Our Team

power of peace festival
Jim Varghese AM, Director of Gandhi Salt March Ltd
Jim is the chairman and owner of The Leadership Company Qld Pty Ltd, and Director and former CEO of the Springfield Land Corporation. He is a highly experienced professional with more than 30 years’ experience leading government agencies across the Queensland and Victorian public sectors.

Jim holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in contemporary Australian History and Bachelor of Divinity from the University of Queensland. He also holds a Master of Business Administration and a Diploma in Education from Melbourne University. Jim is a fellow of the CPA, Australian Institute of Management and Australian Marketing Institute. Jim has been involved in a number of policy reforms, including the introduction of the Prep year, the ‘New Basics’ framework, and water management in Queensland. He has also played a key role in commercialising forestry, water, road construction and aviation. Jim was awarded the Order of Australia and the Centenary Medal for services to the public sector and wider community.

power of peace festival
Dr Nik Senapati
, Director of Gandhi Salt March Ltd
Nik is an Honorary Advisor, FICCI in Australia and Advisor, Dua Associates and Consulting in New Delhi. He was elected President of the Australia India Business Council (Queensland) in September 2016. Until 2015 Nik was country head (MD) of Rio Tinto in India, a role that he held for almost 10 years. Nik is a geologist and has spent over 35 years in the mining industry with roles in exploration, operations, and strategy and external relations. He chaired the mining committee of CII, was instrumental in establishing the Sustainable Mining Initiative for the Indian mining industry and initiated the Skills Council in the Mining Sector. Nik was educated in India, Australia and as a Rhodes Scholar in the UK.

Gandhi Salt March Limited
Palanichamy O Thevar, Director of Gandhi Salt March Ltd
Palanichamy is president of Federation of Indian Communities of Queensland (FICQ). He completed his schooling in Government Higher Secondary School, B. Sc., in Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar College, Usilampatti.  M.Sc., Peace Making at Madurai Kamaraj University,  M.Phil – Peace Research at Gujarat Vidyapith (Deemed University) founded by Mahatma Gandhi 1920.  He lived and studied at Sevagram Ashram – Wardha (Gandhi founded and lived here). He has worked with ASSEFA, Tamil Nadu Sarvoday Mandal, Gandhi Study Centre, Gandhiyan Youth Movement and Madurai Gandhi Museum.

In Australia, Palanichamy attended the University of Queensland and completed a Bachelor of Social Work and a Justice of the Peace (Qual). Since 1996, he has worked with various organisation such as Project Recreation, Micah Project, Australian Red Cross, Kyabra and Centcare – Anamcara. He is currently working with the Department of Communities – Queensland Government while pursuing a Ph.D program with the Australian Catholic University, Queensland, Australia.


power of peace festival
Veena Merz,
Project Director of Gandhi Salt March Ltd
Veena has spent many years of her life working as Information Technology (IT) Project Manager and as an IT Educator with various organizations including Canadian Development project (CIDA), Rajasthan, India; Oxfam in India and in Oxford, UK; University of Fraser Valley, British Columbia, Canada; Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane, Australia; and as Project Manager, Alcatel-Lucent, Gurgaon, India. Her work has involved an extensive practical experience and skills on developing and delivery of education & training programs including hands-on workshops aimed at building the operational and technical skills of network operators and students at tertiary levels. Veena is a certified PRINCE 2 project manager. At present she is the director of Sri Ma Yoga School, Brisbane. She is a 500 Hours registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance, USA and Level 2 teacher with Yoga Australia.


Usha Chandra, Steering Committee Member, Power of Peace Festival

Usha is the President of GOPIO Queensland and a founder member of GOPIO Queensland. She is the director and licencee of Globenet Realty. Usha is also the co-owner of the Brisbane Indian Times and Australian Indian Radio. She is a Commissioner of Declaration, a life member of the Hindu Society of Queensland, an active member of the Queensland Multicultural Council, Radio 4EB and Shree Laxmi Narayan Mandir. Usha has attended many GOPIO International conventions and PBDs, and is an active and passionate member of society to assist with the Community.

Shyam Das, Steering Committee Member, Power of Peace Festival
Shyam have been very actively involved in social activities in different capacities with different communities, including (1) Past President of GOPIO for two years. He was involved and still involved with many other ethnic communities in relation to charity and other activities; (2)Past Vice President of Australia India Business Council; (3) Past President of Bengali Society of Queensland; (4) Director of Radio 4EB; (5) Convenor – Indian Programming Group of Radio 4EB; and (6) Committee member of Gandhi Memorial Centre, assisted in organising the installation of the Statue of Mahatma Gandhi by the Prime Minister of India , Mr Narendra Modi.

Shyam Das was also a recipient of the Glory of India Award in 2012 by Shri Rajeev Shukla, Honourable Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs in New Delhi for Meritorious Services to Travel and Tourism.





Tamanna Monem, Strategic Advisor and Convenor of the Welcome Reception and Forum over Dinner – Power of Peace Festival
Tamanna is an industry and international business specialist, with extensive experience in leading project & policy development & implementation in public and private sectors across Australian federal, state and local governments, university and in overseas. Tamanna currently leads Industry & Engagement Team at the Ipswich City Council. She has extensive experience in export and investment facilitation for Queensland to overseas. Tamanna is also the Winner of Professional of the Year (Female) 2016 by India Australia Business & Community Awards (IABCA, a national initiative). Nominated by Industry for her ongoing contribution to enhance Australia India business relationship. 

Tamanna is founder of Tradition by T Boutique, an initiative to raise awareness of hand loom weavers in South Asia. She is also voluntary adviser to the Australia Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce and the Punjabi Welfare Association of Australia