India, Australia and the United States – Strategic Convergence

Added by on June 2, 2011

Given the emerging security scenario in the Indo-Pacific region, where all three countries face challenges from terrorism and non-traditional security threats such as piracy, drug trafficking, serious communicable diseases, illegal immigration and environmental security, it is timely to explore the merits of a trilateral regional security architecture consisting of India, Australia and the United States.

In November 2009, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited India. During his visit it was jointly agreed to elevate the Australia-India relationship to the level of a strategic partnership.

A Joint Declaration on Security Co-operation was issued, with both countries committing to boosting defence and security co-operation, regional and multilateral co-operation, economic engagement, co-operation in energy, climate change and water resources and the increasing of science and education links through knowledge partnership.

Despite booming trading ties – with exports worth $18.2 billion, India became Australia’s  third-largest export market in 2009 – there are still a few areas of concern. The incidents of attacks on Indian students in Australia did a great deal of damage, especially in India where the stories were latched on to by the media.

The attacks did a significant amount of damage to Australia’s education industry, given that there are more than 90,000 Indian students in Australia – and many more waiting in the wings. Australia has emerged as the second-most sought after destination for Indian students, overtaking the United Kingdom.

Indian students make up the second-largest group of students in Australia after the Chinese; the education sector is Australia’s third-largest foreign exchange earner after coal and iron ore.