SBS language | Australia to invest $28.1 million to improve Indian community ties, engage the diaspora and increase public discourse

The announcement came a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi held talks on boosting trade relations and cooperation in key areas such as migration, mobility and education during of the second Virtual India-Australia Summit.

Mr Morrison said: ‘We have made great strides in defence, maritime cooperation, science, technology, clean energy as well, which I know Australia can work closely with the UK on. India, and I would be delighted to announce a few more initiatives today that build on this foundation for our post-pandemic world.

Strong points:

  • India, Australia Held 2nd Virtual Summit On Monday; Australia pledges $280m for India
  • Australia returns 29 important artifacts to India, Indian Prime Minister Modi thanks Australia
  • The two countries are working on the mutual recognition of educational, commercial and professional qualifications

Following Monday’s virtual meeting, Australia announced an investment of $28.1 million to launch a Center for Australia-India Relations to deepen community ties, promote public discussion and dialogue politics and to engage the Indian diaspora.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (L) speaking to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2nd Virtual Australia-India Summit held on March 21, 2022.

Image AAP/Jono Searle

Australia has also pledged to invest $17.2 million to extend the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund, $35.7 million to support cooperation in clean technology research, production and commercialization , critical minerals and energy, and $25.2 million for space cooperation with India.

Mr Morrison further said that the recent meeting of the leaders of the Quad countries “provided an opportunity” to discuss the impact of the Ukraine crisis on the Indo-Pacific region.

“We are obviously upset by the terrible situation in Europe, although we are focusing a lot on the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

Ahead of the second summit, Australia returned 29 antiquities, mostly sculptures and paintings, to India.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Modi thanked the Australian government for returning the antiquities.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has thanked Australia for returning 29 artifacts.

Image AAP/Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times/Sipa USA

“You returned these artifacts to us and now we can return them to the places where they belong,” he said. Mr Modi said India’s relations with Australia have made significant progress in recent years.

“Trade and investment, defense and security, education and innovation, science and technology – in all these sectors we have very close cooperation,” he added.

Mr Modi further stressed the importance of a speedy conclusion of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) and said it will be “crucial for our economic relations, economic recovery and economic security”.

“There is also good collaboration between us within Quad. Our cooperation reflects our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific,” he said.

In order to strengthen mobility in both directions, the two countries also announced the creation of a working group to work on a plan for the joint recognition of educational, commercial and professional qualifications.

The working group will address the recognition of online and blended learning, joint degrees and offshore campuses.

Acting Education and Youth Minister Stuart Robert said on Monday: “The task force will pave the way for new opportunities for Indian and Australian graduates to use their qualifications. This collaboration will serve both countries by expanding education cooperation and maximizing mobility outcomes for Australian and Indian students and graduates, and our educational institutions.”

“Improved qualifications recognition agreements will also support trade in professional services between Australia and India,” Mr Robert added.

Announcing details of the $280 million investment package on Tuesday, Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan said: “Australia’s Indian community is young and highly educated and well represented in the service and STEM sectors with a strong export potential.

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Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan.

Image AAP/Mick Tsikas

“Indian diaspora networks can make important contributions to our trade and investment relationship with India, as well as to Australia’s international competitiveness in general,” he said at the launch of the update of the “Indian Economic Strategy until 2035”.

Australia will provide additional investments, including $16.6 million to strengthen ties with India’s key political and financial institutions and $8.9 million to support increased business engagement and an increased presence of Australia in India.

Australia India Business Council NSW Chairman Irfan Malik hailed the series of initiatives.

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Irfan Malik, Chairman of the Australia India Business Council NSW.

Provided by Irfan Malik

“These initiatives will significantly boost business engagements, which will automatically increase people-to-people relationships. We have never seen such a high level of cooperation between the two parties,” he said.

“The Indian Diaspora will play a key role in establishing these trade ties and ultimately contribute to a positive trade outcome,” he added.

However, Labor’s Madeleine King criticized the federal government for further delaying the free trade deal with India.

‘Scott Morrison’s Liberals have only themselves to blame for not signing a free trade deal with India at Monday night’s leaders’ summit with Indian Prime Minister Modi’ , Ms. King said.

The first virtual summit between the two nations was held in June 2020 during which the relationship evolved from a partnership to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

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