President Kovind’s Visit Reaffirms Close Ties With Australia

India’s relations with Australia have been growing over the decades. This is indicated by the high level reciprocal visits from both sides. With the changed global geo-strategic scenario, India is perceived to play a larger role in the Indo-Pacific. This will need both India and Australia to play a larger role in the area. India and Australia are also part of the Quadrilateral or ‘Quad’, which has Japan and the US as the two other members.

India’s President Ram Nath Kovind paid a State visit to Australia to strengthen the bilateral ties. He was accompanied by a high level delegation. President Kovind held talks with the Australian Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrisson called upon the President and exchanged views on issues of mutual interest.

During delegation level talks, the Indian President highlighted the close and cordial relations between the two nations and the increasing convergence of interests on international issues. He reiterated India’s commitment to further strengthen the close ties and long standing friendship underpinned by vibrant people-to -people contacts. Noting the steady growth in the bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries, President highlighted the need to further strengthen the economic engagement, especially on the investment front. President conveyed India’s decision to contribute additional AUD 10 million matching funds over the next four years towards Australia India Strategic Research Fund.

As part of the ongoing 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi, President unveiled the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parramatta in New South Wales and addressed a large gathering of Indian diaspora and local community. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Lord Mayor of Parramatta city also attended the function. Both the leaders talked of the relevance of Mahatma Gandhi’s thoughts in today’s world especially in the context of India-Australia relations.

President Kovind addressed the India Business Summit 2018 organized by Australian Financial Review on India-Australia economic engagement. The event was attended by the captains of the Australian & Indian businesses, Foreign Minister of Australia Marise Payne, leaders from New South Wales and officials. In his address, President highlighted the opportunities in new India and urged closer engagement with Australian companies and investors. In his address President invited Australian companies to participate in Indian growth story in fin-tech and logistics, industrial design and biotech, capital markets and agri-business. President welcomed the “India Economic Strategy To 2035.

During the visit five Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) were exchanged. These were MoUs were between Department of Empowerment of persons with Disabilities, India and Department of Social Services (Australia) on cooperation in Disability sector; an MoU between Invest India and AUSTRADE to promote bilateral investment; MoU between Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited (CMPDI), India, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Orgaisation (CSIRO), Australia for furthering Scientific Cooperation; MoU between Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh and the University of Western Australia, for cooperation in agricultural research and education; and a Joint PhD Agreement between Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia and Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi (IIITD), India to develop a Joint PhD programme whereby research students are enrolled in a PhD course at each University and perform coordinated research studies at both Universities.

President Kovind graced the Annual Dinner of the Australia-India Business Council (AIBC) and addressed the members of AIBC. The Foreign Minister of Australia Ms. Marise Payne and Premier of New South Wales Ms. Gladys Berejiklian were present during the AIBC meet.

The Presidential visit from India to Australia has added momentum to the ongoing growth in our bilateral engagements which in recent years has not only increased in regularity but has also intensified in all areas of our strategic cooperation. The visit saw President engaging with leadership of Australia at federal and provincial level, business community, students & academics and Indian diaspora. The Australian leadership expressed exceptional warmth and highly appreciated the growing ties and engagement with India.

Script: Padam Singh, Air: News Analyst