From Rajeev Sharma
New Delhi, 4 September: The suspense over the Indo-Australian nuclear safety deal continues as the Australian Prime Minister is reaching here in a few hours. On 5th September a signing ceremony is likely in the Hyderabad House.
The Ministry of External Affairs, Joint Secretary (South) Mr. Sanjay Bhattacharya during a press briefing said, “We have had very productive discussions. We do not announce what agreements are to be signed till the moment they are to be signed. Our practice is usually to announce the agreements as they are signed.”
Mr. Bhattacharya further added,” As you know the Australian Prime Minister is scheduled to pay a State Visit to India from 4-5 September 2014. This will be the first meeting between the two Prime Ministers. Prime Minister Abbott had visited India in his youth, and we are told that it left a very deep impression on him.”
Mr. Bhattacharya said, “As regards the program, during the visit, Mr. Abbott will have delegation level talks with Prime Minister; he will call on the Indian President and Vice President and will meet the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. He will also be visiting Mumbai, where he will call on the Governor of Maharashtra. The other elements of his programme will include ceremonial reception in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, wreath laying at Rajghat and at India Gate. He will interact with the business community both in New Delhi and Mumbai. He will visit the ALL India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi. The Australian Prime Minister will also visit Mumbai University and a cricket stadium in Mumbai. We expect significant outcomes from the visit to further enhance our partnership.”
Joint Secy. (South) further added,” Our relations have grown significantly after the adoption of economic reforms in India and Australian participation in the Asian revival. The shift of gravity towards Asia has brought India-Australia relations into focus. We both had relatively robust growth, despite the global economic slowdown. We cooperated closely in EAS, G-20, IORA and other fora. Further, we are working together to strengthen regional integration in the emerging Asian century.”
Mr. Bhattacharya said, “Australia is a major source of resources necessary for our economic development. We get coal, gold, copper, diamond and zinc and others; and it can emerge as a source of uranium and gas. If fact, we have signed for long term supply of gas from the Gorgon field of Australia. Indian investments in the resources sector in Australia have grown over time, totalling over US $ 10 billion and there are many more that are in the pipeline. There is also interest in Australia to engage in our resources sector including in exploration, supply of machinery and of technology.
“PM Abbott is accompanied by a very large business delegation, I am told of 130 businessmen including some of the leading business houses of Australia, “he said.
He further added,” The Water Partnership is another example of our cooperation and has contributed to exchanges on water basin management. Our cooperation in mining and geology technology we have a working group on this, has also yielded very favourable results including training in some of the technologies and experiences that our geologists were not familiar with. Under an EAS initiative, we have collaborated on the Malaria Initiative and seek to provide alternative and affordable treatments.”
He said, “On the education front, Indian students in Australia number over 36,000, with majority of them in vocational training institutes. Our plans are to step up joint research and collaboration between universities. We have growing cooperation in the skills training, mainly in the private sector and between various sectoral agencies. We have established a number of Chairs of Indian Studies in Australian Universities and more are in the offing. We now have growing presence of Indian faculty in Australian Universities. At the same time, Australia has also committed US$ 1 million towards a Chair on Environmental and Ecology Studies at the newly established Nalanda University.”
Bhattacharya said, “the population of people of Indian origin in Australia has grown over the years and is currently over 450,000; they are well settled mostly in professional capacities.”
While answering a question regarding the attacks on Indian students in Australia, Mr Bhattacharya said,” in 2009-2010, we did have some instances or several instances where there were attacks on Indians and Indian students in particular. This was a cause for intense consultations between the two sides. And I think that both our High Commission and the Foreign Ministry are involved in trying to bring about a better situation. I am glad that over the years, the situation has improved considerably. What the Australians have been urged to do and they’ve done is to have a better streamlining of universities and the courses that they offer; to have a better screening process. What they’ve also done is to bring about the security in the neighbourhoods where the students generally live. And I think all this has paid off in terms of a much calmer environment and today we do not see instances of that nature.”
Mr. Bhattacharya said while answering a question,” Prime Minister Abbott is scheduled to visit a cricket stadium during his visit to Mumbai. He will meet 3 very prominent cricketers over there- Sachin Tendulkar, Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee. They are organizing a cricket camp for a bunch of kids over there and they will join in.”
Courtsey: SAT News Service