jump to navigation

Australia–India relations and the economy of ideas March 14, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Maclean, Kama , comments closed

Kama Maclean

This article appeared in the most recent edition of the East Asia Forum Quarterly, ‘Ideas from Indiaand on East Asia Forum 9 March 2012.

At the Sydney Cricket Ground on 5 January 2012, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard spoke confidently about the upswing in Australia–India relations – which had been strained since the violent attacks on Indian students in 2009 – citing cricket as the ‘common language’ of the relationship.

In the closing days of 2011, Gillard had also helped to remove an important irritant in the bilateral relationship as she championed and pushed through a change to Australian Labor Party policy, which had precluded the sale of uranium to India.

Despite these developments, there is an urgent need to reimagine the Australia–India relationship, emphasising mutual exchange and collaboration as the means of engagement. The economy of ideas – of education, and of research and development – hold enormous potential here.

(more…)

India’s rise demands more than just watching Bollywood films September 8, 2009

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Maclean, Kama , comments closed

Kama Maclean

This article first appeared in The Age on 7 September 2009.

I’ve sat in on a number of speeches about the nature of the Australia-India relationship in the past few years. Invariably, speakers pounce on a mutual love of cricket as the basis for a strong bilateral relationship. However the highly competitive and too often controversial nature of the game is an unstable matrix to build upon – consider India’s 2007-08 tour of Australia.

The problem is that cricketers (and their fans) are not natural diplomats. There are notable exceptions – Brett Lee has attained demigod status in India not as a result of his pace bowling but for his Bollywood appearances, his charity work, and his attempts to learn Hindi.

It was a relief then that the visit of the Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard to India last week showed a positive turn in the relationship. Gillard assured Indian audiences that students coming to Australia will be safe and can be confident that education programs they undertake will be ones of good quality. On Wednesday she launched the Australia India Institute, an initiative led by the University of Melbourne in partnership with UNSW and La Trobe Universities. The Institute promises to revive in Australia a long-standing tradition of intellectual and public engagement with India, which deprived of funding for over a decade has almost collapsed.

(more…)