The momentum built by Narendra Modi’s Australian tour has understandably generated renewed enthusiasm for the India-Oz relationship
The momentum built by Narendra Modi’s Australian tour of 2014 has understandably generated renewed enthusiasm at all levels of government, not to mention the current work in progress on a ‘free trade agreement’ between India and Australia which is expected to have bipartisan support. There is increasing recognition of the potential to develop closer contact that will bring trade gains and economic benefits to both India and Australia.
The Indian Prime Minister’s clarion call to “Make in India” has to assume a greater seriousness in view of Australia’s downsizing of its manufacturing base which has resulted in a skills shortage in several fields. The 2015 Australian budget has focused on giving impetus to small businesses by announcing significant tax concessions on capital costs and acquisition of tools and equipment.
It is, therefore, no coincidence that the goodwill visit by Indian Parliamentarians to Australia had an uncanny timing. At a dinner hosted in Sydney by the Indian Consul General Sunjay Sudhir for the visiting Parliamentarians, the mood was a buoyant one. Members of the delegation representing the upper and lower houses of the Indian Parliament were excited, especially as most of them had never visited Australia before.
Afzal Amanullah, Secretary, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, felt there would be no let-up in their efforts to create new bonds, despite their hectic schedule and interaction with members of the Australian Senate and the House of Representatives in Canberra.
After talking to some of the MPs, it appeared that there was a definite sense of purpose. Dr P. Venugopal of AIDMK was hopeful of a new era in the political fortunes for his region with the return of Jayalalitha to the helm. Prasun Banerjee spoke about positive developments in industrial relations, whilst Dilip Tirkey of Biju Janata Dal proudly looked forward to better funding and enhanced training facilities in the sporting arena regarding field hockey (his sporting background) in particular.
Avinash Rai Khanna, Chief Whip of BJP and member of Rajya Sabha, introduced all members of his delegation to the dinner guests. He was appreciative of the healthy relationships that he witnessed in Australian politics amongst the ruling party and the opposition, and looked forward to emulating this within the Indian situation.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, echoed these thoughts and said that the experience of this trip would be invaluable to his delegates, regardless of their political affiliations.
In Melbourne, the Confederation of Indian Associations in Australia (CIAA) organised a community reception in honour of the Parliamentary Delegation. Some 115 prominent members of the community attended.
At the event, Vasan Srinivasan, President of CIAA, presented a proposal to the delegation entitled ‘Smart Village Project’, to address issues faced by Indian villages, which make for frequent disturbing worldwide news such as the recent farmers suicides.
The proposal outline objectives for the elimination of farmers’ poverty, measures for employment generation in villages and stoppage of migration to cities, and promotion of green cover for environmental tranquillity.
The Indian delegation was on goodwill visits to Australia and New Zealand from 25 May, 2015 to 3 June, 2015.