The Consul General of India Shri Sujan R. Chinoy, accompanied by Consul Y.V.Dayal visited Coffs Harbour/Woolgoolga on 22-23 July 2008. Woolgoolga is inhabited by Sikhs who comprise approximately 50% of the local population. It has one of the oldest concentrations of Indians in Australia. Some of the Sikhs belong to the fourth generation of immigrants. Many have grown up in Australia but retain a strong Sikh cultural identity. The place is famous for its banana cultivation started by Sikh migrants some 100 years ago. As such, the majority of the banana plantations in the area are owned by members of the Sikh community. They also cultivate blueberries, oranges and vegetables.
Apart from visiting some of the banana plantations and homesteads, Consul General Sujan Chinoy and Consul Dayal also visited:
(a) Guru Nanak Sikh Temple
(b) First Guru Nanak Sikh Temple in Australia
( c) Anand Eshar Educational Centre
|Consul General Sujan Chinoy with local Indian community
members at a farm in Woolgoolga
At all the three venues, the Consul General received overwhelming warmth of reception. In the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple, the office-bearers honoured the Consul General with a ‘Saropa’ and also presented him with a memento. At all the three places, several members of the community gathered to welcome the Consul General. The Consul General paid his respects and obeisance at both the Gurudwaras and at the Anand Eshar Education Centre. Subsequently, members of the two Gurudwaras hosted a joint dinner for the Consul General at the Bowling Club of Woolgoolga. In his address, the CG appreciated the contributions made by the Sikh community in India and abroad. He also spoke of the growing linkages between the two countries in trade and investment and other fields. Following his address, a Question and Answer session was also held to brief attendees about the CGI’s functions, its consular and trade services, the outsourcing of visa and passport services as well as the benefits of the OCI Scheme.
On 23 July, 2008, the Consul General called on Coffs Harbour Mayor Keith Rhodes and the General Manager Stephen Sawtell of the Coffs Harbour City Council. The meeting was also attended by their Financial Advisor and the Community Relations Officer. During the meeting, both the Mayor and the General Manager praised the local Sikh community as hard-working and enterprising in nature. The Mayor informed the Consul General that the City Council was trying to provide better infrastructure facilities in the vicinity of the Gurudwaras and the educational centre. He also informed the Consul General that the Sikh community had always been most forthcoming and generous in providing assistance to the needy, including local homeless people.
The Consul General and Consul Dayal also separately met members of the Sikh community who wished to apply for OCI but were not familiar with online/internet facilities. They were given personal assistance in filing their OCI and passport applications online. This gesture was also deeply appreciated by the community.
CGI, Sydney August 4, 2008