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14th January 2021

Australia’s Indian diaspora showcased; bilateral opportunities highlighted at global PBD2021 with theme ‘self-reliant India’

Indian PM Modi: “[The diaspora’s work] is a matter of pride… Products that are made in India with the hard work of millions of Indians and solutions developed in India will benefit the whole world.”

Speaking at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2021 (PBD2021), a day to mark the contribution of the non-resident Indian community towards the development of the country organised by Government of India on 9 January 2020, the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi praised the role of the Indian diaspora around the world and highlighted ‘Make In India’ opportunities to benefit the whole world. The convention’s theme, “Contributing to Aatmanirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India)” reflect Modi’s vision of India’s independence against competition in global supply chains and empowering citizens to become self-reliant. The five pillars are economy, infrastructure, technology-driven systems, vibrant demography, and demand. The keynote address was delivered by the Chief Guest, HE Chandrika Persad Santokhi, President of the Republic of Suriname.

The PBD2021 inaugural session was followed by two Plenary sessions. The first Plenary session on “Role of Diaspora in Aatmanirbhar Bharat” was addressed by External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar and Minister for Commerce and Industry, Shri Piyush Goyal.

For the first plenary panel session to discuss ‘Role of Diaspora in Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, Ms Sheba Nandkeolyar, Immediate Past National Chair of Australia India Business Council (AIBC) and CEO of MultiConnexions Group was the invited speaker from Australia, and was joined by Profesor Arvind Panagariya, Professor of Economics, University of Columbia, USA; Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog; Mr Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS Group Singapore; Mr Yusuff Ali, Chairman and MD of Lulu Group Abu Dhabi; Mr Jayant Krishna CEO of UN India Business Council; Mr Deepak Bagla, MD & CEO of INVEST India.

The expert panel shared their views on the contribution of non-resident Indians (NRIs) and persons of Indian origin (PIOs) in key sectors of the Indian economy and globally. The session was chaired by Secretary (CPV & OIA) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Sanjay Bhattacharyya.

Sheba Nandkeolyar said: “I am honoured to join Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2021 from Australia. I truly believe we are in the midst of a golden era for Australian investors in India. India must not be viewed as an ‘alternative’ market – it is a strong market in its own right. Key opportunities exist for Make in India, manufacturing, investments, pharmaceuticals and small to medium businesses among other industries and segments. The Indian diaspora in Australia have the power to showcase opportunities in India to Australians, and further drive trade and contribute to the success of Self-Reliant India.”

“Bilateral economic engagement too has been on the rise in the last few years with two-way trade between Australia and India growing from $9.3 Billion in 2007 to $30 Billion in 2019. With CSP in place, India is poised to be Australia’s next trading partner in the coming years. With the newly appointed Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister of Australia Honorable Dan Tehan, I am optimistic about fast tracking bilateral economic trade. A Free Trade Agreement with India would be a win-win situation for both countries,” added Sheba Nandkeolyar.

Commenting on PBD2021 and Sheba Nandkeolyar’s role, Mr Jim Varghese AM, National Chair of Australia India Business Council (AIBC), the peak body facilitating bilateral trade and investment between Australia and India, said: “It is a proud moment for the Australian diaspora to be represented in such an important global NRI forum by Government of India. The Indian diaspora or NRIs play a key role in showcasing Indian opportunities in Australia. AIBC is committed to engaging with Australian and Indian businesses, governments, and stakeholders to showcase initiatives, projects, and programs that bolster trade and business between the two countries.”

“AIBC is already working with Business Council of Australia and Export Council of Australia to enhance trade figures. The future is very bright for Australia India trade with a self-reliant India increasingly making her presence felt,” added Jim Varghese AM.

The second Plenary session on “Facing Post COVID-19 Challenges – Scenario in Health, Economy, Social and International Relations” was addressed by Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan and Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri V Muraleedharan. Both Plenary sessions featured panel discussions with eminent diaspora experts including Dr Ajay Kapoor, Pro Vice Chancellor of Swinburne University, Victoria, Australia. The PBD convention was preceded by five virtual PBD conferences: Role of diaspora in promotion of Indian culture; Dialogue with Diaspora business leaders and CEOs; Regional PBD; Forging Media and Entertainment partnership to showcase India; and Youth PBD conference.

A video of the inauguration is available here.


Contact: Mr Jim Varghese AM – National Chair – Australia India Business Council Ltd

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