ISB Updates

Australian High Commissioner visits ISB

On the 27th of July, 2016, ISB’s Mohali Campus had the honour of hosting the Australian High Commissioner, H E Harinder Sidhu, for lunch with a representative set of students. Having lived abroad, but with her roots in Punjab, she mentioned how Mohali seemed “exotic, but familiar”. She talked about her career journey in great depth, about her time working on the Federal budget, and its design and her love for public policy.

H E Harinder Sidhu acknowledged the untapped scope that existed to strengthen relations between Australia and India. “We have operated on stereotypes of each other for a long time,” she mentioned, and had therefore embarked upon a study tour of sorts in India, to understand the law of the land and work on developing a more textured relationship between the two countries.

H E Harinder Sidhu also commented on the dramatic increase in Indians moving to Australia, over the last ten years, both as students and as working professionals that has made Australian policy makers sit up and take notice to the contribution of Indians in their politics and economics. “Why, then, is our economic trade not growing as well?” she asked. “The mindset that each country has about the other needs to evolve.” She even expressed her interest in boosting the confidence Australians had in the quality of Indian products.

She spoke in depth about the plans in Australia surrounding free trade agreements and climate change. “The problem is that free trade is often seen as a zero sum game.” India has a lot to gain from Australia, especially regarding post-harvest produce storage methods. But she stressed, “When a foreign investor comes to India, it’s not foreign aid. They want to make money.” The Indian market could benefit from Australia by allowing investments that will help India learn how to maximise their yield and store it well, while also allowing the investors to benefit from the harvest and storage mechanisms.

Further, she spoke about the participation of women in senior positions in companies as well as in policy making. “There is a conscious effort even though unconscious biases are very much in play. One needs to force the system (to include women at the top).” However, she said she was confident that change is in effect in this context, in the Indian as well as in the Australian scenario.