by Christopher Kremmer
One of India’s most powerful ministers, Human Resources Development Minister M. M. Pallam Raju is expected to visit Australia this month, pending the latest Cabinet reshuffle in Canberra.
The HRD ministry is one of the most powerful in India’s Cabinet. It controls Schools and Higher Education policy in the world's third largest higher education system, including engagement with foreign universities and educational institutions.
Educating 500 million Indians under the age of 25 is an onerous responsibility requiring strong political and administrative experience. Prior to his appointment as HRD Minister, Mr Raju served as the Minister of State for Defence.
When he entered parliament in 1989 he was the youngest-ever elected member of the Lok Sabha, India’s version of Australia’s House of Representatives, where governments are formed.
Representing the Congress Party, he has served as the Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, and represented India at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Mr Raju’s super portfolio embraces both Education and Higher Education. This means he is well placed to influence Australia's efforts to forge closer ties between our two education systems, especially in the area of Vocational Education and Training. His visit is a vitally important one as Canberra seeks closer ties and begins to implement the recommendation of the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper.
If the recent political turmoil in Canberra settles down and the visit proceeds as planned next week, Mr Raju is expected to visit universities and TAFE colleges, and the hallowed Melbourne Cricket Ground.