A chat with Australian cricketer Damien ‘the Bowlologist’ Fleming in the hallowed halls of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and an in-depth discussion about international governmental relations, were highlights of ANZSOG’s recent India Advanced Leadership Program (IALP) dinner.
The program, now in its sixth year, serves to build closer relations between senior Indian public servants and Australia, with the dinner at the iconic MCG providing a chance for the group to socialise after a week packed with learning from senior academics and the public sector in Australia.
India is Australia’s fifth-biggest trading partner, and a rising power in the Indo-Pacific region. The 2018 Indian delegation of 25 public servants from federal and provincial governments visited Australia from August 26-31.
The program, funded by the NSW and Victorian governments and the Government of India, included discussion of the strategic relations between Australia and India, public sector and economic reform, social policy, sound governance and integrity.
IALP delegation leader Durga Shankar Mishra, secretary in India’s federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, spoke at the MCG dinner and said that the visit had been an honour for participants.
He said India was in the middle of a process of transformation, with the goal of meeting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitions for 2022 – including a national health care system, huge changes to education, and an Indian space program. India’s civil servants were playing a key role in these changes.
“This has been an opportunity to meet Australian leaders and discuss issues of importance for both nations,” he said.
Victoria’s Commissioner to South Asia, Michelle Wade, said that Indian governments were working on a scale that was often difficult for Australian public servants to understand, but were implementing initiatives such as demonetisation, the beginnings of universal healthcare, a GST, Identity Cards and – in Mumbai – a ban on single use plastic bags.
Fleming entertained the delegates with a series of anecdotes about his passion for India and its culture, and his lack of success on Indian cricket fields.
IALP director Dr Pradeep Philip said that Australia’s relations with India had been based on the ‘Three Cs’ – cricket, curry and commonwealth’– but it was time to deepen the relationship.
He said the program gave Indian delegates a chance to engage with the highest levels of government, and build stronger relationships between Australia and New Zealand.
Earlier in the week, the group travelled to Sydney where they met NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and senior officials from major government agencies in NSW, as well as visiting Sydney’s Cultural Precinct and Barangaroo.
While in Melbourne, the group was addressed by Lord Mayor of Melbourne Sally Capp, engaged in peer-to-peer exchanges with the Victorian Government and visited Melbourne’s Biomedical Precinct. Sponsorship by NSW DPC head Tim Reardon and Victorian DPC head Chris Eccles (both ANZSOG Board members) has allowed the IALP high level access to governments in NSW and Victoria.
Since 2013, ANZSOG has worked in partnership with the Government of India’s Department of Personnel and Training to deliver executive development and leadership programs to senior Indian public servants. The IALP has been highly successful, and there are now more than 140 ANZSOG alumni in senior positions within India’s public services.
For many, the ANZSOG program was their first experience of Australian and New Zealand cities, culture and the public sector.
The importance of relations with India is increasingly being recognised by Australian governments.
Earlier this year the Victorian Government launched its India Strategy, which aims to increase goods exported to India, more than double Indian tourism to Victoria and increase the number of Indian postgraduate students in Victoria by 25 per cent.
ANZSOG Dean and CEO Ken Smith said that the IALP provided an opportunity to build trust, share knowledge and establish ongoing interactions between public sector leaders in Australia and India.
“Endeavours like the IALP are vitally important for building networks, laying the foundations for co-operation and sharing public sector innovations,” he said.
“India is a key partner in trade and strategic terms, and the growing population of Indian tourists, migrants and students provide an important source of cultural vibrancy in Australia.”
Find out more about the India Advanced Leadership Program here.