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India Day Celebrations

I inform the House that yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the India Day Fair 2011 in Parramatta Park, organised by the Council of Indian Australians and one of my constituents, Dr Yadu Singh.

At the fair I was to find out that Indians are lucky enough to have two national days each year—Indian Independence Day, celebrated on 15 August, and Indian Republic Day, celebrated on 26 January. As the Indian-Australian community will not pass up any opportunity to celebrate their country and their contribution as Indian-Australians, it is probably wise that these festivities are spread over two days rather than one.

In my brief time in Parliament I have learnt that the Indian-Australian community sure know how to have a celebration. There was singing and dancing and other festivities which celebrated the wonderful and diverse cultures of our Australian-Indian community. Yesterday's event was a terrific celebration of the success of multiculturalism in this country and a tribute to the wonderful contribution Indian-Australians have made to our Australian way of life. With over 7,000 people in attendance the day was a stunning success and I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the organising committee, which included Subbarao Varigonda, Stanley D'Cruz, Praful Desai, Keyu Desai and Ssail Wadhwa. They did a terrific job and I am looking forward to the next event they host.

The fourth most common overseas country for people in my electorate of Hornsby to be born in is India. Hindi is the fifth most popular language and nearly 2,000 people in my electorate have Indian ancestry by having at least one parent born there. I look forward to seeing the latest figures in the census taking place this week. However, I do not need to look just at statistics to see examples of the good work of the Indian community in my electorate. When I attend events like the India Day Fair I see Indian-Australians from all walks of life making a positive contribution to the Australian community. I see people like Dr Yadu Singh working with government to ensure that Indian students in Australia are given a fair go. I see people like Marla Metha working to ensure that the Hindi language is incorporated in the new Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority curriculum.

I see people like Pradeep Singh-Gill and Gurdeep Singh working hard to support our local Sikh community. Most importantly it is because of people like this that the Indian community sees itself as Australian as well as Indian. Our community is made all the richer by its culture. Australia and India's shared history stretches right back to the First World War when Indian and Australian troops fought side by side in the Gallipoli campaigns. Through thick and thin India and Australia have stood side by side. As the chair of the Parliamentary Friends of India I join with my Federal counterparts in calling for the Australian Government to allow the sale of uranium to India—a country that is making a concerted effort to reduce its own carbon emissions.

Most importantly, India is a country that aspires towards a society based around equality of opportunity, democracy and a free press. On my upcoming trip to India to participate in the Asian Forum on Global Governance, I hope to raise the issue of the strong support of the Australian Coalition parties of exporting uranium to India. On my trip I hope to portray Australia as a safe and worthwhile place for Indian students to come and study. I know that people like Yadu Singh and the Council of Indian Australians are not alone in their work in the community. The richness of our community is made all the more so by the contribution of Indian-Australians across our State. I thank them for all the good work they have done and will continue to do in the years ahead.