Strategic partnerships, educational exchange programmes and better trade and economic relations are the things that Australia is looking forward to, to strengthen its ties with India. These views were expressed by Mr Peter Verghese, the Australian High Commissioner to India, in a talk titled “Australia-India Relations in the Asian Century,” at Dayar-e Mir Taqi Mir on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012. The event was organized by the MMAJ Academy of International Studies.
Speaking about the possibilities of better India-Australia relations, Mr Verghese said, “We have to do much more than what we did”. He said that there was a change in the two countries’ relations after India took decisions to change its economy. Our interests are converging and we need to build our bilateral relationships in the post-liberalization era.
Hinting towards the growing role of India as a major player in Asia, he said that India’s economic interest was pushing to a new direction. Will India sustain its economic growth like its neighbour China and some other developed countries of Asia was discussed in detail. The High Commissioner said that the pace of economic growth in the larger Asian century will depend on economic reforms. He also said that the margin of US influence was declining but it did not mean a decline in the US military strength for decades to come. It will be difficult to write the obituary of the US in military power, he suggested.
On the possibility of further strengthening ties between the two countries, Verghese said that Australia should be working with Asia and countries like India. He said that trade between the two countries had doubled in last few years and it will further double in the next few years.
Verghese stressed the need for educational exchange programmes and building of people-to-people and government-to-government contacts. On the question of safety of Indian students to Australia, he said that the government had taken very seriously the incidences of 2009-10 after which the students felt safer.
Prof. S M Rashid, Pro-Vice-Chancellor directed the attention of Mr. Verghese to the high cost of education in Australia that limited the aspirations of many economically not-so-well-off Indian students and asked to place India on the preferred list of Australia’s educational exchange programme. He also spoke about the long and old ties between the two countries.
The talk was coordinated by Ambassador T. C. A. Ranghachari, Director of the Academy. Ms. Simi Malhotra, media coordinator, JMI, faculty members of the Academy and other Centres and departments, and students attended the talk in large numbers, exchanged their views and raised questions on a range of bilateral issues.