Sydney: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the strongest and biggest foundations of India-Australia relations are mutual trust and respect as he along with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese addressed the Indian diaspora at a mega event here and renamed a suburb as ‘Little India’, reflecting the strong bond between the two strategic partners.
Addressing the gathering at the Qudos Bank Arena, Prime Minister Modi also announced that India will open a consulate in Brisbane to fulfill the long-pending demand by the diaspora.
Modi, who arrived to a rousing welcome that according to Albanese was not even accorded to legendary singer Bruce Springsteen, also described India as a “force of global good” and a “bright spot” in the world economy. Asserting that the strategic partnership between India and Australia is constantly deepening, Modi said,”we hope the bilateral trade between the two sides will more than double in the next five years” after the inking of the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement last year.
“Now we are working on a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement. We are building resilient and reliable supply chains. This will provide momentum to the business of both sides and give new confidence to the world,” he said.
There was a time when 3Cs were used to define relations between India and Australia –Commonwealth, Cricket and Curry, Modi noted.
“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 relation between India and Australia transcends these C, D, E…” Modi said.
“The strongest and biggest foundations of this relation actually are mutual trust and respect, and the real reason behind this is Indian diaspora,” he added, amid big applause and chants of ‘Modi-Modi’.
Hailing the contribution of Indians in Australia, he said the diaspora has played a very important role to strengthen the ties between the two countries.
There is geographical distance between India and Australia, but the Indian Ocean connects us, Modi said and added no matter how different the two countries are, they are connected at various levels.
“Yoga connects us. Cricket is something which has kept us connected for ages…The more interesting the competition on the cricket field, the deeper our friendship off the field and now tennis and movies are other connecting bridges,” he said amid loud cheering from the crowd.
Modi also said millions of Indians were saddened when Aussie spin bowler Shane Warne died.
He also noted that the number of flights between the two countries has gone up and that the number of flights will increase further in the future.
Underling that the IMF considers India the bright spot of the global economy, Modi said according to the World Bank, if there’s any country that is withstanding global headwinds, it’s India.
“India has made record exports even in the most challenging times,” he said, adding that India does not lack capability, India does not lack resources either.
“Today, the country which has the world’s biggest and youngest talent factory is…India,” he asserted.
Modi also thanked his Australian counterpart for renaming Harris Park as ‘Little India’.
Harris Park is a hub in Western Sydney where the Indian community celebrates festivals and events such as Diwali and Australia Day.
“Thank you my friend Anthony.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.
Modi also told the Indian diaspora to take Albanese to Harris Park to try Indian delights. “I’ve heard that ‘Chaat’ and ‘Jalebi’ at Harris Park are very delicious. I want you all to take my friend Australian PM Albanese to that place,” he said.
Addressing the gathering earlier, Albanese said that Prime Minister Modi gets a “rock star reception” wherever he goes, as he compared his “dear friend” to American singer Bruce Springsteen.
“The last time I saw someone on this stage was Bruce Springsteen and he did not get the welcome that Prime Minister Modi has got. Prime Minister Modi is the boss,” Albanese said.
Springsteen was nicknamed ‘boss’ by his fans.
Albanese also thanked his “dear friend Modi” for “bringing the spirit of the world’s biggest democracy to Australia” and said he had helped “make our democracy stronger and more inclusive.” Describing the cheering audience, made up mainly of members of the Australian-Indian community, as “friends”, Albanese said he was proud they had made Australia their home.
Earlier, Modi and Albanese were welcomed with Vedic chants and traditional Australian aboriginal ceremony as they arrived at the venue.