7 PM |Amidst a tragedy, an opportunity: On India – Australia Relationship| 8th January 2020

Context:India – Australia relations.

More in news:

  • Record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought have fuelled a series of massive bushfires across Australia.
  • As a consequence of the bushfires, the debate on global warming, climate change and fossil fuels is going to intensify, the two economies should focus towards cleaner energy.

Australia’s Bushfire:

  • Although Australia has always had bushfires, this season has been a lot worse than normal.
  • Australia broke its all-time temperature record twice in December. An average maximum of 40.9C was recorded on 17 December, broken a day later by 41.9C, both beating 2013’s record of 40.3C.
  • By the end of the month every state had measured temperatures above 40C – including Tasmania, which is usually much cooler than the mainland.
  • The Geographical reasons of the fire:
Map showing the effects of a positive Indian Ocean Dipole
  • The main climate driver behind the heat has been a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) – an event where sea surface temperatures are warmer in the western half of the ocean, cooler in the east.
  • The difference between the two temperatures is currently the strongest in 60 years.
  • As a result, there has been higher-than-average rainfall and floods in eastern Africa and droughts in south-east Asia and Australia.
  • Effects of Bushfire:
  • About 480 million animals have died across New South Wales.
  • Almost a third of koalas in New South Wales may have been killed in the fires, and a third of their habitat has been destroyed.
  • In December, the smoke in Sydney was so bad that air quality measured 11 times the “hazardous” level.
  • In total, more than 14.7 million acres have been burned across the country’s six states. 
  • How these bushfires triggering thunderstorm?
How bushfires can create own weather

During a fire, heat and moisture from the plants are released, even when the fuel is relatively dry. Warm air is less dense than cold air so it rises, releasing the moisture and forming a cloud that lifts and ends up a thunderstorm started by fire. It happens from time to time in Australia and other parts of the world, including Canada, Flannigan said. It’s an explosive storm called pyrocumulonimbus and it can inject particles as high as 10 miles into the air. These can be deadly, dangerous, erratic and unpredictable.

India-Australia Relations:

  • Background:
  • The formal relationship began for many Australians in 1950, when Robert Menzies became the first Australian leader to visit independent India.
  • India-Australia relations touched a historic low when the Australian Government condemned India’s 1998 nuclear tests.
  • Our relationship has expanded dramatically since we established a Strategic Partnership in 2009.
  • India-Australia ties recently have been set by Tony Abbott, who visited India in September 2014—just months after Narendra Modi took office—and the Indian Prime Minister returning the visit in November 2014.
  • Bilateral Economic and Trade Relationship:
  • The India-Australia economic relationship has grown significantly in recent years. India’s growing economic profile and commercial relevance to the Australian economy is recognized, both at the federal and state level in Australia.
  • The 7th India-Australia Economic Policy Dialogue was held in Canberra during 16-18 July, 2017. As part of its efforts to develop strong economic relationship with India, the Australian government commissioned the India Economic Strategy to define a pathway for Australia to unlock opportunities offered by Indian Economic growth.
  • The strategy aims for a clear exposition of the kind of relationship Australia should aspire to have with India out to 2035.
  • India-Australia Joint Ministerial Commission: India-Australia Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) was established in 1989 to enable interaction at a government and business level on a range of trade and investment related issues. JMC meetings are held regularly
  • Bilateral Trade:
  • India is the 5th largest trade partner of Australia with trade in goods and services at Australian $ 29 billion representing 3.6% share of the total Australian trade in 2017-18, with export at Australian $ 8 billion and import at Australian $ 21 billion.
  • India’s main exports to Australia are Refined Petroleum, medicaments, Railway vehicles including hover-trains, Pearls & Gems, Jewellery, made up textile articles, while our major imports are Coal, copper ores & concentrates, Gold, vegetables, wool & other animal hair, fruits and nuts, lentils and education related services.
  • The two countries are also discussing a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), however, the progress is currently stalled.
  • Defence relation:
  • India–Australia both borders the Indian Ocean and has a shared interest in the maintenance of freedom of navigation and trade.
  • Australia recognises India’s critical role in supporting security, stability and prosperity of the Indian Ocean region. Australia and India are committed to working together to enhance maritime cooperation and has a formal bilateral naval exercise (AUSINDEX) since 2015.
  • Civil Nuclear Co-Operation:
  • A Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement was signed in September 2014 which came into force in November 2015 and provides the framework for substantial new trade in energy between Australia and India.
  • The deal ensures that Uranium mining companies of Australia can supply Australian uranium to India for civil use with confidence that exports would not be hindered by domestic legal action challenging the consistency of the safeguards applied by the IAEA in India and Australia’s international non-proliferation obligations.
  • It also ensures that any future bilateral trade in other nuclear-related material or items for civil use will also be protected.
  • Resources and Energy Security:
  • A Joint Working Group on Energy and Minerals was established in 1999 to expand bilateral relationship in the energy and resources sector.
  •  During the visit of our Prime Minister to Australia in November 2014, India and Australia agreed to cooperate on transfer of clean coal technology and upgrade the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad.
  • The 9th JWG meeting in Brisbane in June 2015, provided the opportunity to discuss recent resources and energy policy developments and reforms, including opportunities and challenges in mining; petroleum and gas; power; new and renewable energy, as well as challenges in skills, science and innovation and infrastructure.
  • During her visit to India in July 2017, Foreign Minister Ms Julie Bishop signed a framework agreement for Australia to join the International Solar Alliance, led by the Governments of India and France.
  • Consular Cooperation:
  • India and Australia signed The Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) and the Extradition Treaty in June 2008, which has been ratified by both the Governments, and has come into force since January 2011.

Areas of Cooperation:

  • Water: Australia and India face some similar challenges in water resources management, particularly in managing over-allocation and water quality, while balancing the water needs of the community, industry and maintaining system flows. Both the nations can come together in finding a novel solution to this common problem.
  • Energy:
  • Meeting the energy needs of 240 million people, which currently lack access to electricity, is a key priority for India. Australia is a natural partner for India in the energy sector as it is a world leader in energy and the sector contributes around 10% to Australia’s GDP.
  • As the two economies with great stake holding in fossil fuels, it is crucial for India and Australia to ensure that their dialogue on energy acquires momentum.
  • Both the countries can simultaneously strengthen the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the search for other alternative green fuels.
  • Science and Technology: India and Australia have a strong track record of collaborating in research and innovation. The $84 million Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) is Australia’s largest.


In coming years, the overall relationship between India and Australia will continue to grow and has the potential to assume greater prominence. The prospects for bilateral relationship are recognised in both countries as strategically useful, economically productive and aligned with each other’s new agenda. The several commonalities and closely aligned values in principles of democracy, liberty, the rule of law, human rights, freedom of speech, free press and multiculturalism serve as a foundation for a closer co-operation, multifaceted interaction and enhancement of bilateral relationship.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/amidst-a-tragedy-an-opportunity/article30505374.ece

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