By Nidhi Kumari and Shashi Narasimhiah
Kumud Merani is a Journalist / Broadcaster, Playwright and actor. She is one of the most well known women of Indian origin in Australia. A doyen of Indian electronic media in Australia, she was one of the pioneer News presenters of Indian Doordarshan (TV).
Having immigrated to Australia Kumud had the rare distinction of being the first Asian lady to get the position of a News Presenter for the World News on SBS TV for a short period but has found her niche as the National Executive Producer of Hindi Programs on SBS Radio. She has been the recipient of several National and International Awards for her Radio Documentaries and plays. And she is also one of the first ladies of Indian origin to be selected as Australia Day Ambassador. As she represented the Indian community as Ambassador at the prestigious Australia Day once again in 2018, she talks about her contribution, her mantra to stay motivated and a lot more in an exclusive interview with Indus Age.
How does it feel to be representing the Indian community as Ambassador at the prestigious Australia Day?
As an Australian of Indian origin I feel most honoured and valued to be appointed an Australia Day Ambassador representing the wider Australian community. The privilege is combined with a deeper responsibility which I am happy to shoulder. I hope my role will inspire other migrants to achieve even higher goals and become a voice to be reckoned with.
How do you look at your journey in the industry and in Australia?
My journey in Australia and in the media has been most fruitful and satisfying. I feel Australia is truly a multicultural nation; it’s a country where Multiculturalism has not just been a dream or concept but is a thriving reality. As for my media career which has spanned across three decades and over various platforms from TV to radio and social media, it has been most fulfilling. Imparting objective, unbiased and balanced information has been a passion with me and I have achieved it. I am thrilled to have received multiple national as well as International Awards, but the love of my listeners’ matters a lot to me.
Did you think you would go so far and be an inspiration for so many?
Thanks for thinking that I have gone far and inspired many. “The woods are lovely far and deep but I have miles to go before I sleep.”
Truly, no I did not think I would go thus far or be a source of inspiration. If I have – then I feel warmed by the success but remain unchanged by fame.
What is your personal contribution to Australian society that you are proud of?
When immigrating to Australia what I loved best was being told to “bring your Culture along with you.” Where else can we carry forth our identity and Arts and Culture and yet be recognized as an Australia Day Ambassador? I think I have contributed by promoting and creating an understanding of Indian Art, Culture and tradition in Australia. For that matter each one of us is an ambassador of our origin and I’m sure many are true role models of our roots.
With Indian population in Australia being over 400000 what do you think you have done to socially integrate the Indian migrants into Australian society?
I think media is one of the most powerful tools and I have helped our new Indian migrants assimilate into the Australian society through a range of programs informing and educating them about the Socio-Political system of Australia, health system, traffic rules, swimming and surfing, domestic violence, education, writing resumes for a job, information for seniors and of course matters pertaining to citizenship and visas.
Any episode/ incidence that is really special to you and you would like to share?
There are several incidents which I cherish and remain deeply embedded in my heart. I’d like to share one that comes immediately to mind. Many years ago when we used to receive mail from our listeners one Indian woman wrote to me that she was incarcerated in Adelaide. She did not know any English and could barely write Hindi. She wrote that had it not been for the Hindi Program which was then broadcast on Sunday mornings she would have not been able to live. She wrote that someone had planted drugs on her and she was innocent. That was not for me to judge, but I contacted some people in Adelaide to go and visit her sometime. That was the first time the woman saw some faces of Indian origin in three years and spoke to them in Hindi.
What is your mantra to stay motivated?
Motivation is a multifaceted fire that can only be kindled from within. Creativity and Art without artifice motivate my life. The appreciation and needs of my audiences is another factor that inspires me to share my thoughts, words, talent and knowledge. Above all, it is meeting and learning from interesting and inspiring people from various fields on a daily basis that motivates me.
A piece of advice that has stayed with you:
The best piece of advice was given to me by my mother who said, “The ship sailing along the high seas of truth will rock in stormy weather but it will never sink.”Do not trust people blindly, stay focused and keep rising because the sky is the limit for the seeker.
An advice that you would like to give to the younger generation:
Life is a journey not a competition. Believe in yourself, analyse your limitations and hone your skills. Not everyone can be a Bill Gates but try to be a Bill and open the gate to positive thoughts and behaviour and top it up with honest hard work and you will be an achiever.
What are your future plans?
A further pursuit of theatrical productions is on the cards.