New Delhi: Meeting Indian-Australian Labor Member of Parliament Daniel Mookhey, who recently created history in Australia by becoming the first politician to take oath on the Bhagavad Gita, was a revelation.
Talking exclusively to on the sidelines of a four-day official visit to New Delhi and Gujarat, Mookhey, who is distantly related to former Indian actress and former Miss World Yukta Mookhey, said there was no one particular or significant reason for taking the oath on The Gita, but if pointedly asked why he chose to do so, he said, “It’s a part of our family heritage, a lodestar for immigrants from India, and I saw it as giving me and others of my background, a sense of security.”
This son of Indian migrants from Punjab, who also spoke a smattering of Hindi during our interaction at the Australian High Commission yesterday, made Australian political history last Tuesday, becoming the first MP to be sworn into office on that ancient Hindu religious text.
Entering the upper house of the New South Wales Parliament, as a Labor MP, Mookheypledged his loyalty by swearing on the 700-verse Hindu scripture whose title translates to “Song of the Lord”.
When asked what was the response like to that historic moment? he said, “Incredibly positive. I would like to point out here, that this is not an Indian story, but a modern Australian story. This taking of the oath on The Gita is a reflection of Indian heritage; an awareness of diversity; an understanding of social sophistication. I maybe the first of Indian origin to take oath on The Gita in the Australian Parliament, but I certainly do believe I won’t be the last, I expect many more of Indian or other origin to do something similar in the future. I see this as a prominent and influential first step.”
He also revealed to that there are mind-boggling 450 languages that are spoken in New South Wales, which to him represented a very rich mosaic of culture and expression, besides community.
Mookhey, 32, was born in Blacktown and raised in Merrylands. He represents Labor’s right wing and has worked as a management consultant. In 2013, he was the federal campaign director for the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and as MP, he replaces Steve Whan in the upper house.
The NSW Parliament holds copies of the Bible, the Koran and the Torah, but not The Gita. Mookhey had to bring his own copy of the Gita for the oath-taking ceremony.
He described it as an incredibly humbling experience to be the first Australian parliamentarian to take his oath of allegiance on the Bhagavad Gita.
He said that he wanted to honour his parents and the sacrifices they had made to come to Australia. Mookhey said he was married in a Hindu ceremony and he observes all major Indian festivals, but was not much of a temple visitor.
He said that he would use his position in parliament to ensure Sydney modernizes itself further to enable its residents to live, travel and work in an easier manner.