The Daily Telegraph’s Top 25 Indian Australian Power List

Journalist Matthew Benns, co-creator of the list that has had the NSW Indian community all aflutter this week, spills the details

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The chatter in the Indian-Australian community this week has been about the Top 25 Influential and Powerful Indian Australians list released by The Daily Telegraph.

That a mainstream and leading media organisation has invested in studying the community at close quarters, and produced such a list, is testimony to the growing influence of Indian-origin Australians. Our community is touching the million mark — at just under 4% of the Australian population — and if the past few years are any indication, is growing strongly. As we contribute proactively to Australian life, our impact is being seen in government, business, medicine, scientific research, sport, new media, and other fields.

Matthew Benns, editor at large at The Daily Telegraph and co-compiler of the list, told Indian Link it was this that prompted the idea of the list of movers and shakers.

“The influence of the community and their contribution to NSW’s growth story, now and in the foreseeable future, was identified by our editor at The Daily Telegraph, Ben English,”  Benns said.  “He commissioned our senior journalist Angira Bharadwaj and I to look into compiling a list of 25 most influential Indian Australians in NSW.”

Angira Bharadwaj (L) and Matthew Benns (Source: The Daily Telegraph; Photo credit for Matthew Benns: Nigel Wright)

Research for the endeavour began about a month ago.

“The more we dug into it, the more exciting it became,” Benns revealed.  “We identified two of NSW’s leading politicians, the Treasurer Daniel Mookhey and Deputy Premier Prue Carr being of Indian origin. Not a lot of people know about their Indian origins.”

That two previous NSW political leaders, former Premier Barry O’Farrell and former Opposition leader Jodi McKay, have been working to promote trade and better relations between India and NSW, was another interesting observation for Benns.

“Everyone we spoke to has been excited about the enormous trade potential between Australia and NSW. Exports between India and Australia are on course to get to $45 billion in the next decade from the current $25 billon,” Benns said.

A large part of this engagement will be driven by the Indian diaspora, especially in NSW.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s well-meaning note during his visit here in May 2023, about the importance of the diaspora in making the dosti (friendship) stronger between India and Australia, has been repeated multiple times since.

Building on this narrative, NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey (who heads the Daily Telegraph list), has called the local NSW community “the secret weapon” in promoting trade and business activities.

Benns added, “The Indian community here is the living bridge to the world’s fastest growing economy, and having stronger ties is important to both countries. So, knowing all of that, we felt the need to highlight how important the growing Indian diaspora is to all people in NSW.”

That the list is the first of its kind, is also being marvelled at by readers of Indian origin.

“Yes, it is the first time we have compiled such a power list for a local community, as opposed to our annual Power 100,” Benns confirmed.

How did the Indian list take its final form?

“We asked people in the community to tell us who they thought should be included and why. We then followed up with our own research to finalise the top 25. We applied some set criteria but also looked at not so scientific elements. We asked ourselves, how do we balance power and influence? How do you measure the influence of someone who is in an important business, against an influencer?”

In the end, Benns and Bharadwaj included a diverse range of professions in the power list.

Politicians such as Daniel Mookhey, Prue Carr and Dave Sharma, scientists and academics Dr Marlene Kanga, Prof. Chennupati Jagdish and Prof.Veena Sahajwalla, restaurateur Manjit Gujral and chef Shashank Achuta, corporate honchos Tarun Gupta, Amitabh Mall and Jai Patel, influencers Gurnam Singh and Priya Sharma, charity guru Amar Singh, and Pawan and Rajni Luthra from community media, are just some of the names on the list.

A fair bit of discussion has ensued since the release early on Monday, about those picked for mention. Like other such lists, there have been judgments about the relative merits and otherwise of those included.

Yet Benns claims he has had good response.

“We’ve had fantastic feedback, and plans are afoot for more such initiatives with other communities.”

“And yes,” he concluded,  “we hope to be back with an Indian-Australian Power List for 2025.”

Read Daily Telegraph’s list of NSW’s 25 most influential Indian Australians here

READ MORE: Pawan and Rajni in Daily Telegraph’s Top 25

Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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