A conversation across cultures

By Our Reporter
Sanushka Seomangal

How international lawyer Sanushka Seomangal is connecting the next generation of thinkers, creators and leaders

Sanushka Seomangal is a successful corporate lawyer by trade, but on top of that she works diligently to inspire and empower young people in the Australia-India space.

As co-founder of the Australia India Youth Dialogue (AIYD), Sanushka knows a thing or two about the importance of conversation—and she’s using it to have positive impact.

The idea for the AIYD began in 2011, when the relationship between Australia and India was—for several reasons—at a low point. Sanushka was discussing the issue with friends when they realised it was poor communication and lack of dialogue that was partly to blame. The group knew that if they could just bring young people from both countries together, to get them talking and collaborating with each other, understanding each other’s cultures, the relationship would naturally improve.

“There’s so much potential in the youth of India and Australia, so many creative and innovative people who see Australia and India as a force for good and a place to do incredible work. It’s a marvel to watch these young Indians and Australians collaborating, it comes so naturally to them”

To achieve this, the AIYD holds dialogues annually—in Australia and India. The dialogues are collaborations between both nations that see some of the best and brightest minds come together to discuss issues of importance, ranging from climate change to education, media and politics. Perhaps most importantly, the AIYD connects like-minded young Indians and Australians and helps them collaborate on projects that have significant impact to the Australia-India relationship.

The projects to come out of the AIYD are diverse, ranging from providing Indian women with practical, hands-on advice regarding their rights in relationships and financial matters, to establishing solar power in slum settlements.

The organisation has been a big success. ‘[It’s] now eight years in, preparing for the eighth dialogue, with an alumni comprising 210 of the most high calibre young Australians and Indians’ says Sanushka. Although she and the rest of the founding team stepped down from the leadership role three years ago, she is extremely proud of the way the organisation has continued to grow. ‘To look at where the organisation is now, and the kind of work it’s doing…the innovative ways they’re trying to make the dialogue work for the relationship, it’s great.’

Not one to rest of her laurels, Sanushka and the original founding team are now working to create India’s first stand-alone university focused on public policy and governance, a project they hope to have up and running within five years. When asked about her advice for success, Sanushka replies ‘have an open mind…there’s an opportunity in everything.

We caught up with Sanushka recently to talk about her accomplishments, her grand plans to build a new type of university in India, and her interesting journey from student, to resident, to Australian citizen.

Read the full interview with Sanushka Seomangal from our ‘Australia & India. A Dynamic Mix’ series.
Learn more about the economic potential of the Australia-India partnership in “An India Economic Strategy to 2035—Navigating from potential to delivery”.
Read more dynamic stories that form an integral part of the Australia-India relationship.
Courtesy: Australia-India Council
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