On Sunday, 21 June I had the great honour of attending the International Day of Yoga at the Springers Leisure Centre. I shared that experience with a number of dignitaries, including the speaker of the legislative assembly of Victoria, Hon. Telmo Languiller; the Consul General of India in Melbourne, Manika Jain; Inga Peulich, who was there representing the Premier, as I was representing the Leader of the Opposition; and the Mayor of the City of Greater Dandenong.
We were there with hundreds and hundreds of members of the Indian community to celebrate a day that had been initiated by Prime Minister Modi at the end of September 2014. It tied into the great gift that India has given Australia, which is its people. We have over 450,000 people of Indian origin living in our country. Many, many communities have come to our shores, but I have to use this chamber to praise the Indian community for the amazing people that it has given to us. They make such a great contribution to our country and to our country’s future.
I was very impressed by the initiative of Prime Minister Modi. It appeared to me, when I spoke to the hundreds of people gathered and noted the many millions around the world that were participating in this event, that it says a lot about a culture when it wants to share, in the most visceral way possible, something that is so meaningful to its own society and its culture. Yoga has been practised for over 5,000 years. You see it in the sacred scriptures. It is the essence for many Indians of what it means to be Indian. What better way could you have of commemorating Indian culture?
I also saw the invitation from Prime Minister Modi to the Australian community to share Indian culture as almost a hand across that vast expanse of the Indian Ocean saying: ‘Come share our culture and our history with us. Come and experience that with us.’ In doing so, what we are doing is seeing the world through the Indian community’s eyes—and what better way in these tumultuous times internationally.
India has a great role to play in the emergence of Asia as the centre of political and economic gravity in the 21st century. What better way of experiencing that than to share one of the most sacred parts of Indian culture? I commend the Indian community and Prime Minister Modi for this great initiative. I look forward to reporting back to this chamber in many years about the great success of this sharing of our two cultures.