Melbourne | Members of the Indian community of a western Sydney suburb have renewed calls to name their area as 'Little India' ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's expected visit to Australia next month, according to a media report.
Indian businesses in Harris Park refer to the cluster of various Indian restaurants, and retail shops as 'Little India' believing that making the sobriquet official would boost the area's appeal to tourists, reported ABC News.
According to the president of Little India Harris Park Business Association Sanjay Deshwal, the first proposal for officially naming the area 'Little India' was made in 2015.
Earlier attempts to formally declare the suburb as 'Little India' were stalled after the Geographic Names Board told Parramatta Council to stop using the term in marketing material because it "creates confusion".
Parramatta Council has said it is continuing discussions with the Geographic Names Board and is yet to receive a formal application to assign the name 'Little India'.
According to the ABC News report, Parramatta council last week voted to support a scaled-back proposal to apply the name to part of the suburb covering the busy Wigram, Marion, and Station streets.
"We want to make it an international destination on the same lines as Little India in Singapore and other places around the world. It puts us on the map," Parramatta councillor Paul Noack, who moved the motion, was quoted as saying.
Rather than the original proposal to rename the entire suburb of Harris Park, the name would apply only to the popular trading area, it said.
He stressed the current proposal would not replace the suburb name Harris Park, but would designate the three main streets as a cultural precinct, like Little Italy in Leichhardt.
Harris Park, a small suburb next to Parramatta is home to migrants from Lebanon, Italy, Greece, and China.
In the last 10 to 15 years it has become the go-to spot for Indian migrants, it said.
A 2021 census revealed that 45 per cent of the 5,043 Harris Park residents have Indian roots, the report said.
"The area was crucial to helping students and workers settle into their new home country. It is an important step to provide those people with a feeling of home," Deshwal stressed.
Prime Minister Modi is expected to visit Australia in May to attend the Quad Summit.
This time Parramatta Council has formally extended an invitation to Modi to visit Harris Park, the report added.
The federal member for Parramatta, Andrew Charlton, said the planned upgrades would help turn the area into "a beacon of South Asian culture around the world", regardless of the bureaucratic naming process.
"Prime Minister Modi's visits get watched by millions of people back in India and around the world, that would certainly be a huge boost," Charlton was quoted as saying.