Tag: Little India

Little India’s muddled future as Development Victoria floats “Expressions of Interest” for redevelopment

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By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 17 July: It’s 1.9-hectare site and one part is iconic Little India, the only Indian prescient in Victoria with about 30 plus ethno specific businesses. The place which took about 20 years to develop with a unique subcontinental ambiance, today faces an uncertain future and the traders confused over what is in store for them.

The Development Victoria on behalf of the Victorian Government has initiated a redevelopment plan with six segments including the now Little India area; “construction is expected to commence in 2023 and could be staged over a number of years”.

The plan is expected to kick-off, according to a Community Feedback Form if a developer makes an “expression of interest” (July 2019) followed by a staggered process with “Request for proposal” (October 2019), “Appointment of successful developer/consortia” (Mid-2020) and “Commencement of community consultation on design” (Late-2020) and the “Commencement of construction” (From 2023).

A group of Little India traders who went for a “Community Information Session” on 17 July 2019 at the Dandenong Council Centre were explained this proposed timeline by Yogita Silva of Development Victoria.

“What you want to see in the development we want to know”, said Yogita.

Development Victoria says, “Development Victoria acknowledges the social, cultural and economic significance of Little India prescient in central Dandenong.”

“Development Victoria is committed to working with local businesses, traders and the local community during the process. Furthermore, Development Victoria is seeking for developers to allocate spaces for Indian retail and cultural offerings in the new precinct,” it says.

When SAT asked Yogita, if there will be a specified section designated as Little India in the proposed development, she said, “Don’t forget it’s going to be a private developer.”

It is this issue that has made the proposed development plans rather hazy for the Little India traders. Will “Indian retail and cultural offerings” mean a designated Little India or Indian cultural prescient?

Mr. Manoj Kumar, former ALP candidate for Forest Hill said at the information session, “ The Little India prescient heritage should remain here and the interest of the traders looked after as they are the ones who contributed to this heritage.”

Mr. Sharma who runs two successful Calcutta Sweets outlets in Little India says, “It is not that I just want a place for my individual businesses but want Little India prescient as an exclusive designated place in the new development.”

“I have spent a lifetime here, give employment to many people and have invested big amounts which have made us successful but in a situation where I am separated from the united culturally specific Little India, our identity loss will hurt our business also. I am not against development but want to preserve Little India as a whole,” Mr. Sharma told the SAT.

Rashid Sultan, a regular shopper at Little India says, “It will seize to exist if the private sector is allowed to have their say in the name of redevelopment.”

The shop owners say business has already started to drop after the redevelopment announcement. They fondly remember when many years back the present Premier Hon Daniel Andrews, was the Leader of Opposition, came to Little India to support the traders and save the Indian prescient’s exclusive cultural personality. Later grants were announced which remains partly unspent.

Vasan Srinivasan, Confederation of Indian Associations President told Dandenong Star Journal, “This is going to destroy many lives of Indian traders and those working for those traders.

What was the use of spending $ 500,000 to decorate it when Little India is going to be wiped off?”

But the Dandenong MP Gabrielle Williams told the same publication, “we will work with local businesses and the community every step of the way as we deliver the next phase of this exciting project.”

Traders fear business losses as Vic govt. announces to incorporate Little India in the New Central Dandenong development starting 2023

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By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 6 July: The land, next to the Dandenong Railway Station, including the Little India (Indian prescient) on Foster Street is likely to be part of a Victoria Government plan announced on 4 July, to redevelop as the ‘New Central Dandenong’ with construction starting 2023.

“Redevelopment of the 1.9-hectare site, bordered by Halpin Way, Cheltenham Road and Dandenong Railway Station, is expected to attract up to $100 million private sector investment in central Dandenong,” says a media release from the office of The Hon. Gavin Jennibgs MLC, Minister for Priority Precincts.

Minister Gavin Jennings says, “From the centre of Dandenong, the benefits of renewal will resonate throughout this vibrant and fast-developing community and we’re proud to be leading such an important initiative.”

Talking to SAT, Foster Street Traders Association (Little India Prescient) President Mr. Shahid Syed says, ‘this decision will hurt business and to discuss the issue the traders are holding a meeting on 9 July to give their response.”

The media release further says, “Subject to a developer being appointed in 2020, construction would start in 2023. The Revitalising Central Dandenong project represents a $290 million investment by the Victorian Government which has enabled close to $700 million in private investment, creating and supporting jobs across the wider Dandenong region.”

Member for Dandenong Gabrielle Williams says, “The Revitalising Central Dandenong project is transforming Dandenong, enabling the city to continue to grow and
meet the needs of the community.”
“We will work with local businesses and the community every step of the way as we deliver the next phase of this exciting project.”

The Little India prescient issue in Dandenong has been a hot potato with Little India traders opposing redevelopment plans many years back when the state was ruled by the Coalition led by Premier Ted Baillieu and the now Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews being the opposition leader.

An agitation by Little India traders supported by the Indian/South Asian communities to save Little India culminated into a rally in front of the Victorian Parliament. Subsequently, Hon. Daniel Andrews became the Premier and pledged to help Little India and its traders with many announcements.

It now remains to be seen what stand the Little India traders take and how the Andrews Labour government responds to it.

Decorative power poles spice up Little India, Dandenong

MELBOURNE: Two local emerging artists, Sohail Yamin, and Yoge Biju, have brought Indian themed and culturally inspired street art to Little India’s Foster Street in the form of decorated power poles.

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Photo: Greater Dandenong site

Yamin’s work titled Peace and Love builds on inspiration, brightly colored motifs, symbols and slogans synonymous with truck art which is very popular in India.

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Photo: Greater Dandenong site

Biju’s street art concept is titled Thoonu which translates to mean Indian Pillar. Pillars are a key architectural element and design aesthetic of Indian monuments and structures.

The artwork is located outside Museum India and is designed to extend the experience of the museum on to the street.
Greater Dandenong Mayor Cr Youhorn Chea said the latest additions added another layer of Indian culture and identity to the precinct.

“The street art program began with three large scale murals on Mason Street,” he said.

“We have continued to add color and vibrancy to the precinct with artwork adorning shop fronts, blank walls, and verandas.”

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Artists Schali Yamin and Yoge Biju. Photo: Greater Dandenong site

Mural’s add spice to Little India, Dandenong (See Video)

Source: Greater Dandenong website

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE: Geoffrey Carran, contemporary artist and Rowena Martinich, abstract expressionist painter take us through their journey (see video above) of visiting local Indian traders and their shops to sample the beautiful textiles on offer and gain inspiration for their mural ‘Adornment’, created as part of the Indian Cultural Precinct street art program.

In 2017, the Hon Robin Scott Minister for Multicultural Affairs announced that Dandenong is the home to Victoria’s first ever Indian Cultural Precinct with a funding commitment of $500,000.

The funding is being administered by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship under its Community Infrastructure and Cultural Precincts Program.

In 2016 an Indian Cultural Precinct Taskforce was established to inform the precinct’s direction and prepare a community vision.

The task force includes representatives from the Department of Premier and Cabinet (Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship), Places Victoria, City of Greater Dandenong and ten community leaders with culturally specific perspectives on business, faith, community, festivals and youth interests.

Since the 1990s Dandenong has been home to Melbourne’s Indian community, with an active and authentic Little India Cultural Precinct, and other Indian businesses in the activity centre.

Since the Revitalising Central Dandenong project started in 2006 the face of central Dandenong has changed enormously, with vastly improved public spaces, numerous new office buildings, Harmony Square, and library. These developments have attracted increasing numbers of workers, students, and visitors into the area. Dandenong’s Little India Cultural Precinct is located in the midst of all this, and directly next to Dandenong Railway Station where 2.6 million commuters per annum are exposed to Indian culture and commerce each day as they walk to and from the station.

The Little Indian Cultural Precinct, centered on Forster Street, Dandenong, is Melbourne’s longest standing and the most authentic cluster of Indian and subcontinental culture and commerce.

The city of Greater Dandenong is home to a large number of Indian businesses, with 62 shops in central Dandenong, including 33 businesses clustered in the Little India Cultural Precinct itself. These specialists shops include eateries, groceries, general retail and most famously, fashion and traditional wear.

More than 12,400 Indian born residents currently live in the City of Greater Dandenong. The regional population of Indian born residents in Melbourne’ south-east reached 52,000 in 2016.

PHOTO used below heading in site: http://www.mikeeleven.com/indian-cultural-precinct/

Council survey rejects Gandhi statue in Dendenong

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Mural of Mahatma Gandhi by Julian Clavijo in Little India, Foster Street. Photo: @julianclavijosart

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 29 July 2018: A proposal by the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria (FIAV) to install a life-size statue of India’s father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi opposite the Dandenong Station and adjacent to Little India, Foster Street shops has been shot down in a community consultation survey which closed on 7 June 2018.

According to a reliable source, more than 900 people participated in the survey commissioned by the Dandenong Council with more people saying no to the proposal. The survey information and other matters came up recently before a meeting of the Indian Prescient Task Force led by Gabrielle Williams, MP, Dandenong.

SAT contacted the Dandenong Council to know about the outcome of the survey and was told by Anya Murray that the information collected in the survey has been submitted to the Indian Prescient Task Force for a decision and the Council is likely to issue a media statement on the issue in a few weeks in August 2018.

FIAV leader and member of the Indian Prescient Task Force, Vasan Srinivasan talking to SAT said, “The Indian Prescient Task Force decided not to have any statue including that of Mathama Gandhi in the area.”

“I am not willing to take the proposal to another level, “Mr. Vasan told SAT.

Mr. Vasan also said, “We do not need any money for the Gandhi statue but the Dandenong Council needs to take leadership on this issue. Gandhi is more popular than anyone else in India and hence I do not support any other statue there.”

Another proposal to install a statue of Basava, 12th-century Lingayat philosopher and social reformer also did not succeed at the Task Force meeting. Though this was not part of the Council survey.

Interestingly, three largescale artworks including one on Gandhi were commissioned and completed by the Dandenong Council in Little India, Foster Street to celebrate the Indian and subcontinent flavor of the area.

The Council website says,” Melbourne’s south-east region is home to more than 52,000 people of Indian origin. Approximately 12,400 first generation Indian residents currently call the City of Greater Dandenong home.”

Only recently the Immigration Museum with the support of the state government hosted an exclusive exhibition ‘Mahatma Gandhi: An Immigrant, an interactive exhibition from 5 April to July 2018. The highlight was the visit of Gandhi’s granddaughter Ela Gandhi, a former member of parliament in South Africa.