‘Peppered with passion’

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The road to success is not always easy. But those who have faith in themselves and never lose self-confidence shine out ultimately as successful persons in the society.

It was a wobbly path for Councillor Gurdeep Singh that he treaded during his arduous odyssey from a migrant who struggled like others to find a job, settle in a new country and ultimately joined politics to be a voice of the community.

Cr Gurdeep Singh has recently been elected as a Deputy Mayor of Hornsby Shire. After migrating to Australia, like others Gurdeep faced many hardships, but his ‘never give up approach’ and a persistent focus towards his goal, helped him in achieving success.

Cr Singh is a graduate from Thapar University and has worked as an engineer both for public and private sectors in India.  He was an Executive Engineer in India, when he left the job and planned to come here.

Gurdeep migrated to Australia with his family in 1991, when the population of Indians in Australia was very less and barely there were any community organisations to help the new arrivals.

When Cr Gurdeep migrated to Australia, times were difficult and the economic conditions were also not good. So for Gurdeep, just as many others who migrated to Australia at that time, post-migration period remained quite traumatic and tough physically, emotionally and financially.

When Gurdeep migrated here,  he worked in the public sector and says that his career in public sector in Australia exposed him to the problems of the local people in relation to government and its services.

“When I migrated here, there were very few Indians.  While travelling on train, if I would come across some person from Indian background on the platform, I would get off the train to just wish him. That was an entirely different scenario, there were hardly any associations and helping groups for the migrants and few of the Indian families who were already settled here were the only ray of hope for the new arrivals. Flood gates for migration opened up in the late 1990 have and are progressively increasing till now. The population of Indian Diaspora in Australia has substantially increased in the last few decades and so the demands are also increasing,” said Cr Gurdeep.

“While working as a Section Manager at Hornsby Centre link I came across many problems being faced by the people. As I was working at the unemployment section, I came across the people from different ethnic backgrounds who were struggling hard to settle in this new country. I looked at the downside of various communities while working at Centre link and made up my mind to do something for the community,” added Gurdeep.

Over a period of time, along with job Gurdeep started his own Civil Engineering Consultancy service and   later took a volunteer redundancy from the public service job.

“While working for yourself you have the luxury of weaving your time around your work demands and your personal aspirations. So, I started to participate more in community works. Politics and community work are very demanding and requires dedication and tireless efforts. As the population is growing, community aspirations are growing and   community wants a voice, which should be their representative and has a say in decision making. I thought that someone has to take a lead and I joined politics,” said Gurdeep.

Narrating his political journey, Gurdeep said “My entry into politics is mainly a result of the need within the Indian community for participation in politics. I was influenced by the strong policies of the Liberal party.  Liberal party respects the perspective of an individual, gives you an opportunity to make yourself and then it rewards you, so I applied for the membership of Liberal party and joined the Party in 2009.  When I became a member, I started to participate, more actively in party works and campaigns and that gave me real insight into the process of election,” he added.

“When the local government elections came up in 2012, I was encouraged by my friends in the party   to apply for a ticket. I went through the pre-selection process and they decided to endorse me a as a Liberal Candidate. When I contested the election for the first time for Councillor, the overwhelming response from the Indian Diaspora from my council was fantastic. Not only the Indians in Sydney, but Indians in Melbourne, Perth    and other parts of Australia also came forward and supported me by boosting my confidence. Even few of my friends who have further migrated to Canada mailed me appreciating the step and offered their full support. So many emails were circulating in the community and that definitely boosted my confidence and ultimately I was elected as a councillor for Hornsby Shire,” adds Gurdeep.

“Being elected as a councillor is a first step. Area of work is restricted as a councillor and is limited to local issues but being the representative of the Indian Diaspora, there are so many expectations of the community and I am always open to help the community in whatsoever way I can. People have approached me for smaller community approvals and I am trying to help them as much as I can”, he said.

“My job being a councillor and a representative of the community is to guide and encourage    such groups which are doing something for the community to come forward and apply for grants. Council has an option to provide grants to non-profit organisations. The decision to grant money is made at a council meeting of the council, but if you are working for a right cause, you will get the support,” says Gurdeep.

Gurdeep says that there are not many issues within the Indian community.

“Indian community is a very hard working community and there are a few issues of concern to the Indian Diaspora.  My motive being an immigrant and a public person is to show others in the Indian community that there are many opportunities for the Indian and other migrant communities to have a greater role in the public life in Australia,” he adds.

Gurdeep opines that more and more youngsters should come forward and join the political parties.

“As the Indian community is growing, in the years to come the political parties will be keen to have more candidates from the sub-continental communities”.

“I joined main stream party and I am quite satisfied with my political journey as a liberal party member so far. Politics is very unpredictable and it is very uncertain to say how your political career will unfold in future but if in future I will get a chance to contest the state and federal election, definitely I won’t say no.  ,” he added.

“I want to motivate more and more youngsters to come forward and join politics.  The increased number of the Indians in Australian politics will help in creating a favourable climate for better understanding between different groups in our society Even if I will be able to motivate a single youngster to join politics, I will be really happy. Being in politics, you can guide and lead your community towards good social and economic times,” said Cr Gurdeep.

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