Australia India Institute needs to give prominence to a dignitary like Mr. P. Chidambaram

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Gurpal Singh and his wife Ishika Das Singh with Mr. P. Chidambaram at the AII. Photo: SAT

By Mr. Gurpal Singh*

Melbourne, 5 October: It was exciting to see that India’s former Finance Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram, one of the most prolific personalities in Indian politics was in Melbourne recently at the invitation of the Australia India Institute (AII) and the University of Melbourne to give a public lecture.

One expected an interactive session with open deliberations on issues relating to the Indian economy and politics. However, to my total disarray, the presentation by Mr. Chidambaram was a mere narration of basic information on the Indian economy as if it was an introductory lecture to class 12 students. Was it intentional not to raise the burning issues of the Indian economy?

AII should have given much-needed importance to a prominent dignitary like Mr.Chidambaram who should have been introduced to Australian think tank and decision makers to reflect on the importance of India in the areas beyond cricket and Bollywood. I
believe AII has lost the great opportunity to host Mr. Chidambaram in consonance with his stature and treated as if he was a college lecturer.

Nobody from the Indian or the Australian government was present during the lecture. This demonstrates clearly the type of importance being given to Mr. Chidambaram who has the potential to be the Indian Prime Minister.

On the contrary, the audience was small and consisted mainly of academics and Indian diaspora regulars. Interestingly, no one from the Indian Consulate was present. Though the Indian Consul General in Melbourne Manika Jain was present at a function a few months back where the BJP spokesman Mr. Sambit Patra, not holding any official position spoke in Melbourne on the three years of Mr. Modi’s coming to power.

India is an important country and has a prominent role to play in international affairs. AII needs to gear up giving the necessary hype and publicity with a bigger audience to dignitaries of importance.

* Mr. Gurpal Singh is a prominent solicitor in Melbourne.

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