Punjabi indispensable part Down Under: Aussie leader

  • Shailee Dogra, Hindustan Times, SAS Nagar
  • |
  • Updated: Jan 22, 2013 00:35 IST

Punjabi is the second-largest foreign language spoken in Australia, owing to the large number of immigrants from this part of the country.

"Punjabi has become an indispensable part of Australia. In fact, it is the second-largest foreign language spoken in Australia," said Eric Abetz, leader of the opposition in the Australian Senate, who is on his maiden visit to India.

Abetz is in India on an invitation by the India-Australia Strategic Alliance, a group comprising citizens of both the countries. He is the patron of the group.

While speaking to HT in SAS Nagar on Monday, Abetz said, "India and Australia, whose relations started way back in 1940s with the appointment of high commissioners, have come a long way, but still there are many untapped sectors in which we can work together."

"Australia has a large chunk of student population coming from India. As of now, there are about 20,000 students from India studying in Australia. There is need to have an exchange programme in place so that even Australian students can come and study in India, currently it is just one-way flow," said the senator of the opposition Liberal Party from Tasmania.

Abetz feels India and Australia have a lot in common, including the craze for cricket, adding that the two countries can work together on sectors like service sector, manufacturing and textiles sector, that have "tremendous potential" in trade as they are still untapped.

India-Australia Strategic Alliance chairman JS Virk, president Sanjay Sharma and vice-president Kamalpreet Khaira accompanied the senator.
'Australia to sell uranium to India'
"India is a mature democracy and can be trusted to ensure that uranium is not wrongly used," said Abetz, who said the decision of the current Australian government to sell uranium to India was long due.

Talking about the initial hiccups in selling uranium to India, he said, "The government opposed the sale as there are many leaders of the ruling Labour Party who have never been in favour of selling uranium to any country, lest it should be used for military purposes."
Dehradun connect
Abetz's grandfather, Dr Hugoseitz, food and agriculture expert, had come to Dehradun from Stuttgart, Germany, as part of a UN delegation to set up timber engineering division of the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, in 1953. While working as head, timber engineering division of the institute, he contracted severe typhoid and hepatitis B and died in Dehradun and was buried in Chandernagar cemetery on October 6, 1953.

During his visit to India, Abetz paid a visit to the grave of his grandfather besides to the Forest Research Institute.


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