Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is on her second visit to India,and the first after she took over as the Prime Minister.
Visiting in 2009, she was described as the ‘silver lining’ in Kevin Rudd’s cavalcade.
Critics believe it was a visit that demanded more than the mere scaling up of India-Australia relationship to a ‘strategic one’.
Rudd’s trip to India was against the background of an outburst of so-called "curry bashings" of Indian students in Melbourne and the archaic position of the Labor Party on non-supply of uranium to India which was and continues to be a non-signatory to the NPT.
All is not well this time round either.
India still holds grievances about non-supply of uranium, displayed by Manmohan Singh’s absence at the CHOGM in Australia last year.
Ever though Gillard has able to change the party’s position on supply of uranium it is seen to be too little and too late with India already securing nuclear material supply from eight other countries including Russia and Canada.
The number of Indian students going to Australia has steeply declined with 26.8% less students in 2011 from 2010. Critical to note that this decline is the largest among Indian students compared to other nationalities in spite of Australian constant effort to appear as a non racist society
Trade and Economy, increasingly being regarded as the harbinger of bilateral relations, doesn’t paint a very rosy picture either.
While India continues to be the fourth largest export destination for Australia, Aussies don’t feature in the top 15 countries (see figure 1) on India's export import radar. So much so that Australia’s share of total trade to India has been on a decline from close to 2.9 % in 2009-2010 to 2.1% now (Figure2).
In addition the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CECA) hasn’t reached fruition even though it was on the table well before Rudd's trip to India. Thus the impression that trade and economy are guiding the two countries seem to be certainly wishful thinking with much more to be achieved.
Given the current scenario, what is in the best interests of both India & Australia?