Letter from New Delhi
On 26 May 2015, the first anniversary of Prime Minister Modi’s government, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the Minister for State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, addressed leaders of the Indian diaspora in Melbourne, Australia. He said it was a special day for his government.
He was leading a delegation of ten Indian MPs to Australia to follow up the successful visit of the Prime Minister and learn about several good practices in Australia. Rudi, accompanied by his wife, said the Modi government had completed one year in office. Rudi praised the accompanying MPs from all parties but was hesitant to talk much about the BJP achievements.
Answering a question about what has been done for creating a skilled pool for the benefit of the developed world as outlined by Modi, he said that the government was focusing on skills development for the youth and had created a strong foundation to build on. The delegation earlier visited a skill development institute in Melbourne to observe it at work. These MPs were observing and learning a great deal and the Non-BJP ones may ultimately support the government in approving some new initiatives and bills. Two MPs are Arjuna awardees in soccer and hockey, both popular in Australia. The MPs dined on different tables to interact with the Australian Indians. Also present were a few Indian high commission officials.
On his first overseas official trip, the minister answered a number of questions about NRI issues and their relationship with India. He hoped to get their support for the new projects such as Make it India, Digital India, Clean India among others.
Members of the Indian diaspora said they were enjoying their life in a developed country like Australia and were willing to help India. A community leader claimed his association is supporting 1,400 students. He mentioned their donations for Nepal earthquake and Andhra cyclone, among other causes. Karan Singh, the trustee of a unique old age home for Indians, said this was the first such project in the Indian diaspora in partnership with the Dutch community. A smart village blue print was presented to the minister. The minister invited the Australian Indians to send in their suggestions for India’s progress.
The host and Master of Ceremonies was Vasan Srinivasan, the first Indian nominated to the Multi-Cultural Council of Australia. The Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria with membership of 28 bodies of the diaspora from most Indian states and Fiji, invited their top office bearers to an Indian restaurant for this meeting. Every head of an association spoke briefly to welcome the Minister and his delegation and present their views. The federation gets an annual grant of a$75,000 from Victoria government.
More than 240,000 people in Australia are of Indian origin and around 52,000 Victorians were born in India. A total of 84 Indian associations are registered in Victoria. A large number of students from India are studying for higher education in Victoria.
After Modi’s recent visit, NRIs are happy with Modi’s vision and getting more respect in Australia as compared during UPA rule. But the Australian media does not report positive Indian news like the Mars spaceship, the UN International Yoga Day after India’s proposal or the safe return of thousands of Indians from Iraq and Yemen.
The delegation arrived in Melbourne on 19 May 2015. After Melbourne, they will travel to Canberra and Sydney and then to New Zealand. In Victoria, the delegation visited the state assembly welcomed by the speaker Telmo Languiller and President of the Legislative Council Bruce Atkinson. They explored the opportunities for deeper ties between the two countries
Kul Bhushan worked as a newspaper Editor in Nairobi for over three decades and now lives in New Delhi
* Published in print edition on 29 May 2015