Melbourne: An overwhelming 70 percent of Australians believe that bilateral ties with India has been "damaged" following a spate of attacks on Indian students here
and sought urgent action to repair the country`s reputation.
Independent think-tank the Lowy Institute, which undertook a poll of 1001 adults, said the findings emphasise the need for the federal government to take Australia`s bilateral relations with India more seriously.
"Three-quarters of Australians said the relationship has been damaged and underlined the need for Canberra to take urgent action to repair country`s reputation in India," Lowy
Institute program director and India specialist Rory Medcalf said in a statement recently.
The poll showed that 28 percent believed the relationship with India had been "damaged a lot" while another 46 percent said it has been "damaged a little".
The study, which was undertaken in March, follows almost a year of media attention on the problems facing some Indian students in Australia, including vulnerability to
criminal violence and the poor quality of some vocational courses.
"The fact that 74 percent of Australians perceive real diplomatic damage and underline the need for Canberra to sustain exceptional efforts to repair Australia`s reputation
in India," Medcalf said.
He said the causes of the problem are much more
complex than the racism that some Indian media reports have
But these poll findings emphasise the need for the
Rudd government not to slacken in its efforts to put new life
into links with one of our most important strategic and
The statement noted that Canberra needs to clear the
air, by releasing as soon as possible the findings of a
criminological study into what actually happened, especially
in Victoria, so that we can move on.
The study, he said has noted that the two sides needed
to treat the bilateral relationship as a priority.
More than 100 attacks have been reported against
Indian students in Australia since June last year, including
the fatal stabbing of 21-year-old Nitin Garg on January 2 this
The Ministry of External Affairs has issued an
advisory to Indian students in Australia, advising them not to
travel at night and travel in groups, among other precautions.
Medcalf said even though Australia and India were
natural partners, the relationship continued to fall short of
a truly strategic partnership amidst vexed issues of student
welfare and uranium.
It said that the Australian Government was making a
real effort to build the relationship, whether with greater
diplomatic resources, high level visits, efforts to build
defence ties or endeavouring to push along preparations for a
free trade agreement.
"At the same time, it is constrained by frankly
outdated and ideological thinking in some quarters, which
prevents the sale of uranium to India for civilian energy
purposes an area where we should have led," he said.
"This is a policy that desperately needs to change,
and the challenge here is for the Labour party to get up to
date, to acquire a contemporary understanding of and policy
towards India," he added.
"India`s Democratic and developmental mission led by
Manhoman Singh and dynamic new figures like Rahul Gandhi is
surely in step with Labour values of maximising human
welfare," it said.