BJP National Spokesperson Nalin Kohli will address the Indian Executive Club members and guests on 8 November at the Plaza Ballroom in Melbourne. Over 350 guests are taking part in this year’s IEC awards where Mr Kohli will deliver his keynote address.
This is Mr Kohli’s first ever trip to Australia. His visit paves the way for the Narendra Modi juggernaut to hit Aussie shores the following week, when the Indian Prime Minister comes to Brisbane for the G20 Summit and makes an official bilateral visit.
Mr Kohli, in his speech on The Return of India Story, will touch up on Modi’s upcoming Australia visit and India’s vision for better ties with Australia. Excerpts from the interview:
With so much excitement, preparation, and rumours, The Indian Sun spoke to Mr Kohli to find out what he hopes to see while in Australia and what we can expect when Mr Modi touches down.
It’s your first visit to Australia Mr Kohli, do you know much about the place?
Yes it’s my first visit. And I’m looking forward to it. I do have a little idea about the country from seeing it on TV and in movies. I’ve seen Masterchef Australia so many times, I’ve seen Picnic at Hanging Rock, and it has been a destination that I’ve wanted to see for a long time. One knows about the beauty of this continent and it promises to be an exciting visit.
What do you hope to do while in Australia?
I’d definitely like to visit beyond Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. And I would like to see if I can get a day off in some way, where I could just sneak off a little and to somewhere outside a city so I can see something of natural beauty.
Mr Modi will become the first Indian Prime Minister ever to address the Australian Parliament. What can we expect to see from his speech?
What I can say about Prime Minister Modi is he has a very personal and a clear style. We’ve seen him engaging very warmly with foreign leaders, such as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, and similarly with his visits to the United States, Nepal and Bhutan. I can certainly say he’s bound to strengthen the relationship, and seek to strengthen the relationship between Australia and India and also see how we can expand our economic activities to the benefit of both countries.
Australia and India are working on a free trade deal (also called a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement). Do you think we might see this finalised during Modi’s visit?
Certainly in terms of an objective, I would say that the time is right for it to become reality. Because both countries are keen to expand the relationship. And now that there’s a new government here, there’s a new government in Australia, the opportunity opens up even more.
I do know Australian companies have done a lot of work in the mining sector and Australia has uranium reserves and India is expanding its requirement for energy.
I think talk of possibilities will build up closer to Modi’s visit because we’ve had our own issues like state elections here in India (BJP won state elections in Maharashtra and Haryana in October). And the last month at least has been very, very focused to that. So I think many things get crowded out when you have such important elections taking place.
Finally what do you hope to come from Modi’s visit?
I would say that this is a great opportunity for both Indians and Australians to try and know each other much more. We haven’t had that level of engagement for a long time and I think something like this could be very exciting for both countries.
Mr Kohli was a long-time anchor for India’s national broadcaster Doordarshan, a stringer for ABC News (US), and a special correspondent for MSNBC online before moving into politics. He acted as a media consultant for BJP’s Ministry of Rural Development from 2001 to 2002 before being appointed convenor and co-convenor of the BJP’s National Media Cell from 2003 to 2009. He was also in charge of the All India Publicity Department of the BJP.
Mr Kohli was made in charge of Mizoram for BJP in India’s May general election that saw Mr Modi come to power at the center.
Published in The Indian Sun / Indian Magazine in Australia