Tanya Spisbah

Tanya Spisbah was recently appointed Head, Strategic International Engagement, University of New South Wales. From 2014-2017, Ms Spisbah was a diplomat at the Australian High Commission, New Delhi, specialising in technology diplomacy for inclusive, sustainable growth. She led the bilateral health agenda resulting in Prime Ministers Turnbull and Modi exchanging an MoU for Health and Medicine, paving the way for cooperation in digital health. Other areas of policy leadership included smart cities and infrastructure, fintech and investment. In previous roles in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ms Spisbah has served in Russia and Iraq. Ms Spisbah has negotiated free trade agreements with a number of Asian partners, led Australia’s education agenda in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and represented Australia at the World Trade Organization on intellectual property and environment. Ms Spisbah was formerly a lawyer with Minter Ellison, specialising in IP and technology. Ms Spisbah is passionate about the Australia-India relationship. She holds degrees in law, philosophy and economics and a Masters of Laws specialising in intellectual property, international trade and development.

Nehha Bhatnagar

A true cultural entrepreneur, Neha is the Founder- Director of Sarvam Foundation. Neha lives by the maxim that if you don’t stand for something, you fall for everything. She stands for proudly showcasing the ancient but ever new and ever fresh face of Indian culture to its own people and to the world. She is a senior disciple of the legendary Guru Padma Bhushan Dr. Saroja Vaidyanthan. An empanelled artist of the Indian Council For Cultural Relations, she has performed widely in India and abroad. She is also the scholarship for Bharatanatyam by the Government of Delhi for the year 2012-2014. Neha speaks and writes on culture frequently. She was voted as ‘the top ten people to meet’ at the famous TED Conference in California 2013. She is a TEDx Curator and has also been a Speaker at a few TEDx conferences.

A Masters and a Bachelors in Political Science and International Relations, Neha had worked with Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Minister and Member of Parliament from 2009-2012. She is also the youngest Rotarian in Delhi.

Hanumanram Farroda

Hanuman is Sarpanch( Head of village) of Pharrod village and president , Sarpanch Union Nagaur, Rajasthan. Hanuman is the President of Pharrod village in Nagaur District, where Jawaharlal Nehru started panchayati raj in 1959.
Graduating high secondary school from Losal, Sikar, he went on to do his Diploma in tourism and hotel management from Singapore and obtained a Bachelor in Business from Australia. Thereafter he managed a small business and also managed a resort in the Gold Coast in Australia.

In 2015, the people of his village asked him to come back and contest Panchayat elections. Leaving behind a lucrative career in Australia to contest the election in his village in India, Hanuman received massive support and won the elections to become the first young NRI Sarpanch. Recently he was was unanimously elected President, Sarpanch Union Nagaur. Hanuman also runs an NGO called NRI Sewa and is President of the Nagaur Sports Club Rajasthan.

Tim Watts

Tim Watts is a Federal Member of Parliament representing the seat of Gellibrand. Since being elected in 2013, he has served in a variety of positions in the Parliament including as the Deputy Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Secretary to the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. He also co-authored the book, “Two Futures: Australia at a Critical Moment” (Text Publishing) with fellow Labor MP, Clare O’Neil.

Prior to being elected in September 2013, Tim was a senior Manager at Telstra. He was also a corporate lawyer at Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Senior Advisor to former Victorian Premier John Brumby and Deputy Chief of Staff to Senator Stephen Conroy. Tim holds a Masters of Science (Hons)(Politics and Communications) from the London School of Economics, a Masters of Public Policy and Management (Monash) and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons, Bond).

While Tim’s ancestors arrived in Australia in the 1840s, his wife arrived in Australia from Hong Kong in the 1980s. In this way, Tim’s children are at once both second and sixth generation Australians. As a result, Tim is a passionate advocate for Australia’s harmonious multicultural society and particularly our people to people relationships with Asia.

Ruth Barker

Ruth Barker is the Senior Manager for International Engagement at Creative Victoria. She provides advice on, and develops opportunities for, Victoria’s creative sector to work and deliver projects internationally. As part of this role, she developed and delivered Australia’s first creative industries overseas delegation, accompanying the Minister for Creative Industries and Directors and CEOs of Victoria’s major creative and cultural institutions to China to develop new institutional and commercial relationships.

In a previous position as a Senior Advisor on international relations at the Department of Premier and Cabinet (Victoria), Ruth planned and delivered international travel programs for four Premiers as well as advised on country and regional strategies, trade mission programs and free trade agreements. Ruth has also held roles within the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the former Department of Industry, Innovation and Regional Development advising on economic policy, trade and industry policy and international engagement. Prior to joining the Victorian Government, she held roles at Transurban in government and corporate relations.

Ruth holds degrees in economics and international relations, with a specialisation in South East Asian studies. She has a deep love of all things India and loves the drama, excitement and infectious nature of Bollywood films. Ruth has spent years living in, and travelling around Asia.

Lauren Moss

Lauren Moss is the Member for Casuarina in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia, and the youngest member of the Northern Territory Parliament, having been elected at the age of 27. Lauren and her family migrated to Australia from the United Kingdom in 1999 and they soon called Darwin home.

Lauren has a proven commitment to community services both personally and professionally, having worked in diverse roles such as coordinating the NT Early Intervention Pilot Program and co-establishing the Anglicare NT program ‘YChange?’ improving outcomes for young Territorians.

As a passionate advocate for young Territorians and improvement of mental health services, Lauren has volunteered for national and local mental health organisations. She has been recognised as a young leader in the Northern Territory and nationally as a finalist in the Australian Women’s Weekly Women of the Future scholarship program. She is the Shadow Minister for Children and Families, Child Protection, Public and Affordable Housing, Mental Health and Disability Services, Multicultural Affairs, Young Territorians, Senior Territorians and Corporate and Information Services. She continues to speak up for the residents in her electorate of Casuarina.

James Edwards

James is a Policy Adviser in the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet (Australia) focusing on Victoria’s engagement with India. He and his team provide the Premier (Chief Minister) with advice and analysis on international trends and issues, and support the coordination of Victoria’s whole-of-government international engagement including across the areas of trade, investment, education, health and sustainability. James is also the Founding India Editor of Asia Options, an online platform established to encourage and support young Australians to engage with India through study, work or leaderships opportunities. He provides strategic direction and coordinates a team of correspondents to share Australians’ experiences in India and to provide up-to-date advice on how others can take up similar opportunities.

James has been to India many times for study, travel and family – including an intensive course at the University of Delhi in 2013 – and is doing his best to learn Hindi. Since 2012, James also been involved in the organisation of the local Ganesh Chaturthi community event held each year in Darebin City Council in Melbourne. As part of his Master of International Relations at the University of Melbourne, James wrote his minor thesis on the negotiations for an Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

Shaun Star (Chair)

Passionate about promoting the Australia-India relationship, Shaun has been working in India since 2010. He is the Chair and co-founder of the Australia India Youth Dialogue. Shaun is also the Executive Director of the Centre for India Australia Studies, housed at O.P. Jindal Global University and an Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean (International Collaborations) at Jindal Global Law School.

Shaun is an Australian qualified lawyer and has worked at various top-tier law firms in Australia and India, including at Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A. Shroff & Co. Shaun was recently named as one of 30 people to watch in the business of law in Asia. He has subsequently founded his own advisory practice, Australia India Advisory, and has advised numerous Australian organisations (from start-ups to listed companies), assisting them with their entry and expansion into India.

Shaun 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, and the Attorneys General of Australia and India.

Commentating on the Australia-India relationship, Shaun’s opinion pieces have been featured in Indian and Australian national newspapers and he has participated in panel sessions on Indian prime time television discussing the bilateral relationship.

Sunalini Kumar

Sunalini Kumar is Assistant Professor, Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University.She has a PhD in Urban Planning and Politics from Delhi University and an MPhil in Theories of Nationalism from the Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Sunalini received a Masters in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University.

Sunalini has held the Nehru Centenary Chevening Cambridge Scholarship, Oxford Cambridge Society of India scholarship, the UGC Junior Research Fellowship and an ICSSR doctoral fellowship. Her recent publications are included in Critical Studies in Politics: Sites, Selves, Power (Delhi, Orient Blackswan 2013) and Urbanising Citizenship (Delhi, London and Thousand Oaks, Sage 2013). Sunalini also writes for popular magazines and journals like Motherland and Tehelka, and is a contributing member of the widely read political blog, www.kafila.org

Soumya Chandra

Soumya is a public policy enthusiast who has several years of experience in the government and socio-economic sectors. She earned her undergraduate degree in Economics from Lady Shri Ram College (University of Delhi), and thereafter a Masters in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Currently, she is working as an Economic Officer at the Australian High Commission in New Delhi. Her focus areas are international trade, infrastructure, energy and resources.   Prior to this, Soumya worked as a consultant with the Planning Commission of India and assisted in the execution, evaluation and implementation of projects relating to development policy. She particularly worked on two flagship schemes of the Indian Government, namely the ‘Unique Identification Scheme’ introduced in 2012 and the ‘National Food Security Act, 2013.

Soumya has also assisted Mr. Tathagata Satpathy (Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha) in his legislative work, as a part of the LAMP Fellowship Program. She has researched on issues related to domestic politics, economic and trade policies, climate change and international diplomacy. She has been actively involved in youth development and empowerment and has led a number of awareness campaigns on sexual and reproductive health, use of contraception and maternal mortality. Her academic and professional experiences encouraged her to search for creative directions that would foster development on an international level.

Besides work, Soumya is a trained Bharatnatyam (Indian classical dance form) dancer, loves traveling and enjoys reading extensively.