Australia – just be quiet and accept that China and India are the new powers and we are not top of their minds

Australia should calm down on Asia and just build healthy relationships.

Media and politicians react hysterically to even the smallest policy shift out of China. We sweat over the relationship. And if China has any dispute with a neighbour, we want to jump in and offer our advice.

We should just quietly get used to the new reality that China is now the world’s second biggest economy and is about to become the biggest.

change - secret

And when it comes to India, Australia cannot see beyond divisions and communal unrest. Objectively looking at the numbers will tell us India is a stable, growing economy that in our region will be a close number two to China.

Australians will agonise over whether getting closer to India is a good buffer to China.

Forget it – just get closer to India because that in itself is a good idea. Same for China.

Get over it. Things have changed.

Now – how do we build sensible and quiet relations with China and India – two countries that probably don’t think about Australia too often?

Be inspired! Some great quotes from Australian-Indian business leader Vivek Chaand Sehgal

I recently saw some inspirational quotes from Australian-Indian business leader Vivek Chaand Sehgal, Chairman of Samvardhana Motherson Group (SMG).

“In Sanskrit we say that what doesn’t grow is dead.”

“A river, without other rivers flowing into it, will never reach the sea.”


“In Hinduism we believe in four stages of life … the third is where you hand over what you have done, before going to the mountains, so I’m probably just about there.”

“There’s a saying in Sanskrit – ‘the world is a family’.”

“Only the most brainless businessman arbitrages labour or walks away when he doesn’t have to. He ignores the genius of a whole people, and our university partners have shown us that out-of-the-box thinking is still everywhere in Australia.”

Be inspired!

Australia’s PM Morrison should visit India to protect our education trade

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison needs to move fast to protect Australia’s education trade with India, now that the world’s biggest democracy has given Prime Minister Narendra Modi a second term in power.

Modi is a reformer – he can move fast and in surprising ways. We know he wants to transform education and there might be some shocks ahead for Australian universities.

Modi knows Indians mainly study abroad because their Indian universities are not up to standard. So he wants to change that.

The second Modi Government is aiming to boost India’s very low rankings among global universities. Freeing up his university sector will see closer ties with elite universities in England and America, and we could fall down the list if we do not act now.

Based on his track record so far, the Indian PM could make massive changes, deregulating up to one hundred of its best universities at any time soon.

Many in Delhi are critical of Australian universities which they claim have simply wanted a one-way transaction to make money out of Indian students. While some of our universities have created serious collaborations with India, in general this criticism is valid.

The next wave of education will see success for those who can create real collaboration, with two-way exchanges of students. Whether Australia can move fast on this is in doubt.

PM Modi is a politician who is not afraid of delivering surprises, as shown with his demonetisation move in his first term aimed at reducing corruption and driving the economy to digital rather than cash transactions. Surprises can transform into shocks if the leaders do not have a close personal connection – that’s why PM Morrison needs to act now to shore up our education trade.

Could the flow of Indian students to Australian universities dry up?

It seems the flow of Indian students to Australia will dry up as India raises the standard of its own higher education system – this is the view from no less than the NITI Aayog, the government’s leading think tank.

This means Australian universities will have to work harder to have a presence in India – reforms have happened and more is to come. Collaboration and joint education of a student could be the way of the future. As we reported in an earlier blog, RMIT University is one pioneer of this approach.

“The present relationship of only sending students to Australia is not a sustainable one. Australia needs to look at this in a very creative and innovative manner.” Amitabh Kant, chief executive, National Institution for Transforming India. Christopher Pearce

The comment came from the chief executive of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI), Amitabh Kant.

Why could the supply of Indian students dry up? One main reason is India is determined to improve the quality of its own universities and colleges. Improvements could happen within 3 to 5 years, so it is an urgent issue for Australia.

“It’s important for Australian universities at this stage to collaborate with India’s universities to do joint courses and build up alternative business models.”

Mr Kant, who is one of the top planning advisers to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said the first stage of reform involved deregulating India’s top-60 universities and allowing them to charge fees, hire staff and create courses without any official intervention. The aim was to create universities of global standing, similar to Harvard and Stanford.

Since India would eventually train most its own graduates, it would be better to be part of the changes in India and not just charging fees to students to come to Australia.

What does Mr Kant recommend? As a first step do joint courses and degrees, and take a stake in Indian campuses.

So there it is – right from the top.


What will PM Modi do for India in his second term?

What will Modi 2.0 do for India?

With the world’s biggest democracy opting for stability and returning the Narendra Modi Government for a second five-year term, all eyes are on what will Modi 2.0 do?

Here are some actions to look out for. As my friend Amith Karanth from India Australia Exchange Forum says: “Modi will also pull some surprises”.


Looking ahead at Modi’s priorities

Health – telemedicine, more doctors, increase immunisation

Education – Modi wants India to have a top 100 global university – he will deregulate many top universities to allow this improvement

Add 50 city metros

Inclusion – banking for all, reduce poverty to single digit

Employment creation and lifting farm/shopkeeper incomes will continue to be a focus

Building more infrastructure

Devolving more responsibility and power to the state governments, extending the level of competition between them and empowering local leaders

Streamlining the GST, which was a minor miracle itself, but has multiple complexities

While privatisation of government institutions such as banks and more is needed – this might remain in the “too hard basket” in term two


Looking at what Modi has already achieved

Moves against corruption such as demonetisation (one of his major surprises), reduction in cash and movement towards digital payments

Introduction of a GST, arguably the world’s biggest tax reform – meaning the central and state governments are now awash with funds and can now do things

Focus on startups and cheaper loans for SME’s has created real growth in new enterprises

National campaigns such as “Clean India” have begun the big job – providing access for many millions to toilets is just one of the outcomes

Some reforms to the insolvency and bankruptcy has increased confidence in doing business

Modi has been a relentless global salesperson for India and attracted record foreign investment

India’s infrastructure has changed massively in five years – with more to do


Professor Bhargava of RMIT University shows how to respond to Industry 4.0

Featured pic – such an honour for me to be with two global innovators – India’s Dr Mashelkar and Australia’s Professor Bhargava (right)

Most students and many universities will not be ready for the fast-changing world of “Industrial Revolution 4.0” which has begun and will be in full swing by the time most graduate.

In Australia the RMIT University Distinguished Professor Suresh Bhargava, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (India), Director-Centre for Advanced Materials and Industrial Chemistry (CAMIC) College of Science, Engineering & Health is a pioneer of “The Science for Developing a 21st Century Scientist”.

This program will see students learning the art of global collaboration over a four-year program – one year each at RMIT University, with industry in Australia and India, involved in CSIRO international collaborations and with the Indian Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research.

Now, employers would be keen to talk to such a graduate!

Professor Bhargava says we should “Move towards collaborative innovation”.

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO, is enthusiastic: “Very few of us have the opportunity to do something that is first in the world and worthwhile.”

Professor Bhargava has been my mentor on matters India and educational for many years.

I will be speaking at several Indian universities later this year on my own passion piece:

The 7 ways graduates can thrive in Industrial 4.0

  1. Show you can continue to learn

We know employers’ value this very highly – their focus is not on what you know through your degree – but is more on what you can learn in future. Prepare for this by being curious, reading and listening widely, entering discussion groups and being able to summarise what you have learned outside of university or since your degree.

  1. Demonstrate wisdom and common sense

For employers, further than what you know is how you think, and the value of wisdom and common sense. The best way to describe the difference between knowledge and wisdom is through the humble tomato – knowledge tells you a tomato is a fruit (not a vegetable) – but wisdom prevents you adding the tomato to a fruit salad. One fast track to wisdom is via mentors and guides, those who can share experience with students.

  1. Gain good collaboration and friendship skills

Industrial 4.0 will make collaboration easy and instant with anyone, anywhere and anytime – and the change will benefit those who have the skills to reach out, make friends, work across the globe and build collaboration. Future corporations and employers will be looking for people who can build collaboration.

  1. Gain cross-border understanding and skills

Already our lives in one country are intersecting with lives of other countries, and Industrial 4.0 will make the globe an even smaller place. Those who have travelled, who have acquired both knowledge and experience of other cultures will be in high demand, simply because almost every job will have global aspects.

  1. Become an outstanding communicator

Traditional “soft skills” training will not prepare students for the fast future – outstanding communication skills for Industrial 4.0 will include rapid pitching, ability to support points in a way which moves others, skills to relate directly and closely with those above and below you – any student sitting back quietly as a “newbie” will get left behind. Old notions of being silent in front of elders or superiors will not apply. Respectful and strong communication skills will rule.

  1. Be a team-based problem solver

More work will be team-based and some of those who succeed will actually present to future employers as a team. Problem solving as a team while at university should lead students to then approach employers as teams – a good standout in the race to gain attention.

  1. Build self-reliance and resilience

With the demise of “study hard, get the degree which entitles you to a job for life” model, students will need skills in self-reliance and resilience. As jobs come and go, individuals will need to be able to bounce back and start again, maybe many times in their careers. Where no jobs are forthcoming, graduates will need to create their own or join teams that provide solutions.

In India the young Bob Hawke lost his belief and found a new vision

One of the ironies of the dramatic life of the recently deceased former Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Hawke, is that as a young man in India he found a new vision and new inspiration – and lost his Christian belief. In the early 1950’s he attended the World Christian Youth Conference in Delhi. Sitting as a young man at the conference banquet in Delhi, he was struck by the sight or poor Indians gathered outside – he reports that at that moment he lost his belief and typical of Hawke he took action – leaving the banquet and taking supplies to the poor outside. He was moved by what he saw as “the irrelevance of religion to the needs of the people”.

PM Hawke always maintained a belief in the India-Australia relationship. Speaking much later as PM in February 1989 in Delhi he said:

“For Australians, India has been a comrade in times of war and a friend in peace; a great rival in sport, not least in cricket; a clear and influential voice in the United Nations, the Commonwealth, and the Non-Aligned Movement. In our own colonial times, in 1854, in the famous act of defiance by the gold miners at the Eureka Stockade, there were, standing at the forefront of the struggle side by side with men from around the world, two gold miners from Bengal. And in more recent times, Australians and Indians have shown their preparedness to fight and to die in defence of freedom.”


Just watch India’s TCS and Accenture dominate the future world of IT

Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) is set to surpass DXC Technology Co. to become the world’s third-largest software services provider in fiscal 2018-19 – behind IBM and Accenture.

TCS grew 9.6%, or added $1.82 billion in new business, to end with $20.91 billion in revenue in the year ended 31 March.

TCS’s strong performance over the two years has seen a change of guard at the top. In 2017, TCS entrusted Rajesh Gopinathan, who was then chief financial officer, to take over as chief executive and succeed N. Chandrasekaran, who was named the chairman of Tata Sons Ltd. Still, the company managed to retain all its senior executives and improved its growth and profitability, with the consensus view that this was one of the smoothest management transitions at an Indian corporate entity.

Experts predict the fight for world dominance will be between TCS and Accenture.

But when it comes to profitability, TCS is already way in front – TCS ended last year with a 25.6% operating margin, while Accenture and DXC had 14.8% and 14% profitability, respectively.

80,000 Indians to travel to UK for World Cup of Cricket

When India take on South Africa in its first world cup fixture at Southampton on June 5, there will be a sea of people dressed in blue to cheer the team. The one-and-a-half-month long cricket carnival kicks off from May end and the estimate is around 80,000 Indians may travel for the World Cup. 

India dominates world cricket – money, supporters, TV audience, etc.


The demand is the highest for India-Pakistan match at Old Trafford in Manchester on June 16 and also for the final at Lords on July 14.

To put the 80,000 in perspective, in a typical year approximately 515,000 Indians visit UK.

New era for India-Australia as Ms Petula Thomas becomes Director of Indo-Australia Chamber of Commerce

Exciting news for the India-Australia relationship – Ms Petula Thomas has been appointed the new Director of the Indo-Australian Chamber of Commerce.

Petula worked with the British Deputy High Commission (BDHC), Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) and British Airways in Chennai over the past 15 years and brings a wealth of experience in strategic leadership, international relations, marketing and business development.

Petula is a passionate innovator and supporter of Women in Leadership, so I feel she will make a big positive difference in this role.


She is also a strong communicator.

We need strong and effective communication to enhance the India-Australia role and to make it easier for business of both countries to get together.

I hope the IACC can pioneer more exchange of people, more two-way missions, great education, more collaboration, improved cross-cultural understanding and positive steps to ensure that business in both countries know best what works in each country.

By the way – Petula has an amazing track record, winning four global and regional performance awards from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London, when she headed Consular Operations for South India, leading on Customer Engagement for the MENASA region (Middle East North Africa and South Asia) and Communications/Digital strategy for India.

Petula has worked with Austrade, Australian Government, where she received commendation from the Deputy CEO Austrade for successfully delivering on multi-city Industry events in India & Australia. During her career with British Airways Plc. she received a Regional CASAMEA award (Central Asia South Asia Middle East & Africa) for Revenue Development/Sales from British Airways Plc.

Petula has a First class Masters Degree in Science and recent qualifications in Project Management and Customer Relationship Management (including Sales, Marketing and E-commerce).

We wish her every success and happiness in the important new role.