Major General Vikram Madan OAM VSM Aus Day 2022
Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
First, I too acknowledge that this land that we meet on today is the traditional land of the Boandik ( BO HAN DEEK ) people and that we respect their spiritual relationship with their country.
May I acknowledge the presence of Honourable Clare Scriven, MLC, Mr Troy Bell , Member for Mt Gambier, Mr Tony Pasin, Federal Member for Barker. His Worship Richard Sage, Mayor of the District Council of Grant, Elected Members of the Council and Mr Darryl Whicker, The CEO.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am absolutely delighted to be here with you to celebrate our Australia Day 2022 and share this wonderful day of recognition of people who have given so much to the community here in Mount Gambier. As an individual I passionately believe in diversity, multiculturalism and the sanctity of a National Day for a country. No matter whether that date is 26th January or any other date that we choose in future and I respect divergent views and sentiments surrounding the date. But a national day, in my reckoning, is important for any country because it brings and binds people together and generates a strong and unique sense of nationalism.
As an Ambassador of the Australia Day Council of South Australia I would wish and want all Australians to come together today to reflect, respect and celebrate. Reflect on the extraordinary challenges of the past 24 months and their impact on our lives. Our respect and admiration must go out to our health care and frontline workers. Their extraordinary commitment, hard work and sacrifices have and will see us through even the fresh challenges of Omicron. Let us then celebrate every Australian’s selfless discipline and collectively our nation’s resilience and the promise of a brighter future.
Let me digress a little and say, we all have a story to tell because we are all immigrants to this beautiful land. It doesn’t matter whether we came 65000 years ago or yesterday, we are proud Australians living in this land of promise, hope and opportunity. We have each brought a story with us and together woven a rich fabric of diversity to become one of the most successful multicultural nations in the world. We must share that story with others without hesitation and inhibitions because we are all part of that story.
My own story goes something like this. I served in the Indian Army’s elite Gurkha Regiment for 40 long years. I have been through wars, serious insurgency and conflict situations. Fought the enemy, militants and terrorist as a diehard infantry soldier. Was decorated twice by the President of India. In short, I have seen it all, done it all. It had been tough but a satisfying career and as I was retiring in 2006 I visited my family in Australia and was very fortunate to meet Veena , my wonderful wife, who has also accompanied me here today. We decided to marry and I moved to Adelaide. I had retired having given so much to my country of birth. I reflected that now was probably the time to start giving something to my new country which had accepted me with open arms. Since then, I have been able to devote my life to voluntary, social and community work. This is what I love to do and this is what makes me happy. I dare say there is not a country in the whole wide world comparable to Australia where voluntary work is so valued, appreciated and recognised. I personally cannot help but be grateful to Australia and the Australian Government who recognised my voluntary work in the multicultural affairs and awarded me with a Medal in the Order of Australia on Australia Day 2019 which I wear with so much of joy and pride.
For me personally it has been a beautiful journey over last 15 years and I thank my wife for her continuous support and encouragement.
As Australia Day Ambassadors we are encouraged to carry and display memorabilia or an artefact of our culture or from our life’s history and talk about it for a minute or two. As I have said before, I served for 40 years with the Gurkha Rifles. Many of you would have heard that these Gurkha troops are one of the bravest and finest troops in the world. They carry a curved knife called Khukri to the battle. It is a very dear and precious item to us in the Gurkhas. I am so sentimentally attached to these three Khukris presented to me over my long service. There are legends attached to the drawn Khukri in the battle which I won’t go into today but you can ask me in casual conversation later.
Finally, Heartiest Congratulations to the nominees and winners of the citizen of the year awards and their family and friends present here today. You have chosen to live in the most beautiful part of our State. Enjoy your time here and I am sure you will see some exciting developments in your area in near future.
Thank you Mayor Sage and your Council for inviting me. Happy Australia day to everyone.