Victoria launches new multi-million dollar "Engaging India" plan

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New Delhi/Melbourne, Sept.22 (ANI): Victoria's engagement with India was strengthened today through the launch of a new, multi-million dollar "Engaging India" plan - a four year strategy to strengthen Victoria's relationship with India.

The announcement was made today by the Premier of Victoria, John Brumby, at Federation Square, Melbourne along with Industry and Trade Minister Jacinta Allan.

According to an Australian High Commission release, the new program will lead to an increased level of government collaboration between Victoria and India and a strengthening of community and cultural understanding.

Trade and investment has always been a key focus area for Victoria and India and the new engagement plan will ensure the setting up of Super Trade Missions - an initiative of trade delegations under the banner of 'Team Victoria' led by senior Victorian Government representatives which will be backed by funding of an extra four million dollars.

The missions will include more than 200 Victorian companies and are projected to generate an additional 60 million dollars in exports along with similar increases in investment and jobs.

It also includes pre-mission programs for Victorian businesses associating with India and facilitating return visits for Indian businesses to Victoria.

Part of this program will also include in-market research for the business sector and increased promotion in India of Victoria's trade and investment opportunities.

The program will also see increasing government collaboration through a strategic partnership with Austrade in India to share information about potential investments and opportunities; more strategic agreements with Indian states backed by an ongoing exchange program to promote public sector capability building; and actively supporting visits to Victoria by Indian Ministers.

Victoria's Commissioner to India Geoffrey Conaghan said:"Victoria has had a very positive trade growth with India in recent times with business growing by 25 per cent annually. The overall sentiment towards Victoria being a preferred trade and investment destination has been validated by major Indian companies who have invested into Victoria in the past few years. We are positive that the new "Engaging India" program will help grow the India-Victoria relationship forward".

Some of the recent examples include Mahindra and Mahindra strengthening its aerospace business in Victoria through acquisitions, DEC Wadhawan investing a billion dollars towards construction projects in Melbourne and Air India entering the Australian market with direct flights from Delhi to Melbourne. IT is another fast growing segment with nine Indian IT companies based out of Melbourne.

Education is yet another strong area of focus for the next four years.

The "Engaging India" program will see 10 postgraduate PhD scholarships being provided to Indian students to study at Victorian universities.

It is the first country-specific programme for PhD scholarships and Indians who will benefit from the one million dollar opportunity to study at world-renowned universities.

The program will also see support for vocational education exchange scholarships for Karnataka students in Victoria. In Victoria, a special initiative has been introduced by establishing a Chair in Contemporary Indian Studies at the Australia India Institute that will see an additional funding of 500,000 dollars.

The position will be the first in Australia with a multidisciplinary contemporary India focus. The Chair will participate in academic visits, research projects and act as a focus for the education of Indian students in Australia.

Culturally, the "Engaging India" program will support a broad range of arts initiatives over the next four years. (ANI)

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