Newly appointed High Commissioner progresses Indo-Oz initiatives
By Vish Viswanathan
Mr Navdeep Suri, the new High Commissioner of India to Australia is a man of action. Since taking charge, Mr Suri has travelling to major cities in relation to ongoing Australia-India initiatives, attending high level bilateral meetings and planning the groundwork for forthcoming projects covering economy, political, cultural all important aspects that involve both countries.
One of Mr Suri’s first tasks in April was hosting the exhibition, ‘The Story of Rama’ at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra which comprises of 101 miniature artworks on loan from India, that tell the enduring stories, of Rama and his queen Sita. The exhibition, on loan from the National Museum, New Delhi, is the first product of a cultural memorandum of understanding signed by the Australian and Indian governments in 2014. Speaking on the Indo-Oz relationship, Mr Suri was quoted in the Canberra Times as saying, “This is a very large, multifaceted relationship and it is not one that would be defined by one issue or another. You will have occasional issues that make the news and there’s a determination on both sides to make sure they are both addressed. But at the same time, the relationship is so much larger.”
Mr Suri was felicitated by the Indian diaspora in Melbourne on July 12, in a welcome dinner reception hosted by the Confederation of Indian Australian Association (CIAA). In an impressive speech, he stated, “It is almost inevitable that the second generation of the Australian Indian community will emerge solidly and make a position for themselves based on the guidance and leadership provided by their first generation.” He reiterated that Indo-Oz relations have been growing tremendously following Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Australia in late 2014. Activities such as joint naval exercises, meetings on counter terrorism, defence policy discussions, bilateral discussions on resources and minerals and most importantly, the long awaited Australia India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) have progressed significantly. “There is plenty of work to be done before the end of the year, the time has come now to cash in on such opportunities,” stated Mr Suri, who is upbeat about the strong relationship between the countries.
The Australia India Business Council (AIBC) in NSW hosted a welcome reception on June 26 in Sydney at which Mr Suri delivered a speech that covered the India Economic Update, following the first year of PM Modi’s governance, important economic and trade opportunities including significant policy changes for Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in the sectors of railways, defence, manufacturing, infrastructure, food industries, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, leather and garments. “Tremendous opportunities are in the forefront as 100 Smart Cities and 30 Food Processing Parks are being established. GST reforms are on the horizon,” he added to an audience of over a hundred members and distinguished guests.
Mr Bryce Hutchesson of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Federal Government provided an Australian perspective of the opportunities that CECA would bring to the relationship. “Australia and India are at the highest point in bilateral relations,” he stated while also complimenting Mr Suri for his efforts in promoting these objectives
A combined welcome community reception in Sydney led by United Indian Associations (UIA) has been organised for Mr Suri on August 16 at Dezire Function Centre in Blacktown.