UAE's first Indian centre marks 50th anniversary

UAEs first Indian centre marks 50th anniversary
Thomas Varghese, Navdeep Singh Suri, MA Yousuf Ali, BR Shetty and other committee members with Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award 2017 at the ISC, Abu Dhabi, on Friday evening. - Supplied photo

Abu Dhabi - The ISC has planned to go extra mile as a New Age organisation.


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sun 2 Apr 2017, 9:30 AM

Last updated: Sun 2 Apr 2017, 12:22 PM

The Indian Social and Cultural Centre (ISC), the oldest socio-cultural organisation that binds Indians in the UAE, marked its 50th anniversary on Saturday.
The ISC, which is older than the UAE and a recipient of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards 2017, has planned to go extra mile as a New Age organisation.
On Saturday, 50 children lit candles to mark the ISC Day in the premises of the centre, which had its humble beginnings in 1967, named the Unity Club.
On Friday evening, the ISC president Thomas Varghese revealed wide-ranging amendments being proposed by the office bearers to be tabled during the extra-ordinary general body meeting (EGM) on April 13.
The much-awaited election for new committee members will likely be held later this month. Among the proposals are addition of four new positions, which will be reserved for candidates from four regions - north, east, west and south - to ensure wider representation of the Indian community here. The present committee is heavily loaded with members from Kerala.
"This committee strongly believes a wider representation is required. Indian culture is all inclusive. We have called a third EGM as previous two did not had the quorum. Also, committee meetings will be conducted with a convener of women's forum as a special invitee."
Varghese recollected how in 2005 despite lack of financial resources, the facility was realised. "We had Dh1.5 million with us," Varghese said, adding that it was ISC chairman MA Yousuf Ali and vice chairman BR Shetty, the two leading industrialists, who contributed Dh2 million each.

ISC began on a humble noteThe India Social and Cultural Centre Abu Dhabi had a humble beginning in 1967. The founder members were 'magnificent seven' team of MAT Rao, John V. Jacob, MN Karadia, N. Padmanabhan, HV Nayak, KN Kutty and MP Thomas. It started as Unity Club and was later transformed into the ISC. It is not only the oldest and biggest community organisation of Indians in Abu Dhabi but older than the UAE, which was founded in 1971.
The ISC today has state-of-the-art building on an area of 90,000 sq.ft., making it the largest recreational centre in the Middle East for the Indian community having a membership of more than 2,500.
Indian Ambassador to UAE Navdeep Singh Suri, in his brief but candid address said: "There should be more geographical and regional diversity in the management. There are communities that are more active and some are less. Sometimes you have to make the conscious effort to pull them along. We can then see a truer representation of the diversity of India. I don't have anything against God's Own Country. I wish I was born there," he said, as a balm for the Malayali-dominated management.
He continued: "This is 2017 and we need to see more women on the dais. Please take the extra effort to bring in youth and women, who will bring different form of dynamism and ideas. At 50 years, this is still young and we need to rejuvenate it."
Yousuf Ali thanked the UAE leaders for their support. "It is with great gratitude I remember the UAE's founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, for allocating a piece of land for this centre."
A well-travelled BR Shetty said the ISC is the best community centre in the world. "This centre is for all communities." He urged 'capable' women to come forward as the election will be held for the new committee soon.
All present and past office bearers of registered Indian associations and members were present at the function, which was followed by gala dinner accompanied by musical show.

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