South Asian Participation in the Election Process
Surrey, Vancouver, November 24,2011
The just concluded municipal elections have been very interesting. Looks like it was the season for the incumbents. With a few exceptions, most of the incumbents have done very well. Cities like Surrey, Burnaby, Vancouver and Richmond are some of the prime examples of this. The other notable development has been the emergence of some of the major minority communities in the political arena. In these four major cities of Metro Vancouver, a large number of members from the Chinese, South Asian and the Filipino communities have been elected to the city councils and school boards. This is a very encouraging development both for our democracy and multiculturalism.
These three major minority communities are often blamed for not actively participating in the political affairs of the country. This kind of participation shows that this is not the case any more. As a matter of fact, members from these communities are doing a commendable job at not only the municipal but also at the provincial and the federal levels. The other positive development in this regard is the role that our younger generations are playing in the political arena at every level. Take for example the South Asian community.
It has been reported that in the current municipal elections there were at least 25 South Asian candidates running for different positions. A lot of them are fairly young. Those who won deserve our hearty congratulations. However, those who couldn’t make it this time also must be congratulated for participating in the democratic process of our country. That, in itself, is the greatest reward. Don’t give up. Don’t get disappointed. There is always a next time. Keep up your community involvement.
Historically, the South Asian community in general and the Indo-Canadian community in particular have been very active politically. Maybe it is in our blood. Our ever growing and powerful media –both print and electronic- are a prime example of this. Tune into any South Asian radio station or other media outlet, you will find very sophisticated debate on any current issues both here in Canada as well as in India. Most of the discussion is quite interesting and stimulating.
During the past 125 years of its existence in Canada, the Indo-Canadian community has come a long way. It wasn’t till 1947 that members of our community didn’t even have the right to vote. However, times have changed. Now, due to its hard work and resilience, it has become as one of the most influential and resourceful communities here. This is a great credit not only to our pioneers but also to some of the very progressive leaders of Canada who have made everyone feel welcome here. This policy of inclusion and acceptance has made Canada as one of the most desirable places to live in. Now it is incumbent upon each one of us to make it even better. Getting actively involved in the political process is a great way to do it.
Balwant Sanghera (Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist)