Monday, January 25, 2021

Will India Australia ties strengthen after PM Morrison's visit?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Indian government’s invitation to a foreign head of state to be the main guest at the Republic Day parade on 26 January, is said to be a barometer of its external affairs thrust in the short term.

In his first term in 2015, it is telling that Prime Minister Modi invited former US President Barack Obama. In 2016, it was then French President Francoise Hollande. Wanting to build a stronger presence in the ASEAN regions over the next two years, the focus was on the leaders of these countries to be centre-stage with PM Modi. This year, it was the turn of the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to be accorded this privilege as India turned its attention to the resource-rich country which can help meet its long-term energy needs.

- Advertisement -

In recent days, there has been much media comment in major publications (Peter Hartcher and Jennifer Hewitt in the Fairfax press and Greg Sheridan in the News Ltd stable) about the forthcoming visit to India by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

2020: Will PM Morrison’s visit bring clearer vision for India-Australia? www.indianlink.com.au

While the hope is high for a deeper engagement between the two countries, an acknowledgement from the Indian side of their desire for a storage relationship with Australia would have been to see the Australian Prime Minister at Janpath watching the Republic Day parade alongside Prime Minister Modi. Unfortunately, PM Morrison will arrive and depart a few days prior to this event of national significance. For the record, no Australian Prime Minister has scored an invite to this politically significant event.

Nonetheless, 2020 might well be the year in which the Australia-India relationship could hit a higher gear. Finally done with the musical chair scenario of prime ministership, Scott Morrison does have clear air in the top job. His former leader Tony Abbott was able to strike a good friendship with Narendra Modi thanks to their strong right-wing political and religious beliefs. With a similar philosophy, perhaps Scott Morrison will be able to forge a similar bond with his Indian counterpart.

2020: Will PM Morrisons visit bring clearer vision for India-Australia?

Both countries are wary of the growing might of – and interference by – China in their own backyards (the South Pacific for Australia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan for India) and the increasing abdication of its global duties by the United States. There is enough common ground for the dialogues to be more meaningful.

Will it all translate to increased trade and business between India-Australia? Peter Hartcher in the SMH has tried to analyse the reasons for why this has not eventuated to date. One, he observes, is that unlike Canada, Australia has not effectively utilised the strength and connections of its 700,000-strong Indian diaspora, seeing that there are few Indian-origin parliamentarians; and two, that the view in India is that Adani has faced problems in Australia because it is an Indian enterprise.

Of course, the more objective view may be that the Adani Carmichael coal mine issue is an environmental issue that needs sorting rather than a discrimination issue. Regarding Indian-origin parliamentarians, that will eventuate when suitable candidates arise who can work through the party ranks and show sustained passion for a career in politics, rather than parachuted candidates who are elected for little more than their Indian origins.

The relationship will only move on from the three Cs of Commonwealth, curry and coal – to the Ds, Es and Fs of digital, education and financial services if you will – if there is sustained attention at the highest levels of both governments.

Read also: Stop this China obsession, India is more your cup of chai

- Advertisement -
Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

Related Articles



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Ep8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s life

To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic...

Ep 6: The Indian LGBTQ+ community in 2020

  It’s been two years since the world’s largest democracy repealed the draconian Section 377 which used to allow discrimination against homosexual people. Only this...

Latest News

lilly singh

WATCH: Lilly Singh as Sima Taparia in “Indian Matchbreaking”

  Whether we liked it or not, most of us gave into the Sima Taparia craze during lockdown. Within days, we'd all binged on Netflix's...
karl rock

From New Zealand to New Delhi: Meet YouTube’s Karl Rock

  When Karl Rock picks up the phone (with a cheerful ‘Namaste!’ no less), his New Zealand accent is apparent. That is, until he bursts...
Buddhist Kung Fu nuns kicking hard at centuries-old taboos

India’s Buddhist Kung Fu nuns

  They are the Buddhist Kung Fu nuns of Drukpa lineage, known globally for trekking across the Himalayas to pick up trash, paddling through mountain...
jhansi strawberries

Strawberries to write a new chapter of development in Jhansi

  Jhansi which is well-known as the land of valour is all set to write a new chapter and strawberry cultivation would play a pivotal...

WATCH: Aussies try to guess Indian slang

  Many new migrants have had to quickly learn the local lingo upon arriving in Australia, picking up the ie's and the o's as part...