Indians in New Zealand
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Priyanca Radhakrishnan first Indian-origin minister
1st-gen migrant 1st desi to become NZ minister
Priyanca Radhakrishnan, a first-generation immigrant, became New Zealand’s first-ever Indian-origin minister on Monday after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern inducted five new ministers into her executive, two weeks after a landslide victory in the country’s general election.
“Today has been an incredibly special day. I’m feeling a lot of things, including an overwhelming sense of privilege to become part of our government,” the 41-year-old Labour Party MP said.
Radhakrishnan was born in Chennai, but her family is from Paravur in Kerala. She went to school in Singapore before moving to New Zealand to further her education.
The new minister for diversity, inclusion and ethnic communities comes from an illustrious family in Kerala. Her Left-leaning great-grandfather, C R Krishna Pillai — a doctor—played a major role in shaping the literary and cultural sensibilities of the state.
NZ PIO min’s great-granddad was a Left leader in Kerala
Priyanca Radhakrishnan was brought up in Singapore, where her father Raman Radhakrishnan worked as an engineer before returning to India to set up his own engineering company and settle in Chennai. “I come from a politically active family; a family that is dedicated to doing their part to make the world a better place. My great-grandfather, Dr C R Krishna Pillai, was involved in Left-wing politics in India and was instrumental in the formation of Kerala,” she had written in 2014.
Radhakrishnan has spent her work life advocating on behalf of people whose voices are often unheard – women survivors of domestic violence and migrant workers who have been exploited. First elected to New Zealand’s parliament as a Labour Party representative in 2017, the new minister has also been given charge of the ministry for the community and voluntary sector, and been made associate minister for social development and employment.
She had travelled to Kerala twice last year following the death of her mother Usha. G K Nair, a grand uncle of Radhakrishnan who resides near Kalady, said she owes her political genes to her maternal great-grandfather, who had once contested an election against former Union finance minister T T Krishnamachari. (Inputs from agencies)
2020: Sharma takes oath in Sanskrit
Gaurav Sharma, one of the youngest and newly-elected MPs in New Zealand, on Wednesday took oath in Sanskrit in the parliament. Sharma, 33, hailing from Himachal Pradesh’s Hamirpur, was recently elected as the MP from the Labour Party. Replying to a Twitter user who asked why he didn’t take oath in Hindi, Sharma said it is hard to keep everyone happy so he decided Sanskrit as it pays homage to all the Indian languages. “I did think of that, but then there was the question of doing it in Pahari (my first language) or Punjabi.” AGENCIES