1 May 2019: With nearly twelve thousand approved members, NRNA Australia has officially become the largest national chapter of the Non-Resident Nepali Association which has an impressive global presence with well-established branches in 80 different nations.
According to spokesperson of NRNA Australia, Dila Kharel, the frenzied membership renewal rush which ended yesterday midnight netted $293,975 – which most likely is the largest sum ever collected in membership fees by any chapter of the global body.
A total of 11,817 Nepalese-origin citizens and residents of Australia became NRNA members for a period of two years at a cost of $25 per person, Mr Kharel told southasia.com.au. The figure also includes 58 life members of the organisation, he added.
The Sydney-based accountant claimed with the amount of funds collected within such a short time and the number of people who have been granted membership, NRNA Australia is now far ahead of any other national chapters of NRNA ICC (International Coordination Council) including its US counterpart which has under 10,000 members.
It is noteworthy that NRNA Australia had only 8464 members last year.
“We believe as a organisation we have been quite successful in uniting members of the diaspora. NRNA Australia didn’t leave any stone unturned when it came to addressing issues of Nepalese immigrants,” Mr Kharel said when questioned about the dramatic rise in the number of members, “Hence, the trust towards this historic organisation, which by the way was the highest donation collector in the aftermath of the Nepal Earthquake.”
“NRNA Australia is the first NCC that also covers students who reside in Australia as associate members with all rights and privileges except the voting right,” he added.
“In the initial stage of this membership drive, people speculated that there would not be as many members as during the last election (NRNA Australia election) due to a complex lodgement system and the lengthy verification process. Instead, there has been a dramatic rise in membership this year. This is going to impact NRNA election campaign and candidates from different quarters of Nepalese political power will be engaged in dirty and frustrating election campaigns,” says Dr Bharat Raj Poudel from Brisbane.
The former mainstream media journalist from Nepal who has a PhD in disaster management argues that NRNA membership should be open 365 days and membership should be open to all. “It should promote harmony in the community and help interact with the Australian community as a whole in order to augment strengths of the Nepalese diaspora as well as promote investment and integrated social development in Nepal and Australia,” he said.
NRNA Australia does not get to keep all of the nearly $300,000 membership fees 90% of which was collected in the last six days alone.
US$5 goes to the ICC and A$5 goes towards the Social Welfare Fund while rest is invested in various philanthropic activities as and when needs arise. NRNA Australia often hands out assistance funds such as repatriation of the remains of deceased members of the diaspora or in the event of life-threatening illnesses.
Prominent members of the global Nepalese diaspora had gathered in the United Kingdom in 2003 to form the organisation. Their aim was to unite Nepalese people scattered across the globe and channel their intellectual and financial capacities towards Nepal’s overall development.
Japan-based business tycoon Bhaban Bhatta is the current global president of NRNA’s International Coordination Council. Mr Bhatta took over from the first Australian billionaire of Nepalese origin, Shesh Ghale, in 2017.
Mr Ghale, the CEO of Melbourne Institute of Technology, is credited with spearheading the massive construction and development project of Laprak Model Village for victims of the magnitude 7.8 Nepal Earthquake 2015 that claimed nearly nine thousand lives.
Mr Bhatta recently announced the completion of the extremely ambitious project which was yet to be completed when he won the NRNA ICC election in 2017. The project has nearly six hundred identical homes the ownership of which will eventually be handed over to the earthquake victims of Laprak village in Nepal’s Gorkha district.