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Australia has a lot to learn from India

Lee White, CEO of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand recently spent some time in India and wrote this opinion piece below for Indian Herald.

Lee White, CEO of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

One of the joys of my role with Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand is the opportunity to witness first hand some of biggest business stories of our time.

A couple of week ago, for instance, I was in Bangalore, India’s third largest city, for a guest speaking stint at the annual Institute of Chartered Accountants India Conference.

This is a considerable event, which attracted 3,000 Chartered Accountants from around the world to discuss how they can build global competitiveness and accelerate growth. This is a subject that is close to the hearts of many Indians – and will have some pretty significant ramifications in Australia.

Australia’s export market to India is already worth $11.4 billion, which makes it our fifth largest export market. Total Indian investment in Australia is nearly $11 billion. It was only $600 million in 2006. At this growth rate, we’ve calculated that India’s investment in Australia could reach a massive $451 billion by 2025.

It’s little wonder then that the Australian Government sent a business delegation to India in January. Led by Trade & Investment Minister, Andrew Robb, the delegation helped deepen ties between our two nations. However, while this will prove an excellent initiative, greater collaboration with India is essential and makes perfect sense for Australian businesses.

It’s also abundantly clear to me that Australia has a lot to learn from India in terms of leadership and unity. Prime Minster Modi has galvanised a nation. He has kicked the Indian economy and psyche into second gear, and consequently India is on the brink of enjoying superpower status.

The feeling of unity this has imbued in the Indian people was palpable. Everyone I talked with were enthusiastic about the country’s progress and future – from cleaning up garbage in the streets, to new technology innovations.

Across India, everyone seems excited. Even the children I met as part of a schools program visit to a rural primary school. At this institution, students are taught the foundations of learning, literacy and maths through gamified learning on electronic tablet technology.

With our own Federal politics in a state of flux, we’d do well in Australia to reflect on the power of unity and strong leadership. Where could it take Australia if all our states acted as one? Where could we go if we had a long term game plan that was led by a leader with a global vision? Where could we go if, as a nation, we all pulled in the same direction?

The National Institution for Transforming India Aayog was established in January 2015 by Prime Minister Modi to involve the Indian states in economic policy making. Chairing his first meeting recently, the Indian PM said Aayog has the potential to bring about historic changes and help advance the national cause. He asked the states to work with him to forge a model of cooperative and competitive federalism and to chart a common path to progress and prosperity.

When we look at recent COAG meetings in Australia, they are memorable for their throwdowns, show downs and headlines. Prime Minister Modi says that the spirit of cooperative federalism will enhance India’s progress and prosperity. This could be an important lesson for Australia.

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One Response to Australia has a lot to learn from India

  1. gary mottau April 8, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    cooperative federalism – i like the sound of that. we could do with a more cooperation and less point scoring.


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