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More that cricket or curry, how Australia-India relationship is changing?

Australia and India ties have always been limited, but changes in Indo-Pacific geopolitics and technological developments is leading to converging interest.

The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) signed in 2020, stands at the centre of this convergence, focusing on areas of mutual interest, such as science, technology, defence, economics, agriculture, education, culture, and tourism. 

Another noteworthy development is the creation of the Quad, a flexible platform for the four countries to assess emerging challenges and discuss potential initiatives.

There are various areas that both countries can explore areas of collaboration. 

In a recent article on the relationship, Peter Layton, from Air and Space Power Centre in Canberra discusses developments that’s changing the relationship. 

Layton suggests that “Australia and India intend to use their agencies to shape a favourable future for themselves in terms of greater prosperity and enhanced security.”

Layton reviews the current relationship in four parts. 

The first part reviews the contemporary bilateral relationship. 

The second part focuses on present day issues such as cybersecurity, hydrogen energy, rare earth minerals, and emerging technologies. 

The third discusses security collaboration and potential technology cooperation approach, and the final part considers the longer-term aspirations of both countries and continued efforts to make progress. 

Layton points to the Quad arrangement’s areas of focus, including cybersecurity, hydrogen energy, and creating reliable supply chains for critical minerals and rare earths, as potential areas for Australia and India to collaborate.

Non-traditional threats such as cyber issues, global warming, and supply chain disruptions pose risks to prosperity, and innovation and access to dependable supply chains can play a vital role in fostering it.

Regarding security, Australia and India have been stepping up their collaboration, particularly in the maritime domain, by conducting joint large-scale maritime exercises and deploying the Indian Air Force to Australia’s Pitch Black exercise. 

Joint warfare is another potential area for collaboration, with India leveraging Australia’s expertise in joint organizational structures and staff processes.

However, the two countries have significantly different approaches to foreign policy and strategic orientation. 

To drive the relationship forward, both nations must prioritise specific collaborative efforts and not solely rely on the Quad. 

While there will be difficult decisions to be considered, what is needed is a pragmatic approach with a focus on shared goals and clear outcomes

As the bilateral relationship continues to progress, the partnership will be important in shaping the region’s future. 

The CSP gives an excellent framework for the two countries cooperation. 

It will not only bring benefits for both of them, but for the entire region. 

To read the journal article, Peter Layton, 2023, The deepening Australia–India geostrategic relationship, Contemporary Issues in air & space power, Vol 1 BP29294000

Photo by Chirayu Trivedi on Unsplash

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