Within hours of landing in Brisbane for the two-day Group of 20 Leaders Summit starting Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped out to the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), to interact with scientists in agriculture and bio sciences.
“The Prime Minister was given a demonstration of specific scientific projects, some of which are jointly funded by Australia and India,” said Prof Arun Sharma, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Commercialisation), QUT.
After a presentation on AgBot, a special robot that has agricultural applications, Modi wrote on it that research is the mother of development and intrinsically linked to the development journey of mankind. He also spoke to students and said he was fortunate to meet them on the 125th birth anniversary of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Modi interacted with QUT academicians to know more about India-Australia joint projects such as bio fortification of banana, integrated bio fuel project and robotics in agriculture. Congratulating the scientists at QUT, he said, “Agriculture will benefit from the use of science and technology.”
Prof Sharma said Queensland has a very special relationship with Modi. “Queensland was one of the first jurisdictions in the world to send an invitation to Mr Modi when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2012. There is a quite a lot of investment coming from Gujarat,” he pointed out.
The research on nutritional enrichment of bananas with iron is funded by the Australian government, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the department of biotechnology, India.
“He also saw our research in pulses, and how we covert waste material from agriculture or sugar waste into plastics, chemicals and bio fuel to create more value added industrial products. This is so relevant to India which is also looking at adding more rural jobs,” Deputy V-C Sharma said after the PM’s visit.
According to Prof Sharma, who is a computer science undergraduate from BITS Pilani, and a Ph.D from the State University of New York, “There is a new sense of energy, vibrancy in India. And I think, Australia is aware of it. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was in India and signed the uranium deal and also extended the Australia-India strategic research fund collaboration project.”
The two countries have much to offer to each other, he said. “We are in some sense complementary. India has know how and manpower. Australia has natural resources and expertise in infrastructure. It is not just resources. We have similar climatic zones.
The way we do agriculture and even build infrastructure is similar. We have a lot more to collaborate,” he added.
In Brisbane, where Modi arrived a little later than schedule, he was received by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman. The Prime Minister and his delegation are staying at the Sofitel Hotel in the central business district. “Reached Brisbane. It is bright and sunny outside,” Modi tweeted upon his arrival.
This is the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister in the past 28 years. In his departure statement, he had noted that despite much in common, the two countries’ political, strategic and economic relations have been below potential. At the G20, Modi is set to push his domestic agenda of getting black money back and seek international cooperation against black money.