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As Chairperson of the Commonwealth Society of India, I have come to appreciate the tremendous potential to build bridges among those who believe in certain core values.  To me, this is a time to be reminded of the importance of moral obligations.

The 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) was an example on how debate should be generated when there is reason to believe that nations no longer follow the best policy or practices. Though this is more directive than instructive. We cannot ignore the wave of individualism today.

In India we have an age old concept of Satsang which is sharing good thoughts in good company. As the regional point of contact for the RCS in Asia, I would like to promote this concept of Satsang.

Over the past few months we have outlined a project where we propose for our branches to use theatre to revisit the history of the Commonwealth with regard to their nation as well as its relevance and scope today. Eventually this will culminate in a festival of plays hopefully in the next CHOGM. Along with this project, we will continue to develop the existing platforms of the essay competition and other interactions of the RCS.

Regional Co-ordinator, India: Shivani Wazir Pasrich

Shivani Pasrich Wazir 220Shivani Wazir Pasrich is an Economics Honours & Law graduate, a former Miss India World Wide, an Actress, an Odissi dancer and she is actively involved with social concerns.

Shivani helped launch Lok Sabha (Parliament of India) TV channel and has anchored various television programs and produced and directed documentaries on the Girl Child, Education and Dance. Her production house SWP Productions works to raise awareness on issues that plague society. Their conservation project, 'I am the Tiger' uses performance, art and sport to raise awareness about environmental concerns.

Shivani was awarded ‘Pride of the Nation’ in 2009 and in 2013 she received the Universal Humanity Award. She was also the recipient of the India Foundation award for excellence in her field and the Women Achievers recognition from TIE.

Regional Youth Co-ordinator, India: Hari Om Dahiya

Hari Om Dahiya 220Hari Om Dahiya is driven by a passion for learning and action for social change, particularly through informal education and youth projects. He has worked in areas including intercultural dialogue, youth participation, girl child education, and gender and leadership development in Canada, the UK, Singapore, Maldives, Bhutan, Nepal and India. Hari Om is currently President & Youth Chairman of The Commonwealth Students’ Welfare Group of India (CSWGI) having, for the past 12 years, given vision and leadership to the Indian Youth Community and across the Commonwealth. He has worked with a number of International and National Youth Organisations and government bodies. 

Hari Om is recipient of a number of awards for outstanding contribution and achievements in the youth sector: IIIS Star Impact Award, Distinguished Social Service Award, Visionary Leadership Award, Best Innovative Youth of the Year, Distinguished Social Service and Leadership Award and is also Board Member to a number of youth and child rights organisations in India and abroad. He is an alumnus of St. Stephen’s College (Economics & Philosophy) and holds a Post Graduate Diploma in International Law and Diplomacy from the Indian Society of International Law, New Delhi.  He is working with a coalition of youth networks on Cross-cultural Commonwealth Youth projects, which aim at formulating and stimulating youth interest in Commonwealth SDGs and International Affairs.

Intl networks Asia 220
REGIONAL CO-ORDINATORS, ASIA

Shivani Wazir Pasrich: shivani.pasrich@thercs.org

What's happening in this region?

HK 20170520 211933CROP resized20 May 2017: RCS Hong Kong Branch held its annual Charity Ball. Attended by 100 guests and the Consuls General of Australia, India, Malaysia and South Africa, entertainment was provided by a string quartet and dancers from King George V School. Through an auction and lucky draw around £20,000 was raised for the China Coast Community, which provides residential care for local elderly used to a Western lifestyle.

 anzac day 2017 webres 2125 April 2017, Colombo: President of RCS Sri Lanka Branch, Shiva Syogen, laid a wreath at the Dawn Service held to commemorate the anniversary of Anzac Day at 5.30 am at the War Graves Section, Jawatte Cemetery in Colombo. Rt. Rev. Dhiloraj R Canagasaby, Bishop of Colombo, officiated. It was followed by the traditional gunfire breakfast at the residence of the Australian High Commissioner, H.E Bryce Hutchesson.

Pictured:High Commissioner for Australia, HE Bryce Hutchesson with High Commissioner for the United Kingdom, HE James Dauris, Shiva Syogen and Asst Secretary, Mr Gamini Pedris.  

HK20170420 202730resized20 April 2017, RCS Hong Kong Branch organized a dinner at the Zoroastrian Club in Causeway Bay. Hosted by Council member, Mr Neville Shroff, President of the Hong Kong Zoroastrian Society and Charity Trust, the evening consisted of a talk on the history of the Parsee community in Hong Kong. The community had originally migrated from Persia to India and were the founders of HK University, the Kowloon Cricket Club and Ruttonjee Hospital among other institutions. A talk on the Zoroastrian religion was given by the priest (or Dastoorjie) in the Fire Temple, one of the oldest in the world. This was followed by a delicious Parsee banquet with many dishes cooked in the old Persian style with delicate herbs and spices. 

 CPFA2resized7-9 April Commonwealth Peoples Friendship Association (CPFA) Pakistan participated in the 14th My Karachi International Exhibition organized by the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry held at the  Expo Centre, Karachi. Over one million people attended and 300 multi-national and local companies from trade and industry participated in the exhibition, with the theme 'Peace and Harmony'. A Diplomatic Pavilion was installed comprising stalls of diplomatic missions based at Karachi; the CPFA Pakistan stall was included. Amogst thousands of delegates visiting the staff were the Consul Generals based at Karachi, The Delegation of British MPs and Pakistan Parliamentarians and Dignitaries from Business, Social, Culture and Media.

High Commissioners RCS Members and Ambassadors4 April 2017: Launch of the Commonwealth Cultural Forum Ms Shivani Wazir Pasrich (Chairperson, Commonwealth Society of India and RCS Regional Co-ordinator) hosted a reception to launch The Commonwealth Cultural Forum on 4 April at the Vivanta by Taj – Ambassador, along with Ms Suman Gahlot. Mrs Gill Caldicott from the British Council spoke on the UK India Year of Culture, saying that 'we really welcome this new initiative from the Commonwealth Association to establish a cultural forum that will contribute to our shared aims of strengthening relations between our two countries'. Ms Pasrich remarked that 'The Commonwealth Cultural Forum will work to create platforms and opportunities to allow people to continue to connect by creating the worlds most powerful medium'. The event was attended by Ambassadors, High Commissioners and representatives of the RCS.

CPFA 1 resizedCommonwealth Day 2017: Commonwealth Peoples Friendship Association (CPFA) held a meeting at the Hotel Beach Luxury Karachi with CPFA members and social, business and media representatives. The President of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), Mr Shamim Ahmed Firpo, was the Chief Guest. HM The Queen's message was read by Mr Syed Masroor Ali (President CPFA) and Affirmations were read by Ms Tasleema Naz.  Mr Shahid Mohiuddin (General Secretary CPFA) presented the welcome address, aims, objects, activities and future plans of CPFA. He also informed the gathering that on the occasion of 40th Anniversary of Commonwealth Day, CPFA intend to install a Pavilion, with information about all Commonwealth countries in the forthcoming International Exhibition (My Karachi) being organized by KCCI from 7th to 9th April 2017 at Expo Karachi. The renowned Scholar & Educationalist Prof. Anwar Ahmed Zai emphasized the need of the Commonwealth at present for unity and Peace Building – Commonwealth; the Chief Guest Mr Shamim Ahmed Firpo focused on co-operation, friendship, brotherhood andbBusiness relations between the Commonwealth countries. Syed Masroor Ali, presented vote of thanks.

HK CwDay2017Commonwealth Day 2017, RCS Hong Kong Branch held its Commonwealth Day Reception in the Garden Lounge of the Hong Kong Club, attended by 80 guests, including the Australian, British, Canadian, Indian, Malaysian, New Zealand, Nigerian, Singapore and South African Consuls General. Chairman, Peter Mann, welcomed guests and read the Commonwealth Affirmation; British Consul General, Andrew Heyn, read The Queen's Message and President, Sir David Tang, emphasized that the Commonwealth was a 'force for good in the world'.

Australia Day webFebruary 2017 RCS Sri Lanka His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka and Excellency Bryce Hutchesson, Australian High Commissioner with Shiva Yogendrenathen, Branch Chair and VIP's at the Australia Day celebrations held in Colombo.

 

 

 

SriLanka and Toronto fundraising 35632016 RCS Sri Lanka Branch Chair, Shiva Yogendrenathen attended a fundraiser held by RCS Toronto branch in aid of the Sri Lankan charity Mencafep, which supports people with disabilities 
Pictured is the presentation of the funds raised by both RCS Sri Lanka and RCS Canada to Dr. Chris Stubbs of Mencafep by RCS Sri Lanka in the company of the Canadian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka.

 

 

Nov 25 Out Of The Blue Opening 1025 November 2016 RCS Hong Kong Branch organised an exhibition of the 26 winning images of Out of the Blue, which was opened at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum by British Consul General, Andrew Heyn. The exhibition was organised by The Royal Commonwealth Society, Hong Kong Branch, together with the the Royal Geographical Society.The event was attended by 70 people and Doug Woodring, co-founder of the Ocean Recovery Alliance, spoke on the current state of our oceans and what people can do to protect them. The exhibition was open to the public until the end of the year in which time some 8,000 visitors, including many school children, visited.

 HK Shakespeare dinner19 October 2016 RCS Hong Kong Branch held a highly successful Shakespeare dinner to celebrate 400 years since the Bard's death at the HK Club with some Shakespeare performances. They were pleased to welcome the new British Consul General, Andrew Heyn and wife and new Canadian CG, Jeff Nankivell, pictured.

 

 

CSOI Sept 201613 September 2016: Ms. Shivani Wazir Pasrich, Chairperson of Commonwealth Society of India and RCS Regional Co-ordinator for Asia, and Mr. Jess Dutton, Acting High Commissioner for Canada to India, jointly hosted a dinner reception in New Delhi in honour of the visiting delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association of Canada.

 

CSOI EventGroupPresent on the occasion at the Canada High Commissioner's residence were Acting H.C of Canada, Jess Dutton, Mrs. Jennifer Graham, H.C of New Zealand Grahame Morton, His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, Dr. BK Modi (founder Global Citizen Forum), Australian H.C Harinder Sidhu, Acting HC of Sri Lanka Lena Gala, Acting HC of Pakistan, HC of Cyprus Demetrios Theophylactou, former Indian Ambassador to Poland Monika Mohta, HC of Nigeria Queen Worlu, Former Indian Ambassador to UN Bhaswati Mukherjee. 

 

HKBall16CROP21 May 2016 RCS Hong Kong Branch held their annual Charity Ball in the Ladies’ Recreation Club. Attended by 128 guests, $240,000 was raised for the Child Development Centre - an all-time record for the branch's fundraising. 

 

SriLanka2016 05 21 PHOTO 0000006021 May 2016 RCS Sri Lanka Branch organised a donation for the displaced persons, following Sri Lanka's worst floods and landslides since the tsunami in 1984. With 92 dead (24 May) the toll continues to rise. Some 185,000 people have lost their homes; schools were closed, some have re-opened this week, but 19 are still under water. Several Commonwealth countries, such as India, Pakistan, Australia and the Maldives, along with the Sri Lankan Government and a number of NGOs are providing assistance.
Pictured here, RCS Sri Lanka President, Shiva Yogen, with branch members handing over the urgently needed items for distribution, 

GES 2016 Delhi IMG 1913 2CROP resize21st April 2016, IndiaSeminar at the Global Exhibition on Services organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Chamber of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India and the Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC) held at the India Export Centre and Mart, Greater Noida, India.  Attended by Sri Lanka and India branches, the photo here is of the Shillong Chamber Choir from Meghalaya, India.

HE. Bryce Hutchesson and Shiva Anzac Day resizedAnzac Day 2016, Sri Lanka was observed by the new High Commissioner for Australia in Sri Lanka, HE Bryce Hutchesson on Monday 25th April 2016 and culminated with the 'Gunfire Breakfast' at his residence. Her Excellency Shelley Whitting, High Commissioner for Canada in Sri Lanka was in attendance as was RCS Sri Lanka Branch President, Shiva Yogendranathen.
Pictured: HE Bryce Hutchesson with Mr Shiva Yogendranathen.

 

 

 

 


 

HK VTC scolarships DSC 5112REsized CROP15 April: Hong Kong A presentation ceremony was held at IVE (VTC) to celebrate the donation of 10 scholarships in business administration to the Vocational Training Council by RCS Hong Kong and Por Yen Charitable Foundation.

 

 

 


 

Malaysia Slide11 Cropped ResizedCommonwealth Day 2016 has been celebrated at the RCS Malaysia Branch Clubhouse, every year since the 1970s. In 2016, some twenty High Commissioners from the Commonwealth Nations attended along with YBhgDato’ Ho May Yong, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia. As is customary, the Doyen of the Commonwealth Nations, HE Judith St. George, Canadian High Commissioner (pictured), proposed a toast to our DYMM Yang DiPertuan Agong, and YBhgDato’ Ho May Yong proposed a toast to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

 

HK Xmas Party2015.msg15 December 2015: Hong Kong Branch celebrated its Christmas Party at the Helena May attended by around 40 fellows, including the Australian, Canadian, New Zealand Consuls-General and the British Deputy Consul-General. The Hong Kong Branch sends Christmas Greetings and Best Wishes for a peaceful and prosperous 2016 to all. 

Pictured: Peter Mann, Chairman, RCS HK Branch, Gabrielle Rush, NZ Consul General, Dr Gillian Bickley and Dr Verner Bickley. 

5 December 2015: Pakistan Branch (CPFA) advised with sadness that the President of Commonwealth Peoples Friendship Association (CPFA)Pakistan, Mr Qutubuddin Aziz, passed away in Karachi on 5th December. Along with family members and friends, members of CPFA, politicians, businessmen, Government Officers and media personnel attended the funeral which was held on 7 December. The Leader of The House in Senate of Pakistan, Senator Raja Zafarul Haque, attended from Islamabad.


HK 11 Nov201511 November 2015 (Remembrance Day): RCS Hong Kong Branch organized a speaker lunch at the HK Club at which Martin Heyes, local historian, gave a fascinating talk about the Battle of Hong Kong in December 1941.

 

 
 Hong Kong20150910 193130CROP RESIZE9 September 2015: RCS Hong Kong Branch 
held a party at the Helena May to celebrate HM the Queen becoming the longest reigning monarch in British history. The Queen's passion for the Commonwealth was emphasised and it was noted that she had visited Canada 22 times! The British and Canadian Consuls General cut a special cake before proposing a Champagne toast to the Queen.

 

 

 

 

 



Hong Kong20150423 193304RCS Hong Kong Branch: Famous operatic bass Derek Anthony sang songs in four languages, including one in English for St George's Day, at the residence of the Canadian Consul-General. All proceeds were donated to Mother's Choice, a local charity which provides loving care for infants.

 

rcs3

Commonwealth Day 2015, Hong Kong: A reception was held at the Hong Kong Club attended by 80 people including 10 Commonwealth Consuls-General (Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan, Mozambique, New Zealand, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa and UK). The Queen’s Message was read by Caroline Wilson, British Consul-General and Sir David Tang, President of RCS Hong Kong Branch, made a speech.  

 

 INdia Shivani Wazir Pasrich Chairperson of CSOI
Commonwealth Day 2015, India: The Commonwealth Society of India (CSOI) organised a panel discussion on 'Filming Opportunities through the Commonwealth' to observe Commonwealth Day. Shivani Wazir Pasrich and Michael Appleton read the message given by the Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Andrew Soper, Minister-Counsellor of the British High Commission, announced the themes for the 2015 Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition. The evening concluded with a screening of the ‘I am the Tiger’ by SWP Production highlighting how an informal co-production works. Pictured: Shivani Wazir Pasrich Chairperson of CSOI  Andrew Soper Minister Counsellor British High Commission, HE Demetrios A. Theophylactou High Commissioner of Cyprus & HE John Aquilina High Commissioner of Malta.

Young Fellows Launch DSCN515122 January 2015: RCS Hong Kong Branch launched the Young Fellows programme to bring together young leaders from Commonwealth countries. Thirteen countries were represented and over 40 have since become Founder Members. Consul-General Caroline Wilson kindly hosted the launch and gave an uplifting and insightful speech about the role of young people in the Commonwealth; RCS HK Chair, Joan Campbell welcomed guests and Vice Chair Peter Mann talked about the way forward for the Young Fellows initiative.

HK Dec1415th December 2014: RCS Hong Kong Branch held a fundraising cocktail party at the China Club; over £2,000 was raised in support of medical aid to Sierra Leone.  The choir of Gonville and CaiusCollege, Cambridge, sang Christmas carols. The event, kindly sponsored by RCS HK President, Sir David Tang, was attended by 35 guests.

 

 


CSOI 5948IndiaCROP2nd of December 2014
was witness to an important panel discussion organized by The Commonwealth Society of India & the Australian High Commission on the ‘Opportunities for Young People through the Commonwealth in India’. Held at the Australian High Commission, moderated‎ by The Chairperson of the Commonwealth Society of India, Ms. Shivani Wazir Pasrich‎, the panel consisted of The High Commissioner of New Zealand, H.E. Grahame Morton; The High Commissioner of Ghana, H.E. Samuel Panyin Yalley; The Deputy High Commissioner of Australia, Mr. Bernard Phillip; Collector-The Election Commission of India, Ms. Avantika Aulakh; a Commonwealth Youth Award winner, Ms. Aprajita Pandey and Vice-Chairperson of the Commonwealth Youth Council, Ms. Sudharshana Lakshmi. The event was an amalgamation of varied opinions and potential strategies, that the youth could take advantage of in order to achieve their goals.


The audience consisted of students, university faculties, and principals of schools & supporters of the Commonwealth, who were individually invited to share their unique perspectives on the agenda. After a quick session of question & answers, the day culminated with all invitees proceeding to the Australian High Commissioner’s residence for a reception. Watch the video

RCS 12 Novc12th November 2014: RCS in Hong Kong enjoyed an excellent luncheon talk by Indian Consul-General, Prashant Agrawal. Hong Kong has a well-established Indian community. He reminded guests that over 1.2m Indian troops had served in the First World War 'to fight for what the Commonwealth now stands for'. India remained a bastion of pluralism, diversity and peaceful coexistence, and was also the largest consumer of whisky in the world! 

 

21st October 2014: Announcement that RCS Singapore branch is to be re-formed. During the state visit of the President of Singapore, HM The Queen commented:

“…I am pleased to note that, in honour of your visit, the Royal Commonwealth Society of Singapore is to be re-established; and that the re-founded Society will foster new scholarships to the U.K. for Singaporeans.

And on the international stage, through our respective membership of the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and our collective membership of the Commonwealth, there is the scope to pursue common values and interests, to our mutual benefit….”

Canadas Partnership with Hong Kong Lunch Oct 20147th October 2014: RCS in Hong Kong held a successful lunch at which Mr. Ian Burchett, Canadian Consul-General, talked about ‘Canada’s Partnership with Hong Kong’. There are 300,000 Canadian citizens in Hong Kong (most of them local Chinese who emigrated in the 90s) representing the biggest Canadian community outside Canada. Links go back to 1922 when a Trade Office was opened and subsequently 570 Canadians died defending Hong Kong in 1941. The Canadian Parliament has recently shown interest in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. 

 

rcs3 10th September 2014: The RCS in Hong Kong held a lunch on 10th September, attended by over 20 fellows, including British Consul-General and Caroline Wilson. The Project Manager of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge being built across the Pearl Delta gave a fascinating talk on the project. It is one of the longest bridge/tunnel projects in the world. To be completed in 2016, the bridge is over 40 km long and will carry 14,000 vehicles a day from one side of the delta to the other.

 

 

HK Updates June 2014June 2014:  The Commonwealth Countries’ League Education Fund has highlighted a call for help from Mr. Melchior Nzigamasabo, Head of Office of the British Embassy Liaison Office, Bujumbura-Burundi. Burundi needs books and the aim is to collect as many as possible and fund the shipping through donations. Individuals and organisations can support ‘Books for Burundi’ by donating books, funds and/or shipping. Read more about it here.

 

 

RCS in HK lunch on 11 June II11th June 2014: Around 20 fellows and guests enjoyed a luncheon talk by Hong Kong’s new Ombudsman, Connie Lau at the Hong Kong Club. Connie is the first non-civil servant to fill this position, which is entirely appropriate as the watchdog needs to be on guard against maladministration and government incompetence.

The number of cases dealt with annually over the last 25 years has risen from a few hundred to over 5000. Members questioned whether, over and above naming and shaming, the watchdog should be given sharper teeth.

 

HK Updates May 201417th May 2014: The RCS Annual Ball held at the Hong Kong Club on 17th May was a resounding success! Honoured guests included the Consul General of South Africa, Mrs. Gwala, Ernest So, International Concert Pianist whose recital was captivating, and Mr. Julius Lau the Chairman of Lai Sun Development Company Limited. The Ball was in support of the Au Kim Hung Love & Care Association (AKH) who helps thousands of children in China on their journey towards literacy and further education in extremely difficult and remote areas. The total amount raised thanks to the generosity of all guests was $150,000. Click here to see the photo album of the event.

 

Opportunities for the CW11th March 2014: The High Commissioner of Canada in India, Stewart Beck and Shivani Wazir Pasrich, Chairperson Commonwealth Society of India and Asia Co-ordinator, Royal Commonwealth Society, jointly hosted a reception  to celebrate Commonwealth Observance Day where the first of the series of talks on Opportunities through the Commonwealth in India was held.

Series 1 of the Armchair Discussion had four High Commissioners speak on the scope of the Commonwealth on various subjects: High Commissioner of Singapore on Business, British High Commissioner on Democracy, High Commissioner of Canada on Education, High Commissioner of South Africa on Culture & Sport . The Queen’s message was read out by the renowned actress Sushma Seth. 

Reports on the discussions have been written by a panel of experts comprising: The Dean International Relations, Delhi University - Professor Anand Prasad on Education, Managing Partner of International Law Affiliates - Amir Singh Pasrich on Democracy, dancer and actress - Rajika Puri on Culture and cricket legend Bishan Singh Bedi on Sport. 

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