Even though the India Association ("Association") in Hong Kong incorporated as an association only in December 1965, it was actually founded as early as 1948 in the post war years immediately following India's Independence in 1947. A few members of the Indian community - such as Mr P. Vaswani, Mr. F.T. Melwani and Mr. Ujagar Singh - with a keen civic sense and a commitment to the social well-being of the community, got together and gave Hong Kong Indians the India Association.
From small and humble beginnings, the Association has grown into a non-profit, non-sectarian organization we can all be proud of. In an alien cultural environment, traditional culture of an expatriate community trends to become obsolescent as time goes by. In retrospect, we can see that the India Association made an early commitment to promote our heritage through cultural and social functions organized by the Association on a fairly frequent basis right through the years. This ongoing commitment of the India Association to Indian culture made itself evident through their organizing the Diwali Ball each year. Observing traditional festivals is one way of retaining cultural identity, and the Association and its leaders very well knew it.
Indian singers, dancers and other stage performers have been brought from India over the years. The Association was very much active in this; often, in collaboration with other organizations of the Indian community. The Association has never lacked in patriotic zeal. Indian Independence Day has always been celebrated with great éclat annually.
Other areas of activity which Indian Association has pursued with keen enthusiasm are the charitable and social aspects. A heightened sense of dedication has been apparent in many of the Presidents who have taken their turns in office. In 1981, under the Presidency of Mr. Gary Harilela, India Association initiated the "Walk for Millions" by participating for the first time in the Community Chest Walk for the benefit of the Hong Kong Community. Today we are indeed proud to be in the top three contributor fund raising associations for the Community Chest.
Mr. Gary Harilela was also President in 1980 when, for the first time in Hong Kong, an Indian radio programme in Hindi went on the air as an RTHK broadcast. Bikhre Moti took to the air waves compered by Mr. G. T. Gul. However, in a move to reallocate airtime, the programme was dropped off the air on March 31, 1999 due to restraint of airtime.
In more recent years, the Association invited leading figures of the Hong Kong Government to address the Indian community. Governor Chris Patten was invited during the Presidency of Mr. Nanu Lachman. Also during his Presidency, the India Association organized an impressive handover ceremony in July 1997. In 1999, Mr Ramesh Mahtani brought Mrs. Anson Chan, Chief Secretary, to the Indian community at a luncheon address.
From the very beginning, the Association was instrumental in entertaining dignitaries and personalities such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajendra Prasad to meet the Indian community in Hong Kong.
A highlight of social entertainment co-sponsored by India Association and India Club was Shahenshah-e-Mohabbat, a tribute to Raj Kapoor organized by the late Rani Hiranand in 1987.
From a fund-raising point of view, Association has, from way back, involved itself in raising money for deserving causes. The present effort is dedicated towards the refurbishment of the India Club.
It cannot go unmentioned that India Association has, on an ongoing basis, given scholarships to more than 500 deserving Chinese students in Hong Kong, assisted needy Indians in Hong Kong and India and also allocated funds for disaster relief wherever the need has arisen - such as the China floods or the earthquake in India.
Under the diligent leadership of Mr. Larry Parmanand, the Association has introduced a new community initiative by presenting awards to qualified candidates from the Police Force & Medical Services. These awards are presented annually to those who have excelled at their duties and services to the community, and have actively participated in various events involving cultural appreciation, vocational training and race relations.
2010 saw a historic change in leadership with the India Association electing the late Mrs. Mira Mahtani as its first female President. Mrs. Mahtani had been part of the India Association for several years and had been extremely active in organizing various charitable causes and cultural programmes for the community in Hong Kong, notably the Diwali Ball of the India Association and India Club over the years.
Fifty-seven years is a long period in which to devote fruitful effort for community benefit. The India Association has done that in full measure. With a fine quality of leadership always at hand, the India Association will take longer and longer strides of progress in the years ahead.