The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Australian launch on Saturday 30 August 2003 by the visiting Hon. Mr. Yashwant Sinha was a smashing success. Attended by 250 leading Australian citizens of Indian and non-Indian origin, the launch of the 7th international centre, in the Grand Ballroom of Sheraton on the Park, showed that the multicultural nature of the Bhavan and its activities is truly under way. Among those present were Philip Green, Director of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Alexander Downer and Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Phillip Ruddock; Laurie Ferguson MP, Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs; Michael Abbott QC, Chairman of the Australia India Council; Dhirubhai Mehta, Executive Secretary and Director-General of the Bhavan internationally; R. S. Rathore, High Commissioner for India; M. Ganapathi, Consul-General of India; and Mr. Neville Roach, Chairman of Australia India Business Council. The program commenced with a famous Indian poem, Vande Mataram, sung by Australian-Indian artist, Pushpa Jagdish. The President of the Australian Bhavan, Mr. Gambhir Watts then spoke about the primary role of the Bhavan as a cultural and educational vehicle to promote cultural harmony in Australia by raising awareness of the diversity of our Indian and Australian ways. Mr. Dhirubhai Mehta, Executive Secretary and Director-General of the Bhavan internationally, came to Sydney specifically for the launch. He spoke of the Bhavan as an international cultural ambassador, because it used art, music, culture and education to “sweep away cobwebs of ignorance and fill minds with divine sparks of wisdom.” He added that the Bhavan had been recognised for its achievements through the high-profile members and donors it attracted, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, Rt. Hon. Harold Macmillan, Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and others. The Minister, Yashwant Sinha began by saying that he readily agreed to the Launch because he was honoured to be given the opportunity to give back to the Bhavan, an organisation that had contributed to the cultural and educational life of India in many ways. He went on to say that the computer education centre the Bhavan ran in his own rural electorate had changed the lives of many and offered hope to a disheartened youth in India. Laurie Ferguson and Philip Green both spoke of the Bhavan’s role in ending cultural misunderstandings and gave its activities their whole-hearted support. Michael Abbott QC, emphasised the apolitical and secular nature of the Bhavan as aiding the cultural understanding amongst Australian citizens. Finally, Mr P. A. Ramakrishnan, Co-ordinator of the Australian Centre, but based at the Headquarters in Mumbai, talked about the critical role some members of the Bhavan’s Board had played in registering the Bhavan on I July 2003, and organising a successful pre-launch and now launch within 2 months. Finally, Mr P. A. Ramakrishnan, Co-ordinator of the Australian Centre, but based at the Headquarters in Mumbai, talked about the critical role some members of the Bhavan’s Board had played in registering the Bhavan on I July 2003, and organising a successful pre-launch and now launch within 2 months. The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan generated a great deal of enthusiasm and support for its initiatives, including opening a cultural centre by 2006. The cream of the Australian and Indian business and cultural community has vowed to become involved in the Australian Bhavan’s activities and to promote its work internationally.

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