Australian PM Turnbull’s visit to India and its significance

Australian PM Turnbull’s visit to India and its significance

Prime Minister Turnbull’s visit to India this week heralds another step forward in the strengthening relationship between India and Australia. Visits in recent years by a number of Australian Prime Ministers and a reciprocal visit by Prime Minister Modi demonstrate the importance both countries are placing on the relationship.

The discussion topics highlighted for this visit cut across a number of strategically important sectors – energy, education and innovation. Whilst the talks will no doubt go into depth across these topics, a look into issues highlighted by young leaders looking to build closer bilateral relationships between the two countries may be instructive for both governments as they try to forge new areas for collaboration.

Statistically, the argument of consulting young leaders to provide input into discussion topics for the India-Australia relationship is relatively straightforward and speaks squarely to India’s unique “demographic dividend” – 65% of India’s population is under the age of 35, with India’s average age less than 30, whilst China’s is ~37 and Japan’s is ~48. Therefore, the Australian government would be well advised to understand the needs and future direction of India’s youth as it seeks to forge a closer relationship.

At the recently completed 6th annual Australia India Youth Dialogue (AIYD) in Sydney and Melbourne, 30 young leaders from India and Australia gathered to discuss issues concerning the bilateral relationship. One of the activities completed by delegates at the four day Dialogue called “The Group Challenge”, teamed the 30 delegates into groups of 5, each focussed on identifying a tangible opportunity for India and Australia to collaborate more closely in one of the dialogue’s themes of Health, Entrepreneurship and Skills.

The opportunities identified by delegates at the AIYD are a testament to the breadth of imagination of young leaders invested in the bilateral relationship and the range of possibilities both countries could pursue to further the relationship.

A snapshot of the opportunities include:

  • The winning group aimed to reduce drowning deaths in India through training cooperation with Australian Surf Life Saving Clubs;
  • An initiative to train and develop a network of healthcare workers to provide maternal health services in rural India;
  • An accelerator fund to foster greater collaboration between Australian and Indian start-ups in health innovation;
  • An online tool to connect quality Indian service providers with Australian customers;
  • A program which partners Australia’s leading sports scientists to provide targeted support to India’s burgeoning professional sports scene;
  • A mobile app, ‘Same Same but Different’, which aims to increase understanding and tolerance of diversity among Australian and Indian children

Young leaders invested in this space will be keenly watching the outcomes of the Prime Minister’s visit, with the hope that this leads to a stronger, more diverse range of collaboration options, that engage youth and really capture the opportunity of Australia and India to shape this once in a lifetime demographic dividend.

– Karan Anand

Chair, Australia India Youth Dialogue