1. Avenewz : How are you finding Western Australia and Northern Territory so far?
Wonderful experience so far. I have not explored much in WA yet outside Perth but the city itself is such an amazing place with its cosmopolitan lifestyle, vibrant cultural scene, pristine beaches, Swan riverside, Kings Park, what more can one ask for. In Northern Territory, I have been to Darwin and Alice Springs. I must say that Territory offers the best of Australia’s raw and rugged natural beauty.
2. Avenewz : What do you like most about your profession?
It gives me an opportunity to travel. I get to see different cultures very closely. Which other profession can give such contrast of working in Afghanistan and Australia!
3. Avenewz : What was your strategy when you took up the Consul General Position for WA and NT?
My arrival in Perth as Consul General this year was more like an emergency measure. My predecessor had left several months ago and other officers also left before my arrival. So, the first challenge was to keep the office running and to see that consular and community-related work does not get affected due to manpower issues. I think we succeeded in that aspect that there are no complaints from the community regarding consular work.
4. Avenewz : Avenewz got the impression from people of Perth, not just Indian but also from other nationalities that they found you very dynamic in terms of executing things, what you have to say about this and please be aware that Avenewz is of the same opinion.
I am honoured by any such assessment. We all try to do our job to the best of our ability, that’s all about it. My performance is result of teamwork of all the Consulate officials and support we receive from other stakeholders ranging from local government agencies to the Indian community.
5. Avenewz : When you were appearing for Civil Services Exams, what was going through your mind and what you wanted to be?
Decision to appear in Civil Services exam was result of desire to be a part of Indian Foreign Service. Diplomacy has always attracted me as a profession even when I was not very well versed with details of this profession.
6. Avenewz : How was your experience when you were the Consul General of India in Afghanistan?
I was Consul General in Herat in Western Afghanistan. It was an interesting experience, which I am sure would remain unmatched by any of my other posting. Security conditions in country make it a very challenging place to work in but developmental work being done by India in Afghanistan is so crucial and life-changing for common people of that country. As Consul General, I was part of team that helped achieve completion of Salma dam project, first such infrastructure project to be completed in Afghanistan in four decades. It has made huge difference to hundreds of thousands of people who are seeing electricity for the first time, have certainty of irrigation for their crops. The project was rightly renamed as ‘India-Afghanistan Friendship Dam.
7. Avenewz : What was the most important day of your life?
The day my daughter was born has been the most important day of my life. Being a parent changes one’s life in ways which cannot be expressed in words.
8. Avenewz : What’s the meaning of life, in your opinion?
Life is a journey. I think my views towards life are best summarised by famous author Paulo Coelho in one of his books- “People need to understand that no one is playing with marked cards; sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.”
9. Avenewz : What’s your favourite tourist destinations?
France was the best destination I have visited till now. I would love to go again. Germany, Russia & Iran are places I hope to be able to visit.
10. Avenewz : Who influenced you the most then & now?
My mother has influenced me the most. Her strong personality and determination has always been an inspiration.
11. Avenewz : Avenewz Magazine & Australian Swan Marketing wish to show an immense gratitude to the Consulate, and you in particular, for showing faith in us towards marketing, design and website strategy for International Day of Yoga 2016. How was your experience working with us?
2nd International Day of Yoga (IDY) was celebrated in a big way in Perth with more than two dozen events across the state. It was result of efforts of a team of volunteers from Perth-based Yoga and community organisations who helped the Consulate to achieve our goals. Avenewz Magazine & Australian Swan Marketing were part of this volunteers’ team and we all are thankful to them for putting up such a great website for IDY2016 and help in marketing of the main event. I am sure that Avenewz and Australian Swan will continue to be a partner and help in IDY celebrations at much larger scale in coming years.
12. Avenewz: Congratulation on your huge success of Confluence, The Festival of India, it was a great step to include Perth and Northern Territory for the Festival, how did you make it possible?
Thanks. Confluence Festival was the most elaborate showcasing of Indian culture in Australia ever with more than 70 events in 7 cities over a period of 3 months. The Festival has not only created bonds between arts communities of two countries but also awareness among Australians about depth and diversity of Indian arts and culture. Several of these events were held in collaboration with local artists. The Festival received generous support from the two governments, arts and cultural communities, and stakeholders from private sector.
We brought the best elements of Confluence Festival to Perth. Support from WA Department of Culture & Arts, Perth Theatre Trust and Office of Multicultural Interests was instrumental in security best cultural venues for these events. We had good participation of audience in all the shows, be it fusion music of The Raghu Dixit Project, or classical dance performances by Nrityagram and Kalakshetra Foundation, or the amazing mix of puppetry, theatre and dance in Transposition. We had full house for classical dance performances with majority of audience was Australians. I will attribute success of Confluence events in Perth to my colleagues in the Consulate and support received from WA Government agencies and other local stakeholders, including community organisations. We are enthused by success of Confluence and work is already on for Confluence 2017.
13. Avenewz : What are your future plans and events line up for WA and NT?
I have realised that main challenge is to create more awareness about WA and NT in India and vice versa. When one talks about Australia in India, there seems to be too much focus on East Coast, which overlooks the untapped potential of ties with WA and NT. Growing Indian communities will play a very important role in meeting this challenge through enhanced people-to-people linkages. Cultural events like Confluence Festival also address this.
Furthering of trade and investment ties with WA & NT will be the focus of my work. Western Australia is pursuing a Sister State relationship with Andhra Pradesh, which is likely to be concluded very soon. It will provide us a framework to explore deepening of cooperation in wide range of areas. There is a huge scope of diversification of these ties in new areas like education, tourism, agriculture, skill development, mining services. Indians are the largest community of foreign students studying in Perth and numbers are increasing at a very fast pace. Agriculture can be another area with lot of potential. We need to work out innovative models to match opportunities provided by vast lands available in WA and India’s food import requirements. Our mining industry has a lot to learn from WA mining industry, especially in areas like services, technology, and remediation. WA has also the potential to be India’s partner in field of energy, both with its LNG exports as well as Uranium for our nuclear reactors.
14. Anenewz: What’s your message to Indian community?
Indian community has been present in WA for more than a century but size of community has grown at a very fast pace in last one and half decade. Our community has earned a reputation as professional hard working people. There are unusually large number of community associations but it would be better for these organisations to come together under one umbrella, may be a new Federation of all community organisations. I feel any such arrangement will help realise the potential of Indian community as a group in WA society. We have to recognise that there are always issues which can be better addressed if energy and efforts of diverse community groups are properly channelled under one forum. I also feel that any such arrangement would also facilitate better communication between the Consulate and the community.
15. Avenewz : What’s your message to Avenewz readers?
Avenewz is a great magazine. One enjoys reading this sort of quality publication. Mr. Ved Tewari and his entire team needs to be congratulated for doing a wonderful service to the community through this magazine. I wish them best for future. My only recommendation is that they should work to make it a monthly magazine.