Harinder Sidhu has been appointed the next Australian High Commissioner to India, the latest in a growing list of Indian-origin diplomats being posted at top positions in New Delhi by leading nations. The other two Indian-origin ambassadors here are Richard Rahul Verma, Ambassador of US and Nadir Patel, High Commissioner of Canada.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop Wednesday announced the name of Harinder Sidhu, whose father was born in India, as Australia's envoy. She arrives in New Delhi next week.
Ms. Sidhu said she was looking forward to her new role in a dynamic country that was also a country of her heritage. ??“India is one of the most exciting places for a diplomat to be at the moment. India’s economic prospects are bright and it is becoming a more influential and active international player,” she said in a statement in Canberra.
“The Australia-India relationship has grown substantially over the past few years and I will dedicate myself to building that relationship further.
“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.”
Ms. Sidhu, who replaces former High Commissioner Patrick Suckling, continues a tradition of Australian representatives with strong connections to India. “Both sides of my family are from the Punjab – my father was born in India,” she said.
Ms. Sidhu 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. Sidhu is also eager to indulge her passion for Bollywood movies.
“The first movie I remember watching as a child was "Brahmachari", it starred Shammi Kapoor and Mumtaz, and I’ve been hooked ever since,” she said.
One of Ms. Sidhu's first tasks in the job is likely to be hosting the Australian men's and women's cricket teams in India for the T20 next month.
"I'm looking forward to seeing both the Australians and Indians in action. I hope to get to Mohali for the match and, with luck, see them both in the final. too. May the best team win."
Sidhu is not the first Australian of Indian origin to be posted as envoy to New Delhi. Peter Varghese was the first India-origin High Commissioner here from 2009 to 2012 . Varghese, whose parents were from Kerala, later rose to become Foreign Secretary, the highest post in the Australian diplomatic service. In the nineties, Australia also had an Indian-origin Deputy High Commissioner, Rakesh Ahuja, posted in New Delhi.