Will 2022 see continued “hard diplomacy” or can we embrace “smart” and “soft” diplomacy?

INTO INDIA wishes you all a peaceful, prosperous, safe and healthy new year for 2022. This is our last post for this year.

The question for next year is how will we all get on better than we did in 2021?

I hope we will see “smart diplomacy” dominate next year – this is the kind of diplomacy that works with cultural and cross border differences. It is not insulting and does not force the other country into an aggressive response. It takes into account major global shared challenges such as climate change, Industry 4 and the continuing pandemic.

It is “smart” to talk to other countries in a way which allows them to make their own positive contribution to the debate – does not corner them into hostility.

Australia has done some “smart” diplomacy things this year – such as using former Prime Minister Abbott as a special envoy, a move well received in Asia.

Hoping countries will all be a lot smarter in 2022.

It would make it a good year for all of us.

How the QUAD can help Australia in trade talks with India

At last night’s meeting in Melbourne of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, Trade Minister Dan Tehan MP made reference to how the QUAD could be useful for future trade agreements.

The QUAD includes Australia, India, Japan and the USA. It focuses on supply chains and “independent and free region” – that is, a buffer to China.

But it might be a big help on trade.

India wants to use the QUAD as it steps up global trade relations.

And Australia already has FTA deals with the other two QUAD parties – Japan and USA.

The Quad is a diplomatic network of four countries committed to supporting an open, inclusive and resilient region. It complements our other bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation, including with ASEAN.

The Quad aims to respond to the defining challenges of our time, including COVID-19 vaccines, critical and emerging technology, cyber security, climate change, infrastructure, maritime security, countering disinformation, counter-terrorism, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Indian Finance Minister in Forbes “top 100 powerful women”

Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Finance Minister of India, features in the Forbes’ annual list of 100 most powerful women. The finance minister ranked 37 on the list and was featured for the third consecutive time. In 2020, Ms Sitharaman occupied the 41st spot and 34th spot in 2019.

Other Indians to feature in this list include Ms. Roshni Nadar Malhotra, CEO of HCL Corporation, Ms. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Biocon’s Executive Chairperson and Ms. Falguni Nayar, Nykaa Founder.

Forbes releases a list of the 100 most powerful women every year.

Featuring The top ten of ‘The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women’:

Mackenzie Scott, Philanthropist

Kamala Harris, US Vice-President

Christine Lagarde, European Central Bank President

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors

Melinda French Gates, Philanthropist

Abigail Johnson, Fidelity Investments CEO

Ana Patricia Botí, Santander Executive Chairman

Ursula von der Leyen, President of European Commission

Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan President

Julie Sweet, Accenture CEO

Melbourne now medical research and pharma capital of Australia

Moderna to use Melbourne manufacturing base

Melbourne will become the first place outside of Europe and the United States to manufacture mRNA vaccines following a deal between the Victorian and federal governments and biotech giant Moderna.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the facility would be key to the country’s medical manufacturing future and help meet the country’s COVID-19 vaccine needs.

Minister for Medical Research Jaala Pulford told ABC’s RN Breakfast Victoria’s heavy investment into medical research and pharmaceutical manufacturing over the past two decades had ultimately favoured Melbourne over Sydney for the bid.

Victoria’s medical research sector supports about 30,000 jobs and contributes an estimated $21 billion to the state’s economy, according to government figures.

“Melbourne is home to around 60 per cent of medical research that occurs in Australia and around 90 per cent of pharmaceutical manufacturing,” she said.

The facility will produce 25 million doses a year from 2024 and have the capacity to scale production up to 100 million doses per year to tackle future pandemics.

It will also produce other treatments for cancer, rare diseases, cellular engineering, and protein-replacement therapy.


Use “smart power” advises leading Australian diplomat

With great clarity and logic, John McCarthy AO, former Australian diplomat, has outlined the three choices for Australian diplomacy – hard, soft or smart power.

McCarthy is concerned that Australia in recent times has used “hard” power and this can bring reputational damage.


He describes how “soft” power is often mistakenly seen as just culture or cricket.

And he concludes by describing the “smart power” option.

Brilliant article.

I am sure most of our diplomats and think tanks would agree – but can the politicians wake up to the harm they are doing to Australia’s international reputation?

Will India and Australia achieve “early harvest” trade deals and lay groundwork for a CECA?

Former PM Tony Abbott was instrumental in getting trade talks going again

INTO INDIA believes the two big issues facing Australia are allowing greater people movement from India to Australia, and directing more of our massive A$ 2.3 trillion pension fund sector that could be a regular source of investments in the Indian infrastructure and disinvestment story.

The key for Australia is to see India as more than a “quick sale” – Indian negotiators will be looking to push the two countries to become partners, adopting policies that streamline physical movement, including, on-arrival visas, multiple entry long term business visas, etc.

From India’s perspective, it will want to ensure that trade deficits in the post agreement period do not widen. And two, non-tariff barriers and differences in standards or recognition of qualifications do not offset higher access through the trade deal. As an Indian report recently wrote: “This is the crux of the matter.”

In the larger CECA agreement, investments from Australia will play a big role in the growth of bilateral trade between the two countries, because the growth trajectory of India will create new opportunities for Australian companies, including in areas like water management and up in future, for which Australia can be a long term reliable supplier.

In the early harvest agreement, Australia wants services included with goods – an area where India has not performed well in earlier trade deals such as with ASEAN.

Australia however just needs to accept the sensitivity of the agribusiness sector in India – the deal will fall over if Australia demands substantially lower tariffs across the board for fruits, dairy, agriculture and processed food items.

INTO INDIA RECOMMENDS Australia narrow its ambitions down to selected niche items in the agriculture sector. Finding ways that Australian expertise, technology innovation and scale can actually transform Indian agriculture sector towards value addition would give Australia a big advantage.

Finally, you can expect India could show flexibility in tariff lines related to commodities and minerals, which are needed for its growing economy and the e-mobility program. In turn, Australia could be accommodative in tariff lines related to refined petroleum, medicaments, railway vehicles, gems and jewellery, auto components and made up textile items, which it imports in any case from countries around the world, in addition to India.

Thanks to Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), in collaboration with KPMG and led by Amb Anil Wadhwa, who is Former Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.

10 Indian born Australians at the top are leading change in Australia

The Indian diaspora is now Australia’s largest migrant group – and this is showing up in leadership and change. More achievements will be ahead – but INTO INDIA now honours our “top 10”:

TARUN GUPTA, Managing Director and CEO, Stockland

Tarun Gupta, CEO, Stockland

In June 2021, Tarun Gupta joined Australia-based Stockland as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer.

Founded in 1952, Stockland is one of the most diversified property groups in Australia. Today, Stockland owns, develops and manages a comprehensive portfolio of residential communities, retirement living villages, workplace and logistics assets, as well as retain town centres.

Tarun Gupta has held a wide range of senior roles in the past. Previously, Gupta was the Chief Financial Officer with Lendlease.

In 1994, Tarun Gupta had come to Australia (after graduating from University of Delhi) as an international student to gain an MBA at Uni of Newcastle

Mitu Bhowmick Lange, Director of Mind Blowing Films

Mitu Bhowmick Lange

Mitu is Festival Director of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) which was established in 2010 and has become one of the biggest and most successful Indian film festivals held outside of India.

Mitu is the Director of Mind Blowing Films, a film production and distribution company that specialises in the distribution of Indian films in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. It also provides local production support to Indian films shot in Australia and New Zealand. She has also produced Spice Girls of India, which was screened at the London Feminist Film Festival.

Mitu also worked in Bombay for six years directing several TV shows including entertainment, news and fashion magazine programs and a daily breakfast show for most of the leading channels including BBC World, Star Plus, Zee TV and Sony TV. Since living in Australia, Mitu has introduced and produced several Indian productions in the country, including producing 13 episodes shot in Australia of India’s number one daily television serial Kahani Ghar Ghar Kii, Bollywood film Koi Aap Saa and blockbusters like Salaam Namaste, Chak De India and Bachna Aye Haseeno as well as several leading television commercials made for the Indian market.

In 2017, Mitu received the Jill Robb Award from Film Victoria recognising her achievements, leadership and mentorship of other women from the sector.

Mitu is a Board Member, Film Victoria, Board member, Natalie Miller Fellowship, and was educated at Hindu College, University of Delhi and gained a master’s degree at St Xavier’s College.

Distinguished Professor Chennupati Jagadish AC, incoming President, Australian Academy of Science

Nanotechnology pioneer Distinguished Professor Chennupati Jagadish AC FAA FTSE is the next President of Australia’s premier science organisation, the Australian Academy of Science. He is the first Australian of Indian heritage to take on the role.

The Academy plays an important role providing independent, authoritative and influential scientific advice to the Australian Parliament.

He is an Indian-Australian physicist and academic, a Distinguished Professor of Physics at the Australian National University Research School of Physics and Engineering. He is head of the Semiconductor Optoelectronics and Nanotechnology Group which he established in 1990.

He plays a leading role in helping Australia transition from a resource-based economy to a knowledge and technology-based economy.

Throughout his career Professor Jagadish has supervised 65 PhD students, is currently supervising a further 12 PhD students and has mentored 50 post-doctoral and other fellows, with many of them now in leading research institutions across the world.

Sanjeev Gandhi, Managing Director and CEO of Orica Limited

Sanjeev Gandhi was previously Orica’s Group Executive and President of Australia Pacific Asia, and was appointed as the Managing Director and CEO of Orica Limited in February 2021.

Mr Gandhi joined Orica in July 2020 after spending 26 years with German chemical company BASF SE, the global leader in the chemical industry.  During his tenure with BASF, he held senior marketing, commercial, business leadership and director roles, in India, Germany, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

Most recently, Mr Gandhi was an Executive Director of BASF SE and Head of Asia Pacific as well as Head of Global Chemicals Segment (Intermediates & Petrochemicals) based out of Hong Kong. Leading a workforce of more than 18,500 people across 19 countries, 125 production sites and 140 sales offices, Sanjeev and his team were accountable for the delivery of €13.3 billion in revenue, and €1 billion in EBIT in 2019. 

Mr Gandhi leads a global team of more than 13,000 colleagues.

Orica is the world’s largest provider of commercial explosives and innovative blasting systems to the mining, quarrying, oil and gas and construction industries. They are also a leading supplier of sodium cyanide for gold extraction, and a specialist provider of ground support services in mining and tunnelling.

Mr Gandhi gained an MBA at the Institute of Management and Entrepreneurial Development, Pune

Kaushaliya Vaghela, Member of Legislative Council, Parliament of Victoria

Kaushaliya Vaghela is the first India-born elected Member of Victorian state parliament, representing the Australian Labor Party in Victoria’s upper house.

Before being elected as an MP, Kaushaliya was working as a Risk and Compliance Manager and prior to that as a scientist in research and diagnostic laboratory.

She came to Australia as an international student to study a Master of Applied Science at RMIT in 1998.

Indians form a large community in Victoria, and she as elected an MLC for Western Metropolitan region in 2018.

Vivek Bhatia CEO Link Group

As CEO of Link Group, Vivek Bhatia leads 6000 employees in a company that administers financial ownership data and drives user engagement, analysis and insight through technology. Link provides complete solutions for companies, large asset owners and trustees across the globe.

Vivek is an experienced chief executive, having led a number of complex businesses throughout his career. Vivek joined Link Group from QBE Insurance Group where from 2018 he was Chief Executive Officer of the ASX-listed general insurance and reinsurance company’s Australia Pacific division.

Vivek joined QBE from icare where he held the position of inaugural Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director. Prior to this, he co-led the Asia-Pacific Restructuring and Transformation practice at McKinsey & Company and also previously held senior executive roles at Wesfarmers Insurance, including responsibility for leading the Australian underwriting businesses of Lumley, WFI and Coles Insurance.

Vivek holds an undergraduate degree in engineering, a post-graduate in business administration and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (ICFAI).

Sanjay Dayal CEO Pact

Sanjay Dayal became Group Chief Executive Officer, Managing Director, Executive Director of Pact in April 3, 2019. Sanjay joined Pact most recently from BlueScope Steel where he held the position of Chief Executive, Building Products, Corporate Strategy and Innovation.

Sanjay had a very successful career with Orica and ICI, including Regional General Manager for Manufacturing and Supply Chain and General Manager for the DynoNobel Integration, based out of London.

Sanjay holds a Bachelor of Technology (Chemical Engineering) from Indian Institute of Technology – Delhi.

Pact is a packaging, re-use and recycling manufacturing firm. Which recently received $20 million in funding from the Federal Government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative for Recycling and Clean Energy Manufacturing projects to support its investments in world-leading technology which will increase the amount of recycled materials in locally made plastic packaging.

The group employs around 2400 people, operates in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the United Kingdom and the United States, 

The Company designs and manufactures bottles, containers, trays, tubes, closure systems, and other customized packaging solutions. 

Ravneet Pawha, Deputy Vice President, Deakin University

Ravneet Pawha is Deakin University Deputy Vice President (Global Engagement) and CEO (South Asia). She is also President of Australia India Business Council (AIBC), Victoria.

Ravneet gained a master’s degree at Panjab University and was a gold medallist in her postgraduate studies. In 2018 she won the prestigious Business Leader of the Year at the India Australia Business and Community Awards.

With over 27 years of experience in the international education sector, Ravneet has been instrumental in establishing global collaborations and strategic partnerships. She has developed Australian Education collaborations specifically for Deakin University in India/South Asia and has contributed to the immense success globally. She is an inspirational leader and a passionate entrepreneur.

Sandeep Biswas, CEO, Newcrest Ltd

Mr Biswas was appointed Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Newcrest on 4 July 2014. He joined Newcrest in January of that year, as Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer.

Mr Biswas was previously Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Aluminium, a wholly owned subsidiary within the Rio Tinto group, which incorporated the bauxite, alumina, refining and smelting operations in Australia and New Zealand.

He began his career with Mount Isa Mines, working in both Australia and Europe. Mr Biswas has also worked for Western Mining in Australia and Rio Tinto in Canada and Australia.

He is Vice Chairman of the Minerals Council of Australia, Vice Chairman of the World Gold Council and Member of the ICMM Council.

He gained a BEng (Chem) (Hons) at the University of Queensland.

Newcrest is the largest gold producer listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and one of the world’s largest gold mining companies.

Dr Astha Singh, Senior Marketing Manager, Servers Australia

Dr Astha Singh is a Science and Technology Marketing professional with over 14 years of experience specialising in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) and has shared her innovative idea at TEDx Sydney. She currently works as a Senior Marketing Manager at a Cloud Hosting Technology company called Servers Australia. 

Astha has initiated and implemented several STEM focussed multicultural marketing campaigns in her career with programs and organisations such as FameLab, Soapbox Science, Sydney Science Festival, Spark Festival (Australia’s largest festival for entrepreneurship) and at iAccelerate (Australia’s largest University business incubator).

Astha led a nation-wide campaign in 2019 to raise awareness for Diversity in STEM with over 30 top scientists around Australia featured on the Australia’s Science Channel. With her particular interest in diversity & equity, Astha has served as the advisory board member at Multicultural NSW, Australian Football League, NSW. Continuing her passion for highlighting South-Asian talent in STEM, Astha was the STEM ambassador for the Australia India Business and Community Awards 2020-21.

Currently Astha serves as a mentor for commercial research at the CSIRO’s ON Accelerator and DStart programs. 

Elon Musk is right – we all owe so much to Indian talent! Australia also has Indian-born leaders

Parag Agrawal is the new CEO of Twitter

Twitter has got a new boss and he is an India-born American – Parag Agrawal. Tesla boss Elon Musk summed it up nicely when the billionaire and SpaceX founder said: “USA benefits greatly from Indian talent!” So does Australia.

Mr Agrawal, who joined Twitter in 2011 and rose through the ranks to become the firm’s chief technology officer, was on Tuesday announced as CEO after Jack Dorsey announced he was stepping down from the role.

According to Bloomberg, at 37 years of age, Mr Agrawal is the youngest person to run a company in the S&P 500.

Indian-American tech giant CEOs

Twitter — $35.1b — Parag Agrawal

Google (Alphabet) — $1.89t — Sundar Pichai

Microsoft — $2.48b — Satya Nadella

Adobe — $318.7b — Shantanu Narayen

IBM — $105b — Arvind Krishna

Palo Alto Networks — $54b — Nikesh Arora

Mr Agrawal earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology and a PhD in computer science from Stanford University.

Australia has diverse CEOs – but could do better

Some examples include Macquarie Group chief executive Shemara Wikramanayake, Stockland’s managing director and CEO Tarun Gupta, Orica’s managing director and CEO Sanjeev Gandhi, Link Group CEO Vivek Bhatia, Pact’s managing director and CEO Sanjay Dayal, Newcrest’s managing director and CEO Sandeep Biswas, and Cleanaway, which until January had Vik Bansal as its CEO.