Australia will relate better to Asia by removing the “bamboo ceiling”

Former Labor Government Minister and current Chancellor of the Australian National University – Gareth Evans – has raised an important challenge for Australia that is too often swept under the carpet.

Australia’s “bamboo ceiling” keeps Asian Australians out of top positions.

Here is the view of Gareth Evans:

“The “bamboo ceiling” in Australia is real. Asian-Australians now comprise up 12 per cent of our total population but hold only around 3 per cent of senior leadership positions in our public institutions and ASX 200 companies. They have been an under-appreciated and under-utilised national resource for far too long.”


Gareth Evans sums it up so well:

“The bamboo ceiling is an issue on which we have ducked and weaved and dithered for too many years. The Asian century is off and running and we have in our midst a fantastic community resource with which to take maximum advantage of all the opportunities it offers.”

Well said.

And my view?


Removing the “bamboo ceiling” would reduce Australia’s anxiety and uncertainty over Asia – it would allow Australia to play a big role in the “Asian Century”.

One third of the world’s population lives on our doorstep – and they are on the rise as economies and powers.

By getting our own house in order – removing the “bamboo ceiling” – we can live positively and well in the world’s most exciting region.

China and India are our biggest source of migrants – let’s give them every opportunity.

Fair go, Australia!

What is the great legacy of the west?

For over 200 years the west has dominated. Economically strong, trading nations, global defence forces. It is a good time to ask – what is the great legacy of the west?

The Age of Enlightenment, time of reasoning, power of science, all were revived by the west. This is the view that together we can solve problems.


Free market economics – has shown how to lift people out of poverty and share the wealth – not perfect, but probably the best model.

Psychology of the positive – anything is possible. Contrast this with “fatalism”. Love this “can do”.

Good Government – the west leads in healthcare, infrastructure and education – and in the west people receive lots of government sponsored information and practical ways to live better. Of course, not perfect.

This is a legacy that will impact on those emerging leaders such as India and China.

Why is the west being so jittery about the rise of Asia?

Trade war on China. Military action here and there.

The west is jittery. Yet all we have is the return to the normal state of affairs – until exactly 200 years ago China and India were major global economies. Now they are again.

So, why is the west so jittery about the rise of Asia?

First, the west “won” the cold war against Russia without firing a single shot. Great victory – but the pride of that has become hubris and shows in a belief that only western liberal democratic countries can succeed. And here comes China. Not western, not liberal and not democratic. Jittery.


Second, 9/11 was a shocking event that dominated the mind of the west then – and now.

Wile we focused on 9/11, two things happened – rising China joined the World Trade Organisation and the lowest earners in the USA were hit by a 50% decline in income.

Hence – Trump. And hence, lots of jittery decisions being made throughout the west.

Can the west get back to rational, calm and innovative leadership? I hope so.

Thanks to Kishore Mahbubani for inspiring some of the above.


Ho Hum! “Trade war” not worrying Indian companies active in China

Seems Indian companies active in China think that the USA-China trade war is all a bit “ho hum” – or maybe an opportunity?


Indian organisations working in China don’t expect any critical effect of the escalating trade war among Beijing and Washington on their business, a new survey conducted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has stated, including that most of the companies intend to put more in Beijing in 2019.

The survey of Indian organisations working in China indicates cautious optimism and certainty when contrasted with the past survey a year ago. “Most organisations don’t see a significant effect of the present trade situation between the US and China on their business,” said Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII.

In excess of 120 Indian organisations work in China separated from a sizeable number of merchants who have workplaces here; 57 of the organisations reacted to the CII poll.

As per the survey, two-fifths are considering inclining up their investment more than 2018. More IT and BPO organisations intend to make extra investment in 2019 contrasted with 2018.

My “top 10” of Indian companies active in China:

Adani Global; Essar; Jindal Steel & Power; Reliance ADAG; TCS; Tata Sons; Union Bank of India; Allahabad Bank; Bank of Baroda; Bank of India.


Also in China are Zee TV; Jet Airways; Apollo International; Ashok Leyland.

What is the “fourth industrial revolution” and why is India important?

The First Industrial Revolution introduced the use of steam power to mechanize production.

The Second Industrial Revolution saw a number of groundbreaking inventions in transport, telecommunications and manufacturing, including the use of electric power to generate mass production.

The Third Industrial Revolution brought the internet and other technological innovations, which have ushered society into the digital era.

Today, society is challenged by a Fourth Industrial Revolution, an age in which scientific and technological breakthroughs are disrupting industries, blurring geographical boundaries, challenging existing regulatory frameworks, and even redefining what it means to be human.

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, drones and precision medicine are swiftly changing lives and transforming businesses and societies, inevitably posing new risks and raising ethical concerns. How can society ensure that its policies, norms and standards are able to keep up with these rapidly evolving technologies?

The World Economic Forum has chosen India as the base for its Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution – India is the world’s largest democracy having the second highest number of scientists and engineers – shaping the future.

Modi oath

Happy Independence Day to young and vibrant India

On this Independence Day for India, 15 August, it was a privilege to attend the flag raising ceremony at the Indian Consulate in Melbourne (picture below).


It made me reflect on one amazing statistic about India – more than 50% of its population is below the age of 25 (that’s 600 million) and more than 65% below the age of 35. It is expected that, in 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years, compared to 37 for China and 48 for Japan.

This “Demographic Dividend” will drive economic growth and cultural change.

Happy Indian Independence Day!

Time for the Nehru-Gandhi family dynasty to end for Congress Party

For almost 100 years, generations of the Nehru-Gandhi family have led the Indian National Congress Party – is this dynasty coming to an end?

This question pre-occupies Indian commentators as Rahul Gandhi (pictured above) quit after leading the party to a disastrous 2019 election loss to Narendra Modi.

The modern Indian electorate is aspirational and finds little to like in the conservative and history obsessed Congress Party.

One key element of becoming a leader is that you are driven to do it, that becoming leader is your life’s passion. Rahul Gandhi never convinced in this – he looked like a man forced to run because of the dynasty.

In 1919, Motilal Nehru (pictured below) became the president of India’s oldest party, the Indian National Congress. Rahul was his great-great-grandson.


This dynasty goes from Motilal Nehru to his son Jawaharlal Nehru (independent India’s first Prime Minister), and then to Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi (who had married a man named Feroze Gandhi, and since then the dynasty has been called the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty), and her two sons, Sanjay Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. After Rajiv Gandhi was murdered by a Tamil terrorist in 1991, the party eventually convinced his Italian wife, Sonia Gandhi (born Sonia Maino), to take over the steering wheel. Sonia brought into Indian politics her two children: Rahul and Priyanka, making them the fifth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi family line within the party leadership.


Sonia Gandhi returns as fill in leader of the Congress Party as it contemplates the future

Many say Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (pictured below) has all the leadership qualities Rahul lacked, and could succeed to the leadership.


The huge victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has only underlined how the BJP has replaced the Congress as “India’s natural party of government”.

Congress has been decimated, with only 52 (up 8) national parliamentary seats compared with the BJP’s 303 (up 21) and none from 19 of the country’s 36 states and territories. It is estimated that the BJP won 92 per cent of contests with a Congress candidate and only 52 per cent of direct contests with other parties.

“The Congress Party must radically transform itself,” Rahul Gandhi wrote in his resignation letter. The question is – can it look beyond the dynasty to find a new, modern leader and political brand?