On 17 March 2020 and in partnership with the Australia-India Business Council, the Perth USAsia Centre hosted India's High Commissioner to Australia Mr A. Gitesh Sarma for a private breakfast discussion under Chatham House Rule.
Mr Sarma delivered an address to the Perth audience highlighting lessons learned from extensive diplomatic career. He spoke warmly about Perth as Australia’s Indian Ocean Capital, and welcomed the ability for WA and India to look each other in the eye with only clear water between us. He also spoke about the opportunities that exist for both Australia and India, and the importance of recognising the reality on the ground and the different perspectives in each country.
Mr Sarma highlighted the enhanced potential for rules-based, values-led partnerships between democratic nations with interests in the Indo-Pacific, including India, Australia, France and the US. When things might appear difficult we might take note of what other countries or businesses are doing successfully in India and Australia respectively, despite perceived barriers.
The High Commissioner reinforced the importance of taking into account and accepting different national viewpoints and needs in geopolitical discussions, noting, for example, the value and closeness of the India-China relationship.
The event also featured speakers as follows:
· Member for Jandakot Yaz Mubarakai MLA welcomed attendees to the event and noted the importance the High commissioner’s visit
· Indian Consul General in Perth Dantu Charandasi spoke of the India-Australia relationship and outlined High Commissioner Sarma’s career and achievements
· Director of the UWA Public Policy Institute Professor Shamit Saggar conducted an ‘in conversation’ session covering topics that reflected India’s key role in the Indo-Pacific region
Attendees also received a copy of the Centre’s recent publication authored by Hugo Seymour 'Western Australia’s Economic Relationship with India: The Need for a State Strategy to Recover and Grow the Relationship'
About High Commissioner Sarma
Mr. A. Gitesh Sarma completed his B.A. (Hons) and M.A. in Political Science from Delhi University. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1986 and worked in Ministry of External Affairs as Under Secretary (Europe East) and Director (Central Asia).
Mr. Sarma’s overseas assignments include Indian Missions in Russia, Ukraine, Hong Kong, Pakistan and the United Kingdom. He has been Ambassador of India to Uzbekistan and High Commissioner of India in Fiji. Additionally he served as the Officer on Special Duty (IT Enabled Services) in the Information Technology Department of the state of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, India. He was also Joint Secretary (External Relations) in the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India. Mr. Sarma was Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs until November 2019.