How India and Australia have elevated their ties

ByBarry O’Farrell
Jun 04, 2020 06:47 PM IST

Four Ds — democracy, defence, diaspora, and dosti — have led PM Modi and PM Morrison to deepen the partnership

The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreed by India and Australia at Thursday’s Virtual Leaders’ Summit has been in the making for a decade. Increased cooperation between our countries and the trust and confidence between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Scott Morrison made it possible to take our partnership to the next level.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during first ever 'India-Australia Virtual Summit' with Australia PM Scott Morrison, via video conference, New Delhi on June 3(ANI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during first ever 'India-Australia Virtual Summit' with Australia PM Scott Morrison, via video conference, New Delhi on June 3(ANI)

We have built a durable, future-looking relationship. India and Australia are natural partners, well positioned to build a more secure and prosperous future for own peoples, the Indo-Pacific and the wider world.

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The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership reflects a historic high point in our relationship. The elements include defence and maritime security, cyber-security and technology, science and research and critical supply chains.

The outcomes from the Virtual Leaders’ Summit reflect our shared goals for a more open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific and a world of stronger institutions equipped to support the interests of all states, economic growth and human development. This is all the more important as we face the challenge of coronavirus disease (Covid-19). It is remarkable that our leaders have set such an ambitious agenda during these challenging times.

It reflects the irreversible forces bringing India and Australia together, what I call the 4 ‘D’s. First, democracy — reflecting our shared democratic values. The world, and the region, is better served by democracies working together to build a more inclusive, open and pro-development international system.

Second, defence — a shared commitment to a more peaceful and secure Indo-Pacific underpinned by the rights to sovereignty for all states, international law and a region which eschews “might is right”.

Third, diaspora — as President Ram Nath Kovind said during his 2018 visit to Australia, India sees its diaspora as a “living bridge” between our countries and Australia values its migrants as being central to its success and prosperity. Australia’s growing Indian diaspora — and Australia and India’s businesses, students and researchers — are the living bridge bringing our countries together.

And fourth, and above all, dosti — what Australia calls mateship; a genuine friendship and understanding between Australia and India, and our people. The dosti between Australia and India is symbolised by the close personal connection between our PMs. Prime Ministers Morrison and Modi exchanged tweets over the weekend after Scott Morrison made samosas which he wished he could have shared with his Indian counterpart.

The four “Ds” are propelling us into a future-looking relationship. In the Virtual Summit, the PMs announced agreements covering a wide range of areas key for peace and prosperity: Defence and maritime security, cyber and critical technology, critical minerals, education, water and public administration and governance.

The leaders’ agreement on critical minerals is an example of growing trade and investment ties. There is potential for joint investment and development of supply chains for critical minerals, which can support “Make in India” in new and emerging technologies. Australia can supply India with seven of the 12 critical minerals key to future industries, including antimony, cobalt, lithium and rare earth elements.

We finalised a Framework Arrangement on Cyber Cooperation and Cyber-enabled Critical Technologies. Our innovators are already working well together to develop new products and services to make Australians and Indians more prosperous and safe. We have boosted cooperation on science and research, including each committing $3 million towards a dedicated round of the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund seeking solutions to the many challenges of Covid-19, building on the existing collaboration between our scientists and pharmaceutical companies on vaccine development.

We continue to make great progress on defence and maritime security. During the Virtual Summit, Australia and India finalised a Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement, a defence Science and Technology Implementing Arrangement and a Joint Declaration on a Shared Vision for Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. Our defence activities have grown four-fold since 2014 and these agreements are stepping stones to more complex engagements promoting our shared strategic goals for the region.

Democracy, defence, diaspora and dosti — Australia and India have built a partnership well suited to the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly contested and complex Covid-19 world. It is one where partnerships between democracies such as India and Australia, geared for the common good of the global community, have never been more important.

Barry O’Farrell is Australian High Commissioner to India
The views expressed are personal

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