On October 9th, more than 60 people came together to attend a luncheon to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the India Australia Club. All that attended thoroughly enjoyed the delicious abundance of food and the company of family and fine friends, including at the ‘Spirit of India’ Reception and Restaurant Centre. The elaborate cake, used to commemorate the Diwali Festival, proved a success. And those present were given a small box of Indian sweets as a token of celebration of the occasion.
Two members from the legal profession, Mr. Graham Thomas (Senior Counsel) and Mr. Greg Hughan (barrister), congratulated Ms Freny Bagli for organising such a splendid occasion. As the major driver of these events in the past twenty years, Ms Bagli was also commended for her continuing effort to provide opportunities for club members, their families and colleagues to attend different Indian restaurants and sample their cuisine. Also, Freny’s legal colleagues who regularly attend these events, mentioned that they enjoy the fine fare offered at the various venues while also spending time to meet informally with their associates.
Australia India club’s history
India Club, as it was first known, was started by Mr Abul Hasnat, Mr Kasturi Mehra and Mittal in 1966, together with a group of other interested students. While initially there were about 10-15 club members, many young families and other students also joined with the club having a substantial number of members. However, with the advent of more Indians coming to Melbourne, the club expanded even more and at one stage had 600 members.
Many functions and day trips were held, both formal and informal, such as bus trips to the snow and a memorable visit to a farm at Horsham. Similarly, there were many picnics and lunches that were a monthly regular event, where the club catered and raised funds through charging a nominal fee. As the numbers increased, the club took part in many major events, representing Indians in Melbourne. Highlights were hosting visiting Indian and Australian dignitaries and sports clubs from India, such as the international Indian cricket, hockey and wrestling teams. Furthermore, the club had the privilege of hosting past Indian and Australian Prime Ministers on many occasions. Although the club continued to hold performances at various venues around Melbourne, the offspring of other clubs mushrooming caused membership to dwindle yet some continued meeting by having dinners at least twice a year as a method of keeping in contact.
Furthermore, during this time, India Australia club has been selfless in their bid to raise funds for many worthwhile causes such as the earthquake disaster in Gujarat along with many others. However in recent years, efforts have been made to donate funds to an Indian orphanage, assist with a school for those living in slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh and to provide for a birthing centre for women living in poor conditions.