The decision by Prime Minister Julia Gillard during her recent visit to India to award the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) to Sachin Tendulkar can be traced to the historical and cultural underpinnings of colonialism. The decision has been met with cautious scepticism in various quarters of the Australian media. Indian newspapers basked in the glory and pointedly noted Australian newspapers had criticised the award. Prime Minister Gillard had three underlying themes: extending economic cooperation between Australia and India, changing the military partnership with the selling of uranium to India, and employing cricket to unite the ties between the countries. Clearly, the decision to grant a cricket icon an OAM is worthy in and of itself, but does the Gillard government seriously think that Sachin Tendulkar has contributed to the fostering of better understanding between the two democracies?
Cricket, a game of colonial legacy, acts as a common thread that connects the social and political histories of Australia and India. The game provides an interesting metaphor for the way the recent relationship between the two countries has evolved.
The right way forward August 13, 2012Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, India , Comment
Amitabh Mattoo and Ashok Malik
As flanking States in the eastern Indian Ocean, India and Australia are critical to this emerging arena of geopolitics. Fellow democracies with shared values, concerns and interests, they should have strong synergies. Yet, somehow the strategic outcomes have been sub-optimal. To examine why – and make appropriate recommendations – the Australia India Institute (AII), University of Melbourne, put together a six-member bilateral Taskforce on Perceptions nine months ago. Its report, titled ‘Beyond the Lost Decade’, was released by the Indian high commissioner in Sydney recently, and points to a piquant paradox. Australia and India have more in common than many other countries – but these commonalities themselves tend to inhibit how the two societies see each other.
Cricket, the Commonwealth and the English language, the report says, have proved both a blessing and a bane. In its own way, each framework has hindered either country’s perception. In admiring Australia’s cricket team, Indians are exposed to its sporting ethic, but also to the one national institution that is perhaps least reflective of the multiculturalism and ethnic diversity of contemporary Australia. This leaves many Indians innocent of just how integrated Australia is with Southeast Asia today. To extend the analogy, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) is itself unsure as to where Australia fits in with the Asian strategic calculus.
Australia’s view of modern India ‘outdated’ April 23, 2012Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, India , 2comments
Richard Iles, Griffith University
Indian life becomes a sluggish stream, living in the past, moving slowly through the accumulation of dead centuries—Pandit Nehru, The discovery of India (1946).
Australia needs to better understand Indian business thinking. Outdated and narrow images of India abound. However, in the world of economic thought and business practice India is dynamic, hard-edged and likely to be the source of renewed economic thought.
However, Australian business and social views of India are sluggish, not having deepened for several decades. This neglect represents decay in real terms. India has developed rapidly over the past two decades, with many other developed countries strongly investing in their relationship with India during this time.
Department of Business Management, University of Calcutta
Australian research activity focused on India, as surveyed by the Australia–India Institute (University of Melbourne), has declined steadily over several decades. The knowledge base from which the Australian business community, students and the wider community can draw to assist their investment in India has withered.
India and Australia: The end of estrangement? April 4, 2012Posted by nishankmotwani in : India, Kumar, Vikas , Comment
Reprinted from Clingendael Asia Forum at the Clingendael Asia Studies, 9 December 2011. Read the full story.
On the eve of the visit of US President Barack Obama, Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard declared that Australia is willing to reconsider its ban on uranium exports to India. The ban is widely believed to be a major obstacle to a stronger India—Australia relationship, which has so far remained weak despite numerous, and shared maritime security concerns. While estrangement during the Cold War was understandable, Australia’s and India’s subsequent inability to forge a closer relationship is not. Gillard’s latest move is being seen as a game changer that will end strategic discrimination against India and signal Australia’s willingness to shed its Cold War blinkers and come to terms with the end of India’s nuclear isolation. It is unfair, however, to expect a dramatic improvement in the India-Australia relationship as a consequence of lifting the ban.
Indian Ocean ‘strategy’: don’t make China nervous March 30, 2012Posted by southasiamasala in : Weigold, Auriol , Comment
To borrow from an earlier piece published here at the start of this year (8 Jan 2012), I cited President Obama’s Defence Strategy Review, (5 Jan 2012) in which it was stated that “we will of necessity rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific Region …”, and I take this as an element in raising Chinese concerns.
In his excellent piece “Indian Ocean: don’t militarise the ‘great connector’”, (29 Mar 2012) Sandy Gordon set out the security dilemma in the Indian Ocean region, and argued against any proposals, whether Indian ‘commonalities’ with the US in terms of strategic outlook, or borne of the US-Australian alliance, that make China nervous.
India, he has argued, is in a strategic ‘box seat’ in the Indian Ocean. Another view is that Australia is also in a box seat in the Indo-Pacific region. As a middle power able, if it chooses to do so, to take an independent stance in its own national interest – including its long-term engagement with China that is much broader than trade – and on its relations in the Indian Ocean region, notably with India and the US. (more…)
Indian Ocean: don’t militarise the ‘great connector’ March 29, 2012Posted by sandygordon in : Gordon, Sandy, India, Pakistan , 1 comment so far
The Indian Ocean is Australia’s back yard – or at least if you live in the West. It also plays a major role in transporting energy from the oil and gas-rich Persian Gulf to Australia’s principal trading partners, China and Japan. With each passing year, these and other East Asian powers become more dependent on the free passage of oil over the Indian Ocean.
This makes China nervous. India and China have an ambivalent relationship. On the one hand they have common interests based on growing trade and similar positions in the WTO and on climate change. But on the other, they have abiding suspicions over the longstanding border dispute and what India sees as Chinese meddling in its own back yard – South Asia and the Indian Ocean region.
USN Los Angeles class nuclear powered submarine
Australia–India relations and the economy of ideas March 14, 2012Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Maclean, Kama , Comment
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.
India struggling January 31, 2012Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Stoddart, Brian , Comment
First published here on 28 January 2012
India’s test cricket defeat in Adelaide was arguably the very worst of the eight they have now lost in a row while playing away from home. Melbourne was a poor effort, Sydney worse then Perth was always going to be hard. Adelaide, though, is a batting track as the Australians demonstrated and as the Indians might have been expected to show. They capitulated, though. Their bowling attack was always going to struggle, and that was added to by the reluctance to bring in more spin. The batsmen were woeful, even if in a terrible showing Sachin Tendulkar had a reasonable enough series given everyone else’s performance.
Predictably, the Indian media is now in full cry with former players of all types (and varying success rates themselves) calling for wholesale change. As cricket writer and historian Boria Majumdar said in Melbourne before the series started, India takes this very seriously, and a 4-0 humbling will bring national wrath upon the team. That is because the dominance of cricket has been a sort of avatar for India’s increasing awareness of its rising place more generally in the world. Every country has used sport like this: New Zealand and rugby, Australia and cricket, Brazil and football are just some obvious examples. It is always difficult to pin down the nexus between sport and national profile, but there is a sussurus of sentiment that gives people pride in a victory, sadness running to anger in a defeat, especially in a streak of the kind Indian cricket is now in.
There is a curiously stronger than normal analogy between the cricketers and India more generally that is worth contemplation.
“Containment” no longer in the lexicon January 8, 2012Posted by auriolweigold in : India, Weigold, Auriol , Comment
President Obama’s Defence Strategy Review, Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for the 21st Century Defence, published on 5 January 2012, states that “we will of necessity rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific region … This includes emphasising existing alliances and expanding cooperation to ‘ensure collective capability and capacity for securing common interests’”. Addressing China’s emergence as a regional power, the Review reports that both countries have a strong stake in regional peace and stability and an interest in establishing a cooperative relationship. Nonetheless, the United States will continue to ensure access to, and an ability to operate across, the broader Indian Ocean region.
In an interview Australia’s Ambassador in Washington, Kim Beazley, said on 6 January, that the U.S. commitment is to access to vital waterways, “ … is a commitment to the global commons … It is not a containment strategy”. This makes all the more strange a statement attributed to Australian Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, however inaccurately reported by the Times of India on the 1 and 2 December 2011, that Australia, India and the United States may frame a tripartite security pact. Mr Rudd said that his message had been misrepresented.
Speculation swirls around Pakistan’s President Zardari December 8, 2011Posted by sandygordon in : Afghanistan, Gordon, Sandy, Pakistan , Comment
President Zardari reportedly suffered a minor heart attack on December 6 and is now in Dubai. The normally well informed STRATFOR reported that Zardari had been ‘incoherent’ in an earlier telephone conversation with President Obama. According to the BBC, Zardari’s staff say the problem is minor and there is no question of his resigning.
There have, however, been a series of worrying developments in the Af-Pak region recently and it is quite possible either that it has all become too much for Zardari or that he has been given the nod to leave by the military.