India – Australia ties dates back to the colonial rule (British East India Company) in both the nations. English Language and Cricket emerged as connection between the both; later ideas of democracy, free press; independent judiciary and large amount of Indians in Australia were added to the list of similarities.
“It is under-appreciated that Perth and Chennai are close to each other than Sydney is to Seoul, to Shanghai, is to Tokyo. As the world sees the potential of an Asian century unfolds, Australia sees India at the heart of this historic shift in political and economic influence”
- Australian Foreign Minister.
“Australia possessed untapped potential as an economic and strategic partner for India”
“Increasingly we are looking to our west and observing India’s growing potential and economic weight and India is looking east seeking forge stronger links with our region. The indicators are that India is set to become one of Australia’s most important regional and bilateral partners’
Relations with Australia can be studied under following heads:
After Pokhran Tests in 1998, relations between the nations crippled. India not signing Non Proliferation Treaty angered Australians the most. However diplomatic relations came into their normal posture in due course of time. India and Australia are among the founding members of United Nations in 1945. In addition to this, both are members in the following groups/Associations/unions/forums:
- Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation
- ASEAN regional forum
- Asia Pacific Partnership on Climate and Clean development.
- Five Interested Parties (FIP) in WTO context.
- Australia is an observer in SAARC
Australia supports India’s entry into ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum) , backs India’s claim for a permanent seat in UN Security Council, supported its clearance from **NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) during Indo-US Nuclear Deal and also India’s position on Arunachal Pradesh – a diplomatic dispute between India and Peoples Republic of China.
**NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group): group of nueclear supplier countries with the objective of ensuring non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of its Guidelines for "nuclear exports" and "nuclear-related exports".
There have been many regular visits at ministerial level. In 2009 visit of then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, both the nations tagged their relations as ‘Strategic’. In 2012 visit of Prime Minister of Australia, four MOUs were signed. They are:
- Wool and woolen products
- Student mobility and welfare
- Civil space science, technology and education.
- Cooperation between ‘Skills Australia’ and ‘National Skill Development Corporation of India’.
But during regime of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister of Australia India witnessed strained relations between the both. Kevin Rudd who is a 'sinophile', announced that China as his priority for foreign relations and took a strong stance on Non Proliferation Treaty and USA-India-Japan-Australia Quadrilateral Dialogue and on climate change. New Delhi was very unhappy with this and no consensus was brought. As a result bad relations took birth in both the nations viz. attacks on Indian students in Australia.
Economic relations also date to time of British rule in both the nations. Horses were imported from Australia to be used in present Pakistan and many more.
- Both the nations have set a target of AUS $40 billion trade by end of 2016. There has been a significant bilateral trade between the both.
- Australia is fifth largest trading partner for India and India is Ninth largest trading partner for Australia and India rank among Australia’s exports destination rises from twelfth to fourth.
- India imports gold, wool and copper ore while exports gemstones and textiles. Recent development in economic relations is that both the nations have agreed to enter into FTA (Free Trade Agreement).
India and Australia exhibit common security interests. Their naval interests encompass Asia Pacific region and Indian Ocean region. They have come to a common platform on maritime security, piracy, counter terrorism and continued defense dialogue
Indian army used to be trained in Australia during British rule. Now, both the nations have military exchanges and training of Australian officials in India too. Recently R&D collaboration was signed between the nations.
- Oz fest is Australia’s biggest cultural fest and India started celebrating this too.
- Cricket is a common sport of interest besides Hockey.
- Know India is a program in Australia via which Indians in Australia can know rich heritage of India.
- Colombo plan made India students study in Australia. There are 35,000 Indian students studying in Australia. India’s educational export worth’s A$ 2 Billion. Though Indian students were attacked in Australia, still Indians choose to study in Australia.
- Lastly, India and Australia got into nuclear cooperation : Australia possesses 23% of world’s uranium. India used to import for some time but when it was Kevin Rudd as foreign Minister of Australia he asked India to sign Non Proliferation Treaty to import Uranium from Australia but India did not nod for this. However India continues to import Uranium from Australia.