Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s outreach to the Indian Diaspora in Sydney on Tuesday has further highlighted the strong bond developing between India and Australia. As two vibrant democracies facing similar challenges on various fronts, such as climate change and a belligerent China, there is increased realisation that there are many benefits to be had from furthering relations, particularly on the economic front. The two countries have many compatibilities that can be of mutual benefit. Indians increasingly prefer to study and work in Australia as they face comparatively less discrimination and are valued, both, as visitors and citizens. It was in this context that the PM highlighted the historical relationship and its transforming nature.
Australia, in particular, stands to benefit from a constructive engagement with India. This realisation is already there but is somewhat limited in the implementation. As time goes by, the number of Indians visiting other countries as tourists is going to increase manifold from the already large outflow. Improved connectivity with Australia and other nations of the region is going to make this possible. What is needed, of course, is for the Aussies to become a more varied destination and in this the Indian Diaspora can make a major contribution.
Indians, on the other hand, are already benefiting from more accessible high quality universities. Tie-ups with Indian universities under which students can add value to their degrees by spending the last year in Australian ones would further enhance this relationship. There is also much else to learn from just living and working in a compatible yet more developed economy.
Both countries could also become conduits for economic investment in each others’ immediate regions. There would also come about a commonality of approach under the Quad, apart from just developing a strategy for countering China. If the bonhomie is not allowed to be disturbed by the occasional hitch, the future of Indo-Australian relations is likely to be robust and fruitful.