Dipen Rughani is CEO of Newland Global Group (NGG), a corporate advisory firm based in Sydney, which aims at simplifying and strengthening trade and investment between Australia and India.
He looks here at the India-Australia trade relationship in current pandemic times.
Indian Link (IL) : How far back would you say has COVID taken Aus-India relations?
Dipen Rughani (DR) : This is a tough time for nations across the globe, but I choose to believe that each crisis is an opportunity to do the inconceivable. COVID-19 hasn’t pushed our bilateral relationship backwards but may actually have provided an impetus to pull our energies and push the bilateral relations forward to align our strengths and create a dependable partnership.
IL: What will it take to get momentum back?
DR: I actually feel we are sustaining the momentum, the bilateral relationship picked up momentum since the Australian government’s release of the ‘India Economic Strategy to 2035’ in 2018, followed by the Trade Minister Simon Birmingham’s visit with the large business delegation to India in February, which will now be followed up with PM Morrison and PM Modi’s virtual summit to happen soon. Regular communication and engagement are integral to building Australia India relations driven by positive tangible outcomes.
IL: What have you been doing in this regard in this downtime?
DR: Along with advising companies on strategising doing business in India, a major focus of our work is also on changing the narrative around India, based on facts and realities which is otherwise based on anecdotal assumptions and prejudiced generalisations. NGG has initiated a series of conversations with the best minds in the Australia-India space, to generate informative and educational content. We are also regularly writing and producing reports on strategic sectors and industries e.g. advance manufacturing, mining & METS, Edtech, BioTech to name a few. NGG during this time has also initiated the Australia India Webinar Series with varied stakeholders on the impacts of COVID-19 on diverse issues, sectors, institutions and bilateral ties, and focus on temporary to long-term strategies and solutions. The series so far has featured former Indian Union Minister for Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu, Amb. Navdeep Suri, Amb. Anil Wadhwa & Amb. Biren Nanda, A Balasubramanian (CEO, Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC Ltd) and Prakash Rao (ED, National Investment & Infrastructure Fund). The next webinar edition will be on the manufacturing opportunity in India, and how Australia-India can build synergies in this sector.
IL: What would you like to happen early when the pandemic restrictions ease?
DR: I would like to see the release of the Indian government’s Australia Economic Strategy, a report that was slated to release in January this year during PM Morrison’s official visit to India, postponed due to the horrendous bushfires in Australia. Beyond government engagement, I also expect corporate Australia to engage with Indian businesses at a proactive level, and build joint and enabling platforms in areas like Edtech, Healthtech and sectors, which have been hit by COVID-19. The ties should focus on building synergies between Australian technology and Indian skill and demand. It would be great to see both countries reimagine and redefine this relationship with greater cooperation and collaboration.