Main aap sab ka tahe dil se swagat karti hu. It is truly special that after several years, we are able to connect once again over great distances for such a prestigious event, and in such a beautiful, magnificent venue. And personally, I am so pleased to be back in India.
Today, it is a great honour to welcome His Excellency, the Honourable Barry O’Farrell, Australia’s High Commissioner to India, who will be delivering this year’s Oration, titled The Rise and Rise of Australia-India Relations, (someone who has been doing a tremendous job in building relations). Thank you, Your Excellency for being here with us today.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of the Australia India Institute, I am honoured to welcome you all to the Annual Oration for 2022.
The Institute’s Annual Oration was first delivered in 2016, here in New Delhi, with the aim of bringing our two countries closer together. And since then, the Oration has seen a range of eminent speakers deliver remarkable addresses on the strengthening of ties between our two nations. Their contributions have been heard by high profile dignitaries, government officials, business leaders and professionals, educationists, academics, journalists, civil society, and students.
As His Excellency will outline, this year’s topic for the Oration is the Rise and Rise of Australia-India Relations. And what a year it has been, characterised by driving momentum, deeper engagement, and an unwavering commitment to the bilateral relationship by both countries. The Australia-India relationship has risen, through the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, to see cooperation across a range of critical areas, including security and defence, trade and economic, climate, energy and science, critical minerals and emerging technologies, education and tourism, and our people-to-people ties.
Upon taking up my role as CEO of the Institute, 6 months ago my aim has been to build and advance the Institute’s expertise and thought leadership, through a refreshed and forward-thinking Strategy across three program areas – security and geopolitics bilateral economy and cultural diplomacy – in order to promote support for and understanding of the Australia-India relationship.
The Institute this year launched India Matters – a program which celebrates and commemorates India’s 75th anniversary of Independence, and includes events, policy briefs, expert analysis, podcasts, and interviews on why India matters to Australia and the world. At one of the Institute’s recent events, I convened a conversation with India’s Minister for External Affairs the Honourable Dr. Jaishankar, during which he said that he could see the relationship “dramatically changing right in front of his eyes.”
Similarly, at another recent event hosted by the Institute, Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, the Honourable Dan Tehan said, “there has never been a more important time for Australia and India to advance their relationship.” Given the shifting geostrategic and geo-economic trends, it is imperative our two countries come together like we have never come before. That is why the Australia India ECTA signed days ago by both countries is such a watershed moment in the relationship.
On a personal note, it is such a thrill to be back in India. During my visit this month, my team and I will be meeting with a range of stakeholders, including members of government, industry, academia, and civil society to reignite and advance our engagement and build capacity to meet the policy challenges of our shared future.
Later in the year, we will also be returning to India for the Institute’s flagship event, the Australia India Leadership Dialogue 2022, which will be hosted in New Delhi. We will be launching the Dialogue with our principal corporate partner next week, so watch this space. The theme for this year’s dialogue will be emerging technology, and will convene brilliant minds from the corporate, Government, academic and civil society sectors to address the challenges and opportunities of living in a disruptive world through innovation and entrepreneurship.
There is no doubt the Australia-India relationship holds great cause for optimism, built on what His Excellency Barry O’Farrell has referred to as the four Ds: Democracy, Defence, Diaspora & Dosti. The Institute is absolutely delighted to have him with us today. But we could not have turned out such a brilliant event without the support of our sponsor HSBC India.