| Australia | 11 Feb 2016 | Asia Samachar |
Australia has appointed Singapore-born Harinder Sidhu, a senior career officer with the department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as its next high commissioner to India.
Harinder was born in Singapore and settled in Australia with her family as a child. She speaks a little Punjabi and Hindi but is looking forward to the opportunity to become more fluent, reports the website of SBS Punjabi.
“At a personal level, I have always been fascinated by the country of my heritage and am keen to learn more about India – its language, culture and history – while I am there….Both sides of my family are from the Punjab – my father was born in India,” the report quotes her.
Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), a national public broadcaster with a special mandate to reflect the multicultural nature of Australian society, has a Punjabi station, which can be heard online.
The appointment, announced by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in a statement today (11 Feb 2016), has ‘boosted the profile of women in Australia’s most important diplomatic posts’, according to the Australian Financial Review.
In her statement, Bishop says: “India is one of Australia’s closest and most significant partners in the Indo-Pacific region. It is our 10th largest trading partner and our two-way investment is worth over $20 billion.”
Harinder, who replaces former High Commissioner Patrick Suckling, has been serving as First Assistant Secretary of the Multilateral Policy Division. She has previously served overseas in Moscow and Damascus, according to the statement.
Her previous roles included First Assistant Secretary in the Department of Climate Change, Assistant Director-General in the Office of National Assessments and Senior Adviser in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. She holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Economics degree from the University of Sydney.
“Australia also has strong strategic and defence ties with India, conducting our first bilateral maritime exercises in 2015. There are also over 450,000 people of Indian descent currently residing in Australia driving our strong education, cultural and tourism links,” the statement adds.
Harinder will also have non-resident accreditation to Bhutan, it adds.
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