Monash University and Global Victoria say they will continue to support Australia India Youth Dialogue despite several human rights groups’ concerns regarding the invitation sent to BJP MP Tejasvi Surya, known for his amplified nationalism on social media.
A Monash University spokesperson told NRI Affairs that the University was not involved in selecting delegates attending the 2022 event.
“Monash University is one of four distinguished partners of the Australia India Youth Dialogue. The University was not involved in the selection of delegates attending the 2022 event,” said the spokesperson in an emailed response
“The Dialogue is not a political platform but an opportunity for people with a diverse and complex range of views from Australia and India to come together, exchange ideas and open up important dialogues in a respectful way that can lead to positive change. Monash University cannot comment on the visa status of an individual,” it added.
A group of concerned academics, global activists from the Indian Diaspora and members of various civil society groups belonging to the Australian Alliance Against Hate (AAAH), have raised serious concerns about the invitation forwarded to BJP leader Tejasvi Surya from the Australia India Youth Dialogue (AIYD). In a letter, they have drawn the participating institutions’ attention to Tejasvi’s “deeply divisive and exclusionary ideology”. They have also cited examples of Surya’s “deeply problematic history of misogyny, promoting religious intolerance, political violence, and Islamophobia.”
As of today, partners for the 2022 Dialogue are Deakin University, the University of Sydney, Macquarie University and Monash University. Bluescope, which has established a successful global partnership in India as a joint venture with the Tata group, is also an associate partner of AIYD.
A spokesperson for Global Victoria said, “Global Victoria is a longstanding supporter of the Australia India Youth Dialogue, which helps us strengthen our continuing trade and community ties with India.”
“Global Victoria has no influence on the selection of delegates,” the spokesperson responded in an email to NRI Affairs, adding, “The Australia India Youth Dialogue (AIYD) is an independent organisation and concerns about delegates and the program can be raised with the Chair of the dialogue.”
The Australia India Youth Dialogue (AIYD) is a young leaders’ dialogue between Australia and India. It is held in India and Australia on alternate years; the AIYD claims to host 15 of the “best and brightest young minds from each country at an annual conference”. According to their website, AIYD “enables a rich exchange of ideas between emerging leaders to think creatively about how the Australia-India relationship may be strengthened through their own work and efforts”.
Tejasvi Surya is an Indian politician of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and a member of the Hindu right-wing organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He is a Member of Parliament representing the Bangalore South constituency. He is also the current president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the BJP.
Meanwhile, Hindu groups have launched an online counter-petition against the existing petition that was raised to stop the controversial BJP leader’s visit in association with the event.
The AIYD has not replied to our email queries regarding the protests.