Varghese: Australia and India to Gain from Working Together
MUMBAI, October 27, 2010 - Australia and India have many common strategic interests, such as bolstering
regional institutions to ease tensions, ensuring that the balance of power in
Asia favours secular democracies, having the US as a stabilizing force, and
maintaining an outward-looking and engaged Asia.
These thoughts were shared by
Australian High Commissioner to India, Peter
Varghese AO, in an Asia Society India Centre Diplomatic Briefing Series event, hosted by the Four Seasons Hotel.
Varghese surveyed the geo-strategic
conditions of Asian countries, predicting their trajectory and recommending
various measures to achieve a secure and prosperous future. He suggested
contending terrorism as a security threat rather than a strategic one,
cautioned that ASEAN needs to work maintain its influence, and predicted that
the US will remain a dominant power in the foreseeable future. Varghese also
noted that China's future was the most uncertain on the strategic horizon. He
expressed the need to engage the country as it grows, so that it does find
overturning the current order in its interest.
Varghese also put several issues of
contention into perspective, such as Australia's refusal to supply uranium to
India. He explained this as a pro-Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) policy, rather
than an anti-India one. Recounting how Australia decided in the 1960s not to
develop nuclear weapons, he said that it was in Australia's interest to
strengthen the NPT. This led to its policy of not supplying uranium to
non-signatories of the NPT, including India. Yet, Australia supported the
US-India nuclear deal because it believed that this addressed larger
geo-strategic issues that Australia was vested in.
Current obstacles in the
Australia-India relationship, he said, included a mutual misunderstanding of
each other among people of both countries. Australia, for its part, is
developing a cultural program to overcome this, among other measures. The
current partnership in the G20, Varghese hoped, could be the harbinger of an even more
productive collaboration between Australia and India in the future.