Among the newly-elected members of the New Zealand Parliament on Saturday is a 33-year-old Indian, Dr Gaurav Sharma, who won the election as a Labour Party candidate from Hamilton West electorate. Polling 16,950 votes, he defeated Tim Macindoe from the National Party with a margin of 4,425 votes, said the Electoral Commission of New Zealand.
Congratulating him on the victory, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Sunday said that Sharma had earned recognition for the Indian state and the people of the state were proud of him. "Dr Gaurav, who belongs to Galod in Hamirpur, has earned a name for the state and the country and the people of Himachal Pradesh are feeling proud of this achievement," he said.
A native of Himachal Pradesh's Hamirpur district, Sharma immigrated to the country around 20 years ago and is a doctor by profession, working as a general practitioner in Nawton, Hamilton. He studied his bachelor's in medicine and surgery and then went on to complete his master's in business administration from George Washington University in the US.
Considering himself a strong voice for the people of Hamilton, Sharma said his work was to manage healthcare and that would help him work for Hamilton in the recovery phase post Covid-19. "As a local doctor, I hear first-hand the concerns of our community every day. My work in healthcare and experience in management will help me be a strong voice for Hamilton in this post-pandemic recovery phase," he said.
Sharma has been involved in public health, policy and consulting in several countries, and also advocated rights for refugees and helped rebuild villages in Nepal after a massive earthquake hit the hill nation in 2015, the Labour Party said.
Sharma's family moved to New Zealand while he was studying in Class 9 when his father, who worked as an executive engineer in the electricity board of Himachal Pradesh, left his government job and decided to shift to a new country. However, his family struggled during their initial years in the country as Sharma's father took six years to find himself a new job and the family was rendered homeless for quite sometime where they spent nights on park benches and used the Auckland City Mission for arranging food.
During a TV interview in Shimla in 2017, Sharma had reportedly said that he had not lost touch with the place where he was born and liked to speak in Pahari when he was in Himachal. "No other food gives me greater pleasure than Himachali food," The Indian Express quoted him as saying.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Saturday delivered a huge victory for the Labour Party, to which Sharma belongs, and is all set for her second term in office.