By: Chandrashekar Bhat
AUSTRALIAN prime minister Anthony Albanese on Wednesday (8) paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi during his visit to the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad and played Holi in Gujarat’s capital on the first day of his trip to India.
Albanese, who is on a four-day trip to India, was welcomed at the airport by Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, who also accompanied the visiting leader during the Ashram tour.
Though it was not mandatory for visitors to remove footwear while walking on the open ground of the Ashram, the Australian leader did so out of respect for Mahatma Gandhi and the iconic place, said Ashram trustee Kartikeya Sarabhai.
Sarabhai and other trustees gifted to the visiting leader a book written by Australian author Thomas Weber on Mahatma Gandhi’s historic salt march.
The Ashram gifted another book depicting Gandhi’s life in Ahmedabad from 1915 to 1930, and a replica of ‘charkha’, or spinning wheel, to Albanese, who spent nearly 20 minutes on the premises.
In the visitor’s book, the Australian leader wrote that Mahatma Gandhi’s values and philosophy still inspire the entire world.
Late on Wednesday evening, Albanese celebrated Holi at Raj Bhavan. He was welcomed by governor Acharya Devvrat and Patel at Raj Bhavan by applying colour on his face as a mark of Holi celebrations, said a state government release.
The Australian leader posted photos from the event on Twitter and wrote, “Honoured to celebrate Holi in Ahmedabad, India. Holi’s message of renewal through the triumph of good over evil is an enduring reminder for all of us.”
“No matter what your faith is or where you’ve come from – we celebrate and value what unites us,” he said in another post.
Speaking at the event, Albanese said though it is his first official visit as the prime minister, he came to India as a youngster way back in 1991 and stayed in the country for six weeks.
Separately, the visiting leader announced his country and the Indian government have finalised the Australia-India Education Qualification Recognition Mechanism.
Albanese made the announcement at a programme where it was officially announced that Australia’s Deakin University would set up an international campus at GIFT City in Gandhinagar.
“The new mechanism means that if you are an Indian student who is studying or have studied in Australia, your hard-earned degree will be recognised when you return home. Or if you are a member of Australia’s very large Indian diaspora – 500,000 and growing – you will feel more confident that your Indian qualification will be recognised in Australia,” Albanese said.
He also announced the launch of a new scholarship – Maitri – for Indian students to study in Australia for up to four years.