Politicians have rubbed shoulders with policy makers, academics and journalists from Australia and India to discuss critical issues in the bilateral relationship as part of the Australia India Youth Dialogue (AIYD) in January.
The annual dialogue aims to cultivate collaboration between the two countries by bringing some of the brightest young minds together.
This year’s event, held in Sydney and Melbourne from 26 to 29 January, saw Youth Bharatiya Janata Party National General Secretary Harsh Sanghavi mingling with Tasmania’s shadow minister for foreign affairs Rebecca White, among other notable delegates.
The fruits of past dialogues were also on show at the closing gala dinner, at Richmond Tigers AFL Club in Melbourne. There, former delegate Chris O’Neill told the crowd how a chance meeting with India’s first female Sarpanch Chhavi Rajawat during last year’s AIYD led to a collaborative water project; the director of Hydronumerics is working on a sustainable water management plan for Rajawat’s village in Rajasthan, where locals have long struggled with polluted and scarce water.
AIYD founder Shaun Star said hearing past delegates talk about concrete initiatives born from the dialogue was one “of the most inspiring moments” of this year’s event.
“The message from former AIYD delegates was that AIYD 2015 is just the beginning and that the enduring relationships formed during AIYD 2015 will be a springboard for future collaborations,” Star told The Indian Sun.
“The delegates will now join a community of almost 120 alumni, many of whom have, and continue to, collaborate on projects in the Australia India relationship,” he added.
The closing dinner also saw AIYD ink a memorandum of understanding with the Confederation of Indian Industries Young Indians, to generate greater collaboration between the two outfits. CII founded its Young Indians initiative in 2002 to promote youth entrepreneurship and leadership skills in the subcontinent.
Star said the tie up with CII Young Indians marked “an exciting stepping stone for AIYD in building strong links between young professionals in the Australia-India relationship”.
The 2015 dialogue attracted a number of high-profile speakers including Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s parliamentary secretary Alan Trudge MP, NSW state minister for citizenship Victor Dominello MP, Victorian state minister for small business Adem Somyurek, Indian Consul General in Sydney Sunjay Sudhir and Additional Solicitor General of India Pinky Anand, among others.
Delegates from India included: self-professed sustainability geek Himanshu Gupta, who works as a project leader in India’s Planning Commission, investigative journalist Rana Ayyub, who previously worked for Tehelka, former Planning Commission consultant Souma Chandra, who is now an economic officer for the Australian High Commission in New Delhi, and editor-at-large for Fortune India, Hindol Sengupta.
The Australian side included the Australian Capital Territory’s (ACT) deputy opposition leader Alistair Coe, Nina Dyon, an adviser for deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek, entrepreneur Nigel Hembrow, who cofounded the software start-up Dhruv, and ABC News presenter Del Irani.
In between panel discussions, the 30 delegates were taken to watch India play Australia in a one-day match at the Sydney Cricket Ground and met Richmond Tigers players at their training ground.
AIYD is supported by the Australia India Institute, Macquarie University and the University of New South Wales, among other partners.