Presenting its first budget, the Anthony Albanese Government has committed to establishing the Centre for Australia-India Relations (CAIR) with an allocation of $44 million in the budget. The new Centre will be modelled to help foster new ties and support expanding exchange and cooperation with India, including by engaging Australia’s rich Indian diaspora community.
The Centre will focus on four key areas of work:
- promoting policy dialogue
- building Australian business literacy and links
- engaging Australia’s Indian diaspora communities to support the Australia-India bilateral relationship, and
- deepening cultural connections and understanding.
India is one of Australia’s most important Indo-Pacific partners, with the relationship characterised by strong people-to-people links and close cooperation at all levels of government. The Australia-India relationship is at a high point, underpinned by the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership announced by Prime Ministers Morrison and Modi in June 2020, significant investments to bolster our economic ties announced as part of the India Economic Strategy Update, launched in March 2022, and the signing of the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement in April 2022.
The relationship has expanded significantly in the 30 years since the launch of the Australia India Council. The Australian government is now establishing a new, high-profile body – the Centre for Australia-India relations – with substantially increased funding, resources and a mandate to strengthen business and diaspora ties.
Australia’s Indian communities make important contributions to our society; they are active across all aspects of Australian life, including in business, politics, the judiciary, government, civil society, academia, science, the arts and sport. Today three per cent of Australians have Indian heritage and in 2020 the Indian-born population became Australia’s second-largest group of overseas-born residents. This community is recognised as having a great sense of civic responsibility and being a rich source of dynamism and enterprise. The Centre will work with our diaspora communities to support broader bilateral engagement with India.
The Centre will also administer over $20 million in Maitri (friendship) initiatives, including a scholars program, a grants and fellowship program and a cultural partnership. The Maitri Scholars Program will attract and support high achieving Indian students to study at Australian universities, while the Maitri Grants and Fellowships Program will build links between our future leaders, supporting mid-career Australian and Indian professionals collaborate on strategic research and shared priorities. The Maitri Cultural Partnership will boost the role of creative industries in our economic and people-to-people ties.
The Centre will promote connections between government and non-government institutions through enhanced policy dialogue. It will work closely with business to promote greater awareness and understanding of the growing India market, building business literacy and supporting new business partnerships.
The Centre will be a national platform bringing together all levels of government, together with industry and the broader community to drive Australia-India engagement. The Centre will complement existing institutions and function as a centre of gravity for the bilateral relationship.
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