Parting words from outgoing Indian High Commissioner Dr Ajay Marotrao Gondane

Melbourne: Having completed three years’ tenure in Australia, outgoing High Commissioner A M Gondane on Wednesday met members of the Indian community and hoped that Melbourne will continue to be the flagbearer of the Indian diaspora in Australia and bolster the development of ties between Australia and India.

In an informal meeting at the St Kilda office of the Indian Consulate, Gondane said the Indian diaspora in Australia has now touched 700,000, not to mention the 95,000 Indian students registered this year to study. “It is a substantive chunk and we hope this will increase in the years to come, maybe the diaspora would come to a million and that’s the need of the hour. That need is both ways and we hope our students imbibe the best of education that is available here. Also, immigration is a good pull here and it is good that the Indian footprint in the Australian land is increasing,” he said.

Gondane, who took over office in 2016, said it is with “trepidation that one approaches a country like Australia”. But as he started work, he found a great appreciation of the contributions, enthusiasm, energy and entrepreneurship brought by the Indian community to Australia across all fields – from the political, diplomatic and academic circles to the financial and corporate world.

“There is a decided appreciation of all of you here and that appreciation then translates into opening of the doors and importance for us diplomats who then plan for more exchange, cooperation and more give and take,” said Gondane.

Reflecting on his tenure, Gondane said the targets set by his office were in consonance with the sustained efforts of the community. “It has helped us to be even more ambitious for our relationship with Australia.”

While he regretted that the Free Trade Agreement could not be completed during his tenure, he said these are negotiations that are difficult to conclude in a hurry, adding, “there has been good cooperation with Australians in our multilateral trade negotiations.”

Consul General of India Raj Kumar said although he has not had the opportunity to work with Gondane, he has spent the past few days with the outgoing Commissioner and found in him an “excellent leader, officer and an outstanding human being, which is more important than anything else”.