Discovering India, the fast-track way

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Discovering India, the fast-track way

Natalie Copes, University of Western Sydney’s Top Emerging Leader in 2015, believes the Australia India Youth Dialogue is the best way to learn about the commercial environments of the two nations

For Natalie Cope, attending the fifth annual Australia India Youth Dialogue (AIYD) is her chance to gain “fast-track” exposure to India.

“India is unquestionably an incredibly important country,” said Cope, manager, partnerships and development at Melbourne University’s AsiaLink Business, which is tasked with developing an Asia capable workforce in Australia. “One of the best ways to gain exposure… is by being here,” she said.

Speaking to the Indian Sun as AIYD kicked off on 27 January in New Delhi, Cope said she was particularly keen to gain insight into what it’s like doing business in India. “I need to have not only an academic and anecdotal understanding of the business environment in India, but the reality of doing business in India, including both challenges and opportunities,” she said. “The India dialogue presents a fast-track to gaining that exposure as the Indian and Australian delegates have substantial experience operating in India. I suspect I’ll learn a great deal.”

Why has Cope, the University of Western Sydney’s Top Emerging Leader in 2015, set her sights on the subcontinent? “Australia’s futures rests on our ability to engage successfully and more extensively with Asia,” she explained. “India is already a significant trading partner for Australia and will only increase in terms of its strategic, and economic importance. It is therefore critical that we have and I have a far better and deeper understanding of such an important country.”

Cope’s move to take part in AIYD was not only strategic. “On top of that, personally India has always been a place that has fascinated me,” she added.

Cope was among 30 delegates who attended the four-day dialogue, which also travelled to Mohali and Bengaluru. The delegation included politicians, CEOs, journalists, social entrepreneurs, and athletes and other young achievers.

AIYD Co-founder and Chair Shaun Star told the Indian Sun the program had been designed so that delegates would have “the opportunity to discuss significant issues in the Australia-India bilateral relationship with experts in different fields.” Speakers include Australia’s Acting High Commissioner to India Chris Elstoft, Founder of the Kumaon Literary Festival Sumant Batra, and Honorary Director of the Australia India Institute Professor AmitabhMattoo – with discussions focusing on the themes of cultural identity, sustainability and innovation.

This year’s dialogue also included a pitching session, which saw delegates discuss challenges and opportunities affecting both India and Australia, and pitch ideas for potential collaboration to a panel of judges. “It is our hope that each team will come up with some valuable and innovative ideas on how to advance Australia-India cooperation in these areas,” said Star.

Before she dashed off to the next session at the Taj Palace Hotel, Cope also made a point of giving credit to AIYD’s organisers. “It’s the only track-two dialogue that’s been systematically maintained for a period of five years,” she said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to all involved.There’s no other way that we’d get access and exposure to the richness of the individuals who are participating, both from Australia and the India side.”

Other delegates speak: on attending AIYD

Tim Watts, Federal Member of Parliament representing the seat of Gellibrand: I want to develop a deeper knowledge of the way Indian government and society works at the source. I want to develop long-term person-to-person relationships in India. I have many good friends, advisors, counsellors from the Indian-Australian diaspora but I’d like to supplant that with people who are here. Because lets face it, the diaspora experience has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. It’s not a one-way movement anymore. People don’t just move from India to Australia and never return. Now it’s an orbite, there’s a constant back-and-forwards between our countries, so understanding the nature of the Australia-India relationship is really important.

James Edwards, Policy Adviser in the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet, focusing on Victoria’s engagement with India: We’ve already got some really good insight into some of the issues here in India, some of the issues in Australia, and some possible points of collaboration. I’m looking forward to exploring that across the dialogue. And just mainly meeting everyone has been the big benefit.

Ruth Barker, Senior Manager for International Engagement at Creative Victoria: I’m hoping to find some connections for creative industries to see the possibilities for partnerships, exchangesand residency opportunities. And perhaps to promote the idea that cultural exchanges and understanding are really important to the whole bilateral relationship… a strong cultural understanding underpins the whole shebang, and makes it easier for everything else to run along smoothly.

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