Ms JODI McKAY ( Strathfield ) ( 10 August 2017, 16:15 ): I am pleased to move this important motion that recognises Indian Independence Day. On 15 August each year Independence Day recognises India's separation from British rule. It is a day that commemorates the birth of a free and democratic nation that is now regarded as one of the great democracies of modern times. On 15 August 1947 the first Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister Nehru, raised the flag over the Red Fort in Delhi for the first time. I have been to the Red Fort and I know how important it is to the people of India. It is a symbol of freedom, hope and truth. Every year since that day in 1947 the flag has been raised over the Red Fort on 15 August, there is a 21‑gun salute, and the Prime Minister gives his or her address to the nation.
It is a day of immense celebration and pride, and I have moved this motion on this day in Australia's oldest Parliament as a way of recognising Independence Day and its importance to our Indian Australian community. It is important that this Parliament recognises the 2017 Indian Independence Day because this year is the seventieth anniversary. It is a milestone that deserves recognition in the New South Wales Parliament. To understand the importance of this day, it is worth reflecting on what was happening in 1947 and in the years leading up to 15 August that allowed India to achieve independence. On 15 August 1947, the United Kingdom Parliament passed what was the Indian Independence Act, which transferred legislative sovereignty to the Constituent Assembly of India. After a long and sometimes violent struggle for independence over many years, India was a free country.
Of course, there were also the earlier peaceful, non-violent protests and civil disobediences that were led by Mahatma Gandhi. On this day, it is important that we remember the contribution of Gandhi and other freedom fighters to a free India. In January, I was in Delhi to celebrate Republic Day and it was a very fine celebration. Republic Day recognises the coming into being of the Indian constitution on 26 January 1950. Like Independence Day, it is a popular public holiday. For us to understand India as a strong democracy, the significance of both days has to be considered and understood. As I mentioned, this year is special because it is the seventieth anniversary of Independence Day. In raising this matter in this place, the Parliament also acknowledges this very important milestone. In India, Independence Day is celebrated as a public holiday and there is much celebration. It may not be a public holiday in Australia, but there is still much enthusiasm and many celebratory events in our Indian Australian community.
In fact, I will be attending a number of celebrations over the next week.
The India Day fair organised by the Federation of Indian Associations of NSW will be held this weekend at Parramatta Park. I thank Dr Yadu Singh and the committee for holding this community event for families from all over Sydney to celebrate. The Council of Indian Australians is holding an India Day dinner in Blacktown as a tribute to India's historical journey to freedom. The night will feature a vibrant cultural program that will span the diversity of Indian communities in New South Wales. I congratulate President Mohit Kumar, Vice President Nitin Shukla and the executive committee on organising this important cultural event. I look forward to attending an event hosted by the Indian Consul General. It is important that we have strong relations with India. Our active and highly regarded Consul General is a wonderful supporter of the Australian Indian community. I thank him for his work.
I proudly represent a significant Indian Australian community. I wear a sari today to show my respect for my community. The member for Granville and I have previously worn saris in this House for special events. Of course, the seventieth Indian Independence Day is a very special event. I wish Indian Australians everywhere a very happy independence day. I look forward to celebrating with them. I thank them for their contribution to a harmonious, multicultural Australia. I feel privileged to represent an Indian Australian community in Australia's oldest Parliament.