Even though The India Association Hong Kong (“the Association”) was only incorporated in December 1965, it was actually founded as early as 1948 in the post war years immediately following India’s Independence in 1947. A few members of the Hong Kong Indian community – such as Mr P. Vaswani, Mr. F.T. Melwani and Mr. Ujagar Singh – with a keen civic sense and a commitment to the social well-being of the community, got together and gave Hong Kong Indians the India Association.
From small and humble beginnings, the Association has grown into a non-profit, non-sectarian organization we can all be proud of. The Association made an early commitment to promoting our heritage through cultural and social functions organized by the Association on a fairly frequent basis right through the years including an annual Diwali Ball. Although the Association no longer holds a Diwali Ball, it continues to organise annual Indian cultural events. Indian singers, dancers and other stage performers have been brought from India over the years. Observing traditional festivals is one way of retaining our cultural identity. The Association has also never lacked in patriotic zeal and Indian Independence Day is always celebrated with great éclat at our annual Independence Day reception.
Over the years, the Association has become a critical player in advocating for policy reform for Hong Kong’s ethnic minority communities. The Association advocates for better Chinese language policies, better access to education and better retraining and employment opportunities for Hong Kong’s Ethnic Minority communities. The Association has developed very good relationships with the Administration + Political Parties to further these goals. The Ethnic Minority sub-committee drives these initiatives.
The Association has also pursued with keen enthusiasm charitable and social activities. In 1981, under the Presidency of Mr. Gary Harilela, the Association initiated the “Walk for Millions” by participating for the first time in the Community Chest Walk for the benefit of the Hong Kong Community. Today we are indeed proud to be one of the top contributor fund raising associations for the Community Chest.
Mr. Gary Harilela was also President in 1980 when, for the first time in Hong Kong, an Indian radio programme in Hindi went on the air as an RTHK broadcast. Bikhre Moti took to the air waves compered by Mr. G. T. Gul. However, in a move to reallocate airtime, the programme was dropped off the air on March 31, 1999 due to restraint of airtime.
The Association has invited leading figures of the Hong Kong Government to address the Indian community. Governor Chris Patten was invited during the Presidency of Mr. Nanu Lachman. Also during his Presidency, the India Association organized an impressive handover ceremony in July 1997. In 1999, Mr Ramesh Mahtani brought Mrs. Anson Chan, Chief Secretary, to the Indian community at a luncheon address.
From the very beginning, the Association was instrumental in entertaining dignitaries and personalities such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajendra Prasad to meet the Indian community in Hong Kong.
A highlight of social entertainment co-sponsored by India Association and India Club was Shahenshah-e-Mohabbat, a tribute to Raj Kapoor organized by the late Rani Hiranand in 1987.
From a fund-raising point of view, Association has, from way back, involved itself in raising money for deserving causes. From helping with the refurbishment of the India Club, to scholarships to more than 500 deserving Chinese students in Hong Kong, assisted needy Indians in Hong Kong and India and also allocating funds for disaster relief wherever the need has arisen – such as floods in China or earthquakes in India.
Under the diligent leadership of Mr. Larry Parmanand, the Association has introduced a new community initiative by presenting awards to qualified candidates from the Police Force & Medical Services. These awards are presented annually to those who have excelled at their duties and services to the community, and have actively participated in various events involving cultural appreciation, vocational training and race relations.
2010 saw a historic change in leadership with the Association electing Mrs. Mira Mahtani as its first lady President. Mrs. Mahtani was extremely active in organizing various charitable causes and cultural programmes for the community in Hong Kong, notably the Diwali Ball of the India Association and India Club.
The India Association Hong Kong will continue to work for the benefit of Hong Kong’s Indian Community the Hong Kong community at large.