Australia announces new consulate and centre to boost tech ties with India

PM Scott Morrison unveiled Australia’s plans during a virtual address to the Bengaluru Tech Summit, saying technology is at the forefront of a strategic partnership he signed with PM Narendra Modi last year
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Australian-Indian Community Centre in Melbourne on November 12, 2021. Australia will open a consulate in Bengaluru and also a centre for excellence. (AFP/File)
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Australian-Indian Community Centre in Melbourne on November 12, 2021. Australia will open a consulate in Bengaluru and also a centre for excellence. (AFP/File)
Updated on Nov 17, 2021 04:25 PM IST
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Australia announced on Wednesday that it will establish a new consulate in Bengaluru and set up a centre of excellence for critical and emerging technology policy in India as part of efforts to drive the technology partnership between the two countries.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled Australia’s plans during a virtual address to the Bengaluru Tech Summit, saying technology is at the forefront of the comprehensive strategic partnership he signed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year.

The new consulate will focus on deepening Australia’s ties with “India’s vibrant innovators, technologists and entrepreneurs” and support Australian businesses in “one of the world’s most important commercial centres”, foreign minister Marise Payne said in a statement.

The new centre of excellence will elevate cooperation under an existing cyber and critical technology partnership and bring together Australian and Indian technologists, policy practitioners, academics, researchers and thought leaders, she said.

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“It is a multi-stakeholder initiative that will help guide the responsible development and use of critical technologies,” Payne said.

Over the past year, India and Australia have stepped up cooperation on emerging and critical technologies both bilaterally and in partnership with Japan and the US, the other members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad. Much of this work is focused on lowering reliance on Chinese technologies and building secure and reliable supply chains.

A group established by the Quad has been working to set standards and forge closer collaboration on critical and sensitive technologies such as AI and 5G. India and Australia are also collaborating on the use of rare earth elements.

Noting that the consulate in Bengaluru will take the number of Australian missions in India to five, Morrison said the post will deepen ties with innovators and the government. “Bengaluru is the world’s fastest growing technology hub – of course, we want to be part of it. It is home to a third of India’s unicorn companies,” he said.

The centre of excellence, he said, will help the two countries “shape technology governance so it aligns with our values and supports an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific region”.

The centre will also promote investment and innovation between Australia and India in technology and “amplify our policy influence globally”, he said.

Morrison referred to the launch of the first Sydney Dialogue, which is a global summit on emerging and critical technologies, and said the event will witness the unveiling of Australia’s first “blueprint for critical technologies”.

“This signals Australia’s firm commitment to shaping the development and adoption of critical technologies internationally, including by working with trusted partners like India,” he said.

Morrison also referred to the work currently being done by Australia and India in the field of technology, and said technology-leading nations will have greater economic and political power and influence on global norms and values in the years ahead.

The two sides are sharing expertise on cyber and critical technologies such as quantum computing and AI, and collaborating on the mining and processing of critical minerals such as cobalt, lithium and rare earth elements that are vital to clean energy technologies and have military applications.

“We’re also cooperating on space science, technology, and research – and Australia is proud to be supporting India’s inspirational Gaganyaan human spaceflight mission,” he said.

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Monday, November 29, 2021