On June 15, 2021, the Parramatta City council approved the campaign to promote parts of the famous Sydney suburb, Harris Park, as “Little India.” The members of the Indian community residing in Harris Park celebrated this announcement on June 16.
The council’s decision to promote parts of Harris Park as “Little India” was capitalised on the large – and increasing – number of Indian shops that dominate the suburb. The council and local businesspersons believe that this move can change Harris Park into a tourist attraction.
According to the Parramatta City Council’s statistics, about 45% of residents in Harris Park are of Indian descent. The council, therefore, decided to promote three streets in Harris Park as “Little India,” which are Marion St., Wigram St., and Station St.
Mayor Bob Dwyer, Lord of the Parramatta council, stated that Harris Park is well known for its excellent Indian cuisine, traditional garment shops, lively cultural celebrations and events. He said,
“With more than 20 eateries and shops selling everything from colourful saris and glittering arm bangles that will transport you straight to Mumbai, Harris Park is a little slice of India in western Sydney.”
Though the campaign had been going on for some time and the initial proposal to promote the campaign to have the entire Harris Park named “Little India” was met with objection from locals, the council approved the campaign on June 15.
The approval process for the campaign didn’t go smoothly in any way as it faced severe opposition from several members of the community of Harris Park and even caused division among members of the Indian community. The council of Parramatta had deliberated on the thought of declaring Harris Park as “Little India” via a council resolution last year, July, but this wasn’t a success.
The Parramatta council put up an unofficial group – Little India’s Reference Group – comprising council officers, councillors, and local businesses to “position Harris Park as a destination of choice with a unique food and cultural offering to deliver economic, cultural and marketing benefits to local businesses and the City of Parramatta.”
The reference group met thrice before submitting a summary report to the council. The report says that “as an outcome of the Reference Group meetings, the use of the name ‘Little India’ to promote Harris Park was discussed, and it was agreed that council consults with Harris Park businesses and community directly to provide feedback regarding the ‘Little India’ proposal from Thursday, March 4, 2021, until 9 am on Tuesday, March 23 2021.”
The Parramatta council then conducted an online survey to seek community feedback and in-person business discussion with 40 businesspersons. All Harris Park businesses – about 2,400 of them – were also notified via letterbox drops. The internet survey showed that 67% supported naming the entire Harris Park as “Little India,” 17% supported naming only Wigram Street, while 16% didn’t support the name “Little India” at all.
The in-person business discussion showed that 58% supported naming the entire Harris Park as “Little India,” 23% supported naming only Wigram Street, 18% didn’t agree with the name “Little India” at all, while 3% were unsure. Although the findings revealed that most of those who took part in a survey and poll were in support to name the entire Harris Park as “Little India,”
In support of the suggestion for Harris Park to be named ‘Little India’, the council suggested that the name “Little India” should be restricted to some specific trading areas, which are Station Street East, Wigram Street, and Marion Street. However, the approval is on a trial basis that will only last for the next six months.