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Australia India Relations: Integration with India Study/ECTA

In 2006, the Australian Department of Industry Trade and Resources (DITR) commissioned me to write a strategy for advancing Australia India economic relations. The subsequent Closer Integration with India Study provided a comprehensive background to Australia India's political, economic and social relations since the 1930s, and made recommendations for advancing the bilateral relations. I worked closely with DITR's point man, Kevin O'Brien, whose principal task was to ensure that the Study was concise enough for the Coordinating Committee (DITR, DFAT, DOD, etc.) to absorb! Consequently, the 170-odd page report was condensed into a Three-Part Study of around 50 pages. The Committee accepted the Study's recommendations in toto.

Recently, I have been able to access parts of the Study written 16 years ago. Bilateral relations have developed beyond anything imaginable then. However, few are aware of the complex political and cultural journey to reach this point. Taking an amusing example, who would recall the then Foreign Minister Downer's instruction to abolish the India Section in DFAT in retaliation for its nuclear tests in 1998? The Indian Ministry of External Affairs also shelved plans to create a separate Australia/NZ Section.

The Study is composed of three Executive Summaries covering three Chapters. For the present, directly relevant to the ECTA signed today, attached is an extract from the Introduction in the First Part, "Resurgent India's relevance to Australia". It gives a flavour of where we were over the years and where we are now.

I will gradually publish the whole Study as it becomes accessible.