S. Jaishnakar visits Sailani Avenue in Perth. / Image -X/@DrSJaishankar
India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited Sailani Avenue in Perth named after Indian-origin soldier Nain Singh Sailani who died during World War I while serving the Australian Imperial Force.
Jaishankar was in the the Australian city of Perth for the 7th annual Indian Ocean Conference, a flagship consultative forum for countries in the Indian Ocean Region, organized annually by the Ministry of External Affairs, in association with the India Foundation.
“Visited Sailani Avenue in Perth. Named after Nain Singh Sailani, an Indian origin soldier honored in Australia,” Jaishankar wrote in a post on February 10. “Glad to meet some of our veterans and Indian community leaders there,” he added.
Nain Singh Sailani
According to the media reports, Sailani was sent to serve on the war front in Belgium and records show he died in action on June 1, 1917.
Shimla-native Nain Singh Sailani joined the Australian Imperial Force on February 7, 1916 at the age of 43. He used to reportedly work as a “labourer” before being drafted. Sailani was assigned as a soldier to the 44th Infantry Battalion of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac).
After his death, his family in India was informed of the casualty. The family was also informed that Sailani was the recipient of the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1914/15 Star.
His mother permitted Sailani's burial at a memorial in Belgium. As per records, Sailani was buried with honor in Ploegsteert Wood, Belgium in plot 2, grave 10.
Sailani's centenary on June 1, 2017, was commemorated at the Perth War Memorial’s Kings Park. The Australian Sikh Heritage Association (ASHA) and the Indian Consulate in Perth organized the event.
Jaishankar's Perth visit
The theme of the 7th annual Indian Ocean Conference was ‘Towards a Stable and Sustainable Indian Ocean.” The Conference brought together key stakeholders to chart the roadmap for strengthening regional cooperation.
Jaishankar delivered a keynote speech at the conference on February 9 during which he drew attention to the “increasingly consequential” Australia-India relations.
“We are today officially Comprehensive Strategic partners, Quad members and share trilaterals with France and Indonesia. Our bilateral architecture caters to regular meetings of Foreign, Defense, Trade, Power, Education and Skill Ministers,” the Minister said.
He highlighted the growing Indian diaspora in Australia, as well as improved relations between diplomats representing the countries.
“The Indian community in Australia has expanded significantly, and the ECTA has visibly boosted our trade. Every Australian Prime Minister in the last decade has met his Indian counterpart, a far cry from the past. The current ones have actually met seven times,” he said.
Jaishankar said his conversations with Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong have extended beyond bilateral ties. “In short, we have a strong, comfortable and deepening relationship….I want to emphasize that these ties are and will be a force for regional and global good.”