Bengali's of India have had contact with Australia for more than 220 years.In 1797, due to shipwreck at Ninety Mile Beach in Victoria, five British and 12 Bengali seamen swam ashore. Bengali's made history by stepping foot in the Australian soil to begin a robust trading relationship between Bengal and new Australian colonies.Bengal Rum and livestock from Bengal nourished the Australian colonies.
The recent discovery of a 19th century Bengali book in the gold mining town of Broken Hill in New South Wales confirmed the fact that Bengali's lived in Australia, but this was forgotten until now.The rich worlds of non-European peoples who are missing from historical records such as Bengali's and Aboriginals (some of them can trace as much as 11% of their genomes to migrants who reached the island around 4000 years ago from India) are part of literary revival. This long-standing bond between our two nations (Australia and India) encouraged us to undertake the project, ‘Agathokakological Aussie Summer,’ a collection of anthologies.
The literary influence between Australia and India is growing tremendously and we are eagerly awaiting the next Arundhati Roy or Jhumpa Lihiri or Anita Desai. Books such as ‘Glass Walls: Stories of Tolerance and Intolerance,’ published by Dr Sharon Rundle and Meenakshi Bharat have created the foundation for the next big South Asian Australian writer.The book included diverse group of writers from the Indian Subcontinent and Australia.Another book, ‘Of Indian Origin, Writings from Australia,’ edited by Paul Sharrad and Meeta Chatterjee Padmanavan celebrates writers of Indian origin in Australia too. Books by Indian writers are nothing new to Australia as researcher Samia Khatun’s explains in ‘The Australianama: The South Asian Odyssey in Australia,’ how a book from Chitpur Road, Kolkata gave company to Bengalis in Australia during the first colonial settlement.
Samia stumbled upon a certain book of Bengali poetry collection mistaken as the Holy Quran in a 19th Century Mosque in the gold mining town of Broken Hill, New South Wales. This Indian connection to Australia is again celebrated by former Indian Consul General Amit Dasgupta. As he said ‘Goodbye’ to Sydney at the NSW Parliament House Jubilee Room, his book, ‘The House and Other Stories,’ embraced Bengalis in Sydney with a line that says, “They were also members of the Durga Pujo committee and in charge of the most important department, food, because it is only food, festivals and football that unite Bengali's!”
About the Author
Indranil Halder is a Corporate Consultant, Writer and former Ambassador of Fabrics of Multicultural Australia. He lives in Sydney, Australia. He said, “As migration contributes to the rise of the Indian Diaspora in Australia, business growth and sustainable living environment, it is time for me, to undertake a literary project to bring short stories from across the globe involving India and Australia.”