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  • Writer's pictureAkasha Usmani

Australia-India Youth Dialogue:

Why the Australia-India Youth Dialogue (AIYD) one of the most successful people-to-people meetings in global diplomacy.

The class of 2015 at AIYD pose for a group photo.

The Australia India Youth Dialogue (AIYD), is the most important track-two dialogue for young individuals between Australia and India. The dialogue hosts fifteen of the most talented young individuals from both countries at an annual conference that is alternately held in Australia and India. The dialogue encourages a vibrant exchange of ideas between these young leaders to think about new and innovative ways to improve Australia-India ties through their work and efforts. Since 2012, the dialogue has brought together emerging young leaders from Australia and India at its annual discussions.

The dialogue explores new possibilities and opportunities in the Australia-India relationship by incorporating the skills and knowledge of the two countries as well as the ambitions and aspirations of the young leaders from both countries.

This dialogue encourages the young leaders from India and Australia to engage in a broad and diverse discussion that will strengthen the Australia-India cultural ties. It also provides a platform for Australian and Indian youth to connect and promote a strong relationship between the two countries.

The AIYD enables young leaders in both countries to collaborate and exchange ideas and innovations with a view to establish sustainable long-term relationships by facilitating discussions about the economic, political, cultural, social, and environmental issues that both Australia and India are currently grappling with.

The delegates talk about important issues and concerns in the relationship between Australia and India as well as the challenges and opportunities the two countries face. The discussion is organized around panels conducted by professionals in the fields of public diplomacy and soft power, innovation, business, and education.

The dialogue helps foster a positive relationship between India and Australia. This group of young leaders is considered to be the leading and emerging group that contributes and influences to a mutually beneficial and strong bilateral partnership. The underlying idea behind the dialogue is that young people from both nations can and should play a significant role in changing traditional beliefs and building new and fresh opportunities for cooperation and partnership.

A former delegate, Rishi Suri, stated “ The Australia India Youth Dialogue is more than just an annual conference. It’s a network which is unparalleled in terms of the profile of the delegates and the kind of comradery it offers. I was a delegate in the first edition and joined the steering committee subsequently. I was a part of the organizing team for 4 years after and it was by far the most enriching experience of my life. The bonds we forged, the relationships we made will be long lasting. India and Australia have the potential to do much more together and I’m glad AIYD can help in its own way to further the bilateral dynamic”.

Some other prominent Indian delegates are - Harsh Sanghavi - the youngest Member of the Legislative Assembly, Gujarat, who is now the Home Minister of Gujarat. Sanghavi is a 2017 Indian delegate. Tasneem Fatima, a wheelchair basketball player is the founder and president of Delhi State Wheelchair Basketball Association, a non-profit organization that uses sports to advance the interests of individuals with disabilities. She was a part of the youth dialogue in 2018. Bhakti Sharma, 2018 delegate, is a local elected Panchayat leader. She won a Presidential Award for her persistent efforts and accomplishments in the village and has also received awards at the state and federal levels.

Some prominent Australian delegates are - Dr. Andrew Charlton, who was a 2015 delegate and has served as the Prime Minister's Senior Economic Advisor. He was Australia’s senior representative to the G20 Leaders Forum from 2008 to 2010.

Amy Keough, 2022 delegate, is an Australian diplomat who is presently the First Secretary (Geoeconomic) in the Australian High Commission in New Delhi, where she is responsible for the growing economic, climate, and energy relations.

In 2012, Nathan Bracken was a delegate for AIYD, a professional cricketer, he won the Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year award in 2001. Throughout his career, Nathan Bracken has continued to win some of cricket's most prestigious awards.

The AIYD initiative is supported by state governments in Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, the Australia India Institute, Australia’s leading research institute as well as the Australian Government. Universities and organizations with a focus on developing the India- Australia relationship through youth empowerment also contribute significantly to this dialogue, seeking to enhance the strategic partnership between the two nations by fostering the relationship between the youth from both the countries. AIYD offers assistance in addressing issues and finding creative solutions through high-level discussions and interactions.

The AIYD has played a significant role in growing the economic, geopolitical and people-to-people ties between the two countries. While both governments recognize the potential for collaboration of both countries in various fields, the dialogue has taken the initiative to develop people-to-people ties by effectively bringing together young leaders from both countries strengthening bilateral ties.

The alumni of this very successful dialogue has many a times contributed significantly to the strengthening of this relationship. One of the most memorable examples is of the two delegates from the 2016 batch, Sam Freeman and Lairenjam Niranjan Singh. Freeman and Singh teamed up to offer high-caliber programs for skill development to the youth of North East region of India through their respective organizations.

The initial goal was to teach 100 children in the retail sector leading to include many more sectors. Two months after they discussed it at the 2016 dialogue, Freeman and Singh established this collaboration and made the announcement during a signing ceremony in Manipur. Freeman and Singh is just one such example of the success the AIYD has enjoyed since its inception, there are many more.

With each year the AIYD is creating long lasting partnerships, leadership as well as friendships that will go a long way in strengthening the future of the India- Australia relationship.

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