Behind the Scenes—Australia Day Parade

OFBJP’s South Australian chapter showcases the might and bright of India at the Australian Day celebrations in Adelaide

Aravind Adiga, Sri Bandyopadhyay, Purushottama Billimoria and Lisa Maria Singh. Do these names ring any bell? Yes, all of them are Australians with Indian origins. In fact, Indians make up over 1% of Australia’s population, totalling to 295, 373 according to the 2011 census data.

Indian’s started migrating to Australia during the early 19th century as convicts transported by the British colonial government in India. Indians have been a part of Australia’s history and the shaping up of this oceanic country.

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Interestingly, Australia Day, the national day of Australia coincides with India’s Republic Day i.e., 26 January. Undoubtedly, India has always been an active participant in the national day celebrations of Australia. However, this year, Australia Day, that marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson in New South Wales, was very special.

 

The ball starts rolling…

 

It all started in November 2014 when Australia was gearing up to invite an Indian Prime Minister after 28 years. Even before he had arrived, Narendra Modi had attained a rock star status with Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) and various Indian communities working hand-in-hand for the grand event.

 

His visit was success, even by the most conservative scrutiny. He spoke about economy, energy and education. He sent a message across that Australia needs to be viewed as a role model for India’s economic transformation. His visit had given us a sense that India’s development provides an immense opportunities to Australia to participate in India’s progress.

 

So, when OFBJP’s South Australian chapter in Adelaide decided to put up a grand show on 26 January, we had to keep in mind India’s growing prowess on the global map as well as reflect contemporary Australia.

 

 

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The Mars Mission vehicle designed by OFBJP team members: Chapter Coordinator Chirag Trivedi, Sorabh Chadha, Prashant Umashankar, Sachin Vij, Arjun Tokhi, Manthan Tokhi and Het Trivedi

It was then that the words of Mr Modi reverberated and we decided that we need to promote the success of India’s “Mars Mission” and at the same time, through the “Make in India” concept, hep in strengthening the economic ties of both the countries.

 

A great start

 

The Australia Day parade was being organised by The Australia Day Council of South Australia (ADCSA) and funded by the Australian Federal Government. If you have had the opportunity to view the parade, it is somewhat similar to that of India’s Republic Day parade. The parades in Australia include over 150 community groups, there are vintage cars on the showcase, marching bands, horses, giant echidna, floats, giant characters and a fly past by an F-18 Hornet.

 

We had to show India in the best light to an audience of over 40,000 people. So, as soon as the South Australian Government approved our participation, we started working towards conceptualising and visualising the parade and our participation.

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Mr Modi had highlighted during his speech on “Make in India” that more than 300 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in India had contributed towards India’s Mars vehicle by assembling small parts. It was the right time to showcase the might of India’s SME industry. Not just that, our Mars mission was the cheapest in the world.

Primarily, our SME industry had come out with a world class product while ensuring cost effectiveness.

“Wasn’t that an impressive message about India to be represented at the Australia Day Parade? The idea is to invite the Australian manufacturing sector to India and this was just the right time,” said Chirag Trivedi, a senior member of OFBJP.

OFBJP has been studying the Australian market closely and we realised that owing to high costs of production and a strong Australian dollar, many companies were looking at Asian markets to provide assistance. Holden and Toyota being the best examples as they had to wind up their Australian manufacturing facilities in the second half of 2014. So, what is stopping us from taking the mission forward with a vision that the manufacturing sectors of both the countries will shake hands?

Skinned our hands and skinned our knees

Without expecting support from anyone, the OFBJP team started work from square one. It was indeed a big task for us for we were representing our country and the world would be watching us. Moreover, we were talking about two of India’s beloved projects-the Mars mission and Make in India.

With projects of this order, we could not risk failing at any cost. Nevertheless, we made a model of the Mars vehicle and it was like going back to school. Then we made a launching pad for the vehicle. It was then decided that we need to paint the Indian Tricolour flag on it.

After two months of planning, we finally had in front of us the desired results. All members of the OFBJP team were involved day in and day out. It was almost as if we were making a real Mars mission vehicle. Just that our vehicle was to propel the image of our beloved country.

And when we saw the fruits of our toil and the name of our country being applauded by everyone present at Adelaide, we had goose bumps and it was a real honour.

In the Making

It took us almost two months to develop these dummy pieces, we can just empathise with those 300-odd SMEs in India that assembled the various parts of the Mars Mission vehicle. Three cheers to the Indian manufacturing sector.

 

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“We all are Modi fans and we feel that this government is doing its best. It will bring about a change for sure and we will support it and will do as much as we can,” said Sachin Vij

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Rocket Launcher: Arjun Tokhi.

Our Rocket Launcher: Arjun Tokhi.

 

“We look forward to many more opportunities where we can make a small difference in how India performs,” said Arjun Tokhi.

 

 

Manthan Tokhi, year 11 student, the youngest in the team

Manthan Tokhi, year 11 student, the youngest in the team

“This is the first time I have an opportunity to promote India in Australia. I realised that Indian man power and brain power are the best in the world, we should promote it. I would also love to involve in such activities in future,” added a visibly excited Manthan Tokhi.

 

As they say, united we stand—true to the phrase, it was owing to the entire Indian community and its efforts as well as encouragement that we could put together such a grand show.

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