Nagpur: Dr Ajay M Gondane, a diplomat from Nagpur has been appointed as the High Commissioner of India to Australia. An IFS officer of 1985 batch, he will be taking up his assignment in a few days, succeeding Navdeep Suri, who has been moved to the embassy in UAE. Gondane is currently the additional secretary (political) in the union ministry of external affairs.
“Australia is a high income country, whose population is lesser than of Delhi. It is strategically located and is surrounded by water. We want to develop the part as our area of influence,” he said, adding, “We work with a vision of India in 2030.”
Australia has a tough stance towards countries with nuclear capabilities. “We brought them around saying strategic needs demand it. We have to defend ourselves. Other countries won’t fight for us,” he says.
Gondane will focus on students in colleges and residencies, and on curbing racial attacks. Improving exports, bringing investment, promoting Indian tourism and helping develop India’s resources are his other priorities. “Australia was biased towards whites more than Asians. But they soon realized that work won’t go on without Indians,” he remarks.
Having closely worked with minister of external affairs Sushma Swaraj, Gondane points that she is the most intelligent minister he has seen. The ministry has generated goodwill owing to Swaraj’s prompt response to public over social media. “Within six months of joining the ministry, she knew me by name and recalled plans which were discussed in an earlier meeting,” he says.
In his vast experience of 31 years in Indian Foreign Service, Gondane has handled posts including deputy consulate general of India in New York and high commissioner of India to Papua New Guinea.
Gondane recalls days in the NU library, where students would fight to get their hands on the newspaper to take notes. “When I think of the boys and girls around me, I feel they were under-confident, and didn’t sustain through that phase. I want to tell students of Nagpur to not be afraid of pursuing their dreams,” he says.