Indians to have their say in Australia 2020 Summit

April 18th, 2008 - 2:54 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Cate Blanchett
By Neena Bhandari
Sydney, April 18 (IANS) While a person of Indian descent is yet to be voted to the Australian parliament, there are a few who have made it to the list of 1,000 personalities chosen to have their say at the Australia 2020 Summit at the national parliament this weekend. Siddhartha Chakraborti, 24, is one of the 11 members chosen from the Youth Summit to participate in Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Summit, which seeks to tackle the “long term challenges confronting Australia’s future” and map out policy ideas.

Of the 100 who met earlier for the Youth Summit, Chakraborty is the only Australian-Indian among the 11 chosen for the main summit starting Saturday.

“It is our opportunity to make these issues heard at the highest government level. It is an example of true participatory democracy,” said Chakraborti, an Australian-Indian of Bengali and Malayali parentage who moved to Australia from Chennai when he was six years old.

“Future policies should be formulated with our generation in mind as we would be most affected by climate change and productivity,” Chakraborti, who is completing a Masters in Middle Eastern Studies from the Australian National University after acquiring Bachelors in Law and Economics, told IANS.

An executive member of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition and holding various executive roles within the United Nations Youth Association, Chakraborti feels that there will be a “good proportion of Indians in Australian parliament by 2020″.

The summit, beginning Saturday, will have internationally known personalities like actors Cate Blanchett and Hugh Jackman alongside average Australians who have made an enormous contribution in their field to mainstream society.

One of the most prominent people of Indian origin in Australia is Neville Roach, who migrated in 1961 from Bombay (now Mumbai). He will be deliberating on `Australia’s future security and prosperity in a rapidly changing region and world’.

A recipient of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award in 2008, Roach said: “I am delighted to be involved in this innovative summit. Substantially stronger links with India will greatly benefit Australia’s future security and prosperity as countries in the Indian Ocean rim.

“India will increasingly supply our greatest need, skilled human resources. We need an India-focused programme starting now, covering security, trade, investment, development of India-related skills and attraction of Indian students and migrants,” said Roach, who was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his service to business and for his contribution to the development of Australian multiculturalism.

Other people of sub-continental origin include 57-year-old James Chacko Varghese, who has had an illustrious career spanning three decades in the Australian public service.

Born in Kerala and partly raised in East Africa, his family moved to Queensland in 1964. Varghese is part of the `Long term national health strategy’ group and his immediate priority is to develop a nexus between education, training and health.

Professor Pramod Nagarao Junankar, head of the department of economics and finance at the University of Western Sydney will deliberate on “the future of Australian economy”.

Born and brought up in India, he studied at the London School of Economics and moved to Australia in 1988. Having held research and teaching appointments in Britain, the US, Canada, Africa, India and Europe, his main interest is in “a more flexible immigration policy to shape Australia’s economy”.

Lobbying for integration of IT in healthcare is 47-year-old Mukesh Chandra Haikerwal, a general practitioner, commissioner to the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, and chair of the World Medical Association Finance and Planning Committee. The Lucknow-born doctor grew up in England and migrated to Australia around 1990.

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