Australia and India are important trade partners to one another. The combined two-way investment relationship is worth over $20 billion, with potential for more in the future. In this backdrop, the appointment of Harinder Sidhu, an Indian-origin High Commissioner, by Australia comes as welcome news.
First of all, you’re apt to ask who Harinder Sidhu is. No, she’s not a celebrity, though in our opinion she ought to be. She’s the Australian High Commissioner to India appointed in February 2016, and she’s the first Indian-origin envoy Australia has deployed in the subcontinent. This follows the trend set by the United States first and then followed by Canada. Sidhu is therefore the third Indian-origin High Commissioner overall in the country.
Here are a few salient facts that you should know about Harinder Sidhu
- Ms Harinder Sidhu was born in Singapore to Indian-origin parents. Her father was born in the Punjab region of India. When she was a child, she had migrated to Australia with her family and has lived here ever since. She has law and economics degrees from the University of Sydney.
- This is an important time in Indo-Australian ties, what with the emergence of India as a truly global economic power. Ms Sidhu’s Indian roots and her natural interest in the country and its history and culture will help take the bilateral ties between the two countries to a new level.
- Before this assignment, Ms Sidhu was a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and has also served as First Assistant Secretary of the Multilateral Policy Division. She had also previously worked in Moscow and Damascus on diplomatic assignments.
- Ms Harinder Sidhu will also be tasked with looking after relationships with Bhutan. She will have a non-resident accreditation for Bhutan, and will look to nurture the warm relationship between Australia, Bhutan and deepen the shared cooperation on issues such as international education.
- She has a professed interest in India the country and its people. She is a big Bollywood fan, and she can speak a little bit of Hindi and Punjabi. She has said on the occasion of being appointed that she looks forward to renew her ties with the country of her origin.
- India is Australia’s 10th largest trading partner, and the two-way investment deals are worth over $20 billion. It will be Ms Sidhu’s job to guide this relationship forward and be awake to opportunities in the future brought about by India’s relentless march towards higher economic status at the geopolitical table.
In bilateral ties, what matters is combined growth and pursuance of joined interests. We hope that Ms Sidhu enjoys her time in India, and that she will further the needs of both countries equally.