Dalai Lama provides another insight into how India is very different

How is India different?

Last week the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama delivering the 24th Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan memorial lecture on “universal ethics” organised by the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, said India’s message of “ahimsa, kindness, love and compassion” spread even during religious conflicts and World Wars.

So, there is one guide to India’s difference – in my own words – despite having some internal conflicts of its own, the Indian starting point is non-violence, kindness, love and compassion. Not saying it always works out that way, but…

How many other cultures can we say this for? Think how strongly the concept of “revenge” has taken hold in the west – someone does wrong by us, we will “track them down”. Just one example of a different mindset.

The Dalai Lama has lived in India since 1959, and he also called for a “revolution” in India’s education system by combining its 3,000-year-old ancient tradition of high moral teachings with the modern education. This would be a good thing everywhere.

“Those mental quality subjects like non-violence, love, kindness and compassion should be included as an academic subject instead of religious teachings,” the 84-year-old said.

What do you think?


The problem with RCEP is it has forgotten to walk in India’s shoes

Many of us had “high hopes” for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). In a world of “trade wars” this seemed a way to create the world’s largest trade pact. Exciting stuff.

RCEP wanted to cover the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the six countries with which the ASEAN bloc has free trade agreements (FTA). These included Australia, China, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand.


But now it seems to have gone. India has called a halt to it. Or, to be more accurate, inflexible negotiations on India’s concerns have pushed India out.

Here is a problem for RCEP – under their proposed deal, India faced a potential flood of Chinese imports.

Just look at the current global situation and you might understand the Indian approach.

The Indian Government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rightly highlighted that “India’s farmers, traders, professionals and industries have stakes in such decisions.” Seems RECP negotiators were not listening.

We have to “walk in India’s shoes” to fully understand this – a decision to safeguard the interests of poor and effort to give an advantage to India’s service sector while not shying away from opening up to global competition across sectors. That is the Indian view.

The view from India was they would have been required to eliminate tariffs on 74% of goods from China, Australia and New Zealand, and 90% goods from Japan, South Korea and ASEAN. In the midst of an economic slowdown, India “faced the risk of becoming a dumping ground for cheap Chinese goods.”

There was a special concern of Chinese agricultural products hurting Indian farmers.

RCEP advocates have hurt themselves by refusing to “walk in India’s shoes”. That’s no way to negotiate.



I hope Australian PM Morrison will speak in January at India’s Raisina Dialogue

Good news – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is to visit India next year.

There is a hint that the timing is January.

I hope he chooses to become a keynote speaker at the Raisina Dialogue – January 14-16.

Raisina Dialogue is a multilateral conference committed to addressing the most challenging issues facing the global community. Every year, global leaders in policy, business, media and civil society are hosted in New Delhi to discuss cooperation on a wide range of pertinent international policy matters.

The Dialogue is structured as a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectoral discussion, involving heads of state, cabinet ministers and local government officials, as well as major private sector executives, members of the media and academics.

The conference is hosted by the Observer Research Foundation in collaboration with the Government of India, Ministry of External Affairs.

The visit is also a great opportunity to further develop the positive relationship PM Morrison has with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


The world has been changed by Gandhi – celebrating 150 years since his birth

History recognizes Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) as India’s “Father of the Nation”.

But he has been the “Father of Change” throughout the world.


Peaceful freedom campaigners such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Tibet’s Dalai Lama owe much to this great man.


I am pictured visiting the Gandhi Ashram in Gujarat

In my own generation it was our opposition to the Vietnam War that led us to study Gandhi and his methods of non-violent protest. In this way he inspired young people in the 1960’s in Australia, USA, Canada and more.

I especially love his message encouraging tolerance: “As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it”. He said: “The golden rule is to test everything in the light of reason and experience, no matter from where it comes.”


Some more Gandhi messages for specific sectors:

Communities: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong”.

Leadership: “I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”

Careers: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Business: “A customer is the most important visitor on our premises; he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

Innovation: “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”

Education: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

In our ever-busy lives, Gandhi is a role model in taking time out for the simple things. I saw this in bustling Mumbai at Mani Bhavan (Gandhi House), a three storey home with shuttered windows, a residence that Mahatma Gandhi was able to use. His room is simply furnished, austere. He would sit and read, spin cotton or talk to friends. It was his quiet time.

This was indeed the man who said there was enough in the world for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed.

No surprise then that Gandhi’s core approach to life was “You must be the change you want to see in the world”, a message very alive today as we seek to enhance our tolerant, multicultural communities.


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.