New Delhi/Sydney: More than 20,000 members of the Indian diaspora have packed the Qudos Arena at Sydney Olympic Park and are waiting excitedly to listen to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his address there today.
Though Tuesday 23rd May is a usual working day for the almost 800,000-strong Indian Australian community, however, nearly 21,000 of them have decided to take a mid-week furlough from the work schedule to attend the grand welcome ceremony for Prime Minister Modi at Qudos Bank Arena Stadium.
Among these are 177 people who have flown from Melbourne to Sydney on a special flight called “Modi Airways”.
In March, the Indian Australian Diaspora Foundation’s organising committee meeting floated the idea of a Modi Airways charter plane.
“The mood is extraordinary,” said Jay Shah, a director of the Indian Australian Diaspora Foundation which is staging the reception. “There’s a lot of excitement in the Indian community right now.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is to attend the event at Olympic Park.
Indian High Commissioner Manpreet Vohra is quoted as saying: “Prime Minister Modi really wants to engage with the Indian-Australian community, it’s a way of saying thank you to them for being an important bridge between the two nations.”
Elaborating on the Modi Airways, Jay Shah told The Australia Today earlier, “The idea that we will chant “Modi Modi” at 10-15,000 feet in the skies excited everyone the moment it was proposed in a planning meeting in March.”
“With Modi Airways we are creating a history”.
Earlier in the day today, all passengers travelling in Modi Airways assembled at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport at 7 am for an extraordinary show of Indian cultural dance on the beats of dhol and dhokla and laddu breakfast.