Comments on the FINACT constituti​on – BJSM

Dear Jacob and the team

I appreciate your initiatives and support this change.

On behalf of Bihar Jharkhand Sabha of Australia and New Zealand, I endorse the Minutes of the general council meeting sent earlier.  Please find below our observations about the constitution and seek your support for some changes that would ensure active partcipation and continued interest from member associations, and eventually determine the future of our FINACT.

sharad1

As a member of a small but consistently very active community group, Bihar Jharkhand Sabha of Australia and New Zealand, I must confess that I am very excited to see the recent developments. First the language submission, then submission to the standing committee on multicultural issues and disseminating other information to associations in ACT – it shows how quickly and swiftly the Executive Committee of the FINACT is acting on the available opportunities.

Many community groups, associations and organisations are running in their own pace in ACT.  I doubt and you may agree that any of them were ever made aware of, interested in or even bothered about these processes or submissions.

Finally, we got a platform and a dedicated team that can coordinate communities’ reaction, response or feedback for such purposes. If you are following the activities around formation of FINACT, you must have noticed the enthusiasm and some pessimism. A healthy attendance at the first ever general council meeting on 20 February 2011, peaceful election/nomination of an Executive Committee and a meaningful debate on some clauses of the proposed constitution have proved the sceptics wrong.

However, I am not sure if this enthusiasm is sustainable or federation will enjoy support from every section of the Indian community after two years.  You may guess where I am pointing to.

Provision of Associate membership

The main debatable issue at the first general council meeting was the provision of associate membership. It was argued by some of the attendees that it is consistent with federations in other states, entertaining dubious legal entity within the federation is not good and they should be excluded from the voting rights or even the membership after a grace period of 2 years.

First of all, I would like to mention that ACT is a bit different – the number of Indian-origin people is less and the community is more closely-knit than other states. It will be interesting to investigate the number of incorporated associations among people of Indian origin.

If the federation does not like un-incorporated associations, I would seek your opinion regarding:

  • How many associations will be left after the grace period?
  • Will it then be a rightful/appropriate representative of Indian associations?
  • Will it be able to speak on behalf of Indian community groups?
  • Will it enjoy the same interest, enthusiasm, assistance and support from the wider community base?
  • Will it be able to encourage any budding association in its initial period?

I understand that it is better for an association to get incorporated.  Some of the associations do not like it on the basis of its inherent /associated ills, you know what I mean, especially more prevalent among the people from Indian-origin. Some associations are self-funded and do not need state funding.

However, the federation can still make the member associations aware of benefits if they become incorporated, can educate them and provide necessary assistance and support.  Simply eviction of such “non-complying” associations after the grace period is not the answer; it will only shrink its support-base.  FINACT will not be able to achieve its objectives.

Further, I know some of the current incorporated associations are not willing to continue with their registration.  They may negotiate insurance coverage with other federation in Canberra for their public events.  In such circumstances, FINACT may be become an alternative to meet their requirements.

Mum and Dad Associations

Some members raised their concerns about the “Mum and Dad Association”.  It was in the context of the influence of a single family on FINACT.  However, I differ on this matter.  The constitution may be good for an association but could be burdensome for a federation.  Main objectives of the federation seem to be lost in extra efforts to make it bulletproof.

The stridently vouched highly-rugged constitution is claimed to be safe from being controlled by mum and dad associations.   Will it make any difference for a federation with a sizeable number of associations? To take control of FINACT, “mum and dad” need at least 7-8 full-grown children each running an association and equal number of “friendly” associations.

One step further, should a mum and dad association be always disapproved? No, not at all. Some of the mum and dad associations are doing well and they are producing more programs than any bigger associations. One of the brilliant examples is South Indian Fine Arts that is relentlessly bringing known/unknown Indian talents in ACT.  I doubt if any other professional organisation will ever dare to handle such programs with limited audience interested in Indian classical and regional music.

Forgotten Indians

Migration from India and other countries to ACT is growing.  ACT has now noticeable presence of people from some states in India. They have strong associations and they produce a number of events promoting their tradition and culture. It is good and I support it.

But…. Has anyone bothered about people from other states. For example, only a few families are known from Odissa, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Some families from North East States in India i.e. from Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, and Mizoram may be here but never been accounted for socio-cultural purposes.

What I mean to say here, these people have neither the number nor the required resources to get their association incorporated. Should we ignore them?

Please encourage every distinct entity to have their association. The number of people from that state or culture, I am sure, will go up.

  • FINACT should encourage others to be united under one umbrella.
  • FINACT must celebrate unity among the diversity of culture.
  • Each and every member is true representtative of his/her culture/tradition/state.
  • The forgotten people will feel connected and will be encouraged to celebrate their own festivals and events, of course, with support of other people from their own country.
  • The federation can bring the forgotten families in the mainstream.
  • Federation will get talented and skilled people and support from these community groups.
  • Inclusion of such diverse community group will broaden the colourful spectrum of Indian community.
  • FINACT seems to be providing equal opportunity to all its constituent associations.

From my experience with Bihar Jharkhand Sabha of Australia and New Zealand, I can say that having online contacts for such people will bring more people in their association. FINACT should offer links on its website/newsletter inviting such people.

My Appeal – repeal the clause

As such, I strongly feel that the very provision of associate membership is discriminatory, derogatory, full of prejudice, biased, disparaging, discouraging, against natural justice, against the very idea of equality among members and promotes an environment where an incorporated association with least membership can have more say than associations with a significant number of members resulting in unnecessary resentment.

I request the executive committee and respected members of FINACT to reconsider the provisions of associate membership and please remove it before the proposed constitution is finalised.

Namaste
(the Soul within me bows to the Soul within you)

Sanjay Pandey

Bihar Jharkhand Sabha of Australia & New Zealand

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