Mumbai, Sept. 4 ANI | 1 year ago

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is on a two-day visit to India, launched the 'New Colombo Plan' at the Mumbai University here on Thursday.

"I feel honoured to be here in this great hall of learning to help launch in India the 'New Colombo Plan'. I say this is a great hall of learning because there are many few institutions of learning anywhere in the world which have done as much to spread this light of knowledge as this great university of Mumbai," said Abbott.

The New Colombo Plan is a concept of collective inter-governmental efforts to strengthen the economic and social development of member countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The primary focus of all Colombo Plan activities is human resources development.

Abbot also said that Indians have been coming to Australia for many years, and added that there are some half-a-million people of Indian background living now in Australia.

He added that in any one year, there are some 40,000 Indian students studying in Australia, but not a lot of Australian students are studying in India, which would now have to change.

He said: "Regrettably right now, there are just a few Australian students studying in India; that must change and that will change as a result of the New Colombo Plan that I launch this day here at the University of Mumbai."

Abbott further said, "From next year, there will be hundreds of Australian students in India, in the years to come those numbers will mount further, so there will be thousands of Australian students here in India experiencing the richness and the depth of the learning and the culture that this great country has to contribute to us and to the wider world. There is so much that we can learn from each other."

Paying a tribute to Mumbai University, Abbott said, "I want to pay tribute to this university for preserving the universal wisdom of mankind, for doing what it can to spread the knowledge, the truth, the wisdom and the decency which is at the heart of humanity. You have been doing that since 1857."

On his first visit to India since taking office, Abbott will visit New Delhi and meet senior political leaders, including President Pranab Mukherjee.

The Australian Prime Minister is being accompanied by a group of senior business leaders on his visit.

Australia and India have strong and growing economic and trade ties. India is Australia's fifth largest export market, with total exports of USD 11.4 billion, and there is potential for further cooperation in resources, science, technology and education.

(Posted on 04-09-2014)

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