”˜I regard Modi as a brother’: Tony Abbott

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Cricket diplomacy was on show at the reception given to Narendra Modi, at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, with the Prime Minister saying a ‘new journey’ in India-Australia relationship has begun.

Addressing a select gathering at the reception hosted by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and attended by cricket greats like Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Allan Border  and Dean Jones, Modi heaped effusive praise on Australia’s sporting culture and thanked his counterpart for ‘truly generous hospitality’ while Mr Abbott said that he regards ”˜Modi almost as a brother’.

Mr Abbott said, “It’s good that we are here at the Melbourne Cricket Ground because it is said that India and Australia share a great passion ”“ we both love beating England at cricket.”

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Mr Modi at  Melbourne Cricket Ground with Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar

He added, “It is a nice marker in our history that the first ever Test series that India played after independence was against Australia and the third Test of that series was played here at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

It was in that game that Sir Donald Bradman, who is as much a hero in India as in Australia, scored a century in both innings ”“ very good for Donald.

In the fourth Test, The Don had to share the limelight with Vijay Hazare who became the first Indian cricketer ever to score a century in both innings of a Test match.”

Besides cricket, Mr Abbott talked about the local Indian community who  he said have contributed so much to building modern Australia, “I want to say to all of you, your hard work, your commitment to family and community, your willingness to ”˜have a go’ has made this great country even greater.”

He said about the 40,000 Indian student a year studying in Australia, “Our duty ”“ and I say this particularly here in Melbourne, Victoria ”“ our duty is to take care of them as our own and to let all of them become ambassadors for India here and for Australia when they go home.”

Mr Abbott said of Modi, “His commitment is to ”˜red carpet, not red tape’ because he recognises that the foundation of wealth starts with the private sector.

And we both believe that the keys to our countries’ success is the power of our people.”

To the Indians in Australia Abbott said, “Now, I want to say a very personal message to my fellow Australians of Indian background in closing these remarks: you have come to a magnificent country. But you have come from a country that is led by a magnificent man and I know you will make him extremely welcome tonight.”

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