Indians are making their way through each and every nook and corner of the world. A Kiwi-Indian doctor made history this week after he was elected a Member of Parliament in Wellington in New Zealand.
Hailing from Hamirpur, Gaurav Sharma, made not only his district, but also the country proud as the Indian parliamentarian took an oath in the Sanskrit language in the Kiwiland on Tuesday. He is only the second political leader in the world to take an oath in Sanskrit on a foreign land after Suriname's President Chandrikapersad Santokhi.
"To be honest I did think of that, but then there was the question of doing it in Pahari (my first language) or Punjabi. Hard to keep everyone happy. Sanskrit made sense as it pays homage to all the Indian languages (including the many I can't speak)," Sharma, who won the election as a Labour Party candidate from Hamilton West, said on Twitter as a reason behind choosing Sanskrit and not Hindi.
"Dr Gaurav Sharma, one of the youngest, newly elected MP in NZ Parliament took oath today, first in NZ's indigenous Maori language, followed by India's classical language- Sanskrit, showing deep respect for cultural traditions of both India and New Zealand," tweeted High Commission to New Zealand Muktesh Pardeshi.
Sharma is a candidate of New Zealand's Labour Party and defeated Tim Macindoe of the National Party by over 4,386 votes. He had earlier fought the elections in 2017.
Leader of the people
According to reports by The Tribune, Sharma had moved to New Zealand in the late 1980s.
He says his father gave up his job as an engineer with the Himachal Pradesh electricity board and came to New Zealand with just $200, slept on park benches, got his meals from food charities. Sharma said his father couldn't get a job for a duration of almost six years and so the family saw a difficult time.
Then he began buying and fixing used vacuum cleaners and reselling them. "He didn't even have a car, so he went around with the vacuum cleaners on a wooden trolley — a total case of good old jugaad."
That was in 1994. In a few years, the family settled down. In 2000, while still in school, and taking a cue from his mother Purnima Sharma, Gaurav began working part-time as a caregiver at homes for senior citizens. This sparked an interest in healthcare and he enrolled in medical school, Sharma told Hindustan Times over the phone from New Zealand.
This Himachali guy, who still speaks 'Pahari' language at home and loves gol gappas, got aware of his interest in politics when he defeated five other candidates to win the student election at the University of Auckland Medical School.
"I am in politics for social service, as my family had gone through a lot of hardships. What really helped us was social security, which New Zealand did really well — not so much now, though," the Indian-origin MP was quoted as saying by The Tribune.