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