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The Australia-India bilateral relationship—understanding its past to advance its future September 9, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , trackback

Auriol Weigold

Reprinted from AIIA Policy Commentary August 2010, Looking West: An Indian Ocean Perspective, pp.43–52. Read the full article

We are all too aware of the on-again, off-again nature of the Australia-India bilateral relationship. It has become characterised over time by neglect and blame as an outcome of foreign policy differences. An appreciation of the limits such differences imposed in the past might usefully preface Australia‘s bilateral initiatives when a new Government takes office and once again focuses on an India centered in our vision, rather than peripheral to it.

This paper will look briefly at the legacy left by Prime Ministers Menzies‘ and Nehru‘s foreign policies, based on their individual national values and priorities, demonstrated across the 1950s and beyond, and consequent policy divergences to a point that signaled only the unlikelihood of a high level bilateral relationship emerging. Arguably this legacy continues to interrupt any sense of continuity that recent Australian governments, notably the Rudd Government, have striven for.

A review of Australia‘s policy actions that have attracted blame from India, followed often by periods of neglect by both nations, show a pattern that has persisted. A substantial, strategic move that elevates Australia‘s standing in India may offer the means to construct the meaningful relationship with India that both sides of Australian politics envisage, moving out from trade, aid and soft power agreements.

Reprinted from

AIIA (Australian Institute of International Affairs) Policy Commentary August 2010, Looking West: An Indian Ocean Perspective, pp.43–52. Read the full article

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