India is the world’s most populous democracy and will, by 2030, be the most populous country, overtaking China.
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That formal relationship began for many Australians in 1950, when Robert Menzies became the first Australian leader to visit independent India. Since then, both countries have been transformed. Now we must turn our attention to transforming the relationship to one that matches India’s huge needs and its enormous potential with our people, Australia’s best assets, as well as our resources and our shared democratic traditions.
Three focus areas
During the visit we will focus on three areas of our relationship that show great potential: our economic, knowledge and strategic partnerships.
India is inspiring the world with its explosive economic growth. Its economic take-off is lifting millions out of poverty, transforming the country into the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with forecasted growth of 7.5% in 2017. This is a stunning result for India, and a rare opportunity for Australia. From Mumbai to Melbourne, from Bengaluru to Brisbane, India will be in the market to buy some of the best things Australia has to offer.
Two-way trade is growing, and approaching $20 billion, but that’s far too low and there’s so much more we can do. This will be a key focus of my visit. I’ll meet with executives from some of India’s biggest companies, and speak with Australian entrepreneurs in India who are expanding their market reach into this extraordinary country.
The Government will announce the results of the tenth round of the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund. Worth more than $100 million, this initiative has enabled our sharpest minds to collaborate in areas such as food security and health, and advance the boundaries of human knowledge in quantum computing, nanotechnology and astronomy. By combining our talents, we can add to the technological achievements already made in both our countries.
As an education destination
For decades our citizens have been criss-crossing the Indian Ocean in search of knowledge. Last year, Australia was the second-most popular study destination for Indian students — 60,000 came to Australia to learn. Through the Government’s New Colombo Plan, I want to see more and more young Australians choosing India as a place to study and boost their own qualifications and experience. India’s demand for our minerals and resources remains high. But education is a new pathway to shared prosperity. Consider the numbers — the Indian Government is aiming to train 400 million people by 2022. We can help them achieve this goal.
A great strength of our education relationship is found in the higher education and research sector. Collaboration between our institutes on high-end research, innovation, science and technology are central to developing our knowledge partnership. Having met twice already, Mr. Modi and I know that our close economic cooperation is also matched by shared strategic priorities.
The security and stability of the Indo-Pacific is fundamental to both of us and my visit provides an opportunity to discuss key regional and geostrategic issues and strengthen our engagement. As liberal democracies, we can work together to encourage free trade and prosperity and to help safeguard security and the rule of law in our region.
The Indian link
At home, we are lucky that India — its culture, its art, its food, its people — has become such a large and important part of Australian life. Half a million Australians are of Indian descent. That number increases each year. Whether it’s Little India in Melbourne, Diwali celebrations in Brisbane, or the long-established Sikh community on the North Coast of New South Wales, modern Australia, the most successful multicultural society in the world, could not be imagined without the contribution of Indian-Australians.
(Source: The Hindu)