Tag: Australia-India

Australia-India to deepen defence ties

The Australian Minister of Defence, Mr. Kevin Andrews meeting the Indian Defence Minister, Mr. Manohar Parrikar, in New Delhi on September 02, 2015.Photo: PIB, New Delhi.

By SAT News Desk

Melbourne & New Delhi, 3 September: Australia and India have decided to deepen defence ties between the two countries. The Australian Minister of Defence Mr. Kevin Andrews four day visit to India from 31 August to 3 September saw talks between Indian Defence Minister Mr. Manohar Parrikar followed by delegation level bilateral talks to discuss shared strategic interests. The two countries also announced India-Australia Naval exercise next month.
After the talks the two sides issued the following joint statement:

“The Ministers acknowledged the positive progress made during the past year in bilateral defence cooperation, and underscored their ongoing interest in fostering and maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. The Ministers also discussed the centenary of the First World War and recalled the contribution made by the Indian and ANZAC forces during the Gallipoli campaign.

The Ministers affirmed their desire to continue to broaden and deepen the bilateral defence relationship based on shared strategic interests and to implement the action plan outlined in the Framework for Security Cooperation agreed to by the Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Tony Abbott on 18 November 2014.

Given both nations’ interest in the Indian Ocean and its vital importance to regional and global trade, the Ministers acknowledged the importance of freedom of maritime navigation and agreed that maritime security should remain a key component of the bilateral defence relationship. Australia and India will also continue to cooperate through joint work as part of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus construct. The Ministers also agreed to continue enhancing relationship between Indian and Australian navies, through bilateral ship visits, exchanges as also through Indian Ocean Naval Symposium and such other fora.

The first Navy-to-Navy Bilateral Maritime Exercise will be held later this month. The exercise will involve multiple ship visits and maritime assets from both the countries. The exercise will foster greater interoperability and cooperation between both nations and further contribute to maritime security.

Both the Ministers noted that since the last Defence Ministers’ Meeting, India and Australia have held Defence Policy Talks, and bilateral Army, Navy and Air Force Staff Talks. To further bolster this good progress, it was agreed that the Ministerial level meeting may continue to be held regularly while the Army to Army talks would now be held on annual basis.

The Ministers agreed that specific initiatives for enhanced cooperation will include the following activities:

The Defence Science and Technology Organizations and the Defence Research and Development Organization would continue to explore opportunities to identify areas for cooperation, initially through an exchange of letters followed by the respective organization heads meeting later in 2015.

The commencement of a partnership between our respective peacekeeping centres. This will start with closer engagement to enhance knowledge sharing and mutual capacity building.

Increased Air Force cooperation on aviation safety and air worthiness, including subject matter experts’ exchanges, to progress mutual understanding and improve capability.

Royal Australian Navy participation in the Indian Navy International Fleet Review in February 2016. The continuation of the Bilateral Maritime Exercise on a biennial basis.

The establishment of a Joint Working Group on Defence Research and Material Cooperation.

Closer Air Force engagement, including Indian attendance at the Royal Australian Air Force exercise PITCH BLACK.

The creation of a closer Counter-Improvised Explosive Device (CIED) relationship, commencing with a regular subject matter expert exchange.

The Ministers agreed that implementing these initiatives would further strengthen the already robust defence relationship between Australia and India and that their long-term objective is to develop a significant defence and security relationship. This will be important as we respond to shared challenges and work together to ensure a secure and stable region.

Minister Andrews thanked Minister Parrikar for the hospitality he received during his visit to India and said he is looking forward to hosting the next Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Australia.”

The day before, Mr. Kevin Andrews had called on the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. He also visited the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate and paid homage to the martyrs by laying a wreath there. Later he was accorded inter-Services Guard of Honour in the lawns of South Block. He also attended a round-table meeting at Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).

- SAT News Service.

Julia Bishop begins India visit


By SAT News Desk

Melbourne, 13 April: Australia Foreign Minister Julia Bishop has begun her three days (12-15 April) visit to India. Julia is likely to discuss the conclusion of administrative arrangements for the export of Uranium sales to India under the 2014 Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. Talks with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley are likely to touch the possible Free Trade Agreement between the two countries.

In a media release the Australian Foreign Minister says, “I will deliver the inaugural Indo-Pacific Oration at the Observer Research Foundation and present at St Stephen’s College in Delhi on the benefits from the roll out of the New Colombo Plan to India this year.”

“In Chennai I will officially open the office of the Australian Consulate-General and meet the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, O Panneerselvam. I will also meet senior business leaders to help build Australia’s economic links with southern India, an economically dynamic region of around 300 million people”, she says.
The new Framework for Security Cooperation, which was agreed last November, will also be discussed with Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

“Australia and India are committed to working together on a range of security issues, including counter-terrorism, maritime security, countering transnational crime and cyber policy,” says the media release.

- SAT News Service.

Indo-Oz ties improving but ‘brittle’, says Australia India Institute

By our correspondent

Melbourne: The recent Report of the Australia India Institute’s “ Perceptions Taskforce Beyond the Lost Decade’ has made recommendations to the Australian Government to take steps to build trust and improve perceptions of each other (Australia & India) in the fields of education, diplomacy, media and security are called for. The independent taskforce was constituted by John McCarthy, AO, Sanjaya Baru, Gopalaswami Parthasarathy, Maxine McKew, Ashok Malik and Christopher Kremmer.
In his introduction to the report Amitabh Mattoo, AII Director says: “This report, Beyond the Lost Decade, discusses the key issues arising from this process and presents them from Indian and Australian viewpoints. It draws conclusions and proposes recommendations for action that the Taskforce members believe will create more robust Australia-India ties. The problems of the past reflected our different histories and social and political realities. But our interests are converging and people-to-people ties and economic and security cooperation will grow. At times provocative, but always insightful, this report is a must-read, not just for policy-makers, but anyone with a stake in closer relations between Australia and its Asian neighbours, especially India.”
The report analysis relations between India and Australia covering all fields and feels that while they are improving but are ‘brittle’.
The rec ommendations include:
• Doubling the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s public diplomacy budget to A$10 million per annum; The overseas television broadcaster Australia Network to retain close links with DFAT but funding and editorial responsibility should rest with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
• A new Indo-Pacific or Australasia Division within India’s Ministry of External Affairs as part of an expedited restructure of the ministry.
• Extending post-study work rights to international students enrolled in courses at TAFE institutes and other reputable vocational training establishments, the sector in which most Indian students have traditionally enrolled.
• Training Australian school teachers in the Hindi language in anticipation of it being added to the Australian Curriculum before the end of this decade.
• As an act of goodwill, extending to December 2013 the visas of Indian students caught up in changes to regulations following the student crisis of 2009; and tasking the Australian Institute of Criminology to undertake more 10research into racism and crime, including the events that affected Indian students in 2009-10.
• An Australian education rating system for States that provide education services to international students which can downgrade states that fail to provide proper security and education standards for international students.
• Invitations to representatives of Indian Army regiments that fought at Gallipoli to participate in Australian commemoration ceremonies to mark the 100th anniversary of the campaign in 2015.
• An Australia-India senior editors’ dialogue, and the Press Trust of India to consider posting a permanent correspondent in Australia.
• Permanent naval attaché positions to be established in both capitals.
• Regular institutionalised Prime Ministerial visits between New Delhi and Canberra and a young political leaders program between India and Australia.
• Visas on arrival for some Australian travellers to India as currently permitted to citizens of New Zealand.
• A one-stop shop online portal serving all aspects of trade, diplomatic, educational, people-to-people and cultural relations between Australia and India.
The full report can be accessed at – http://www.aii.unimelb.edu.au/wpcontent/uploads/2012/07/Beyond-the-Lost-Decadeweb.pdf

Immigration Minister Bowen announces funding for 5 Sri Lanka projects

By our correspondent

Thursday, 03 May 2012

Melbourne: The Federal Government has allocated more than $7 million towards overseas assistance projects supporting displaced and vulnerable people overseas, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, said today from Sri Lanka.

Mr Bowen, who is on a five–day visit to India and Sri Lanka, said funding was allocated for 15 projects, including five projects supporting displaced Sri Lankan people through improved health services and provision of shelter and protection.

‘The government’s Displaced Persons Program (DPP) focuses on improving the lives of displaced people across the globe, with more than $2.7 million this financial year going to assisting displaced Sri Lankans,’ Mr Bowen said.

‘The Australian Government is committed to helping people overseas return to their homes safely after fleeing dangerous situations.’

‘By improving the quality of life for people in their home countries, this funding also helps to remove the incentive for people to pay people smugglers and attempt dangerous boat journeys to Australia.’

‘Through this program, international and non–governmental organisations have been funded to implement a range of projects that look to long–term solutions for refugees and displaced persons.’

‘Only this week I visited one of the projects we have previously funded in New Delhi that helps refugees in India gain skills and employment, and saw first–hand the positive impact this program can have.’

Among the organisations to receive funding for their proposed projects are the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), CARE Australia and ChildFund Australia.

The 2011–12 DPP is focused on assisting displaced persons with their basic needs, through projects such as the one operated by ChildFund Australia, which provides food security by supporting farm–based livelihoods for vulnerable people.

‘Australia continues to show its strong support for vulnerable and displaced people through vital programs such as this,’ Mr Bowen said.

The 2011–12 Displaced Persons Program projects include:

ChildFund Australia – $535 508 to assist internally displaced Sri Lankans
Strengthening farm–based livelihoods and food security of returnees
The goal of this project is to provide displaced persons and returnee populations of the Kilinochchi district in Sri Lanka with livelihood support for their economic recovery and stability through improving farm–based livelihoods and ensuring food security. The aim is to assist 2350 families to re–establish agricultural farming as a steady source of food throughout the year.

IOM – $551 019 to assist internally displaced Sri Lankans
Enabling health protection in northern Sri Lanka
This project aims to strengthen fragile health systems in northern Sri Lanka by providing transportation of health workers (especially to remote and marginalised sites), six hire–ambulances to provide 24–hour emergency care, and rehabilitation of two health facilities.

CARE Australia – $677 531 to assist internally displaced Sri Lankans
Developing livelihoods and life skills of youth in northern Sri Lanka
This project aims to improve the socio–economic wellbeing of youth in northern Sri Lanka by providing 900 young men and women with increased access to skills development and employment opportunities. In partnership with local government and community service providers, this will result in improved community access to a range of services.

Act for Peace – $463 116 to assist internally displaced Sri Lankans
Protection, advocacy and assistance for returnees to northern Sri Lanka
This project will provide identity documentation for 22 000 returnees, shelter assistance for 50 families, and livelihood support for 150 families. Several self–help community groups will also be formed to provide and identify relevant training suitable to the region, aimed at providing long–term stability.

Danish Refugee Council – $509 658 to assist Sri Lankan Tamils in India
Protection and livelihood assistance for Sri Lankan refugees living in camps in Tamil Nadu, India
This project aims to increase protection for refugees – in particular women, girls and youth – and to enhance their livelihood opportunities through skills development. It will also improve the shelters of 50 vulnerable families, repair 40 latrines and provide for improved water distribution systems to at least seven camps.

CARE Australia – $619 728 to assist Iraqis in Jordan
Jordanian community assistance to Iraqi refugees
This project aims to address the immediate needs of displaced Iraqis through the provision of basic items such as mattresses, blankets, clothing, sanitary materials and food parcels (for 1000 households or 3800 individuals), vocational and livelihood training (for 500 individuals) and counselling services (for 1500 individuals).

CARE Australia – $600 000 to assist internally displaced Afghans
Ghazni Livelihood Enhancement Project for returnees and those vulnerable to displacement
This project’s aim is to contribute to stability and reduce the risk of displacement by supporting sustainable livelihood opportunities in Afghanistan. The project will directly reach 585 individuals and indirectly benefit 3510 people through distribution of livelihood assets, income generation, skills building, and improved access to markets and credit in rural and urban areas.

IOM – $468 177 to assist Rohingyas in Thailand
Reducing the vulnerability of Rohingyas through community outreach, and increasing their access to social and health services
This project aims to support displaced Rohingya populations in Thailand by up–scaling three drop–in health centres to Community Resource Centres, facilitating meetings and joint activities between migrant community based committees and local government authorities, providing vocational and life–skills training to improve levels of employment and economic wellbeing for 40 youths, and improving health and social services.

IOM – $800 000 to assist Afghans from Pakistan
Post–arrival assistance to vulnerable Afghan returnees from Pakistan
This project enables better emergency response to Afghan refugees returned from Pakistan, and includes upgrading of border reception facilities, provision of transportation and other services to 3600 families, and provision of family Non Food Item kits for 1500 families.

University of NSW – $345 375 to assist African refugees in Kenya
Building services and support to improve the identification and protection of at–risk refugee women and girls in Dadaab, Kenya
This project provides support to refugee women and girls by strengthening community–led psychosocial services. By working closely with the UNHCR, implementing partners, local community workers and refugee communities, the project aims to provide relevant training on psychosocial support issues identified by the refugee population, and establish support centres in Dadaab camps.

UNHCR – $534 007 to assist Iraqis in Jordan
Assistance to persons with disabilities and provision of information on refugee rights
This project is designed to assist 351 refugees with disabilities, including the elderly, improving their wellbeing and independence, including through the equipment, physical therapy and emotional support, as well as by providing training on refugee rights.

IOM – $500 000 and $150 000 to assist Afghan returnees
Two projects for emergency transport and accommodation, and upgrading and equipping processing and accommodation facilities
These projects provide emergency funding for transport and accommodation assistance to vulnerable undocumented Afghan returnees from Iran, as well as upgrading processing and reception facilities.

UNHCR – $234 000 for refugees in Malaysia
To assist with the increased resettlement of refugees moving from Malaysia to Australia
To support the processing in Malaysia of 1000 additional refugee referrals per year to Australia.

Minister’s Council on Asylum Seekers and Detention (MCASAD) – $46 227
Scoping study in transit countries
This project engaged with governments and non–government organisations in transit countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, on irregular migration and displaced and vulnerable people.

Vidya Balan to launch Victoria’s Indian Film Festival 2012 on May 11

By Neeraj Nanda

Melbourne: Bollywood starlet Vidya Balan will launch the Indian Film Festival 2012, here on 11 May, 2012 at the Hoyts Melbourne Central. The program will include the screening of Vidhya Balan’s recent box office hit ‘The Dirty Picture’.
‘Ooh La La’ Vidya Balan is the brand Ambassador of the festival to be held in mid-year.The full program and details of the festival will be announced during the launch.Vidya had last last year visited Melbourne as part of the Bollywood Film festival organised by the Mind Blowing Films.

Talking to Indian Express, Vidya said that she is delighted to be named as the brand ambassador of the said festival and that she loves the format of the festival and the wide range of films screened there. She also added that the festival not only showcases the best of Indian cinema, but also provides a platform for young, upcoming filmmakers through its short film competition.

“Recalling her association with the Melbourne city, she said that when she was in Melbourne, she was smitten by the city and its love for films and its multi-cultural spirit. She added that she is confident that the festival will contribute greatly to add to that spirit,” reports the Indian Express.

Director of the Festival and co-director of the Mind Blowing Films, Mitu Bhowmick Lange said,
“This contract allows us to develop a fantastic festival program,including both”mainstream
and niche arthouse Indian cinema, regional films, and a focus on fostering relationships
between filmmakers in Australia and India.”

The 10-day festival will take place in mid-2012 and will showcase the depth and diversity of the Indian film industry. The festival , according to reports, has been awarded to the leading Bollywood company Mind Blowing Films,who were earlier holding their own similar festival over the years. The Victorian Government is expected to considerably fund the Victoria’s Indian Film Festival 2012.