January 10, 2017

Australia-India relations: Poised for take off

The following post appeared originally in The Interpreter, the blog of the Lowy Institute, January 10, 2017. An excerpt is below and the full text can be accessed here.

In this context, Australia’s relations with India (along with Japan) have the potential to assume greater prominence. Australia-India relations have come a long way from a low point around six to eight years ago. In 2008, the Kevin Rudd government pulled out of the ‘Quad’ security partnership with India, Japan, and the United States, creating lasting doubts about Australia’s commitment to plurilateral security. Australia also had in place a uranium ban on India, which remains a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Between 2008 and 2010, attacks on Indian students and taxi drivers received considerable attention in the Indian media, colouring Indian public perceptions of Australian society. But today, Australia’s strategic orientation has been clarified by a series of defence white papers, the uranium ban has been lifted, and Australia remains a preferred destination for Indian university students looking to go overseas.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2014 visit also helped turn a new leaf on the relationship. The basis for improved ties is certainly stronger, and Australia – despite much self-criticism about not having invested enough in relations with India – has in fact done better than most in cultivating New Delhi.