May 2023 \ Diaspora News \ Diaspora News

Melbourne: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Australia in May, the diaspora community in a western Sydney suburb is renewing calls to officially declare their area as ‘Little India’.

Home to many popular Indian eateries and retailers, Harris Park is informally referred to as ‘Little India’ with 45 per cent of its 5,043 residents tracing their roots to India. According to ABC News, the Parramatta Council voted last week to support a scaled-back proposal, which will see Marion Street, Wigram Street, and Station Street East in Harris Park named as ‘Little India’.

The Council’s earlier attempts hit a roadblock after Australia’s Geographic Names Board (GNB) told Parramatta Council to stop using the term in marketing material because it “creates confusion”.

“We want to make it an international destination on the same lines as Little India in Singapore and other places around the world,” Parramatta councillor Paul Noack, who moved the motion, told ABC News.

While Parramatta Council said it is continuing discussions with the GNB, a board spokesperson said it was yet to receive a formal application regarding the matter. “Once a formal application has been received, the GNB will review the submission,” the spokesperson told ABC News.

The Indian business owners had first proposed officially naming the area Little India in 2015, believing that the title would benefit them. According to Little India Harris Park Business Association president Sanjay Deshwal, the name would give a sense of belonging to Indian students and workers who come to Australia.

“Harris Park is a very important step to provide those people a feeling of home. It’s not only food, it’s not only the businesses, it’s not only the dresses, it’s not only the colour, but it’s giving them a sense of belonging,” Deshwal told ABC News. Mr Modi last visited Australia in 2014, and addressed 20,000 people at the Sydney SuperDome at Olympic Park. According to the report, the Parramatta Council has formally extended an invitation to Mr Modi to visit Harris Park this time.

Tags: Australia