President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, reached Melbourne on November 23, 2018 on the third day of his visit to Australia. He addressed students and members of the academic community at the University of Melbourne. The topic of his address was “Australia and India as Knowledge Partners”.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said the India-Australia knowledge partnership rests on two pillars: education cooperation and scientific collaboration. The President said Australia is the second most preferred destination for higher education for Indian students. Today, there are about 85,000 Indian students in various parts of Australia. He noted that “education” has been chosen as the flagship sector for Australia in the “India Economic Strategy” commissioned by the Australian government. He also noted that Australia is among the top five research partner countries for India. The Australia India Strategic Research Fund is Australia’s biggest investment in research collaboration with any single country. Coinciding with the President’s visit, both countries have announced a renewed commitment of Aus$ 10 million each towards the Fund.
Earlier the President commenced his engagements in Melbourne with a visit to Government House, where he was received by the Governor of Victoria, Linda Dessau. The Governor hosted a luncheon banquet in honour of the President. Speaking on the occasion, the President praised the government of Victoria’s emphasis on trade and business with India. He appreciated Melbourne and Victoria for being welcoming of the Indian community and the Indian-origin diaspora. He said it was a matter of pride that the Indian diaspora is contributing strongly to the Victorian economy.
Subsequently the Leader of the Opposition in Australia, and the leader of the Labor Party, Bill Shorten, called on President Kovind. The President thanked Mr Shorten for the bipartisan support in Australia for good relations with India, and Mr Shorten responded by calling India a priority for Australia. The two leaders also discussed the advance of India’s renewable energy programme and India’s initiative in setting up the International Solar Alliance.