New Horizons in India-Australia Relations

The just concluded visit of Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbot to India has reinvigorated mutual relations already thriving since the visit of former Australian PM Julia Gillard to this country some two years ago. As both the countries share the democratic heritage, the same parliamentary ideals, and also the same language and common perceptions concerning most of the contentious conflicts of the world, their cooperation can ensure peace, prosperity, and security of not only for themselves but for South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indo-Pacific region. India and Australia can jointly expand existing cooperation to include security and defence, wherein both Australia and India have shared interests in continued American engagement into this region. 

As PM Abbot referred to himself and PM Modi as Prime Ministers for infrastructures, he promised to invest tens of billions in India in order to expand Australia’s business horizons in diverse fields like construction companies, city and system designs, green technology, and also finance. “With the third largest funds under management in the world, Australia can become a financing power-house for India,” he said, pointing out the possibility of investment in other areas like health, biotechnology, information technology, and other sectors.

Obviously, the PM Abbot’s visit to India reaffirms Australia’s deep penchant for keeping and maintaining very cordial and prosperous relations with India in the first rank of Australia’s relations with other countries. India is already Australia’s fifth largest export market, which Australia wants to further improve in the interest of bilateral trade relations.

Another important aspect of PM Abbot’s visit to India is for New Delhi to counter rising Chinese imperialist-militarist assertions in the entire East, including the India-Pacific region up to the Indian Ocean. During the recent past, China has resorted to aggressive expansion in all directions, causing territorial disputes with all the littoral countries of Southeast Asia along with India and Russia. Further, China established its ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) last year, declaring its claim over overlapping areas of Japanese and South Korean islands. China intends to assume a role not only of the regional hegemon but that of a global one. The USA has already concluded a military treaty with Australia in the not so distant past to counter the rising expansionism of China, which is in the common interest for the countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Present expanding economic and strategic cooperation between India and Australia and also with Japan, where PM Modi has recently visited, will strengthen India’s rechristened Look East Policy, and balance the Chinese posture towards India as well as the other Asian countries. The overall scenario may further improve considerably if the present India-Australia cooperation expands to include the USA and Japan in its ambit, with thrust on the security and stability of the Asia in particular and the East in general, along with the fight against terrorism and all forms of religious fundamentalism, protection of the environment, and so on. This will, on the one hand, neutralise Chinese aggressive policies, and on the other hand, encourage China to cooperate with the emerging trio -- the US, Australia, and India -- in the larger interest of the peace, prosperity, and security of the region.

The just concluded visit of Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbot to India has reinvigorated mutual relations already thriving since the visit of former Australian PM Julia Gillard to this country some two years ago. As both the countries share the democratic heritage, the same parliamentary ideals, and also the same language and common perceptions concerning most of the contentious conflicts of the world, their cooperation can ensure peace, prosperity, and security of not only for themselves but for South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indo-Pacific region. India and Australia can jointly expand existing cooperation to include security and defence, wherein both Australia and India have shared interests in continued American engagement into this region. 

As PM Abbot referred to himself and PM Modi as Prime Ministers for infrastructures, he promised to invest tens of billions in India in order to expand Australia’s business horizons in diverse fields like construction companies, city and system designs, green technology, and also finance. “With the third largest funds under management in the world, Australia can become a financing power-house for India,” he said, pointing out the possibility of investment in other areas like health, biotechnology, information technology, and other sectors.

Obviously, the PM Abbot’s visit to India reaffirms Australia’s deep penchant for keeping and maintaining very cordial and prosperous relations with India in the first rank of Australia’s relations with other countries. India is already Australia’s fifth largest export market, which Australia wants to further improve in the interest of bilateral trade relations.

Another important aspect of PM Abbot’s visit to India is for New Delhi to counter rising Chinese imperialist-militarist assertions in the entire East, including the India-Pacific region up to the Indian Ocean. During the recent past, China has resorted to aggressive expansion in all directions, causing territorial disputes with all the littoral countries of Southeast Asia along with India and Russia. Further, China established its ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) last year, declaring its claim over overlapping areas of Japanese and South Korean islands. China intends to assume a role not only of the regional hegemon but that of a global one. The USA has already concluded a military treaty with Australia in the not so distant past to counter the rising expansionism of China, which is in the common interest for the countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Present expanding economic and strategic cooperation between India and Australia and also with Japan, where PM Modi has recently visited, will strengthen India’s rechristened Look East Policy, and balance the Chinese posture towards India as well as the other Asian countries. The overall scenario may further improve considerably if the present India-Australia cooperation expands to include the USA and Japan in its ambit, with thrust on the security and stability of the Asia in particular and the East in general, along with the fight against terrorism and all forms of religious fundamentalism, protection of the environment, and so on. This will, on the one hand, neutralise Chinese aggressive policies, and on the other hand, encourage China to cooperate with the emerging trio -- the US, Australia, and India -- in the larger interest of the peace, prosperity, and security of the region.