Indian community pledges support for Nigerian culture, development

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The Indian Cultural Association is umbrella body of all Indians in Nigeria. It has been in existence for over five decades and has focused activities on provision of charitable succor in areas of community development and health interventions to needy Nigerian communities and Nigerians.

The association equally provides a veritable platform not only to sustain but also make art and culture relevant to the younger generation.

India is a land of diverse cultures and it is association’s endeavour to ensure that the youth appreciates and connects with its rich heritage and arts.

Speaking recently, President of Indian Cultural Association, Chief Sanjay Jain, who has been in Nigeria for close to three decades with a wide range of experience in almost all the sectors of the Nigerian economy, said the relationship between Indian and Nigerian community has been excellent.

“I can confidently tell you that through several interactions, I’ve come to realise that there’s mutual respect for each other.

Nigerians attend our events willingly, and sometimes, they make enquiries when the next cultural event will hold.

Most corporate executives in Nigeria who are aware of our events always look forward to attending those events.

So, evaluating the enthusiasm towards our events and the brotherly interactions with the Indian community shows ‘loud and clear’ their love and warmth for Indians in Nigeria.

So far, so good, I would say that the relationship between Indian community and Nigerians all over the country has been very excellent over the years,” he said.

Beyond the occasional cultural displays, last year, the association supported the Nigerian fashion fair as a way of promoting Nigerian made fabrics.

Nigeria has been obsessed with Bollywood since the 1950s, with Indian films leaving a considerable cultural legacy.

Originally a cheap alternative to Western films, Bollywood’s themes and stories resonated with Nigerians turning an import gamble into a national obsession

From literature to music to film-making, Bollywood has had an indelible impact on Nigerian culture

According to social anthropologist Brian Larkin of Columbia University, generations of Hausa youth have grown up in Northern Nigeria watching Bollywood films.

Indian films have influenced Hausa fashions, Hausa singers have copied their songs and their stories have influenced the writings of Nigerian novelists.

Inspired by Bollywood, a literary genre called Soyayya or “love literature” developed in the 1980s, which is quite popular and is reported to have become an important tool in Hausa women’s campaign to modernise their community.

Recently, the Indian Cultural Association embarked on a visit to Ikorodu rehabilitation centre line with its objectives of providing succor to needy Nigerians.

The journey to Ikorodu started over a year ago with countless visits to enquire what their needs are and the association identified that even though the Lagos State government provides for all their needs, the centre is always in short supply of food due to the increasing number of inmates that affects the balance of supplies.

Having identified the need of the centre, the association donated three truckloads of utility items and gave them equipment like fridge and deep freezers as well as medicine, which they needed very badly.

Jain said, “we have visited Okobaba destitute centre as well as little saint’s orphanage where we provided items for their daily needs/welfare.

We have also supported and offered relief materials to old people’s home in Regina Mundi Church, Mushin for over 15 years, which is still ongoing.

We have made some amount of money available to them to be used to buy the items they need monthly in conjunction with the authorities.

Recalling their impact when there was a bomb blast at the Ikeja cantonment a long time ago that got people displaced and so many injured; “our organisation moved in to provide millions of Naira worth of goods ranging from utensils, beds, blankets, clothes and household needs for almost seven days.

The organisation has a flagship charitable project to provide drinking water facility and we have provided over one hundred clean water facilities to various schools in Lagos.

We have equally provided clean water facility for budding doctors at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and have also continuously provided succor to indigent Nigerians to take care of their health challenges.”

Again, in doing these charities, the organisation need funds to embark on these projects, interestingly, it has a major event in its calendar, which coincides with the country’s national festival. It is designed to raise funds for the charity projects they are involved in.

According to Jain, “we have a committee of 32 people as well as a community of over 50,000 people, so, everybody is aware of our activities and mandate and we are in close contact with our people, the Indian High Commission and the host community to seek and get information where people need help.

“We have simplified the process by asking for a request letter from the needy community and when these request letters are collated, we evaluate the letters and send our team on a fact-finding mission to know if they are really in dire need of what they requested. We have also ensured that our projects are selected where a larger number of people will benefit even as we evaluate their need in terms of priority before embarking on the project.”