Prime Minister Narendra Modi given a rock star welcome by Brisbane's Indian community as he was ushered into the press-free event to unveil the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Roma Street Parklands (Brisbane, Queensland) in November 2014.
This was during the peak of the 'Modi Wave' and I had just come back from covering a G20 event and a few hours of being on Obama watch. In any case, traffic in the city was halted but it was also a Sunday so when I got news about the Modi event via Twitter, I knew I couldn't miss it. Regardless of the fact that the press wasn't allowed, this was a chance to really see the man. The 2014 elections was an interesting topic of discussion even in Australia. We even had Nirupama Subramanian come to our University for a talk and my supervisor had gotten me an invite with the faculty because of my thesis (my case study touched upon the elections). Keeping my personal politics aside, I persuaded my friend and told him as well that this was a one time chance to see Narendra Modi and we dropped our afternoon card game and jetted off to the Parklands.
I am pretty certain that the entire Indian community residing in the Brisbane area turned up. Here's the best way to put it: It was like being back in the streets of New Delhi. The Indian media also made an appearance and it was quite hilarious since many people recognized the anchor and wanted a selfie with him! Soon, even people who didn't know him were asking him for a selfie because they thought he was someone famous. Like I said, it was like being back in India. We didn't have to wait very long as the Prime Minister made his appearance. He didn't do any meet and greet but his wave was enough to gain him the loudest applause and chants.
A young woman asked me if I could take a photograph of her through through the wall with Narendra Modi in the background. I guess I took some good pictures because she was so happy, she started showing it to everyone around her ("I have a picture with Modiji!").
Clearly, the Modi fever in Brisbane was there to stay.
Political meetings and summits are a melting pot for protests, strikes and rallies and with the G20 summit in November 2014, it wasn’t any different. It makes sense I suppose. All the important leaders from leading countries convene in one city so what better time than to raise your issue?
If you remember, ‘Putin’, ‘Ukraine’ and ‘Crimea’ were the key terms and one of the questions around newsrooms and between journalists in Australia was whether Vladimir Putin would show up for the summit. Well, he did turn up but he left almost immediately (allegedly, he was ‘ignored’ by the other world leaders. The perfect analogy worth be that he was the unpopular kid in the playground). Almost immediately, there was a protest against Putin that popped up on the first day of the meeting (November 15, 2014) and it was in tandem with several other protests lined up for climate awareness, freedom for the Falun Gong practitioners as well as a Free Tibet (protest) to name a few. But it was The People’s March that really was the highlight. With traffic having and the entire CBD having been shut down for the meetings, Roma Street was filled with more than a thousand people in the heat of summer.
The biggest protest, however, took place on the eve of the G20 summit by the Indigenous Australians protesting against their treatment under police custody. This protest was followed by a second one titled Decolonization before Profit’ rally on the 15th.
The indigenous community called for justice to the families and victims of Black Death’s in custody  as well as to bring focus on the several disadvantages of the community as well as for the rights that they deserve as being the original people of the land.
Just as the debate of ‘white America’ and ‘black America’ continues, there is also a case of ‘white Australia’ and ‘black Australia’ and it is deeply rooted and sentimental for the indigenous community. There is a feeling of alienation, disrespect and ignorance from the government and while ex-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd may have made the long overdue apology to the Stolen Generation, this generation still feel a strong sense of suppression.