11th Feb, 2016
Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, announced the appointment of Ms Harinder Sidhu as Australia’s new High Commissioner to India on 11th February, 2016.
Mr Peter Varghese, who too has Indian heritage, held this position in 2009 to 2012, before taking up the position of Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra. There is a mini, and pleasant, trend in the Western world to appoint their nationals of Indian heritage in positions in, or related to, India. Ambassador Rich Rahul Verma is currently the United States of America’s Ambassador to India.
Ms Sidhu is of Indian heritage. In an interview, she disclosed that her family from both sides are of Indian background. Her father was born in Punjab, India. She was born in Singapore and migrated with her parents when she was a child. She has degrees in Commerce and Law from Sydney University.
Ms Sidhu was the head of Multilateral Policy division of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) until recently, and had previously held senior positions in Climate Change Department, Office of National Assessment (ONA) and Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet. He has held diplomatic positions in Moscow and Damascus previously.
This appointment is significant in multiple ways.
- With her Climate Change expertise, she will be of immense help in fostering deeper relations including trade between Australia & India in the field of renewable energy sector. India’s Minister for Energy and Renewable Energy was In Australia until 11th Feb looking at Australian Renewable Energy sector and exploring the possibilities for mutual co-operation,
- With her background in Climate Change, her posting in New Delhi takes an additional significance because India is key to achieving Carbon reduction commitments, set in Paris Climate Change Conference last year