Damien Fleming pitches in to boost ties with Indian public servants

IALP Dinner group photo 2019
  • Published Date: 02 September 2019

Senior Indian public servants visited Melbourne’s iconic MCG as part of ANZSOG’s 2019 India Advanced Leadership Program, aimed at strengthening relations between Indian, Australia and New Zealand.

The MCG dinner gave this year’s 20 IALP participants a chance to socialise with senior Victorian public servants and was part of a a program of seminars and site visits.

Former Australian cricketer Damien ‘The Bowlologist’ Fleming enthralled the group with his stories of playing cricket against India and his largely unsuccessful tussles with the legendary Sachin Tendulkar. He said he had gained huge respect and affection for India through cricket and that strong ties with India created huge opportunities for Australia.

The IALP, now in its seventh year, serves to build closer relations between senior Indian public servants and Australia and New Zealand. The 2019 program took participants to Sydney, Melbourne and Wellington with a focus on discussing issues of public sector and economic reform, social policy, sound governance and integrity, with leading Australian and New Zealand politicians, academics and public servants.

The learning has not been one-way. The visiting delegates are high-level civil servants, and many are involved in administering programs on a vast scale, including those part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s far-reaching agenda.

ANZSOG Dean and CEO Ken Smith told at dinner that the IALP was a great opportunity to build government-to-government, economic and other relationships with India. He said that he was particularly pleased that participants in the 2019 program would visit New Zealand for the first time.

“While they are a small jurisdiction, they are innovative and very important in public policy terms,” he said.

“Endeavours like the IALP are vitally important for building networks, laying the foundations for co-operation and sharing public sector innovations.”

Victorian DPC head Chris Eccles said that the state of Victoria was looking to build stronger ties with India, and the IALP was instrumental in making connections happen.

“The IALP is an important chance for Australia and India to share our policy strengths and find ways to collaborate on our shared challenges,” he said at the MCG event.

“We already have economic and cultural ties and Victoria has a strategy to build a closer, more meaningful partnership with India.”

Melbourne has the highest Indian-born population of any city in Australia, and the Victorian Government has introduced an India Strategy, which includes locating trade commissioners in Mumbai and Bengaluru. The Strategy aims to increase goods exported to India, at least double Indian tourism to Victoria and increase the number of Indian postgraduate students in Victoria by 25 per cent.

IALP delegation leader, Inderjit Singh, thanked ANZSOG on behalf of the delegation and said that the program had provided a wonderful experience for participants.

“It is incredibly useful to us to meet policy-makers at senior levels and to see how both countries handle common issues.” he said.

“Many of us have left the private sector to become public servants because we have a passion for the welfare of the people, and to work to fight problems.”
He said that the strong cultural and economic ties between Australia and India would continue.

“It is not a surprise that Australia has a big Indian community, because people will always move to where they feel most welcome,” he said.

Learning from leaders in Australia and New Zealand

The program has been running since 2013, and is funded by the NSW and Victorian governments and the Government of India’s Department of Personnel and Training.

There are now more than 140 ANZSOG alumni in senior positions within India’s public services. For many participants, the ANZSOG program is their first experience of Australian and New Zealand cities, culture and the public sector.

The 2019 program began in Sydney on 25 August. Participants met NSW Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Tim Reardon, as well as senior officials from major NSW government agencies. They have also toured Sydney’s Cultural Precinct and attended seminars with Peter Varghese, former DFAT Secretary and Australian High Commissioner to India and Former Secretary DFAT on Strategic Relations; Emma Hogan, NSW Public Service Commissioner and Professor Adam Graycar.

The participants toured Melbourne’s biomedical precinct, and have had seminars with a range of senior public servants and policy experts – including former premier John Brumby on education, and former ACCC head Graeme Samuel on competition policy.

The program will conclude in Wellington, where it will focus on innovative public policy initiatives including the Wellbeing Budget, e-government, climate change, oceans management and the response to recent terror events. The participants will visit Parliament, and meet MPs and former Governor General Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand.

Find out more about ANZSOG’s India Advanced Leadership Program (IALP) at the ANZSOG website.