On the 19th of April 2017, Wednesday, a community meet-and-greet dinner was hosted for Indian dignitaries by the Federation of Indian Communities of Queensland Inc. (FICQ) and High Commission of India to Australia, (Canberra), to honour the arrival of Indian government delegates in Brisbane. Among the esteemed guests was Member of Parliament, Professor K. V. Thomas from Kerala, India. He currently represents the Ernakulam Constituency of the 16th Lok Sabha, and is the present chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC). He was accompanied by Mr. Anurag Thakur, Member of Parliament of Lok Sabha from the Hamirpur constituency in Himachal Pradhesh who is also the current President of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association. Member- Public Accounts Committee. In addition, the event welcomed Mr. A.K. Singh Additional Secretary (Lok Sabha Secretariat), and Mr. Sonal Bajaj, Counsellor of the Indian High Commission for Australia. The event, led by FICQ President, Mr O Palanichamy Thevar was positively received, having Indian Community leaders and representatives from Queensland in attendance, including Mrs. Archana Singh, Honorary Consul of India for Queensland.

Mr Thevar noted that the Indian diaspora plays a key role in the community and business life of Queensland. He further proudly stated that there are Indians from all parts of India represented – from North to South and from West to East were all gathered together and highlighted that Prof Thomas is from Kerala in South of India and Mr Anurag from Himachala Pradesh in the North.  The Queensland Community was indeed very fortunate to have both the major Indian parties represented, the Congress and BJP.

Mr Bajaj welcomed and highlighted the recently concluded Confluence Festival of India program.  He noted the many similarities of India and Australia and mentioned about the recent Australian government delegation visit to India.  As well, Mr Bajaj urged all PIO card holder to convert to OCI which will be expire on 30 June 2017.

Prof Thomas explained the details of their current visit and the details of PAC conference in Brisbane.  PAC was called as a Mother of Parliament committee was founded in 1921.  It is tradition from 1976 that the Chairmanship of PAC has the opposition leaders’ choice. “If there is difference of opinion we cannot submit the report to take to Parliament. All recommendation of this committee are to be accepted by the government at large”, he said.  He was also been a Union Ministers for India in the past.

In Australia, Indians are from all different cultural and language groups.

Prof Thomas recalled Prime Minister Modi’s visit and also mentioned the recent Australian PM’s visit to Australia.  India looks at Australia as a good partner, he said:  “We have some interest in Australia for natural resources like Adani”.  He was also interested in the seafood industry and for people from Cochin to come for fishing near Australian waters.

Mr Anurag expressed surprise and appreciated the event.  He stated that Prof Thakur is a seasoned politician and MPs like himself could learn from him.

He said he loves Indian democracy where “you fight on issues and fight on ideologies. When you go out of country you represent India, not as parties”.  He appreciated that people living away from India are still showing patriotism by watching and supporting India.  Indians living away are contributing to make India a better place.  “Policy makers and every Indian together need to make India a better place – not only a place for big investments but a better place to live in.”

Finally Mr Nikhil Reddy thanked everyone.

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