The local Indian community from the federal electorate of Higgins were invited to a Diwali celebration in late October, hosted by the local member Kelly O’Dwyer.
Supporters and dedicated members of the community took part in the festivities and the occasion was held on a day filled with sunshine – perfect for a cool drink of mango lassi accompanying traditional samosas and sweet gulab jamuns.
Despite Melbourne’s unpredictable weather, Diwali’s symbolic reference to hope over despair showed us that we can only hope for good weather on days when we want it that way!
The celebration was attended by distinguished members of the local Indian community including Consul General of India in Melbourne Manika Jain and Professor Suresh Bhargava, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor International RMIT.
The event opened with the traditional lighting of the diyas and a special Diwali prayer by Pandit Adithya Saraff, Priest at the AUMSAI Sansthan Temple. Sisters Ashita and Ashmita took to the stage to perform the famous dance routine Kuchipudi.
Rampal Reddy Muthyala, Trustee of AUMSAI Sansthan Temple welcomed Ms O’Dwyer to the event and explained the importance of a fruitful relationship between Australia and India.
Approximately 5,000 people who live in the Higgins electorate were born in India. Kelly O’Dwyer, Federal Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, commented that she “will continue engaging with the Indian community from the Higgins electorate throughout the year, as well as during Diwali celebrations in the years to come”.
India is Australia’s 10th largest trading partner and fifth largest export market. India’s economy is gradually becoming more open, offering significant opportunities for Australian and Indian businesses to work together and share knowledge and skills for the benefit of both nations. Of particular importance are the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The growth stories point to the increasing sophistication of India’s economy and the myriad opportunities to grow the trade and investment relationship. Two-way trade in goods and services has grown in value from $6.8 billion in FY2003-04 to $14.8 billion in FY2013-14.
To harness these opportunities, Australia is placing a high priority on the conclusion of a commercially and meaningful Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with India. The Australian Government wants the CECA to provide positive outcomes for both sides that encourages collaboration and fosters synergies in the areas of goods trade, services trade and investments.
Additionally, Australia is willing to discuss how negotiations should be determined with the Indian government with regard to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The RCEP has the potential to deliver significant opportunities for Australian businesses. The RCEP forms part of the Government’s strategy for lowering trade barriers and securing improved market access for Australian exporters of goods and services, and for Australian investors.
The government’s initiative should be commended. Fostering stronger ties will assist the Indian community at all levels.
This event, the first of its kind, proved to be a success. Many members of the community came along to network with others. It would be fantastic to see more people from the non-Indian community participating in the celebrations to truly grow the relationship between India and Australia.