AIBC celebrates Independence Day

India’s High Commissioner Manpreet Vohra at the AIBC Independence Day Gala Dinner celebration on August 28

The Australia India Business Council (AIBC) celebrated 75 years of India’s Independence in a grand style at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney on August 24. There were dignitaries galore at the gala dinner – Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong, India’s High Commissioner Manpreet Vohra, Former Australian PM Tony Abbot and several Federal and NSW State MPs.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong

The Foreign Minister stole the limelight with her heartfelt address, reminiscing that the poor household she grew up in Malaysia understood the value of education that her parents said nobody ‘could take away from you’.

She said Australia India relationship was built on shared interests – ‘Dosti’ (friendship) – that attracted thunderous applause from the nearly 400 guests. “Our partnership extends well beyond the bilateral as we share a region that’s being reshaped,” Ms Wong said, adding that India’s involvement was central to that.

The Indian High Commissioner, Manpreet Vohra, recognised Indo-Australian convergent views on geo strategic and geo economic issues, particularly in the Indo Pacific region, for the growing relations between the two countries. “The Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) is a watershed moment and opens large opportunities for businesses in both countries that Australian businesses should appreciate,” he said.

The High Commissioner, however, lamented: in spite of all the hype, investors from Australia, especially superannuation funds, were reluctant to support Indian startups that could have high value mutual benefits. Mr Vohra highlighted opportunities in working with India by sharing Australian knowledge in solar devices and resourcing raw products for use by India in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals.

Jim Varghese, National Chair of AIBC, gave an elaborate address how the close relationship between India and Australia could be built upon for a tangible business upgrade beyond mere slogans – looking towards India not only as a consumption market but also as the one providing supply.

“To effectively support the trade momentum generated by ECTA between the two countries, AIBC has established a dedicated Australia India Business Enterprise (AIBE) to support and facilitate end to end B2B commercial transactions and Industry Chairs,” Mr Varghese said.

Irfan Malik, AIBC NSW State Chapter president, celebrated the success of the three-day-long summit that culminated on the day. The summit not only provided a leverage to engage with the Indian market, but it was also expected to spark-off unprecedented levels of cross industry engagement, bringing industry bodies, university research centres, government agencies, startup ecosystems and business groups looking to collaborate on market validation and scaling up opportunities, he said.

AIBC had earlier launched three new initiatives at the summit – AIBC Digital, AIBC Young Business Leaders Chapter and AIBC First Nation & Indigenous Chapter. Two young leaders invited on stage, Mallika Raj and Khushal Vyas, shared their aspirations with the audience.

NSW MP Jodi McKay hosted a panel discussion that included Indian Consul General Manish Gupta: how to build up momentum on bilateral engagement.  Mr Gupta’s advice was to get away from the fear of the unknown and contrasted the structured Australian psyche from the Indian way of working on the go.

Local Indian and Indigenous artistes punctuated the speeches to entertain and delight the audience with their colourful performances.

Pics Courtesy: Harmohan Walia

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