Red carpet awaits PM Modi in Australia

modi abbott


By Rekha Bhattacharjee

Even though there are still few days  to go before the Indian Prime Minister’s entourage touches Down Under, the excitement over the visit is undoubtedly turning into a sort of euphoria.

It looks like as if the Indian PM Narendra Modi’s juggernaut would continue to roll full steam even in the distant and sparsely populated land named Australia.

Narendra Damodardas Modi (Narendra Bhai for his admirers) seems to be on a dream run as the gigantic Indian economy has suddenly shrugged sluggishness and is once again gaining acceleration.

Massive infrastructure projects are getting overdue clearances. The foreign investors are once again looking at the Indian investment opportunities with an unprecedented seriousness.

PM Modi’s tough stance against the bullying China and rogue Pakistan has also been lapped up by the Indian populace.

The ruling party’s recent electoral gains in crucial states like Maharashtra and Haryana have also added spring to Prime Minister Modi’s step and raised him to the status of a rock star politician. And now it is the turn of half a million Indians living in Australia to experience the Modi effect first person.

The excitement in the Indo-Australian community can be gauged from the response the organisers of a public event in Sydney are receiving.

Indian Australian Community Foundation (IACF), which is organising a public event for PM Modi in Sydney on 17 November, has been reportedly overwhelmed by the response from the Indian diaspora living down under.

“We were pleasantly surprised when we got 21,000 registrations within a span of three days, which is quite high than number of registrations at a similar event in the US,” a spokesperson of the IACF recently told media.

The magnitude of the response to see and hear Modi first person looks even more impressive considering the fact that the Indian diaspora’s size in Australia is just one tenth of that in the US.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has also expressed his enthusiasm over the Indian PM’s upcoming visit.

“Prime Minister Modi will make the first visit to Australia by an Indian Prime Minister since 1986,” Tony Abbott said in a media release recently. “This follows my recent visit to India and I look forward to continuing our discussions on strengthening trade and economic links and our converging strategic interests,” Australian Prime Minister added.

The members of the sizeable Indo-Australian community are also busy to make sure that Narendra Modi’s gets a memorable reception in a Madison Square (New York) like event.

Besides his other engagements, Narendra Modi will address a joint session of the Australian Parliament. He will thus become the first Indian Prime Minister to get this honour.

The political pundits and business leaders are also looking at over-pending visit of an Indian Prime Minister to the Australian shores with an added interest. Most of the experts look at the unfolding bilateral relationship scenario as a win-win story.

India is Australia’s fifth-largest export market and the two-way trade stands at A$15 billion a year.

The growing optimism for the Indo-Australian bilateral relations is fuelled partly by the fact that both the Prime Ministers of the two principal Indian Ocean Rim countries are pro-business. Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart have also reportedly formed a strong bond in their meetings and telephone calls earlier this year.

“Australian negotiators see massive opportunities in Mr Modi’s commitment to vast new infrastructure for India, which is expected to add 1.5 to two percentage points to India’s economic growth, putting it at between 7 and 8 per cent,” a well-respected columnist Greg Sheridan wrote in The Australian newspaper recently.

“They also believe that as Indian economic growth accelerates under Mr Modi’s pro-business policies, the burgeoning Indian middle class will offer excellent opportunities for Australian services providers, led by education but ranging across many fields,” Greg Sheridan wrote.

“India is a force waiting to be unleashed,” says National Vice Chair of Australia India Business Council (AIBC) Sheba Nandkeolyar.

“The favourable political and economic environment is going to fuel the growth bringing India to the forefront of the world’s economy. There is immense scope for both the countries. India plans to invest $123 billion on roads, $55 billion on ports, $300 billion on rail and $13 billion on airports in the next 5 years,” Sheba Nandkeolyar says.

Like so many other observers of the Indian economy and political scenario, Sheba sees great future for the business links between Australia and India.

The Indian Prime Minister is coming to Australia to attend the G20 Leaders’ Summit which will be held in Brisbane on 15 and 16 November. Besides Narendra Modi, President François Hollande of France, President Xi Jinping of China, Chancellor Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom will also participate in the Brisbane Summit.


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