EXCLUSIVE: First Indian-origin Mayor in Australia says student visas for Indians is his priority

| Updated: 23 May, 2023 4:43 pm IST

SYDNEY: In a historic moment, Indian-origin Councillor Sameer Pandey has been elected as the new Lord Mayor of the City of Parramatta Council in Sydney. This significant event coincided with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sydney, where he addressed the 20,000-strong diaspora at Olympic Park. In an interview with Urvashi Khona from The New Indian, Pandey expressed his priority of facilitating easier visas for Indian students coming to study in Australia. During the Prime Minister’s speech at Olympic Park, Pandey’s name was proudly announced, recognizing the accomplishments of the diaspora. As a small business owner with an IT background, Pandey is dedicated to fulfilling the needs of the community and local businesses while establishing the City of Parramatta as a smart city.

URVASHI KHONA: It’s a very special moment for all of us, India and Australia, coming together on this platform. How do you view Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit?

SAMEER PANDEY: It is indeed an exciting time for the Indian diaspora. Prime Minister Modi’s visit holds great significance as it will strengthen the relationship between India and Australia. I am personally thrilled to see him, and I believe the 20,000 people here are eagerly looking forward to hearing his vision for our relationship and how we can further enhance the people-to-people connections we have built in recent years.


URVASHI KHONA: There’s also a lot of anticipation regarding the naming of Harris Park as “Little India.” How do you perceive this development, and when can we expect an official announcement?

SAMEER PANDEY: I am extremely enthusiastic about the concept of the Little India Precinct in Harris Park. Designating certain parts of three streets in Harris Park as Little India is significant for the diaspora. We are looking forward to the unveiling of a plaque this evening by Prime Minister Modi, making the announcement official.


URVASHI KHONA: Looking ahead, how do you envision the future of the relationship between India and Australia? What areas do you believe should be the focus for both countries?

SAMEER PANDEY: There are several areas where we have made progress, but there is still much work to be done. Strengthening the economic ties between the two countries is crucial, particularly in terms of business relationships and opportunities for Param Param. Additionally, the presence of a large number of international students in our city plays a vital role in our economy. We are committed to further enhancing cooperation and collaboration in various areas, including these important aspects.

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