Ben Heenan

Benjamin Heenan is a final year Commerce and Law student at UNSW Australia. He has interned at a top commercial law firm and will be an Associate with Teach For Australia in 2017-18, teaching secondary school students in disadvantaged areas across Australia. During his time at University Benjamin has been actively engaged in a variety of leadership roles. He was as a member of the Council of UNSW Australia, chaired the Board of Directors for Arc@UNSW (the University’s student organisation) and served as President of the UNSW Law Society. Benjamin has also represented UNSW in the final rounds of international commercial mediation competitions in both Paris and Vienna. Outside of University Benjamin is the Vice Club Captain of Coogee Surf Life Saving Club and has recently obtained in Recreational Pilot’s Licence. Benjamin’s interest in the Indian-Australian centres around innovation and education.

Rommel Varghese (Co-founder)

Rommel Varghese is a Policy Officer in the Australian Public Service (APS). His experience includes advising on the hospital sector and improving governance standards at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). He has been in the APS since November 2013.

He has previously worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers and News Limited. In 2009, Rommel completed a policy internship focusing on Foreign Affairs and Trade at the Australian Parliament.

Rommel is an alumnus of the Australian National University (ANU) where he completed a double degree in International Relations and Business Administration.

Ruchir Punjabi (Co-founder)

Ruchir Punjabi is the Founder and Chair of Langoor – an agency of creative technologists with more than 180 people across Asia, in India, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. Ruchir is also actively involved in Langoor’s group of companies that include an Internet of Things agency – AlterNet, a design thinking consulting firm – Pensaar, amongst others.

He serves as a Director on a number of Boards including not for profits and startups.

Ruchir was the Founding Chair of the AIYD. He is a former President of the University of Sydney Union and a former Board Director of the Foundation for Young Australians.


Talish Ray

Talish Ray is a partner at TRS Law Offices, a full services law firm  which has its head office in Delhi. An alumnus of La Martiniere Girls College and Lady Shri Ram College, she got her degree in Law from Delhi University. She was trained as a lawyer in one of India’s premier law firms.

Talish has worked extensively with young entrepreneurs and corporate houses, individual clients and not-for-profit organisations. She has appeared before the Supreme Court of India as well as the various High Courts and Tribunals around the country.

Outside of her law practice, Talish continues to serve as the Convener for the panel for gender sensitivity at the Executive Council of the Confederation of Indian Industries (Delhi State).

She has worked widely with various stakeholders in the area of gender, environment and ICT. In all these areas her work has involved policy framing, awareness generation and compliance roll-out with the various stakeholders in these fields.

Talish is a member of the entrepreneurial education advisory board for Acropolis group of institutes in Indore. In her spare time, she conducts ‘by invitation only’ heritage walks around the city of Delhi.

Talish is presently training for her Dan II blackbelt in Taekwondo. She also combines her love for history and travelling and occasionally finds the time to write about her travels.

Talish was a delegate in the 2015 Australia India Youth Dialogue in Sydney and Melbourne.

Karan Anand

Karan Anand is a Management Consultant at Deloitte in Sydney. He is also a part time entrepreneur and the inaugural Chair of the Young Sikh Professionals Network (YSPN). At Deloitte, Karan consults on matters of strategy to executives of large publically listed companies focussed on the Financial Services and Consumer Business industries.

Karan also leads YSPN, which was founded in 2012 with a mandate to create the conditions for young Sikh professionals to succeed and amplify their influence. YSPN has active chapters in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth and a management team of >40 people.

Karan also serves as a Director for the Indian Sub-continent and Crisis Support Agency (ICSA).

Karan has a particular interest in the relationship between India and Australia from an innovation and entrepreneurship perspective.

Amongst his achievements, Karan was a delegate to the Brightest Young Minds forum in Sydney; a delegate to the National Student Leadership Forum in Canberra and part of an Australian delegation to The Hague International Model United Nations. In 2005, Karan was Darwin’s Young Citizen of the Year.

Karan has a Bachelor of Commerce and a Master of Finance both from UNSW where he was the Goldman Sachs Postgraduate Award winner.

Shaun Star (Chair)

Shaun is a co-founder and current Chair of the AIYD. He is Senior Operations Manager (Indian Premier League), IMG based in India. Shaun is also an Australian qualified lawyer and has worked at various top-tier law firms in India and Australia. Shaun graduated with distinction from Oxford University (UK) and was the top graduating law student from his cohort at Macquarie University (Australia). He has also studied at the National Law School of India University (India), giving him an in-depth understanding of the Australian and Indian legal systems.

Having lived and worked in India for more than five years, Shaun has a strong understanding of the Indian business and regulatory environments, represented large multinational companies on complex legal transactions, established a deep professional network in India and has led teams of Indian and Australian professionals on multiple projects.

Shaun is passionate about promoting the Australia-India relationship and has published a book entitled “Australia and India: A Comparative Overview of the Law and Legal Practice”, a volume which has received contributions from judges, leading barristers, academics and legal practitioners. The book has been launched by Former Australian High Court Judge, The Honourable Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG, Australia’s Attorney-General, Senator the Honourable George Brandis QC, Former Indian Attorney General and Mr Soli Sorabjee AM.

Running his own advisory practice, Australia India Advisory, Shaun assists Australians to better understand business opportunities in Asia, particularly in India. He currently advises numerous Australian organisations (from start-ups to listed companies), assisting them with their entry and expansion into India. Shaun has represented Australian companies across a variety of sectors, including education, energy and resources, professional services and technology.

Caitlin Bell

Caitlin Bell served on the Steering Committee between 2012 – 2014 during her posting as Second Secretary (Political) to the Australian High Commission in New Delhi. In New Delhi, she was responsible for the High Commission’s analysis of India’s domestic politics and this has inspired a lifelong connection with and interest in India.

Caitlin joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as a graduate trainee in 2009. Since then she has held a diverse range of positions in foreign, trade and development policy, including managing Australia’s sponsorship program for the 2010 International Expo in Shanghai. Caitlin is currently a member of the Department’s Crisis Response Team and has been deployed throughout the Asia-Pacific region to provide consular and humanitarian assistance following international crisis events.

Caitlin has an honours degree in law and social science from Macquarie University and is currently completing her Masters of Law from the Australian National University. She is admitted to the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory as a Barrister and Solicitor.

Caitlin believes wholeheartedly in the power that young people have to transform society. She served as a member of the Board of the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme, volunteered as part of the leadership team for the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program in Sydney, and was a Camp Counsellor for the children’s charity, Camp Quality. As International Director for Crossland’s Rotaract Club she established a scholarship scheme for Timor-Leste’s youth to attend leadership activities in Sydney. However, Caitlin’s greatest achievement remains discovering an infallible cure for sea sickness during her first Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race (apples and vegemite – it never fails!).

Peter Varghese

Peter Varghese took up his position as Australian High Commissioner to India in August 2009.

Prior to his posting, he was for five and half years the Director General of the Office of National Assessments (ONA) in Canberra.
From June to December 2003, Mr Varghese worked in the Prime Minister’s personal office as the senior foreign and defence policy adviser to then Prime Minister John Howard.

Mr Varghese is a career officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which he joined in 1979. He has served in Vienna (1980-83), Washington (1985-88), as Minister (Political) in Tokyo (1994) and as High Commissioner to Malaysia (2000-2002).

In 2010, Mr Varghese received an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), for distinguished service to public administration, particularly in leading reform in the Australian intelligence community and as an adviser in the areas of foreign policy and international security.


Danielle Rajendram

Danielle Rajendram is a Policy Officer at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra. Previously, Danielle worked as a Research Associate in the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, where her work focused on Indian foreign and domestic policy, China-India relations and broader Asian strategic issues.

Danielle holds a Master of International Law from the Australian National University and a Bachelor of International Studies from the University of New South Wales, with a major in Asian Studies. During her undergraduate degree, she spent a year studying international relations and Japanese language at Keio University in Tokyo.

Danielle participated as a delegate in the 2014 Australia India Youth Dialogue in Hyderabad and New Delhi.

Hayley Bolding

Hayley Bolding has an extensive background in international development, education and volunteering in Australia and Asia. At the age of 23, Hayley founded a non-profit organisation in India called Atma (

Under Hayley’s leadership, Atma has moved from a start-up to a well respected non-profit organisation engaging multiple partner organisations which impact over 30,000 beneficiaries. Atma has been internationally recognised for the Atma volunteer program and international chapters for Atma have been set up in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and The Netherlands. Hayley successfully successioned out of Atma in 2012, leaving a dynamic local team which continues to grow Atma’s work.

Continuing her passion in promoting people-to-people exchange Hayley has worked across Asia, most recently leading international youth programs for the Australia India Institute. She is currently the Lead for the Asia focused work at the Foundation for Youth Australians, working to engage and turbocharge young Australians’ connection to the Asia region.

Hayley was awarded Young Australian of the Year (Victoria) in 2013.  She is a Board member of the Victorian Australia Day Committee, and was a participant in the Asialink Leaders Program in 2014.

Hayley was a delegate in the 2012 Australia India Youth Dialogue in Mumbai and New Delhi.