Populous Architect part of Diplomacy Talks in India
Populous’ Al Baxter recently returned from the 2016 Australia India Youth Dialogue (AIYD), a forum set up by both Governments to try to provide better bilateral understanding through upcoming young leaders. Al gives us his impressions of the Dialogue involving 15 from Australia and 15 from India, which took place over four days in the cities of Delhi, Mohali and Bangalore.
The AIYD was established in 2011 by the Indian and Australian Governments in the wake of a series racially motivated attacks on Indian born students in Melbourne and worryingly lacklustre trade figures between the two countries.
Essentially a vehicle of soft diplomacy, the AIYD identified 30 up and coming leaders (under the age of 40) across politics, media, business, sport and culture. The hope is that in the next decade, when these AIYD Alumni are in senior leadership positions, there will be an avenue of direct and personal communication and understanding between the two countries.
This year’s dialogue was held in 3 Indian cities (Delhi, Mohali and Bangalore) to:
- learn, discuss and debate issues significant to Indian Australian trade and development, particularly around entrepreneurial innovation, sustainable development and culture, and
- To build a series of personal relationships between young leaders in both countries.
I was invited to attend this year’s delegation after giving a TEDx talk in November 2015 on how to capture triple bottom line sustainability in sports venues and because of my background as an Australian ex-professional sportsman and architect.
With only 30 delegates meant there was plenty of opportunity to robustly discuss and explore the issues around innovation, sustainability and culture. There were several big take home lessons for me:
- Although one of the oldest cultures in the world (3000BC) India is also the world’s 3rd largest start-up economy, behind US and UK, with 4,200 Indian start-ups successfully established last year – the majority of these centred around the Indian IT capital Bangalore.
- 80% of revenue for cricket worldwide comes out of India and they have the highest cricket salaries in the world through the India Premier League tournament (salaries of over $100,000 per week are not uncommon!) yet a lot of their cricket infrastructure needs much improvement.
- Mass urbanisation over the past 20 years has driven great wealth in Indian urban areas (India ranks 8th on the global list of multimillionaires behind Hong Kong and Switzerland). But it has also meant there is a severe lack of services and infrastructure as Government struggles to keep pace with development exacerbating issues faced by 25% of the Indian population living below the poverty line.
Certainly a country of contradictions. But with 1.2 billion people fanatical about cricket, an economy growing at 7% and a definite need for sporting infrastructure, India is a real drawcard. I can’t wait to go back.