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Community surprised and saddened to see a popular diplomat leave
More than a few eyebrows were raised when NSW Premier Mike Baird told guests at a recent Diwali celebration that he wished his friend Sunjay Sudhir the best in his new posting. There was a hush in the audience and then soft chatter as people turned to each other in disbelief.
In just over 18 months, Consul General Sunjay Sudhir has earned the love and respect of all those he met during his short stint here in Australia.
Most people are surprised – and also saddened – at the news of this announcement, ahead of time, as Sunjay Sudhir had proven to be a good friend of the Indian community during his tenure here.
“While I am sad to leave all my friends here, I am looking forward to my next challenges,” Consul General Sudhir told Indian Link. “In my new posting I will be heading the division which deals in international cooperation in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. This is an important area for India as we need to take care of the energy needs of over 1.2 billion people. The focus will be on hydrocarbons and opportunities to acquire assets abroad to secure supply for India. There will be a number of dialogues which I will be involved in, including those with Australia.”
During his time in Australia, Sudhir was very involved in the G20 Summit in Queensland and then the organisation of the ground realities of Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit here in 2014.
Billed as a historic interaction between the two countries, the PM’s tour, which has since positioned the Australia-India relationship on a strong upward trajectory, was one of his highlights in Australia, Sudhir revealed.
“It was also wonderful to see how the Indian community in Australia rallied together at this time and the excitement in the community,” he said. “I also will always remember fondly the Indian Tourism Week celebrated during Parramasala. It was also satisfying to improve a number of Consulate services for our community during my stay here.”
Sunjay Sudhir’s organisational skills also came to the fore as he organised the first ever boat cruise for the visiting Indian cricket team during their Test series last season. With the then High Commissioner Biren Nanda, the Consul General ensured that for Virat Kohli and his men and their families, it was one of their most memorable overseas government functions.
Consul General Sudhir has also been passionate about promoting trade between India and Australia. “I am pleased to see the strong growth in tourism between the two countries and the increased people-to-people contact which is a good precursor for other bilateral trade opportunities,” he said
With wife Vandana, Sunjay Sudhir was also very welcome in the local Indian community. Family friend Mala Mehta is saddened by their departure but is thankful to both of them for all the help they have given her and her team at IABBV Hindi School.
“It was always a pleasure to have them join us on the various school activities and also, I am proud to call them my friends,” she told Indian Link.
“I must say one of my favourite times with them was a ghazal evening at their home where both joined in the singing. Had they been able to spend more time in Australia, I am confident I could get them on stage for a song,” she added, smiling.
Consul General Sudhir complimented the Indian community in Australia on how well they have settled here. “My strong advice to you all is to stay united, as unity is strength. It is important to have personal ambition but also keep in mind the motto of Rotary International, which is, service before self. There are wonderful examples of a number of individuals doing this and it will be a sign of the strength in the community if more people keep this in mind,” he said.
Consul General Sudhir was well respected by all those who interacted with him – community groups, diplomats and politicians. We wish him and his wife Vandana and their family all the best in their future endeavours.