‘His Excellency’ Mr. Peter Varghese, the Australian High Commissioner to India, on the 13th of September 2012 entered the majestic environs of SCMS-Cochin. SCMS-Cochin, for its part, left no stone unturned in extending him a welcome reserved for its most respected visitors. The welcome ceremony put up by the students of SCMS-Cochin was infused with pride in welcoming a man of such distinction, who had risen from the same soil as their alma mater. Mr. Peter Varghese was accompanied by Mr. Stuart Campbell – Acting Australian Consul General, Mr. Michael Carter – Consul Commercial and Trade Commissioner and Mr. Roshen Paul – Business Development Manager, Australian Trade Commission.
Moved by the immensely warm and emotional welcome accorded to him by the students of SCMS-Cochin, Mr. Peter Varghese spoke at length about his ancestral roots in Kerala – starting from the 1940s when his parents, who were teachers, moved from India to Kenya. Mr. Varghese described how the simple Keralite couple thereafter migrated ‘down under’ to Australia in the mid 1960s. Praising the classic display of hospitality by the SCMS-Cochin family, Mr. Peter Varghese said that it reflected the great values which the institution upholds. He interacted with warm-hearted enthusiasm with the students, talking about the importance of education and of the larger role that Australia was keen on playing in providing quality education to Indian students through various kinds of student exchange programmes.
“Only through skills training can we bring about an improvement, making graduate students more employable,” Mr. Varghese pointed out to the students of SCMS-Cochin. “I welcome Indian students to the 39 universities in Australia, of which 5 belong among the top 100 universities of the world. I also offer Australia’s expertise in the field of renewable energy, infrastructure development, sports management, health care, food processing, vocational education, deep-sea fishing and tourism. The Australian economy, despite the global financial meltdown, has seen a 21-year uninterrupted growth streak. I am hopeful that the Global Investor Meet at ‘Emerging Kerala 2012’ will help build creative synergies between Australia and the state of Kerala to the mutual benefit of both regions.”
At the end of the 20-minute speech, Mr. Peter Varghese, the Australian High Commissioner to India, fielded questions from the students and faculty with the natural dignity of a seasoned diplomat, and the genial humor of a humanist. On one hand, he clarified the stand of the Australian government on the issue of selling uranium to India, while on the other he pointed out the similarities and dissimilarities between the Indian and Australian education systems. He also acknowledged the recent successes of the Indian Cricket team, to resounding applause from the audience at SCMS-Cochin.