every time you uncritically accept the opinion of someone you like, you are applying consensus thinking – the consensus as you perceive it to be among “your” people.

What they say may well be entirely fact-based. But if it doesn’t correspond with facts, that won’t matter. You’ll buy it regardless because you are motivated to reinforce your connections with groups and ideas that are significant to you. We all do it, and there’s no shame in that. Building on this, we regularly accept false, dodgy and downright incorrect information because it makes us happy, or at least minimises discomfort. It means we don’t have to change, confront flaws in our personal world view or stop doing something we like. Smokers don’t keep smoking because they don’t think it’s harmful, but they might believe at some level it won’t be harmful to them. And they can always find “evidence” this is true: “my Uncle Chuck lived to 89 and he smoked two packs a day”. As for contributing to climate change, a person might think: “I only drive my petrol-guzzling car a short distance work and back, I’m barely contributing to climate breakdown”. Or they might tell themselves: “changing my behaviour wouldn’t even register, it’s the big companies and the government that need to do something about emissions reduction”.

With this way of thinking, any “facts” that support my kind of thinking are right, and those that don’t are wrong. Understanding people’s values is key Misinformation exists, and all of us - even the most critically minded are in some ways sucked in. And there is no doubt scientific misinformation thwarts efforts to resolve key policy issues, such as vaccination rates or climate change. But “fixing” scientific misinformation will not, on its own, solve these problems. Inspiring mass action requires more than just ensuring the “right” information exists in the library of human knowledge. If we’re to motivate people to change, we have to understand the values that underpin their assertions and actions and work in ways that resonate with them. This might mean pressuring elected officials to provide largescale, realistic, and well mapped-out transition plans for workers and communities that depend on coal for their livelihood. Coal miners, like all of us, are pretty damned keen on being able to earn a living. That is a value we can all relate to. As a rule, change - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

So the recognition that lies disseminate far more quickly than the truth appears to be several centuries old. is not something that comes easily to most people - especially if it’s forced upon us. But when we agree on why it’s necessary and have a clear way to handle it, it’s possible to move forward. *Senior Lecturer, Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, Australian National University. *Deputy Director, Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science, Australian National University. Source: The Conversation, SEPTEMBER 25 2019 (Republished under Creative Commons)

southSouth asia times 23 Asia Times

october-november 2019

Melbourne Durbar

Few attendees


any official events taking place attract few people despite the Indian population rising in Melbourne. In fact, one can see similar faces in most functions. If the topic is serious than those attending are even less. Rallies on Indian issues at the Parliament steps or the Federation Square also attract only a few. One reason, some

feel, is people vent their views on the social media. Going to the city locations or the Indian Consulate or the Victorian Parliament with its time consuming and parking hassles forces people to the social media. One recent rally was broadcast live on Facebook. Many What’s App groups also serve as forums for different views. Though, at times, one feels over informed.

Seniors Card Magazine I f you have a Seniors Card, then this magazine will be quite useful to you. It gives seniors news, articles on different subjects, contacts and much more. If you

Festive atmosphere


ctober, November & December are, no doubt, the festive months till the new year eve day. There are numerous religious and other festivals. Off course, the Indian/South Asian shops are piling up stuff including pre packed sweets. There is one Indian company that supplies milk products/ sweets from Canada. One needs to see the

manufacturing and expiry

By Desi Oz

dates of any imported stuff. Often the expiry date is changed, rubbed or hidden with a new sticker. So, it’s essential to check this before you buy your favourites. Also, compare the prices in a couple of shops. Discounts can be misleading as many a times the weight of the discounted stuff is less. Big stores are not a bad idea but their variety is no match to the ethnic outlets. - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

want to get it at home call 1300 797 210 using the national relay service 13 36 77 if required, or email seniorsonline@dhhs.

South Asia Times south asia 24 South Asia Timestimes

south asia


october-november 2019

150 years of Gandhi: A legacy of Ahimsa and communal peace Gandhi spent the last year of his life trying to quell communal violence


his year we celebrate 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi. Organisations are planning functions, memorials, and marches in his honour across not just India but the entire world. At the same time, subtle efforts to subvert his message and redirect even his title of “Father of the Nation” are under play in contemporary India. His greatest legacy has beenof Ahimsa (nonviolence) and communal harmony, the cause which he ultimately lost his life to. Do young Indians remember his efforts towards the same after the Independence of India was achieved? He preached “Ahimsa”(non-violence) throughout the Independence movement and it was this brand of seeking justice that made him revered by Indians and feared by British colonisers. In a cruel twist of irony, he met a violent death. But even before his assassination, the Mahatma had repeatedly voiced how he did not want to live anymore because his teachings of Ahimsa had been disregarded by his own people who indulged in widespread violence before and during Partition. On October 2, 1947, he is quoted to have said,

(“Today is a day of mourning for me. The fact that I am still alive surprises and embarrasses me. I am the same person whose words were followed by crores of people, but now, no one listens to me. If I ask them to do something,

they say, no, we will not do this. In such circumstances, where is my place in Hindustan and what will I gain by remaining alive? I used to say I want to live till the age of 125, but I have given that up now, not even 100, not even 90, today I have reached 79 years of age and even this hurts me.”) In the lead up to agreements about Partition and Independence between Indian leaders and British authorities, rifts were evident between the extreme “Hindu” and “Muslim” factions. Sensing that political leaders were ready to risk civil war in the pursuit of power, Gandhi distanced himself from the negotiations that commenced in 1946. He called the planned Partition “vivisection of India” and set off to Naokhali in East Bengal (present day Bangladesh) where riots had erupted in mid-1947 following the proclamation of impending Partition. He walked from village to village nursing, consoling, and appealing for peace. He travelled back to Delhi due to appeals from the British Viceroy seeking his advice on how to stop the killings, he soon realised it was a charade and that the administration was not interested in taking steps to ensure peace. He decided to leave Delhi and return to Noakhali where he was needed and listened to. Before reaching Noakhali, his train stopped at Calcutta

(modern day Kolkata) and he was greeted by crowds of Muslims who were pleading with him to stay on, in Calcutta. The Muslim minority there feared that the transfer of power to a “Hindu Congress” government in West Bengal would revive riots that had started a year ago, on August 16, 1946, after the proclamation of "Direct Action Day" by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, president of the Muslim League. The man most widely blamed for the violent riots that followed Direct Action Day was Bengal's Muslim League,chief minister, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy who had given the police, a “holiday” to celebrate Direct Action Day which rendered the people unprotected when mobs broke out. The British Army, coldly inactive despite being present, was equally to blame for its inaction during the riots. Suhrawardy was stripped of Calcutta's chief ministership. He even had to give up his dream of presiding over an independent nation of Bengal—Bangladesh—a new nation state he had lobbied hard to have carved out of the Eastern quarter of British India by integrating the Hindu majority West Bengal and Muslim majority East Pakistan into a single unified land of Bengali speakers, whose language and culture would transcend

any differences of religious doctrine or practice. When the crowds of Muslims requested Gandhi to stay in Calcutta in August 1947, he agreed on one condition, that he and Suhrawardy would live under the same roof, so that they could appeal to Muslims and Hindus alike to live in peace. "Adversity makes strange bed-fellows," Gandhi told his prayer meeting in Calcuttaon August 11, 1947. He moved into the abandoned Hydari House with Suhrawardy. This symbolic gesture was intended to demonstrate forgiveness and communal harmony to Calcutta's angry and fearful Hindus and Muslims. When Hindu mobs tried to break into the house asking why the Mahatma was siding with Muslims, he answered, “I have come here to serve not only Muslims but Hindus. You can obstruct my work, even kill me. I won't invoke the help of the police. You can prevent me from leaving this house, but what is the use of your dubbing me an enemy of the Hindus? I will not accept the label." The Mahatma then asked them what good it would do now to "avenge" the wrongs committed in 1946. On August 14, 1947, Gandhi had a discussion with angry Hindu youth – even a young couple who had lost a son to bitter communal hatred—and, by evening, he had won their - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

hearts and minds. When questioned in anguish by these young parents on how they could overcome their feelings of anger and grief at their young son’s killings, he said, “adopt a Muslim child, the same age as your lost son. Bring him up as a Muslim. In these acts let your feelings of bitterness and revenge dissolve into ultimate forgiveness and compassion. Remember your son in your adopted son.” An estimated ten thousand people gathered to hear Gandhi's prayer that evening. "If the flames of communal strife envelop the whole country," Gandhi asked, "how can our newborn freedom survive?" When the moment of freedom did arriveon August 15, 1947, he awoke at 2 Calcutta, having slept through Nehru's "Tryst with Destiny" speech at midnight. He was not in Delhi on the very eve of India’s Independence even as political leaders in Delhi called him the architect of Indian Independence and hailed him as “Father of the Nation”. He knew his work to bring about communal peace was more important. He was already planning to go to West Pakistan to make a final pilgrimage to bring an end to the violence against Hindus and Sikhs. As we know, it was not to be. He was assassinated a few months later, and now, 150 years after he was born, his ideologies of Ahimsa and Communal Harmony seem to be dying a slow death too. This Gandhi Jayanti, as we participate in functions and memorials, as we undertake activities like Swachchta Abhiyan in his honour, let us remember that the greatest way to honour him is to practice Ahimsa and honour the cause he died for- PEACE and COMMUNAL HARMONY. Note: With thanks to Nitin Thakur, Asst. Editor TV9 Bharatvarsh, for valuable inputs. References: Gandhi: Ek Asambhav Sambhavna –by Sudhir Chandra Gandhi’s Passion: The Life and Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi –by Stanley Wolpert Nitin Thakur Page Source: Sabrang India, September 28, 2019

south asia

october-november 2019

southSouth asia times 25 Asia Times

Bangladesh: The myth of economic growth

By R Chowdhury*


he government of Bangladesh under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed keeps rattling the growth at 8-9% over the past few years, but the statistics do not tally with the global benchmarks, which find the actual number lower by up to 2 points. The lower figure may still look impressive, but the existence of glaring discrepancies in the development calculations rarely meet the eye, much less the outside observers. High stake corruptions in the administration and in Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League flatten whatever little progress the country makes, mostly through its private sector initiatives. The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), a government agency, produces the inflated rates as per directives of the political leadership. If the BBS officials fail to comply, they are at risk of losing their jobs or facing other punitive consequences. Where is the Remaining 2%? Why these drummed up numbers? Because the rulers want to fake a “role model of progress” for Bangladesh, irrespective of the ground reality. In other words, it is their campaign to shield their many illegal acts and political wrongdoings. In their greed of staying in power, no concession is allowed in this ugly crusade. It is like charging a 98% scoring son about why he missed the 2 points. Given the sorry state of the opposition, thanks to the fascist practices imposed on the men and women on the other side of the fence,

many observers believed that the ruling coalition would have won the December 2018 election comfortably. But the regime, which illegally held on to power through a managed election on December 29, 2008 and a farcical drama on January 5, 2014, was not willing to grant any concession to the opposition this time also. With the help of loyal administration, the police and party thugs, they made all possible illegal moves to keep the opposition candidates, activists and voters away from the election. Yet, a “midnight coup” (stuffing ballot boxes of its own candidates in the dark the previous night) had to be staged to ensure an almost 100% victory. And yet, the infuriated ruling ruffians gangraped women in front of their family members for voting for the non-Awami candidates. That is the role model of progress in Sheikh Hasina’s rule! The economic numbers, whatever they are, mean little to the lower strata of society, which continue to groan under the heavy hands of authoritarian misrule. Former US President John F Kennedy said, “Economic growth without social progress lets the great majority of the people remain in poverty, while a privileged few reap the benefits of rising abundance.” That is exactly what is happening in Bangladesh today. Amidst the administration’s drumming of high development, few outsiders notice the yawning gap between the rich few and the poor multitude in Bangladesh. It is like not seeing the wood for the trees. Failing to Meet the

Aspiration of Millions? A former Planning Minister of Bangladesh puts it nicely when he questioned: “At this point in time in Bangladesh, when democracy is brutally crucified, opposition successfully persecuted and crushed, good governance purposefully abandoned, corruption flying rampant, rule of law gleefully eliminated,” how this predicament relates to the drummed-up excessive growth rater? The minister did not talk in the vacuum. To support his assertions, he cited extensive references from government figures and reports from various international sources including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Economist, the Washington Post, the New York Times, as well as the reports of The World Bank, The Asian Development Bank and The International Monetary Fund. He also does not agree with the slogan of development before democracy. “Sorry, this is not acceptable in a civilized world,” he says, further asserting, “Democracy and development go hand in hand.” After touching an elephant, various blind men describe the mammoth animal differently, from pillar to a wall to a giant leech to a large flapping fan. Similarly, the citizens of Bangladesh see the “progress” differently. To a beneficiary of ill-gotten money–through corrupt practices– the growth is phenomenal. A poor person in the street and in the rural villages has not known it. To an opposition member, it is a torture cell. To the women who refused to obey the ruling thugs, it is hell! The government obviously crows the voice of the “filthy rich”, who are mostly aligned

with the governing coterie. The rest, who form 90% of the population, do not figure in its consideration. People in this vast majority live on less than $2 a day and over 30% of them are below the poverty level. There are three million unemployed and frustrated youths. Many poor rice farmers are forced to burn the results of their year-long toil for not getting what they invested. Hundreds of thousands attempt to escape the gloomy lives at home and venture out searching for a better future abroad, only to end up in various concentration camps if not already dead in the high seas. “Averages are no consolation to those who have been left behind,” says Angus Deaton in his article, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality. So, what good is that so-called development which does not match with the aspirations of the millions? The bigger question is: Where is democracy, freedom, human rights, rule of law and a harmonious development in this official bragging of “high development?” People are tired of hearing the government’s slogan of “Development First, Democracy Later,” perhaps borrowing the theme from Pakistani President Ayub Khan’s “Decade of Development” campaign in the late 1960s. It did not work for Ayub Khan. Will it for Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh? Only time will tell. High Stake Corruption Drains the Progress Moreover, whatever development the country achieves is drained by limitless, high stake - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

corruption, mostly in collusion with top levels of leadership. A little peek at the real picture: The Daily Star, a government affiliated paper, reported recently that bank loan defaults stand at more than $12 billion, much beyond the limit of the size of the national economy. Yet, another $2 billion of tax payers money was infused to keep these failed banks afloat. Needless to say, these financial institutions belong to most of the 300 bank defaulters made public recently. But, “Mr. Justice” cannot touch them because they roam the corridors of power that be! Bangladesh Bank, the central bank of the country, lost about $1 billion in an inside electronic scandal a few years back, and the stolen money, though traced, is all but lost to the public exchequer. In addition to the bank officials, people close to the top political leadership were suspected to have been involved in this heist. Another fairy tale episode reported in 2018 in the Bangladesh Bank. Lied the touch of a magic wand, a large deposit of gold reserve turned to copper! Black magic indeed! The infamous Stock Market scams siphoned off billions of dollars from small time investors, many of whom were totally ruined. The perpetrators of this con works were well known yet they could not be touched because of their high political connections with the ruling authority. What is strange, the main character of the swindle advises the Prime Minister in her monetary investment policy, reminding us of the story of leasing the chicken to the jackal. Contd. on pg 26

south asia 26 South Asia Timestimes

october-november 2019

ERemit – An Australian Money Transfer Provider focussed on user experiences with fee free money transfers! T

he USD$7 billion remittance industry in Australia is growing, fuelled by the increasing migrant population. However, several studies claim that the opportunity to improve costs and quality of services, thereby increasing customer experience, is still an area the industry has to work on. As the competition in the market strengthens, existing providers are struggling to offer consistency in the service quality they offer to users. Lack of consistency is not the only thing though, that urges customers to be on the lookout for better. More users have come forward with request to make registration, KYC & other mandates easier and services more reliable and faster.

This is where ERemit money transfers comes to the frontline. A service exclusive to Australia, ERemit is branded as a solution that primarily focuses on its users’ experience. They are committed to scaling up and getting better solely based on data gathered from individual user experience. Equipped with teams dedicated to managing user feedback and usage analytics, ERemit is committed to scaling up and becoming a service that customers look forward to. From the registration process to beneficiary management and transfer, the detailed customer journey of ERemit is a testament to how important security is to them along with all the other features. The services

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The most important aspect of Money Transfer is trust. ERemit comes from the pioneers in the industry who has been an active player in the remittance market for a decade. Their earlier business substantiates this with a track record of moving billions overseas. Another facet of their customer experience initiatives is their trained customer support team who are available at every touch point in the customer journey. As the acceptance ERemit has received from its current customers increases, they are soon to extend its reach to other countries, thereby offering transfer service to the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Read more on their website –

The most important aspect of Money Transfer is trust. ERemit comes from the pioneers in the industry who has been an active player in the remittance market for a decade. Their earlier business substantiates this with a track record of moving billions overseas.

Bangladesh: The myth of economic growth

Contd. from pg 25

A little-known fact is that very high and disproportionate credit lines awarded to various projects landed Bangladesh with a public debt of $80 billion, registering a per capita debt increase by 250% in the past decade or so. Nigeria, Venezuela and Sri Lanka are some of the once rich countries embarked on undertaking large prestige projects taking huge, high stake foreign loans, only to sink in debt and bankruptcy soon. More than a century ago, my grandfather acquired two wives and had 20 children. He could afford even more, given his financial standing and social status in his time. Today, most of his grand kids and great-grand kids are paupers, if not on the streets. Economists fear a similar future for Bangladesh. Much of the showy projects like the Padma Bridge, Metrorail, Monorail, over-bridges, skyscrapers, underwater passageway, which, though necessary, are largely undertaken to benefit the government contractors and its brokers, who slice away

a large chunk of the pie. These prestigious projects bring little benefit to 90% of the people who live far away from them. The Prothom Alo, a Bengali daily, recently reported a sensational news about the “Nuclear Pillow.” For the residents of a proposed nuclear power plant, ordinary sleeping pillows were procured each costing Taka 6800 ($85) a piece that included a carrying cost of Taka 800 from the ground to the room. The real cost would not have been more than $3 if similar pillows were bought locally. In the same vein, we can’t wait to see the cost of a nut for the Padma Bridge when completed. It may run well into hundreds of dollars. In Bangladesh, the making of one mile of a road costs 10 times higher than any other South Asian country, and five times more than in Europe. According to Singapore’s The Business Insider 2019, Bangladeshis have to cope with the highest cost of living with a lower per capita income in South Asia. A Role Mode Indeed! “When government agencies can be bribed,” writes Sabria Chowdhury Balland in the

South Asia Journal on April 16, 2019, “when there are no safety measures in construction, when roads are broken and congested with bumper to bumper traffic nearly all day, when unemployment soars with no vision of how to create jobs, when millions of youths do not have any guidance for their future, when the percentage of rapes skyrocket with no measures from lawmakers to hold the perpetrators accountable, etc. the big question remains: where is the progress?” The pampered administration, which include the police and military, are allowed lucrative massive perks for their “services” to the regime, such as conducting fraudulent elections and crushing any sign of dissent, to help it continue to stay in power. Much of the ill-gotten money find its way to personal accounts in off shore banks. Family members of the beneficiaries enjoy their lives in luxury in places like Canada, USA, Australia and Singapore and Malaysia whereas, the poor tax payers routinely face batons and bullets,

jails and torture, death and disappearance at home. A role model, indeed! However, Bangladesh is a role model on many other counts. It is a role model where no opposition politics is allowed. It is a role model in which a threetime prime minister is left to die in a solitary cell after being clamped with a 17-year jail term on a nondescript, non-existent false case. It is a role model where the administration that includes the law enforcement agencies function as organs of the ruling party. It is a model where the Election Commission AntiCorruption Commission and even the Judiciary follow the dictates of the political leadership. Or else…! Chief Justice S.K. Sinha is a case in point. Ayub Khan, Saddam Hussain, Moammar Gaddafi and many other dictators could not save themselves by the slogans of development before democracy. Can Hasina? We can wait for her fatal fall from the dangerously galloping tiger she is riding! *A former soldier, R Chowdhury was a decorated - (03) 9884 8096, 0421 677 082

The bigger question is: Where is democracy, freedom, human rights, rule of law and a harmonious development in this official bragging of “high development?” freedom fighter in the war of liberation of Bangladesh. He also served for two decades as his country’s representative in missions abroad. Enjoys retired life in reading, writing and gardening. Writes on contemporary issues of Bangladesh; published three books so far. SOURCE- COUNTER CURRENTS, July 29, 2019

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20 countries sign up to “information and democracy” partnership started by RSF


wenty UN member states signed the International Partnership on Information and Democracy at the UN General Assembly today, a historic intergovernmental accord initiated by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) to promote democratic principles in the online public arena. United Nations, September 26: Made possible by the RSF’s Information and Democracy Initiative, the signing of this unprecedented agreement in New York opens the way to the implementation of democratic guarantees for the global online information and communication space. The International Partnership on Information and Democracy commits the 20 signatory countries* to promote online access to news and information that is freely and independently reported, diverse and reliable. It establishes democratic principles,

including political, ideological and religious neutrality for algorithms and transparency in the way they function. And it focuses on the responsibility of online service providers to promote trustworthy content and pluralism in order to escape the current “information chaos.” In an appeal to more than 50 foreign ministers and 20 representatives from delegations attending today’s launch of the “Alliance for Multilateralism” at the UN, RSF secretarygeneral Christophe Deloire said: “If the democracies don’t set the rules, private interests and dictators will

do it for us (...) They are the ones, not parliaments, that have regulated the online information and communication space (...) This is why we have set about rebuilding a system of democratic guarantees adapted to the digital era.” Co-chaired by Deloire and Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, the International Information and Democracy Commission met for the first time on 11 September 2018 and issued its Declaration on Information and Democracy in early November. It quickly won the support of 12 heads of state and government and was hailed by UN secretarygeneral Antonio Guterres,

UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay and Council of Europe secretary general Thorbjørn Jagland. The Commission’s Declaration launched a political process which, as a result of French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative, received the G7’s unanimous support in Biarritz in August 2019 before finally reaching the UN General Assembly. “This international accord is a major step forward,” Deloire said. “Initiated by civil society, this project has the support of regional champions such as South Korea, Costa Rica, Canada and Tunisia. It has strong momentum and will be able to enlist the online platforms because the power they wield over the way the online public space functions entails great responsibilities.” The text of the partnership hails the work undertaken by RSF to promote its implementation by creating an Information and Democracy Forum tasked

with proposing the principles on which regulation and selfregulation can be based. It will be a new organization, one steered by civil society. “The Forum’s principles of governance will guarantee its independence and will ensure that all stakeholders, including governments, online platforms and the media, are brought around the same table in order to promote appropriate forms of regulation and selfregulation,” said Thomas Friang, the head of advocacy at RSF. The Forum is due to be inaugurated in Paris in midNovember by a coalition of independent organizations. * List of signatory countries: Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Lebanon, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, South Korea, Senegal, Tunisia, United Kingdom. SOURCE: REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS NEWSLETTER


Are humans now civilised – fake news?

By Rashid Sultan


elbourne, 25 October: Labour leader and leader of opposition in Victoria, Hon. Daniel Andrews, today announced Labour will build an, ‘Indian Precinct’ in Melbourne, if elected to govern Victoria on 29 October, when Victoria goes to polls to elect a new government. The surprise Diwali gift was announced by Hon. Daniel Andrews at the Federation Square Diwali event, organised by the Celebrate India. How I miss those heady days of the college. Surrounded by verve of youthful students, leftist professors and Pundit Nehru very much alive in New Delhi! No cares in the world. We were told that in the 20th century the world is much more civilised and no wars or oppression would be allowed anywhere in the world. What a confidence! After Nehru, though, we did taste the Indo-Pak war causing thousands of human lives and billions of dollars in destroyed armaments. Mercifully that war was short-lived due to the mediation of the then USSR.

I also remember a sage voice, then, telling me that wars are not happening due to the cold war between the US and the USSR. Prophetic, indeed? The Berlin Wall was felled in 1989 heralding the collapse of the USSR and the Eastern blockand a cause of celebration for the West (read the US). Overnight, the world became a fertile ground for invasions from the outside as well as oppression from within by evil dictators. No surprise, It was open ground for the US’s naked ambition which captured Afghanistan using a proxy known as the Taliban. The Taliban, later, proved a Frankenstein’s monster and so 9/11 happened. There was no more a deterrence of the cold war and so President George Bush attacked Afghanistan and the American forces are still there after 18 years (the longest war in US history). Afghanistan has become what the Indian proverb says ‘neither can swallow nor spit’. What’s the score? 360,000 deaths direct and indirect, (excluding deaths in Pakistan), over a million refugees and a trillion dollars cost to the

USA. Just on the whims of a single US leader! It was, then, the turn of Iraq. Though ruled by a dictator, Saddam Hussain, it was secular, modern and free of terrorism. But, no, President George Bush and his spies faked the story that it was in the business of making weapons of mass destruction- nuclear weapons. And allies of the US, including Australia and the U.K not only blindly believed Bush but joined the invasion.

Result One million deaths (according to the Oxford University’s vast study), 4 million refugees around the world, opening up sectarian wounds where Shias and Sunnis were killing each other and Christians and Kurds entrapped in the cross-fires. Let’s, now, come to Syria An extension of the Arab Spring which, in totality, proved a fiasco. An uprising by the majority Sunnis against the dictator Bashar al Assad, an Alawite, (a minority Shia sect), initially, met with some success for their demand of democracy. The US, as usual, to warm their hands

in the burning fire, began their assistance and aid to protestors who became the Free Syrian Army, later on. And thus the internalisation of the Syrian civil-war began. Iran and Hezbollah (Shia group based in Lebanon)) came to help the besieged president, a dictator who had inherited the governance from his father Hafiz al Assad. So, now it became Sunni versus Shia. As it became an open war, Vladimir Putin also joined to wash his hands in the streaming waters. Result? All the gains by the Free Syrian Army are now lost and their last bastion of Indilib is about to fall any day which is fraught with catastrophic results in the loss of lives and properties. Half a million already killed and 6 million refugees scattered around the globe. Muslim killing Muslim. And how? The reports and videos from Doctors Without Frontiers and Reporters Without Borders of the brutalities will raise your hair and you would have to doubt if they are humans. The dumb-looking and Oxford educated Bashar al Assad seemed to be enjoying the pain, the wounds and the suffering - (03) 9095 6220, 0421 677 082

of his own countrymen. In this chaos, the IS made an entry and declared Khilafat, resurrecting the 1.400-yearold Islamic system of governance. It was no love of the religion but a blatant thirst of power at the cost of credulous young Muslim youth from around the world who rushed to Syria to get a badge of ‘Shahadat’. Most of them are dead and their wives and children, living, now, in filthy camps are struggling to go back to their countries including Australia. Now, Yamen The Arab Spring did reach this poorest country in the Arab world too around 2011-12 when people started demonstrating against corruption, unemployment, food shortages and Jihadists. There were riots and firings and deaths. It grew and grew so much that the dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh after ruling for 33 years had to flee to Aden and the capitol Sana came into the hands of Houthis (Shias) who are in majority and being aided by Shia Iran and Sunni Saleh, being supported by Saudi Arabia. Sunni versus Shia once again! Contd. on pg 29


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Press freedom should not be by the consent of Attorney-General: Law Council of Australia


ELBOURNE, 30 September: The Law Council of Australia is concerned a new ministerial direction requiring the agreement of the Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter to prosecute journalists will not improve press freedom. The direction of the Attorney-General dated September 19 to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) extends the range of offences covered by a similar direction given by former Attorney-General George Brandis QC. The CDPP will now be required to obtain the agreement of the Federal Attorney-General for a prosecution of a journalist charged under section 131.1 (theft) and 132.1 (receiving stolen property) of the Criminal Code and section 73A of the Defence Act 1903 (unlawfully giving or obtaining information as to defences).

The Law Council of Australia President, Arthur Moses SC, said the new direction will not allay important concerns about press freedoms in Australia sparked by police raids on journalists and media organisations. “I have grave concerns that this sort of direction undermines the independence of the CDPP by requiring her to obtain the consent of the AttorneyGeneral before prosecuting an offence,” Mr Moses SC said. “What will enhance press freedoms in this country is a proper review of our laws to ensure that the actions of journalists doing their job as a watchdog of Government are not criminalised and put at risk of prosecution.” The requirement for the CDPP to obtain the AttorneyGeneral’s consent was not only inconsistent with long-held principles of the separation of powers and freedom of the press but placed both an Attorney-

The new direction will not allay important concerns about press freedoms in Australia sparked by police raids on journalists and media organisations. General and the media in a very difficult position, Mr Moses SC said. “I have no doubt the Attorney-General would act in good faith. But it puts the Attorney-General – a politician – in the position

of authorising prosecutions of journalists in situations where they may have written stories critical of his government. “It creates an apprehension on the part of journalists that they will need to curry favour with the government in order to avoid prosecution. The media must be able to lawfully report on matters of public interest without fear or favour.” The Law Council considers there is a need for improved safeguards in relation to warrants authorising investigative action and has proposed a Public Interest Advocate to provide greater transparency and accountability to search warrants relating to journalists. “There is no doubt that the work of our national security agencies is vital,” Mr Moses SC said. “But journalists should not need to fear prosecution because of a story that embarrasses government.” Source: medianet

Are humans now civilised – fake news? Contd. from pg 28 Result More than 15,000 people have been killed so far and millions are literally starving because of the ban and embargo by Saudi Arabia and the Emirate. No food or medicines for the general populace. Tiny children are dying as there are no medicines in the impoverished hospitals. Kurds They are the most forwardlooking Muslims in the Islamic world. They inhabit border areas of Turkey, Iraq and Syria. For years they are demanding an autonomous country by uniting these border areas of the three countries into one. Their language is different; their culture is different but, none of these countries are prepared to grant them autonomy. They pose no danger to any of these countries but, on the contrary, are persecuted wherever they are living. Just a reminder, Sultan SalahuddinAyyubi the greatest crusader was from this community who is still remembered in awe and reverence by the Christian world. Rohingyas Nobody seems to be immune

to the disease of racial hatred. It resulted into the burning of entire villages, mass rapes and wholesale killings of the Rohingyas in the Rakhine sate of Mynmar (formerly Burma). One million refugees are sheltering in Cox Bazar, Bangladesh. The squalor and stoic acceptance of these refugees need to be seen to believe. Ironic! The peaceful Buddhists bent on killing impoverished Muslims! Kashmir Nearer home, since the September 5 abrogation of the special status of Jammu-Kashmir, (The Indian Supreme Court has started hearing through a constitutional bench many petitions challenging the abrogation) most valley political leaders are still in jail (Including mainstream pro-Indian), reports say, 13,000 boys taken from homes to God knows where, no internet, no mobile phones, children unable to attend schools and colleges as well as interstate, students around India unable to contact their parents. The valley’s 8 million Kashmiris areunder a security lockout with around one million armed forces there. And still, “Everything is fine”. Have we really become civilised? Why do we still grow nails? - These are the author’s personal views - (03) 9095 6220, 0421 677 082

It creates an apprehension on the part of journalists that they will need to curry favour with the government in order to avoid prosecution. The media must be able to lawfully report on matters of public interest without fear or favour.

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