Prime Minister Kevin Rudd outlined Australia’s blueprint for future engagement with India through the Australia in the Asian Century Country Strategy for India.
He has mentioned that Australia’s relationship with India has perhaps the greatest potential to grow out of all of Australia’s significant bilateral relationships in Asia. There are 450,000 people of Indian descent in Australia, the fourth largest migrant community in Australia.
“There is no greater symbol of the ties we share with India than the contribution and successes of the ‘Indian Diaspora’, which has made Australia home. India is a significant global power and the world’s largest democracy. With a current population of 1.2 billion, India is projected to overtake China as the world’s most populous nation by 2028”.
The India Country Strategy outlines a vision of where Australia’s relationship with India should be in 2025 across community, business and government.
It outlines a plan for deepening cultural understanding, including by increasing fluency of Hindi in Australian schools and working with the significant Indian community in Australia.
Hindi is already the ninth-most spoken language in Australia. By 2025, the commitment outlined in the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper to teach Hindi in schools will further generate goodwill, raise language skills and develop cultural awareness. It should also drive demand for a tertiary-level curriculum covering Indian languages, history and culture.
In 2012, India became the third-largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), following 10 years in which average annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth was more than 7 per cent. The Indian economy is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 6.75 per cent between 2012 and 2025.
According to the United Nations Development Programme, over half of India’s population faces multidimensional poverty. Future growth and reduction in poverty will require a sustained effort to create jobs, improve skills, develop infrastructure and deliver better public services. The opportunities and challenges Australia faces when engaging with India could vary significantly depending on India’s rate and quality of growth, and the scale of its reform.
Australia and India entered into a strategic partnership in 2009. By elevating the relationship to this level, both countries confirmed a strong commitment to expand and deepen collaboration. India has 23 official languages, diverse religious and ethnic cultures, a young population – two-thirds of Indians are aged under 35.Australia can supply the resources that India needs to develop, whether this is coking coal for steel, or copper for construction. India is our fifth-largest export market and 10th-largest two-way trading partner. The two-way investment relationship is also growing. In 2012, India invested $10 billion in Australia, while Australia invested $5.7 billion in India.
The strategy aims to achieve a threefold increase of two-way trade by 2025, with India becoming one of Australia’s top-five trading partners. India is currently Australia’s 10th largest trading partner, with trade worth $17.5 billion. India’s growing middle class, estimated to reach 606 million by 2030, is creating new opportunities for Australian exporters.
In 2009, Kevin Rudd and Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh elevated the bilateral relationship to a Strategic Partnership. Since then, Australia and India have exchanged over 50 high-level visits. Leaders now meet annually.
Under the Country Strategy launched recently, Australia will continue to strengthen government dialogue, including in forums such as the East Asia Summit and the G20, and will build a more comprehensive defence and security relationship.
The Prime Minister thanked the Australian community for its contribution to the development of the strategies. Consultations were held across Australia throughout April and May with business, academia, local government, youth groups, and community organisations participating in roundtables and public forums in each State and Territory capital.
The Indian Government has set an inspirational target of providing skills training to 500 million workers across30 sectors in India by 2025. Australia is well placed to contribute its expertise. Indian students are the second largest International student group in Australia, with more than 30,000 student visa holders as of April 2013.
Significant work is underway to enhance vocational training partnerships between education providers in both countries, including in-market and low-cost delivery models.