When Priyanca Radhakrishnan, New Zealand’s First Indian Origin Minister, Spoke Malayalam in Parliament

Priyanca Radhkrishnan, jacinda ardern's cabinet

Priyanca Radhakrishnan is making global headlines. A three-year video shared by the Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri about New Zealand’s first Indian-origin Minister, Priyanca Radhakrishnan, where she speaks Malayalam in front of the Parliament recently went viral.

Watch the whole video here: Priyanca Radhakrishnan’s address to the Parliament in Malayalam.

She got elected to the cabinet on Monday, 2nd November, 2020. Priyanca Radhakrishnan is one of the 5 members of freshly-re-elected Labour Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s ‘incredibly diverse cabinet’. Radhakrishnan is an IIT alumnus hailing from Ernakulam district, Kerala. She pursued her higher education from Singapore, and then went on to finish her Master’s Degree in Development Studies from the University of Wellington. After she started working as a social worker for the Indian community in Auckland, in 2006 she joined the Left-leaning Labour party, and in 2017, became an MP in Jacinda Ardern’s party.

Also read: Jacinda Ardern is now the most popular PM of New Zealand in a century

In Ardern’s new cabinet, Radhakrishnan will be the Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, and the Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment. Apart from her, Ardern’s cabinet also includes Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who is the first indigenous Maori woman to become a minister in NZ, and Grant Robertson, who is the first openly gay deputy Prime Minister.

Radhakrishnan believes that everyone – regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and socio-economic status – should have the opportunity to live with dignity, according to the official Labour Party website. She also thinks that a community-based decision is better for everyone rather than a few privileged people making them. Apart from this, Radhakrishnan is a dedicated animal rights supporter and has done a substantial amount of work to ensure dog-friendly spaces.

As soon as news of Radhakrishnan’s induction into the cabinet broke out, congratulations poured in from several Indian leaders and politicians, including Congress’s Thiruvananthapuram MP, Shashi Tharoor. Read the entire tweet here.

Radhakrishnan’s address to the Parliament in her mother tongue not only reinforces the unabashed acceptance of her Indian roots, but also speaks volumes about the atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance in the NZ Parliament. In a time when there is divisiveness regarding language and culture, it is refreshing to see a person who commands influence embrace her culture and roots in another country, rising above the general attitude of racism that is prevalent towards many Indian-origin citizens in various parts of the world. Furthermore, she managed to articulate herself even though she faced some difficulty in speaking her mother tongue, emphasising sincerity over correctness of tongue.

Also read: Ten Things to Know About Jacinda Ardern’s “Incredibly Diverse” Cabinet