Letter to India 2018

19th Feb 2018

Indian & Australian FlagOn the National Day for India and Australia on 26 January 2017, I was inspired to write a Letter to India.  A copy of this article can be found here.

A year later on 26 January 2018, I was inspired again when the media reported that Indian born Medical Doctor, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal was only a small handful of Australians awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia, the highest Australian honour that can be awarded:

Dr Haikerwal has held a number of leadership positions in the community but from 2005 to 2007 he was Federal President of the influential Australian Medical Association.

Distinguished Indians

But Dr Haikerwal is not the only Indian born Australian that has played leadership and distinguished roles in Australian life.  There are many other Indians who have made significant contributions to Australia.

Appendix 1 to this article provides a list of notable Indians who have distinguished themselves in Australia across a spectrum of activities. They range from the world of Academia and Science, the Arts, Business, Medicine, Public Service, Politics, and Sports, show casing Indian talent in Australia.  It will be noted that both men and women have excelled in these endeavors.

Appendix 2 provides more information about each of these distinguished Indian-Australians in alphabetical order by first name, and a web link is also provided for them.

We will take from this Appendix a sample of these distinguished sons and daughters of India who have been exemplary and have done India and Australia proud:

  • Academia: Professor Chennupati Jagadish

A stand out from the rich list of Indian academics is Professor Chennupati Jagadish from the Australian National University’s Department of Electronic Materials Engineering.  Like Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, Professor Jagadish has also been awarded Australia’s highest honour, the Companion of the Order of Australia.  He moved to Australia in 1990 and has established a major research program in the field of optoelectronics and nanotechnology, and is Australia’s leading light in this field.

  • The Arts: Pallavi Sharda

Pallavi Sharda is an international film and classical and contemporary Indian dancer.  She was born in Perth to high achiever parents in science and engineering.  She has starred in Bollywood, international films & Australian TV work.  Pallavi advocates and promotes India-Australia relations, and the strengthening of intercultural links between our two countries.

  • Business: Neville Roach

Neville Roach is a giant in Australia’s business world.  I knew of him when I served in the Department of Immigration and he was Chairman to the Advisory Council for a number of Immigration Ministers across many years.

He is the former CEO of Fujitsu Australia and has been on the board of many leading organisations.  He was Chairman of Australia India Business Council (AIBC) from 2000-2006.  He has received several awards, the Order of Australia in 2000 for his contribution to business and Multiculturalism.  In 2017, he was declared Indian Australian Ambassador in the India Australia Business and Community Awards.  He also received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award, India’s highest honour for Overseas Indians from the Indian President in 2008.

  • Medicine: Dr Gorur Krishna Harinath

Dr Gorur Krishna Harinath, born in Hyderabad, has been a GP for over 35 years.

He has been the Chairman and Board Member of Cricket NSW, and is a Board member of Cricket Australia.  He is a prominent face at Indian community events.

He was awarded the 2017 Pravasi Bharatiya Samman by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee in the field of community service, and in 2009 was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for outstanding service to cricket and the community.

  •  Public Service: Peter Varghese

Mr Varghese was born to Indian parents in Nairobi, Kenya.  He migrated with his parents in 1964. He is currently Chancellor of the University of Queensland.

He served as a career diplomat with distinction, becoming the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade from 2012 to 2016.  He was Director-General of the Office of National Assessments from 2004 to 2009.

He was Australia’s High Commissioner to India from 2009 to 2012, and High Commissioner to Malaysia from 2000-2002. He had been Senior Adviser (International) to Prime Minister John Howard (2003-2004).  He was awarded the Order of Australia (AO) in 2010 for distinguished service to public administration.

  • Politics: Lisa Singh

Senator Lisa Singh was born In Tasmania to a Fiji-Indian father and an English-Australian Mother.  She is a Senator for Tasmania, having been elected twice to Federal Parliament.  She was in the Tasmanian Parliament in 2006, and had served as State Minister for Corrections and Consumer Protection and Minister for Workplace Relations.  She has been an outspoken advocate for human rights.

  • Sports: Jason Sangha

Mr Sangha was born in Sydney to a Punjabi Sikh family.  He is an up and coming young cricketer making the List A debut for Cricket Australia XI on 15 October 2016.  In 2015-16 he became the youngest player in 90 years to represent NSW in a Second XI or Toyota Futures League match.  In December 2017, he was named as the Captain of Australia’s squad for the 2018 Under-19 Cricket World Cup.

The above list, nor the names in the appendix, is by no means exhaustive.  There remains many distinguished Indians who have contributed to a wide spectrum of Australian life.

Statistically, these contributions are all the more significant when the Indian-born population in Australia at the end of June 2014 was less than 400,000.

The Indian diaspora beyond those living in Australia has also contributed to Australia’s development, and here are only two illustrations:

  • Sanjeev Gupta is a British billionaire who purchased the Whyalla steelworks in South Australia in 2017 and in the process saved thousands of jobs in South Australia. He is now considering re-energising the defunct automobile industry by establishing an electric car industry in South Australia.
  • Gautam Shantilal Adani is the other Indian billionaire businessman. He is the chairman and founder of the AdaniGroup, India’s biggest coal importer.  He is looking in controversial circumstances to establish one of the world’s biggest coal mines in northern Australia.


 It is pertinent to remind readers that Australia is a vast country, the size of continental USA, with a population of only 24 million.

In contrast, India has a population of 1.324 billion (as at 2016).  Its three largest cities are Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.  Although the precise population of these cities are unclear, Delhi’s population is said to be between 16.3 million (2011 census) and 46 million (World Atlas), Greater Mumbai’s population is estimated to be between 18.4 million (2011 Census) to 20.8 million (World Atlas), and Kolkata is said to be between 14.1 million (2011 Census) to 14.7 million (World Atlas).  Regardless, the population of these cities alone is huge when compared with Australia.

In 1983, I had the good fortune of having two short term postings to the Australian High Commission in Delhi for about three weeks on each occasion. The profile of Visa Applicants then are completely different to the applicants of today.

The migration program in 1983 was small, and mainly in the Family Program.

Today, India is the number one source country for migrants to Australia, and has been so since 2011.  It looks set to dominate Australia’s future migration program.

There must be good reasons for this, and I will discuss this below in the segment on business migration, and provide reasons why Australia is such a popular choice for Indians, and for wealthy people of the world looking for a new home.

Indeed, the Indian population is the fourth largest migrant community in Australia and is one of the fastest growing diaspora in Australia.  It is also one of our two leading countries for International Students.  The other country being China.


I remember the Visitor caseload when I worked in New Delhi in 1983.  It was a small and  mainly negative caseload where refusal rates were very high.  How the times have changed.  Tourism from India is emerging to be the fastest growing market for Australia.

There were 278,000 visitors from India in 2016-2017, and the forecast is that this number will increase by up to 21% in 2018-2019 when visitor numbers are expected to increase to 337,000 a year.

With this estimated increase, it will make India the ninth largest inbound market for Australia.

The increase in visitor numbers will also see an increased exposure of Australia to the wider Indian population.

China’s experience of Australia in this regard may have profound lessons for India.

After China increased its tourism program to Australia in the decade commencing 2000, there was a dramatic change in migration trends from China.  In particular, we saw:

  • A spike in migration growth to Australia from China, and especially
  • A huge growth in China’s business migration to Australia.

Today China is by far the largest source country for business migrants to Australia.

What is the lesson from this?  Will increased tourism from India be a harbinger for increased business migration, just as it was for China before?

As India is already the number one source country for migrants to Australia, it is assessed that Indian business migration to Australia will only grow from its current low base.

Trade Relationships

 The other activity that will influence the advancement in business migration will be the growth in India-Australia trade.

It will be noted that the total trade between India and Australia in 2003-2004 was $6.65 billion.  In 2005/2006 it had grown to $10.12 billion with Australia’s exports to India being $8.84 billion and India’s exports to Australia being $1.46 billion.

And in 2015-2016 the total trade had grown exponentially to $19.29 billion, an increase of 190% from 2003-2004.  India’s exports to Australia were $6.45 billion, and Australia exports to India were $12.84 billion.  This makes India Australia’s fifth largest export market, and tenth largest trading partner overall in 2015-16.

Similarly, there has been a significant growth in bilateral investment from a decade ago.  Australian investment in India totalled $10.6 billion at the end of 2015, and Indian investment in Australia $11.6 billion.

This will be set to increase as India’s economic growth advances, and India’s middle class continues to expand prodigiously.  With this growth we are likely to see India’s wealthy to Australia increase as they seek options.  Options to lifestyle, to a secure and healthy environment, to political and economic stability, and to business opportunities and expansion, as Indian migration to Australia continues to grow.

India Engagement Strategies

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade states that:

India is the world’s fastest growing major economy, with forecasted growth of 7 per cent in 2017, and between 7.5 and 7.8 per cent growth to 2020. By 2030, India is projected to be the world’s third largest economy. 

With such a forecast it is no wonder that Australian State Governments have been developing specific and targeted India engagement strategies.

For example Queensland and the Victorian Government have appointed Trade and Investment Commissioners to India to promote their respective states.  Victoria also has offices in both Mumbai and Bangalore, whereas Queensland has an office in Bangalore.  Both states obviously targeting the rich innovative and the digital industries of Bangalore.

Interestingly, South Australia, a lesser known state in India has had an India engagement strategy since 2012. In a commitment to India, South Australia regularly updates its strategy to establish long-term trade and investment relationship with India, and there is a specific Unit within the State Government to oversee this strategy.

New South Wales and Victoria have followed suit.  It will be noted that an ‘India International Engagement Strategy’ was released by the NSW Government in 2015.  And Victoria’s India Engagement Strategy was unveiled on 14 January 2018.

Each state’s strategy is varied in its focus and approach.  But they all emphasise the importance of growing strong investment and trade partnerships with India.  Notable in this is the commonality that each of the state’s strategies emphasise Australia’s growing cultural connections with India, and its dynamic Indian market.

It is clear from this that the benefits of strengthening Australia’s economic ties with India are not only recognised but is actively pursued by Australia’s State Governments.

Australian Government Initiative

This approach is also supported by the Federal Government.  It will be noted that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited India in April 2017.

In that visit both Prime Ministers’ of India and Australia reaffirmed their commitment to the conclusion of a commercially meaningful Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which addresses the priorities of both sides.  It is expected that when this is concluded, CECA will benefit both countries enormously.

But arising from that visit was another notable development.  The Australian Government announced that it would commission an India Economic Strategy to define a pathway for the Australian business community to collaborate with India in its reform agenda, and to unlock opportunities offered by Indian economic growth.  Peter Varghese, a former High Commissioner to India and former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and a distinguished Indian highlighted in this article, was asked to lead this study and identify opportunities for Australian businesses in India.

The report is expected to be released in March 2018.

It was reported in the media at the end of January 2018 that Mr Varghese will argue that “Australia cannot afford to ignore the economic transformation under way in India”, and it is expected that he will offer three compelling reasons for this:

  • Firstly the sheer scale of the Indian economic transformation will be difficult to ignore as India becomes the world’s third largest economy
  • Secondly, much of the Australian economy is complementary to the Indian economy
  • Thirdly, it was reasoned that Australia needs to embrace the Indian economy to diversify its own risks as currently Australia’s linkage with China and Japan alone accounts for 40 per cent of our exports.

It is expected that the Varghese strategy will see Australia adopt a national strategy centred on about ten key Indian states, with a strategic emphasis on sectors where Australia is naturally placed to do well in India, such as education, agribusiness, resources and ­energy, and tourism.

The Varghese strategy will also be cognisant that India’s economic transformation is driven by huge structural factors such as urbanisation, the move from an informal economy to a formal economy, the demographics of a young population, and the investment in infrastructure, among others; and that Australian businesses should be aware of this.

The conclusion of this report, if accepted, will see a blueprint of great significance for the advancement of the India-Australia relationship, and for business opportunities.

Australia India Council

There is in Australia other instruments and organisations that have been established to further the promotion of Australia India relationships.  One is an Australian Government sponsored Australia India Council (AIC), created on 21 May 1992 to promote growth and collaboration between the two countries, including in trade and investment and the collaboration of Australian and Indian organisations.

AIC’s primary objectives are to:

  • raise awareness of Australia in India, and of India in Australia to promote growth  between the two countries,
  • promote exchange and collaboration between Australian and Indian organisations
  • deliver high quality programs to influential audiences in India.  To this end, financial  grants are available to support this endeavour
  • seek community involvement, and private sector support in advancing Australia-India relations; and
  • publicising AIC’s activities as a means of encouraging broad support to foster the Australia-India relationship.

Australia India Business Council

Another organisation worthy of consideration in Australia is the Australia India Business Council (AIBC).  This is the premier non-government and non-profit organisation founded in 1986 to foster Australia-India relations.

Its primary objective is:

to promote trade dialogue between India and Australia through nurturing and maintaining close relationships in both Australia and India, with Federal and State government agencies, the diplomatic corporations and industry bodies

The AIBC is an Australia-wide organisation with chapters in all Australian capital cities except for Hobart and Darwin. AIBC maintains close relationships with federal and state governments, the diplomatic corps and industry bodies, and it showcases opportunities to the Australian business community through an active program of events.

Rostron Carlyle Lawyers is excited to be collaborating closely with AIBC and is in the process of applying to become a National Corporate Member.

It will be a good idea for Indian business entrepreneurs to join this body when they migrate to Australia as it will bring them into contact with a wide and useful network.

It will help them settle more quickly into their new business environment, and learn the cultural mores of doing business in Australia.  With AIBC they will find a mutual vision, a common synergy, and importantly a camaraderie with likeminded people in their newly adopted land.

Business Migration

It is interesting to note that Australia has been the favourite destination for the world’s wealthy migrants looking for a new country for at least three years in a row.

In February 2017 Indian main stream media The Hindu reported that High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) chose Australia ahead of the USA and the UK for migration for the second straight year, reporting that an estimated 11,000 millionaires moved to Australia in 2016:

And in January 2018 it was reported in Australian media that for the third year running, Australia was the top migration destination for rich and wealthy business people:

Both reports reported very similar reasons why the rich chose Australia as their favoured destination, and these reasons were:

  • Proximity to emerging Asian economies: Australia’s location makes it a better base for doing business in emerging Asian countries such as East and South East Asia. Australia is geographically closer with similar time zones;
  • Safety record: Australia is safe for women & children in particular;
  • Australia does not have inheritance taxes;
  • Australia’s superior growth over the past decade: Total wealth held in Australia has risen by 83% compared to 20% growth in the US. The average Australian is now significantly wealthier than the average US citizen;
  • Perceived problems with the US healthcare industry: Australia has one of the best health care systems in the world.

What the reports do not mention, and I believe is also the critical reason why India is our number one source country for migrants to Australia, and these are:

  • The quality of life in Australia – our cities are not crowded and our amenities are modern
  • The climate – Australia has a mild and congenial climate all year round
  • Education – Australia has one of the best education systems in the world which explains why India is also a top source country for International students in Australia;
  • Economic & Political stability – Australia has a stable economy, and a stable political system
  • Income equality – Australia is intrinsically an egalitarian society and there is relative income equality; and
  • Multicultural Australia and how welcoming it is to new migrants – more than one in four people in Australia are either migrants or have one parent who is a migrant

And while all this information is known to the thousands of Indians that have been our number one source migrants, it is interestingly not a well-known fact for the rich Indians who may be looking for a new abode for their families from the statistics that are available.

In my four trips to India since August 2016 to meet with the wealthy clients in Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh, it struck me that there is a strong urge among the Indian wealthy to look for a new abode, presumably for all the reasons given above.  And interestingly not only were the clients I saw eligible for Australia’s Business Innovation and Investment Visas, but they largely did not know of the program’s existence.

From these clients I noted that their primary reasons for choosing Australia were:

  • Not to abandon India and their successful businesses there, but to forge new business and lifestyle opportunities – Australia is a perfect bridge for that
  • To provide their families with options, safety and security
  • Education for their children
  • Stability – Political and economic
  • Lifestyle
  • Climate & clean environment
  • With the growing Indian diaspora in Australia many had close family connections
  • New opportunities for them and their families

These reasons are not exclusive but were the main reasons I encountered.

However, notwithstanding this interest, business migration from India has been slow.  The comparative table below are statistics that have been extracted from the Department of Home Affairs website (the statistics are the latest available).

Two observations can be made from these statistics:

  • One is business migration from India is small and in its infancy. In the four year period from 2011 to 2015 the best number per annum for Indian business migrants was in 2011-2012 when 64 Indians were granted business migration visas, and it will be noted that numbers have fallen since.  This 64 visas would constitute barely 16 families, a miniscule number for a population of 1.324 billion.
  • Two is an interesting comparison that Pakistan with a population of 193.2 million, one seventh India’s population, has produced more business migrants to Australia than India!

 Business Innovation and Investment Visas

2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15
India 64 48 40 48
Pakistan 157 40 136 42

Source:  Department of Home Affairs

While business migration from India is slow, inevitably like thousands of other Indians that have made Australia home, the business people of India will also find their way to Australia.

Peter Varghese who was mentioned earlier said the following in a speech given in India in December 2016:

The Indian elite has traditionally not looked to Australia. That is beginning to change…..

It is interesting that in the same speech on Australia-India Partnership, he made the following observation:

… anyone interested in doing business with India, and especially anyone interested in doing business in India, needs large wellsprings of patience because India punishes impatience.

  Australia India Symposium

 In therefore publicising Business Migration opportunities in Australia, Rostron Carlyle Lawyers in conjunction with its partners Spatial Impacts, and the Pan-India SMC Group, will host the first Australia-India Symposium in Delhi and Mumbai in April 2018.

The main objective of this event is to promote and facilitate viable business connections between India and Australia.

We aim to offer successful Indian business men and women an opportunity to gain investment and migration knowledge about Australia.  This event will provide attendees the knowledge and resources they need to expand the scope of their businesses into Australia.

The event will also provide attendees an opportunity to learn more about Australia and the Australian lifestyle.  The event will involve presentations from sponsors and delegates, and interested attendees will be offered the opportunity to speak one-on-one with Symposium Resource people.

In recognising the growing cultural connections between Australia and India, Rostron Carlyle and its partners are committed to enlightening Indian business people of the numerous investment and migration opportunities available in Australia.

Rostron Carlyle and its partners are committed to India, and jointly we offer ourselves as a vehicle that will bridge India and Australia.

This will be a win-win scenario:  it will benefit the client, it will benefit the partners to the Symposium, and importantly it will benefit the two countries by strengthening the India and Australia business ties.


Two Migration Lawyers (Peter Kuek-Kong Lee and Anna Gunning-Stevenson) from Rostron Carlyle Lawyers will be in Delhi and Mumbai to participate and meet with eligible clients.

Cumulatively between them these lawyers have over 40 years’ experience in the migration industry helping people to move to Australia successfully.

If you are interested in the Australia India Symposium please refer to the website:


Australia is waiting for you!

Peter Kuek-Kong Lee

Rostron Carlyle Lawyers

26 January 2018


Peter Kuek-Kong Lee:        p.lee@rclaw.com.au

Anna Gunning-Stevenson: a.gunningstevenson@rclaw.com.au

Appendix 1

Distinguished Indian-Australians

Academics & Scientists:

  • Professor Chennupati Jagadish
  • Professor Arun Sharma
  • Professor Rajev Khanna
  • Dr Surinder Singh Sohal
  • Dr Rupinder Kanwar and Professor Jagat Kanwar


  • Pallavi Sharda
  • Sharon Johal
  • L Fresh the Lion (aka Sukhdeep Singh)


  • Neville Roach
  • Jim Varghese
  • Sheba Nandkeolyar
  • Uppma Virdi
  • Dr Nik Senapati


  • Dr Mukesh Haikerwal
  • Dr Gorur Krishna Harinath
  • Professor Makhan Singh Khangure

 Public Service

  • Peter Varghese


  • Senator Lisa Singh


  • Gurinder Sandu
  • Jason Sangha
  • Param Uppal
  • Amritpal Singh
  • Lisa Sthalekar

Appendix 2

 Distinguished Indian-Australians

(Alphabetically by first name)

Amritpal Singh


In March 2010 Mr Singh joined the Ludhiana Basketball Academy

  • In 2015, he signed with Tokyo Excellence of Japan’s National Basketball Development League (NBDL). He secured a one-year contract with a Tokyo team.
  • In 2017, Mr Singh signed with the Sydney Kings.
  • He is the first Indian to play professional basketball in the National Basketball League (NBL).

 Arun Sharma


  • Professor Arun Sharma is the former president of the QLD Chapter of AIBC (2006-2011)
  • He is the former head of the School of Computer Science and Engineering at UNSW.
  • He is the Cofounder of National ICT Australia (NICTA) Pty Ltd and CRC for Smart Internet Technology.
  • He holds a PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a Masters in Science from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science.

  Chennupati Jagadish


  • Professor Chennupati is a distinguished professor of Physics at the Australian National University
  • He is head of the Semiconductor Optoelectronics and Nanotechnology Group which he established in 1990.
  • He was awarded the Federation Fellowship and Laureate Fellowship by the Australian Research Council.
  • In 2016 he was awarded a Companion of the Order or Australia for his service to physics and engineering.

Gurinder Sandu


  • Mr Sandu is an Australian cricketer who has represented his country internationally.
  • He played for the Australia Under-19 cricket team in the 2012 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup.
  • He made his senior cricket debut for the Sydney Thunder in the 2011–12 Big Bash League season
  • In March 2013, Mr Sandhu was voted the Australian Cricketers’ Association player of the month

Gorur Krishna Harinath 


  • Dr Gorur Krishna Harinath has been a GP for over 35 years;
  • He was awarded the 2017 Pravasi Bharatiya Saaman by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee in the field of community service;
  • He was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2009 for his outstanding service to cricket and the community.  He is a prominent face at Indian community events in Australia.
  • He has been the Chairman and Board Member of Cricket NSW, a Board Member of- Cricket Australia, President of Sydney Cricket Club, and Director of the Bradman Foundation

 Jason Sangha


  • Mr Sangha was born to a Punjabi Sikh family in Australia.
  • He made his List A debut for Cricket Australia XI against South Australia on 15 October 2016.
  • In 2015-16 became the youngest player in 90 years to represent NSW in a Second XI or Toyota Futures League match.
  • In December 2017, he was named as the captain of Australia’s squad for the 2018 Under-19 Cricket World Cup.

Jim Varghese


  • From the accomplished Varghese Family born of Indian parents in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Mr Varghese is the current Chairman and owner of the Leadership Company QLD Pty Ltd and Director of the Springfield Land Corporation (SLC).
  • He has over 30 years’ experience as a Chief Executive in leading government agencies covering Transport, Main Roads, Education, Training, Employment and Primary Industries in both VIC and QLD sectors.
  • Mr Varghese was awarded a centenary medal for services to the public sector (2001)
  • He was appointed as a member of the order of Australia for service to public administration in Queensland (2009)

 Lisa Singh


  • Senator Lisa Singh was born In Tasmania to a Fiji-Indian father and English-Australian Mother.
  • She was first elected to the Australian Senate in 2010, representing the state of Tasmania. She was re-elected for a second term at the 2016 Federal election.
  • Prior to being elected to Senate, Lisa was elected to the Tasmanian parliament in 2006 representing the electorate of Denison.
  • In 2008, she was appointed Minister for Corrections and Consumer Protection and Minister for Workplace Relations, as well as Minister assisting on Climate Change.
  • Senator Singh is a long-time supporter of human rights and advocate for refugees. She has been outspoken as a Senator on the need for Australia to reform its immigration policy, particularly the practice of immigration detention, and the treatment of children in detention.
  • Senator Singh has also been a strong advocate for women’s rights, nuclear disarmament, international development, and asbestos disease sufferers.

 Lisa Sthalekar


  • Ms Sthalekar is the first cricketer of Indian origin to represent Australia, when she made her debut in a one-day international competition against England.
  • She is the former captain of Australia’s international women’s cricket team.
  • She has since become the highest all-time wicket taker in Australia’s Women’s National Cricket League.

 L-Fresh the Lion (also known as Sukhdeep Singh)


L-Fresh The Lion (aka Sukhdeep Singh) is an Indian-Australian hip hop artist, born in Sydney to Indian immigrant parents from Punjab who came to Australia in the 1980s.

  • L-Fresh has a law degree and has worked in the community assisting refugees and migrant groups.
  • L-FRESH and his live band have shared stages with names such as NasDead Prezand Talib Kwelias well as performed to crowds at Splendour In The GrassGroovin’ The MooWOMADelaideWoodford Folk FestivalNYE On The HillThe Plot, and numerous other Australian festivals.

 Makhan Singh Khangure 


  • Born in India, he moved to England with his family at the age of 9, where he completed his tertiary studies and medical training
  • Professor Makhan Singh Khangure was awarded Life Membership of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists in 2014
  • He is one of two Indians to receive the Order of Australia in 2017.

 Mukesh Haikerwal  


  Dr Mukesh Haikerwal was awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2018.

  • He is the former president of the Australian Medical Association;
  • He has represented Australia at the World Medical Association, worked with the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Beyond Blue.
  • In 2011 he was awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).

 Neville Roach


  • Mr Roach has been Chairman to several Immigration Ministers’ Advisory Councils
  • He has been on the board of many leading organisations such as OneSteel, NRMA Building Society, AIIA, CEDA SBS, UNSW Foundation, TAFE Global and AARNET.
  • He is the former CEO of Fujitsu Australia.
  • He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2000 for his contribution to business, especially the IT industry and for the development of Australian Multiculturalism.
  • He was Chairman of AIBC from 2000-2006
  • In 2008, he received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award – India’s highest honour for Overseas Indians from the President of India.
  • In 2017 he was declared the Indian Australian Ambassador in the India Australia Business and Community Awards (IABCA).

Nik Senapati


  • Dr Senapati is a Geologist and has spent over 35 years in the mining industry. He had roles in exploration, operations, strategy and external relationship;
  • His initial degree is in geology from St Xavier’s College, Bombay University. He has further degrees from Oxford University and a PhD in geology from Wollongong University, Australia.
  • He is the current President of the QLD chapter of the AIBC;
  • Until 2015, Dr Senapati was country head (Managing Director) of Rio Tinto in India;
  • Dr Senapati is the Honorary Advisor to FICCI in Australia;
  • He has chaired the mining committee of CII.

 Pallavi Sharda –


  • Ms Sharda is an Australian-Indian international film and classical (Bharatha Natyam) and contemporary Indian dancer.
  • She has starred in Bollywood and international films including Besharam (2013), Save Your Legs (2013), Hawaizaada (2015) and the oscar nominated film Lion (2016).
  • Ms Sharda stars in ABC Australia’s new television drama Pulse.
  • Ms Sharda is an honours graduate from the University of Melbourne Law, Arts and Languages schools

 Param Uppal


  • Mr Uppal was born in Chandigarh
  • He made his List A debut for Cricket Australia XI in the 2017–18 JLT One-Day Cup on 27 September 2017.
  • He made his List A debut against South Australia in the first match on September 27, and went on to play all six matches for the tournament.

 Peter Varghese


  • From the accomplished Varghese Family Mr Varghese was born to Indian parents in Nairobi, Kenya.  He migrated as a child with his parents in 1964.
  • He had studied history and graduated from the University of Queensland with a university medal
  • Mr Varghese is the current Chancellor of the University of Queensland where he had studied years earlier. 
  • He was Senior Adviser (International) to the Prime Minister John Howard (2003-2004), and had been speechwriter to Foreign Minister Gareth Evans.
  • He was Australia’s High Commissioner to India from 2009 to 2012, and previously High Commissioner to Malaysia from 2000-2002.
  • Between 2004 and 2009, he was Director-General of the Office of National Assessments.
  • Mr Varghese was Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra (2012-2016)
  • He was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) in 2010 for distinguished service to public administration.
  • He was awarded a Doctor of Letters honoris causa by the University of Queensland in July 2013 in recognition of his distinguished service to diplomacy and Australian public service.
  • Arising from Prime Minister Turnbull’s visit to India in April 2017 the Australian Government announced that Mr Peter Varghese would lead an independent India Economic Strategy to identify opportunities for Australian businesses in India. The report is expected to be released in March 2018.

 Rajev Khanna


  • Professor Rajev Khanna has been a research scientist at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research for over 25 years;
  • He is a recipient of the Officer of the Order of Australia for “distinguished service to medicine in the field of immunology, through contributions to the development of cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancers, infectious complications and chronic disease.”

Rupinder Kanwar and Jagat Kanwar 




  • Dr Rupinder Kanwar and her husband, Professor Jagat Kanwar are scientists and academics at Deakin University in their Geelong campus
  • Both are a power couple in Science research
  • In 2016, Deakin University medical scientists Dr Rupinder Kanwar and Professor Jagat Kanwar along with two other scientists made an important breakthrough in prostate cancer treatment that could help reduce the toxic side effects for patients.

 Sharon Johal


  • Ms Sharon Johal is a third generation Punjabi Indian, born in South Australia.
  • Ms Johal graduated with a Law and Commerce degree and moved to Melbourne with the hope of furthering her acting career.
  • She is an actress well known for her roles in Neighbours (2017), Winners & Losers (2011) and Tu Mera 22 Main Tera 22 (2013).

Sheba Nandkeolyar


  • Ms Sheba Nandkeolyar has been a member of AIBC for over 15 years and is now the national chair.
  • She is the Founder and Chair of Women in Business Chapter at AIBC, Sheba plays an active role in linking Women in Business across Australia & India
  • Ms Nandkeolyar co-founded one of Australia’s leading communication and marketing companies – MultiConnexions.
  • She was awarded the ‘IAA Inspire Champion Award ‘ – an International Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Global Communications by the International Advertising Association in May 2015 in London; the only awardee from Australia.
  • Ms Nandkeolyar has won many awards internationally, including The Arch of Excellence for the `Best Entrepreneur’ category by the Government of India, prior to migrating to Australia.

 Sukhwinder Singh Sohal


  • Dr Sukhwinder Singh Sohal  is a lecturer in Histopathology in the School of Health Sciences
  • Originally from the Punjab, he and his wife Pardeep migrated to Australia, where he began his PhD at UTAS in 2006, graduating in 2010;
  • In 2016, Dr Sohal was recognised by the American Thoracic Society (ATS) in San Francisco for his work on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Uppma Virdi


  • Ms Uppma Virdi is a successful Indian entrepreneur born in Chandigarh and raised in Melbourne
  • She is the Founding Director of Chai Walli, a tea business focused on the making, educating and sale of high grade Indian teas. 
  • Ms Virdi is a lawyer specialising in commercial law, employment law and intellectual property.
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