Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a vibrant audience of over 21,000 members of the Indian diaspora at the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. During his speech, he unveiled a significant development in India-Australia relations: the ongoing negotiation of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). This comprehensive trade pact aims to strengthen economic ties between the two countries, marking a new chapter in their bilateral relations.
Prime Minister Modi reflected on the evolution of India-Australia relations, moving beyond the initial ties forged through the Commonwealth, cricket, and culinary connections. He highlighted the transition to a focus on democracy, diaspora, and dosti (friendship), followed by an emphasis on energy, economy, and education. However, Modi asserted that the depth of the relationship between India and Australia goes beyond these superficial classifications.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who joined Modi at the arena, expressed his admiration for the Indian leader and referred to him as "boss." Albanese remarked on the rock star reception Modi received throughout his visit, comparing it to the welcome accorded to legendary musician Bruce Springsteen. He further emphasized the desire for more connections between the Australian and Indian communities, including increased student exchanges, business collaborations, and cultural interactions.
Prime Minister Modi highlighted the progress made between India and Australia, with the signing of the India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA). He stressed the importance of building a resilient and reliable supply chain to benefit both nations' businesses. India's exports, even during challenging times, were recognized as a testament to its capability and resources.
Modi engaged with prominent business leaders from top Australian companies to explore avenues for cooperation. He met with executives such as Gina Rinehart, Andrew Forrest, and Paul Schroder, discussing partnerships in technology, skilling, and clean energy. AustralianSuper, headquartered in Melbourne, expressed satisfaction with its investments in India, particularly in the National Indian Infrastructure Fund. The discussions also revolved around green hydrogen initiatives and other potential projects in India.
In addition to business leaders, Prime Minister Modi interacted with notable Australian public figures and influencers, showcasing the breadth of the India-Australia connection. Nobel laureate Brian Paul Schmidt, "Toilet warrior" Mark Balla, artist Danielle Mate, rockstar Guy Sebastian, and celebrity chef and restaurateur Sarah Todd were among the individuals Modi engaged with. He also met influential figures from academia, including Toby Walsh, chief scientist at the Artificial Intelligence Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, and Salvatore Babones, a socisociologist, researcher, and author.
Modi's interactions with Australian public figures and influencers highlighted the diverse and vibrant cultural exchange between the two nations. Nobel laureate Brian Paul Schmidt, known for his contributions to astrophysics and the discovery of dark energy, engaged in discussions with the Indian Prime Minister, fostering intellectual dialogue and scientific collaboration.
Mark Balla, popularly known as the "Toilet warrior," caught Modi's attention due to his commendable efforts in addressing sanitation issues in India. Their conversation revolved around innovative solutions and strategies to improve sanitation infrastructure and promote hygiene practices.
Danielle Mate, an accomplished artist, had the opportunity to share her artistic journey with Modi. The exchange showcased the artistic exchange and mutual appreciation between India and Australia, fostering cultural ties and promoting creative collaborations.
Rockstar Guy Sebastian, a household name in Australia, met with Modi to discuss the power of music in bridging cultural gaps and strengthening the bond between nations. Their interaction highlighted the influence of music as a universal language, transcending borders and fostering mutual understanding.
Celebrity chef and restaurateur Sarah Todd, known for her expertise in combining Indian and Australian culinary traditions, engaged in a culinary conversation with Modi. They discussed the fusion of flavors and the potential for culinary collaborations to promote cultural exchange and gastronomic tourism.
Prime Minister Modi also met influential figures from academia during his visit. Toby Walsh, the chief scientist at the Artificial Intelligence Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, shared insights on the advancements and potential collaborations in the field of artificial intelligence. Their discussion focused on leveraging AI for societal benefits and exploring joint research opportunities.
Salvatore Babones, a sociologist, researcher, and author, provided valuable perspectives on the socio-economic landscape and cultural dynamics between India and Australia. Their dialogue centered around fostering greater understanding and collaboration in social sciences to address shared challenges and promote mutual growth.
The interactions between Prime Minister Modi and these Australian public figures and influencers showcased the depth of engagement between the two nations in various fields, including science, art, music, cuisine, and academia. These exchanges contribute to the strengthening of people-to-people ties, fostering a broader understanding and appreciation of the shared heritage and aspirations of India and Australia.