Foreign Policy Watch: India-Australia

Anchoring the ties with Australia the virtual way


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mutual Logistic Support Agreement, AUSINDEX

Mains level : Paper 2- India-Australia relations.

India-Australia relations have been growing in depth and diversity. Though two countries have been collaborating in various areas there is still potential to be realised in many areas. This article discusses the India-Australia ties. The area in which the two countries are collaborating and scope to further it.

Relations with much potential

  • Mr. Modi convened a virtual multilateral summit to bring South Asia together to face the pandemic, and he also spoke online with G-20 leaders on similar issues.
  • On June 4, India will have its first virtual bilateral summit with Australia.
  • The convergence of interests and values has been patently obvious.
  • But the time has also come to translate that potential into reality.

So, let’s see how India and Australia are expanding the scope of cooperation

  • 1) The two countries have sought to reconstruct their increasingly turbulent regional geography in the Indo-Pacific and see the Quad (with Japan and the United States) as the most potent instrument to promote cooperation.
  • The Quad, not surprisingly has been causing apprehensions in Beijing.
  • 2) It is expected that the ‘Mutual Logistics Support Agreement’ will be signed during the summit.
  • That should enhance defence cooperation and ease the conduct of large-scale joint military exercises.
  • 3) Last April, Australia and India conducted AUSINDEX, their largest bilateral naval exercise.
  • And there are further developments on the anvil, including Australia’s permanent inclusion in the Malabar exercise with Japan.
  • 4) It may be prudent too for New Delhi and Canberra to elevate the ‘two plus two’ format for talks from the Secretary level to the level of Foreign and Defence Ministers.

Now, let’s look at the cooperation in areas that matter to the lives of the people of the countries-

1) Pandemic control through controlled adaptation:  Lesson from Australia

  • Australia is one of the few countries that has managed to combat COVID-19 so far through “controlled adaptation” by which the coronavirus has been suppressed to very low levels.
  • Two of the leaders of this great Australia-wide effort are Indian-born scientists.
  • There is much that the two Prime Ministers can share on this front.

2) Collaboration in  health, safe food and supply chains

  • In terms of health and safe food as well the supply chains that facilitate their delivery, there are important lessons to be learnt.
  • One of Australia’s richest businessman and first patron of the Australia-India Leadership Dialogue recently described the promise of DTC-CPG (direct to consumer; consumer packaged goods) which could transform global supply chains.
  • Here too there is much room for collaboration and new thinking.

3) Higher education

  • The recovery of Australia’s universities, most of which are publicly funded and many rank among the top in the world, is still in question.
  • But they are proving to be resilient and pioneers in distance and online learning.
  • Australian universities could well open earlier than most and emerge as a safer destination for quality education than their European or Ivy league counterparts.

Consider the question “India’s relations with Australia have of late acquired a dept and diversity which is visible in their cooperation in diverse areas. Comment.”


As India and Australia with shared values try to bring about fresh order in a turbulent world, the virtual summit, in this sense, could not have been better timed.

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