New Delhi: At the invitation of the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia Sir Peter Cosgrove, President of the Republic of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind paid a State Visit to the Commonwealth of Australia from 21-24 November, 2018. This was the first ever visit of President of India to Australia. President Kovind was accompanied by Shri Anant Kumar Hegde, Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Members of Parliament and senior officials of Government of India.
On 21 November at Sydney, President Kovind laid wreath at the ANZAC Memorial and paid homage for fallen soldiers who made supreme sacrifice during World War I. In the same evening, he addressed the Indian community in Sydney. There are nearly half a million Indian community in Australia and over 80,000 Indian students studying in various educational institution in Australia.
President Kovind was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Admiralty House, the official residence of the Governor General Cosgrove, which was followed by a meeting. Governor General also hosted a banquet lunch in the honour of President. Prime Minister of Australia Mr Scott Morrison paid a courtesy call on the President on 22 November 2018.
During his discussion with Australian Leaders, President highlighted the close and cordial relations between the two nations and the increasing convergence of interests on international issues. He reiterated India’s commitment to further strengthen the close ties and long standing friendship underpinned by vibrant people-to -people contacts. Noting the steady growth in the bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries, President highlighted the need to further strengthen the economic engagement, especially on the investment front. President conveyed India’s decision to contribute additional AUD 10 million matching funds over the next four years towards Australia India Strategic Research Fund.
The leaders expressed satisfaction with regular high-level contacts between the two countries that has given a new momentum and energy to the bilateral ties between the two nations. The Australian leadership was appreciative of the positive role played by Indian community in the national development of Australia.
As part of the ongoing 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi, President unveiled the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parramatta in New South Wales and addressed a large gathering of Indian diaspora and local community. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Lord Mayor of Parramatta city also attended the function. Both the leaders talked of the relevance of Mahatma Gandhi’s thoughts in today’s world especially in the context of India-Australia relations.
President addressed the India Business Summit 2018 organized by Australian Financial Review on India-Australia economic engagement. The event was attended by the captains of the Australian & Indian businesses, Foreign Minister of Australia Marise Payne, leaders from New South Wales and officials. In his address, President highlighted the opportunities in new India and urged closer engagement with Australian companies and investors. In his address President invited Australian companies to participate in Indian growth story in fin-tech and logistics, industrial design and biotech, capital markets and agri-business. President welcomed the “India Economic Strategy To 2035.”
In Melbourne, on 23 November, Governor of Victoria Ms. Linda Dessau hosted a banquet lunch in honour of President Kovind. Victoria hosts a large number of Indian diaspora and students. The leader of opposition of Australia Mr. Bill Shorten made a courtesy call on the President. Later President addressed the students at University of Melbourne on the theme “Australia- India as knowledge Partners”.
The visit is part of the regular high level exchanges between the two countries. Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull was on a State Visit to India in 2017 and Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove had visited India in March 2018 for the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had paid a historic visit to Australia in November 2014.
The first Presidential visit from India to Australia has added momentum to the ongoing growth in our bilateral engagements which in recent years has not only increased in regularity but has also intensified in all areas of our strategic cooperation. The visit saw President engaging with leadership of Australia at federal and provincial level, business community, students & academics and Indian diaspora. The Australian leadership expressed exceptional warmth and highly appreciated the growing ties and engagement with India.