Harinder Sidhu has become the First Woman of Sikh origin appointed as Australian High Commissioner to India. Ms Sidhu’s family hails from Singapore but moved to Australia when she was a child.
“Both sides of my family are from the Punjab – my father was born in India,” she said.
She speaks a little Punjabi and Hindi but is looking forward to the opportunity to become more fluent.
The appointment is seen as significant for the increasing the role of women in top diplomatic positions. As well, the fact that Ms Sidhu is a senior climate change official, is seen as significant given India’s position on the issue.
“India is one of the most exciting places for a diplomat to be at the moment. India’s economic prospects are bright and it is becoming a more influential and active international player,” Ms Sidhu was quoted by the Tribune News Service.“The Australia-India relationship has grown substantially over the past few years and I will dedicate myself to building that relationship further. “At personal level, I have always been fascinated by the country of my heritage and am keen to learn more about India — its language, culture and history — while I am there.“Both sides of my family are from the Punjab — my father was born in India,” she said.
Ms Sidhu is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, most recently serving as First Assistant Secretary of the Multilateral Policy Division. She has previously served overseas in Moscow and Damascus. Ms Sidhu’s previous roles included First Assistant Secretary in the Department of Climate Change, Assistant Director-General in the Office of National Assessments and Senior Adviser in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. She holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Economics degree from the University of Sydney.
She takes over from Patrick Suckling who has been posted in India since 2013.