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Australia–India: reimagining the relationship March 4, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Jeffrey, Robin , trackback

Robin Jeffrey

Reprinted from Inside Story. Read the full article

The arrival of 100,000 Indian students in the past five years is the biggest thing to happen to relations between the Australian land mass and the Indian subcontinent since the 1790s. That’s when the Campbell family started trading between Kolkata (Calcutta) and Sydney. Scottish-born Robert Campbell later migrated from India to Australia, where he built the first “bungalow,” became “a leading public figure” and earned a long entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Similar happy outcomes, I hope, lie in the future for many of the students from India who are putting substance into the puzzling 220-year relationship between their country and Australia. You have to look forward to good things, because some very bad things have happened in the past couple of years. When people are murdered, attacked and abused, and when individuals are picked on because they are obvious and alone, a nasty side of Australian society is revealing itself.

As a result, we are at a crucial turning point in the story of Australia and its ties with India. The harrowing tale of the past year can foreshadow the broader, deeper relationship whose absence has puzzled analysts for years. But thought, effort and imagination will be needed to bring a positive ending to an anguished chapter.

Reprinted from Inside Story. Read the full article


1. Auriol Weigold - March 19, 2010

People-to-people contact and interaction have long been the flesh on the skeleton of Australia-India relations, and the idea of encouraging Indians in substantial numbers to an interested and interesting Australia, emerging from the “birth pangs of recent years …” is an inspiring and within-reach goal. Let’s do it and set aside the government’s lofty ideas of a strategic partnership with India which still remains in the realm of things to do.