Indian PM Modi hails Sikh contribution in Australia despite 'challenging times'
Sydney: Addressing a community event at Sydney's Qudos Bank Arena on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the strongest foundations of India-Australia relations are "mutual trust and respect" and credited the Indian diaspora for the good ties. Speaking at the event, in the presence of Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and over 21,000 people from the Indian community from across Australia, the PM announced that India will open a consulate in Brisbane to fulfil the long-pending demand.
In what is being seen as an outreach to the Sikh diaspora worldwide, especially in Australia, the Prime Minister also saluted the historic contributions of Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh guru, on the anniversary of his martyrdom. Mr Modi especially referred to the enormous contributions of Sikhs in India during the Covid pandemic, who ran "langars" (free community meals) in gurudwaras across the country even in those challenging times.
Mr Modi also pointed out that India had supplied medicines and vaccines during the pandemic to about 150 nations. "India has made record exports even in the most challenging times," he said, adding that India lacks neither capability nor resources. "Today, the country that has the world's biggest and youngest talent factory is India."
At the event, the Prime Minister spoke about India’s achievements, including its economic growth, fintech, start-ups, large automobile and civil aviation markets, vaccination campaigns, mobile manufacturing, Internet usage and data and food production, including rice, wheat, sugarcane, milk and fruits and vegetables.
The Prime Minister pointed out that even the IMF considers India a bright spot amid the global economic headwinds.
Mr Modi thanked the Australian PM for jointly laying the foundation stone of the "Little India" gateway, a suburb of Sydney. The announcement to declare Harris Park as Little India was made by Mr Albanese as he welcomed Mr Modi at the community event.
"Thank you, my friend Anthony," Mr Modi said during the community event. "I thank the premier of New South Wales, the mayor and deputy mayor of the City of Parramatta and councillors for this special honour," he said.
Harris Park is a hub in western Sydney where the Indian community celebrates festivals and events such as Diwali and Australia Day. The gateway is to be built in Harris Park as a symbol of the friendship between the two nations and to recognise the diaspora's immense contribution.
At the event, Mr Albanese also pitched for greater cooperation between India and Australia. He hugged Mr Modi before introducing him as someone who "gets a rockstar reception wherever he goes".
"The last time I saw someone on this stage was (American singer) Bruce Springsteen and he did not get the welcome that Mr Modi has got. He is the Boss," Mr Albanese said at the event.
The Australian PM also thanked his "dear friend" Mr Modi, for "bringing the spirit of the world's biggest democracy to Australia", saying he had helped "make our democracy stronger and more inclusive". The Australian PM added: "You (the Indian community) make our nation and our shared communities better. You make Australia stronger."
Mr Albanese further said, "We want to see more connections. More Australian and Indian students living and studying in each other's countries and bringing those experiences home. More business leaders, artists and families sharing your experiences and your knowledge and your ideas," he added.
Hailing ties between the two nations, Mr Modi said that there was a time when the "3Cs" were used to define relations between India and Australia. These three were -- Commonwealth, cricket and curry. "After that, it was 3Ds -- democracy, diaspora and dosti! Then it became 3Es, it was all about energy, economy and education. But the truth is that the actual depth of the relationship between India and Australia transcends these Cs, Ds and Es. The strongest and biggest foundations of this relationship are actually mutual trust and mutual respect and the real reason behind this is the Indian diaspora," he added, amid huge applause and chants of "Modi-Modi".
Mr Modi also said that despite the geographical distance between India and Australia, the Indian Ocean connects the two nations. "No matter how different lifestyles are in both countries, yoga connects us! Cricket is something that has kept us connected for ages... And now tennis and movies are other connecting bridges," he said.
"The more interesting the competition on the cricket field, the deeper is our friendship off the field," he said amid applause, adding that millions of Indians were saddened when Aussie spin bowler Shane Warne died.
Earlier, Mr Modi and Mr Albanese were welcomed with Vedic chants and traditional Australian aboriginal ceremonies as they arrived at the venue, which also witnessed cultural performances and colourful dances from several parts of India by the Indian community in Australia.