15 April 2018: The Commonwealth Students’ Welfare Group of India (CSWGI) organised a Commonwealth Art & Photo Exhibition followed by a Commonwealth Big Lunch at India House Art Gallery, Pune. The event was organised to celebrate Indian Art, Music and Culture and included a display and auction of winning paintings of the Earth Matters Art Competition 2018 by children of various ages with funds raised passed directly to the winners. Mr Ramprasad Akkisetti, founder of India House Art Gallery, supervised the charity auction with guests including Mr Paul Carter, British Deputy Head of Mission, Mumbai, Mr Alex Pykett, British High Commission, New Delhi, Mr Avnish Malhotra, Head: British Trade Office Pune, Dr Archana Patil, architects and corporate representatives.
A new project to enhance education outreach to 1,500 rural girls was announced with further information to follow.
4 April 2018: Members of The Commonwealth Students’Welfare Group of India (CSWGI) met H.E. Mr Alieu Bah, Counsellor and Head of Chancery of the Republic of The Gambia in India. The meeting over high tea was to celebrate and welcome The Gambia re-joining the Commonwealth at the High Commission of The Gambia in New Delhi. The meeting focused on aspects of youth and women's empowerment in the Gambia and explored the state policies for both. It was interesting to learn that more than 50% of The Gambian High Commissioners and Ambassadors abroad are females! Mr Hari Om Dahiya expressed appreciation towards the state policies of The Gambia with regard to youth employment and skills management and welcomed the opportunity of closer working with youth groups from The Gambia; there are currently around 150 students from The Gambia undertaking different courses at Indian universities. A cultural event to celebrate the multiculturalism of India and The Gambia was also discussed. Cdr. Alok Mohan (Retd.) presented a vote of thanks.
25 March 2018: New Delhi, the Commonwealth Cultural Forum hosted a Commonwealth Cricket Cup at the National Stadium. British High Commissioner Sir Dominic Asquith was the captain of the High Commissions team; other High Commissioners present were H.E. Mr. Stephen Borg (Malta), H.E. Mr Syed Muazzem Ali (Bangladesh), H.E. Dr. David Goldwin Pollard (Guyana), H.E. Mr. Sohail Mahmood (Pakistan), H.E. Mr. Michael Aaron N.n. Oquaye (Ghana), H.E. Ms. Harinder Sidhu (Australia), Mr. Kenji Hiramatsu, Ambassador of Japan and others from the New Zealand High Commission, Canadian High Commission, Trinidad and Tobago High Commission and the American Embassy.
The High Commissions team played against the Legendary Indian Cricketers team captained by Murali Kartik. The team included Kirti Azad, Atul Wassan, Gurcharan Singh, Gursharan Singh, Raj Kumar Sharma, Vijay Dahiya, M. P Singh, Amir Singh Pasrich, Sachin Khurana and Manoj Mehra. The 10-over match was won by the legendary cricketers which was followed by a Commonwealth Big Lunch at the same venue.
12 March 2018: The Commonwealth Students' Welfare Group of India (CSWGI) celebrated Commonwealth Day with members and students from schools and colleges of the University of Delhi. The function witnessed a Commonwealth Peace March to enhance awareness of Retinoblastoma (Eye Cancer). The Queen's Commonwealth Day message was delivered by Ms Chhaya. Mr Hari Om Dahiya, President & Youth Chairman CSWGI RCS Regional Youth Co-ordinator, India, enlightened the youth about the History of Commonwealth, Commonwealth Values, the Charter, CHOGMs, and the history and workings of the RCS. CSWGI member Mr Harshit Gupta, Founder of Womenite, and The Queen’s Young Leaders 2017 Runners-Up shared the importance of the awareness about cancer and eye cancer. A short quiz 'Know our Commonwealth' was moderated by Mr Lovepreet Singh. The occasion also marked the launch of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition in India with an explanation of the participation process and the topics.
12 March 2018: RCS Singapore branch and the British High Commission, led by High Commissioner, Scott Wightman, hosted a reception at Eden Hall, which was attended by Sim Ann, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Trade and industry, and for culture, community and youth, as well as representatives from the business and civic communities. The Commonwealth theme of 'Towards a Common Future' was observed and both Sim Ann and Scott Wightman reaffirmed the close bilateral relationship between Singapore and the UK, which is based on common interests and shared values. Photo credit: British High Commission, Singapore.
12 March 2018: RCS Hong Kong Branch organised the first multi-faith Commonwealth Day Service at St John's Cathedral including Buddhist monks, a Muslim imam, a Hindu priest, a Zoroastrian Dustoorjie and a Chinese lady bagpiper who played Amazing Grace. Following the service, there was a reception in the HK Club attended by 60 guests with the Canadian Consul General reading the Queen's Message and a speech by our patron, Dr Aron Harilela. It was noted that 2018 was a big year for the Commonwealth with the games and summit in April and the 150th anniversary of the RCS.
3 March 2018: The Commonwealth Students’ Welfare Group of India (CSWGI) participated in the International Conference on Law and Justice, under the broader theme of 'Good Governance and Human Rights in Developing Nations: Experiences and Challenges', organised by Amity Law School. Law students from eight countries participated and presented papers. Mr Hari Om Dahiya, President & Youth Chairman of CSWGI and RCS Regional Youth Coordinator was the Distinguished Guest of Honor. Other guests included Judges of the Supreme Court of India, Delhi High Court and Gauhati High Court, and Ministry of Home Affairs Officials. Mr Dahiya announced the Legal Awareness Project, involving Law Students and CSWGI members helping to raise awareness of basic laws and government welfare policies to rural women in India.
25 February 2018: Kuala Lumpur. Peter Mann, Chair of RCS HK Branch and RCS Regional Co-ordinator, Asia, discussed a proposed RCS Asian Regional Conference to be held early next year, with Bernice Narayanan, Chair of RCS Malaysia Branch and Tony Cassim, President RCS Malaysia Branch at a Chinese New Year celebration lunch.
7 February 2018: HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and RCS Regional Co-ordinator, India and Chairperson of the Commonwealth Society of India, Shivani Wazir Pasrich, discussed sports and empowerment throughout the Commonwealth at a lunch reception hosted at the British High Commissioner's residence in New Delhi.
7 February 2018, RCS Hong Kong Branch organised a Speaker Lunch at the Helena May. Financial Times news editor and explorer, Victor Mallet, introduced his new book about the Ganges River, River of Life, River of Death.
2 February 2018: During their visit to Sri Lanka (30 Jan-4 Feb) TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex attended a number of events, including the 70th Independence Day celebrations on the 4th February. HE James Dauris, High Commissioner for UK in Sri Lanka, hosted a reception at Westminster House for selected officials from Commonwealth affiliated organisations and NGO's along with Young Sri Lankan Commonwealth Award Winners. Prince Edward was keen to hear about the work of RCS Sri Lanka branch from its President Mr S Yogendranathen (see photo, courtesy of the British High Commission).
27 January 2018: The Commonwealth Students’ Welfare Group of India (CSWGI) collaborated with Project Voice+ in organising a panel discussion-cum-workshop, 'Rainbow State of Mind: Indian Youth and the Impact of Sexuality'. The event included a workshop by Ms Ipsa James, a psychologist at Karma Centre for Counselling and Wellbeing, who covered important topics such as bullying, gender, sexuality, relationships and mental health. The thought-provoking session was followed by spoken word performances by Uppa Tsuyo and Angana Sinha Ray, and a panel discussion on the theme of 'Labels, Language and Contemporary Queer Issues'.
27 January 2018: RCS Hong Kong Branch, together with the Hong Kong Highlanders, celebrated Burns Night at the Ladies Recreation Club. Around 120 guests, together with the Canadian Consul General, enjoyed an evening of haggis, whisky and traditional speeches.
14 - 24 January 2018: the Commonwealth Students’ Welfare Group of India (CSWGI) visited the Republic of Cyprus to participate in Commonwealth meetings aimed at forging a close cooperation between two RCS branches, as well as establishing contacts, exchanging experiences and best practices, and discussing possibilities for synergies in the future. The delegation visit was facilitated by the newly established RCS Cyprus branch through its Director, Anna Karafoulidou, and the Cyprus High Commission, India.
14 December 2017: New Delhi. At a welcome reception hosted in honour of Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Rt Honorable Baroness Patricia Scotland, Shivani Wazir Pasrich, Chairperson of the Commonwealth Society of India and India Representative of the Royal Commonwealth Society, spoke on gender along with respected actress Shabana Azmi and politician Meenakshi Lekhi. The evening welcomed the Secretary General and celebrated Women's Empowerment, Gender Equality, Girl Child Development and Menstrual Hygiene and Health of the Girl Child.
14 December 2017: RCS Hong Kong Branch held its annual Christmas Party at the Blue Room of the Helena May. Traditional seasonal fare such as mince pies and mulled wine were served and carols were sung by the choir of Caius College, Cambridge.
12 December 2017: The Commonwealth Students’ Welfare Group of India (CSWGI) met with HE Mr Demetrios A. Theophylactou, High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus in India, over High Tea to discuss 'India-Cyprus relations and Opportunities for youth in the Commonwealth'. The meeting aimed to get a brief introduction on current issues faced by youth in Cyprus and the state's policies to tackle them in preparation for the upcoming CSWGI Youth Delegation visit to Cyprus in January 2018 facilitated by the new RCS Cyprus Branch. The High Commissioner also briefed the meeting about the importance and benefits of Commonwealth for Cyprus and the positive role the youth of a nation can play to tackle issues within society.
29 November 2017: The Commonwealth Students' Welfare Group of India (CSWGI) partnered with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) to hold a Commonwealth Roundtable on 'India’s Role in the Commonwealth'. It was chaired by Mr David White, Head, CHRI (UK). Participants included: Mr Sanjoy Hazarika, Director, CHRI; Mr Hari Om Dahiya, RCS Regional Youth Co-ordinator, President and Youth Chairman (CSWGI); Ms Siddhi Pal, Queens Young Leaders 2017 Runner Up; Ms Clare Higgins, Political & Bilateral Affairs, British High Commission; Cdr. Alok Mohan, Educationist and Technical Education Trainer; Mr Trinanjan Radhakrishnan, CHRI; Dr Askandar Iqbal, Dept. of Biotechnology, JMI University; Mr Yashasvi Nain, CHRI. It was hosted at CHRI Head Offices in New Delhi. A variety of opinions, views, observations and potential strategies were discussed, with recent developments regarding the role of India prior to the upcoming Commonwealth Summit (CHOGM) 2018 in London, kept firmly in view.
9 November, 2017: RCS Regional Co-ordinator, India and Chairperson of the Commonwealth Society of India, Shivani Wazir Pasrich, attended a lunch reception hosted by the British High Commissioner, Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, to honour the visit of Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, to India.
9 November 2017: The Commonwealth Students' Welfare Group of India (CSWGI) officials, along with RCS Associate Fellows in India, Queens Young Leader Winner 2017 Ms
Suhani Jalota and QYL Runner Up 2017, Ms Riddhi Pal, marked their presence at a reception hosted by the British High Commissioner, Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, to honour the visit of Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, to India. RCS Regional Youth Coordinator, Mr Hari Om Dahiya spoke with HRH Duchess of Cornwall about the workings of RCS and CSWGI as well as the RCS Associate Fellows and Queens Young Leaders. The Indian High Commissioner to UK HE Mr Y.K. Sinha and other prominent dignitaries and representatives were also present at the gathering.
9 November 2017, RCS Hong Kong Branch organised a charity concert at the official residence of the Canadian Consul-General. Operatic bass, Dr Derek Anthony, performed a medley of songs and $40,000 was raised to fund a choral scholarship at the Academy for Performing Arts to help train a local singer.
3 November 2017, RCS Hong Kong Branch held a Forum, 'Brexit, a Commonwealth Opportunity', attended by around 80 people and deemed a great success. The keynote address was given by the Rt. Hon. Lord Howell of Guildford, Chairman of the House of Lords International Relations Committee and President of the RCS; this was followed by a Panel Discussion with representatives of the EU Office in HK and the various Chambers of Commerce. The event concluded with a cocktail party. Participants generally felt that after Brexit there would be new opportunities for business, trade and cultural exchange between the UK, the Commonwealth and Hong Kong. It was also noted that the Commonwealth had a strong network of civil society and professional bodies that operated independently of governments.
8 October 2017, RCS Hong Kong Branch: around 60 fellows and guests enjoyed a Musical Evening in the Hong Kong Club with Neville Sarony, barrister, author and son of legendary variety artist, Leslie Sarony. The event included songs from the first British musical, Show Boat.
12-14 October: The Queen's Baton Relay arrived in Sri Lanka on the 12th Oct. Received by the Sports Minister and other Commonwealth Federation officials it was taken in a motorcade to the Presidential Secretariat, where it was received by HE President Maithripala Sirisena. The following day it was taken in the ‘Viceroy Special’ steam locomotive to the heritage city of Galle in the Southern Province, where it was received by the Chief Minister, Education Officials, Sports and other Government Officials, students, principals and the public of the Southern Province.
On the 14th, a reception was held by the Australian High Commissioner in Colombo attended by the Minister of Sports in Sri Lanka, Commonwealth Federation officials, Representatives of Sports bodies, the Diplomatic Community, Corporate Business and of the RCS Sri Lanka branch. Shortly afterwards a symbolic Relay event took place at the Sports Ministry grounds nearby in which the Minister and The Australian High Commissioner took part.
Pictured (l-r): Shiva Yogendranathen, President, RCS Sri Lanka branch and HE Bryce Hutchesson, High Commissioner for Australia in Sri Lanka.
21 September 2017: CSWGI officials participated to celebrate the Independence Day of the Republic of Malta hosted by the High Commissioner of Malta to India, HE Mr Stephen Borg, with dignitaries from a number of High Commissions and Embassies in Delhi. The Function was held at Hotel The Imperial New Delhi.
20th September 2017: RCS branch CPFA Pakistan marked its 28th Foundation Anniversary at a meeting presided over by its President, Mr Syed Masroor Ali and was attended by the Office Bearers & Members of Executive Committee. Mr Shahid Mohiuddin, General Secretary, outlined future plans which included a Commonwealth themed Quiz for the students of the Colleges of Karachi, a cricket tournament as a memorial to the former President, Mr Qutubuddin Aziz and a 'Commonwealth Expo' at Karachi which will be the first ever Commonwealth Exhibition of all Commonwealth Countries in Pakistan.
30 August 2017: The Royal Commonwealth Society, Hong Kong Branch is deeply saddened by the passing, aged 63, of their President, Sir David Tang.
Sir David was a great supporter of the RCS over the years, generously providing hospitality at the China Club and recently addressing our Commonwealth Day Reception in March.
A successful businessman and philanthropist, and grandson of Sir Tang Shui-kin, Sir David was a flamboyant entrepreneur who founded the fashion house Shanghai Tang and the unique China Club. Friend of the Royal Family, witty author and FT columnist, he was an art, cigar and wine connoisseur. A larger-than-life character, he was knighted by HM The Queen in 2008. Sir David is survived by his mother and brother, his wife Lucy and a daughter and son from his first marriage.
Pictured: Sir David Tang at the Hong Kong Branch Commonwealth Day reception, March 2017
25 June to 07 July 2017: A delegation of CSWGI led by Mr Hari Om Dahiya visited the Republic of Maldives to participate in youth meetings with Maldives National University, Women and Democracy and Youth NGOs. The visit also included meetings with Ms Safaath Ahmed, Queen’s Young Leader from Maldives and HE Mr Akhilesh Mishra, Ambassador of Republic of India to Maldives. The visit witnessed active collaboration opportunities for youth from the Maldives and India (CSWGI) and will be reciprocated by a delegation of youth from the Maldives to visit India for 1-2 weeks in late 2017, early 2018.
6 June 2017: CSWGI members met HE Dr David Goldwin Pollard, High Commissioner of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana in India over high tea to discuss 'India-Guyana relations and the Commonwealth'. The meeting took place at the High Commission of Guyana. The High Commissioner discussed an active youth cultural exchange programme between CSWGI and Guyana and the organisation of a Commonwealth Youth event in Guyana in 2018.
Pictured: CSWGI President Hari Om Dahiya with HE Dr. David Goldwin Pollard.
31 May 2017: CSWGI members met HE Mr Philippe Le Gall, High Commissioner of the Republic of Seychelles in India over lunch to discuss 'India-Seychelles relations & the Commonwealth' at the High Commission of Seychelles. The High Commissioner also invited participation and representation from CSWGI in establishing India-Seychelles Friendship Forum. HE Mr Gall extended an invitation for a youth delegation from CSWGI to visit Seychelles and encourage Commonwealth-centric activities and events in Mahe’, Victoria.
20 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
25 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.
23 April 2017: CSWGI collaborated with the High Commission of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago in organisating the launch if the book 'The Shaping of a Culture' by Trinidadian writer Dr Satnarine Balkaransingh at the India International Centre in New Delhi. The event was graciously attended by the High Commissioner of Guyana, HE Dr David Goldwin Pollard and the Ambassador of Surinam, HE Ms Aashna Kanhai among other dignitaries.
20 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.
7-9 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.
4 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.
Commonwealth 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.
Commonwealth 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'.
February 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.
2016 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.
25 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.
19 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.
13 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.
Present 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.
21 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.
21 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,
21st April 2016, India: Seminar 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.
Anzac 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.
15 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.
Commonwealth 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.
15 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.
11 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.
9 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.
RCS 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.
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.
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.
22 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.
15th 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.
2nd 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
12th 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….”
7th 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.
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.
June 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.
11th 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.
17th 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.
11th 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.