Melbourne co-hosts Australia India Youth Dialogue 2013
The second Australia India Youth Dialogue (AIYD) conference (AIYD 2013) took place on January 30-February 1 2013,
when 15 young leaders (18-35 years of age) from India descended upon the cities of Melbourne and Sydney to meet and engage with 15 of the best and brightest young leaders of Australia.
Improving Australia-India ties
A burgeoning trade relationship, converging security interests in the Indo-Pacific region and other mutual concerns like environmental sustainability and education are providing fresh impetus for deeper conversations and better ties between Australia and India. There have been a number of high-level official exchanges between the two countries in recent times, including a three-day visit to India by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in October 2012, and Minister Bob Carr’s visit to New Delhi in January 2013.
AIYD and the Role of the Youth
The AIYD is based on the premise that the youth in both countries can play a key role in shifting old attitudes and find new avenues for collaboration and partnership. Almost two-thirds of India’s population is under the age of 30. In 2011-12, India was Australia’s largest source of permanent migrants and the second-largest source of international students in the country.
Greater engagement with India’s youth provides Australia an excellent opportunity to shape the attitudes of its emerging leaders and allow them to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of Australia’s political, economic, strategic and social concerns. In Australia, there is already growing interest amongst young people about India’s tremendous social, political, cultural and economic problems and potential.
AIYD 2013: A critical platform
AIYD 2013 provided an opportunity for delegates from Australia and India to interact and sow the seeds for strong relationships – as friends, trusted collaborators and creative partners in different initiatives. As Ruchir Punjabi, Chair of AIYD points out, for Australia-India ties to prosper and endure in the long-term, such interaction between the youth of the two vibrant democracies is critical.
Over an intensive three-day conference, AIYD 2013 delegates engaged in in-depth discussions on critical issues in the Australia-India relationship and key challenges and opportunities facing the two countries. Discussions were structured around panels led by experts in the areas of foreign direct investment, education, social innovation, diaspora, media and cultural representation, sustainability and international security.
Delegates also had the opportunity to have morning tea with the Governor of Victoria, His Excellency the Honourable Alex Chernov AC QC on the first day of the conference. The Gala Opening Dinner was co-hosted by the Australia India Institute at the Richmond Football Club in Melbourne, where delegates had a pre-dinner kick-about with RFC’s Bachar Houli, who is also the AFL multicultural ambassador.
Support from Federal and State Governments
AIYD 2013 was supported by the governments of Victoria and New South Wales, and by the Federal government. Prime Julia Minister Gillard addressed AIYD delegates through a recorded video message of encouragement and support, following on from her message during the inaugural AIYD conference, held in New Delhi and Mumbai in early 2012. According to Foreign Minister Bob Carr, “The Australia India Youth Dialogue is an important opportunity for emerging young leaders to engage on some of the most critical issues in the Australia-India relationship”.
AIYD 2013 Speakers and delegates
AIYD delegates heard from His Excellency the Honourable Alex Chernov AC QC, Governor of Victoria (Melbourne); The Hon Martin Ferguson AM MP, Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism (Sydney); The Hon Chris Bowen MP, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship (Sydney) and The Hon Barry O’Farrell MP, Premier of NSW, who hosted a reception for AIYD 2013 delegates in Sydney on February 1. The conference also brought together for the first time the former head of India’s Defence Intelligence Agency Lt Gen Kamal Davar, and the former Director General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Paul O’Sullivan.
AIYD 2013 delegates included some of the most prominent young names in Australia and India.