Australian citiescame alive with excitement and optimism as Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India embarked on his latest visit to Australia. A particular group that extended a warm welcome was the Sikh diaspora, displaying unity, pride, and an overarching sentiment: “We are Indians and we all come under one banner“
Among the prominent figures leading the welcoming party was Gurnam Singh, founder of the Australian-Indian Sports Educational & Cultural Society. Singh, representing the sentiments of many in the Sikh community, stressed their Indian identity and the rejection of divisive elements. “We love Modi and reject disruptive Khalistani elements of US & Canada,” he proclaimed, aligning the Sikh community in Australia firmly with their homeland.
Mr. Singh also noted that this visit was a sign of an exciting shift in Australia-India relations. “The relationship between India and Australia has never gone beyond cricket until now. But now with the free trade agreement, it has brought a little more attention to India,” he said. Singh’s remarks echo the sentiments of many who believe the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) could lead to a flourishing partnership between the two nations, a sentiment buoyed by the PM’s visit.
As a substantial section of the Indian diaspora in Australia, the Sikh community has been instrumental in bridging cultural gaps and fostering bilateral relations. Their enthusiastic reception of PM Modi was a powerful display of their pride in their Indian heritage, and their willingness to play a proactive role in the strengthening of Australia-India relations.
Singh’s belief that PM Modi’s visit gave life to the FTA underpins the significance of such diplomatic trips. He suggested that Modi’s presence in Australia made the “trade agreement actually become alive,” demonstrating that international diplomacy and direct engagement can catalyze policy into action.
The reception also underscored the Sikh community’s distancing from Khalistani elements — separatists seeking an independent Sikh homeland named Khalistan, primarily present in the US and Canada. The Sikh diaspora’s reception, instead, showed an overarching sentiment of unity under the banner of their Indian identity.
This show of unity and rejection of divisive sentiments are particularly noteworthy given the geopolitical context. PM Modi’s visit to Australia signifies a potential turning point in their relationship, shifting the focus from shared interests in cricket to a more comprehensive, strategic, and economic partnership.
The event made one thing clear: the Indian diaspora, and particularly the Sikh community in Australia, looks forward to a future where the bond between Australia and India transcends cricket, venturing into realms of deeper economic, educational, and cultural integration.