MUMBAI: Describing India as an "emerging democratic superpower", Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Thursday kicked off his two-day India visit during which the two countries are likely to clinch an elusive civil nuclear deal.
Abbott, the first Head of Government outside the leaders of SAARC nations to visit the country after the inauguration of the Narendra Modi government, said he wants to make the most of "an abundance of opportunities" for business in India.
".....this is a country which has amazed the world over the last few decades with its growth and its development the world's second most populous country; on purchasing power terms, the world's third largest economy, clearly, the emerging democratic superpower of the world and a country with which Australia has long and warm ties.
"The purpose of this trip, as far as I am concerned, is to acknowledge the importance of India in the wider world, acknowledge the importance of India to Australia?s future, to let the government and the people of India know what Australia has to offer India and the wider world for our part, and to build on those stronger foundations," he said addressing a 30-member business delegation accompanying him on the trip at Hotel Taj Palace in Mumbai, his first port of call.
Noting how India has changed "enormously" since his last visit 33 years ago as a backpacker, Abbott, who has expressed keenness to sign a nuclear deal with the country, said," I can remember on my first day in Mumbai watching a bullock cart take material into a nuclear power station.
"Well, 33 years on, there aren't that many bullock carts left in urban India, and the power stations, the nuclear power stations are more sophisticated than ever," he said.
Abbott, who will have wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi on Friday, said the Indian leader's call "come, make in India" is "close in spirit and in intent" to the phrase he had used in respect of Australia that "we are open for business".
He said though there is no dearth of opportunities elsewhere in the vicinity of Australia, there is "an abundance of opportunities" in India.
"I am determined to make the most of them, I know all of you are determined to make the most of them and I look forward to working very closely with you and with our Indian interlocutors over the next two days," he told the delegation.