Australian Foreign minister Julie Bishop has boosted the profile of women in Australia's most important diplomatic posts by appointing a former senior climate change official to be the Australian High Commissioner to India.
Senior Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade official Harinder Kaur Sidhu is taking over the post at a time when Australia is trying to deepen its relationship with India in both security and economic fields as the country emerges as the fastest growing major economy in the world.
The Sikh-Aussie’s appointment follows the appointment of senior trade negotiator Jan Adams as ambassador to Beijing late last year replacing another woman Frances Adamson, who now advises Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on foreign affairs.
Harinder most recently headed DFAT's Multilateral Policy Division and previously was posted in Moscow and Damascus.
But her background as a senior official in the Department of Climate Change for several years will be of particular significance in India because it is now a key player in whether the world can meet the new carbon reduction commitments from last year's Paris climate change conference.
India's energy minister Piyush Goyal has been in Australia this week examining renewable energy technology which could be deployed in India to meet the Modi government's plans to embark on the world's most intensive rollout of renewable energy.
Harinder has also held senior positions in the Office of National Assessments and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Daughter of Ajaib Singh and Jagjit Kaur Sidhu, she and her family moved to Australia from Singapore when she was a child.
Ms Bishop said: "India is one of Australia's closest and most significant partners in the Indo-Pacific region. It is our 10th largest trading partner and our two-way investment is worth over $20 billion.
"The Government will continue to push for the conclusion of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with India, designed to take our economic relationship to a new level.
"Australia also has strong strategic and defence ties with India, conducting our first bilateral maritime exercises in 2015.”
[Courtesy: Financial Review.]