Cricket, Curry & Commerce

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  • India and Australia share much in common as vibrant, functioning, multicultural democracies.
  • Additionally, curry and cricket seem to have facilitated a better bond between the two countries.
  • Melbourne alone is said to have over 500 Indian restaurants. Butter chicken curry is part of the standard buffet spread on numerous tourist cruise boats
  • Beyond cuisine and play , however, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Australia focusses on a shared global agenda.
  • At the G20 summit, he stressed seeking insulation of economic reforms from politics.
  • Reiterated India's priority to repatriate black money stashed abroad, linked unaccounted money to security challenges, sought a coordinated international policy on terrorism, drug trafficking and arms smuggling, and highlighted the importance of cyber security for the global financial system.
  • G20 nations collectively account for 85% of global GDP and 75% of global trade.
  • Yet bilateral trade between India and Australia is rather low at Australian $15 billion.
  • India is Australia's 10th largest trading partner and imports coal, gold, copper and to a lesser extent agricultural produce, collectively aggregating around Australian $12 billion.
  • On the other hand, India primarily exports pearls, gems, spice, passenger motor vehicles and iron tubes, aggregating about Australian $3 billion, placing it 20th on Australia's list of imports.
  • Both nations are keen to boost trade.
  • The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement is important to achieve this.
  • Additionally, the two countries could seek expanded engagement in education and skill development.
  • It is estimated that over 35,000 Indian students study across Australia, making them among the top three nationalities in various universities.
  • Australia is known for its success in vocational education training and skill development.
  • India has a massive workforce seeking quality employment for a better life.
  • An estimated 200 million jobs need to be created over the next decade in India.
  • Were Indian students to avail vocational training and teaching, it would augur well for the Make in India and Skill India initiatives
  • The initiative seek India's emergence as a global manufacturing hub.
  • The challenge lies in matching India's requirements against Australian knowledge and experience in rupee terms rather than in dollars.
  • Beyond economics, common interests exist on various bilateral, regional and multilateral issues.
  • Australia supports Indian membership to Apec.
  • Commentators acknowledge that all this and more might well be achievable outcomes given the speed with which the leaders of both countries are focussing on the path ahead.
  • Prime Minister Tony Abbott was in India in September, where he also interacted with business leaders in Delhi and Mumbai.
  • Modi's visit to Australia has come barely 10 weeks later.
  • Further, the India-Australia Business Summit is scheduled for early 2015.
  • Possibly the most critical aspect of this relationship is the significant presence of a resident community of Indians in Australia, officially estimated at about 4,00,000.
  • When one includes persons of Indian origin as well as non resident Indians, the number is said to exceed half a million.
  • As elsewhere, the Indian community has done well for itself and is respected for its talent and enterprise.
  • Melbourne is home to the largest contingent of Indians recognised for their work and initiative.
  • From the CEO of the City of Yarra to the first elected counsellor in Wyndham, an adviser to the Labour Party in Victoria to the COO of a prominent Australia Football League team, lawyers, chartered accountants, publishers and media professionals, the stamp of India is evident all across.
  • Several Indian entrepreneurs have set up successful businesses all over Dandenong thus contributing to Victoria's manufacturing capacity and growth rate.
  • Throughout Australia, the Indian migrant community is considered to be the fastest growing ethnic group.
  • In Melbourne, he will interact with business leaders at a civic reception at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, after which a visit to its innovative sports museum is scheduled.
  • It is this community of Indians that can be a bridge that links to enable outcomes between India and Australia.
  • Both leaders are young in their respective tenures.
  • Both are seen as decisive and action-driven with a marked preference for liberal economic policies and reform, where government facilitates rather than restricts enterprise.
  •  That the visit may be both “special & historic“, as Modi tweeted a few days before his departure, should come as no surprise.
  • And if the warm bear hug between Modi and Abbott is indicative, perhaps bridging the emotional distance between the subcontinent and the continent has already begun.
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