The objective of the Australian studies component of the Council's education program is to promote, through support for Australian studies in Indian universities and schools, an informed understanding of Australian society and politics. The Australian studies program also seeks to demonstrate Australian excellence in all fields of endeavour.
The Council's definition of Australian studies is broad-ranging, aiming to encourage students of Australian literature (the most common sphere of Australian studies in India) to gain an understanding of Australian history, politics, economics and science, while encouraging students of Australian history, politics, or economics also to read Australian literature.
The Council continued to explore how best to encourage the broadening and strengthening of Australian studies in India and investigated the possibility of providing access to Australian studies materials via the Internet. However, after careful consideration of the viability of on-line access to materials, the Council decided that, at least at the present, provision of books, videos and journals remained the most effective course of action. The Council plans to commence the systematic provision of appropriate Australian studies materials to key Indian universities during 2001–02, drawing on expert reports to the Council and responses to questionnaires to the universities on matters including present holdings and perceived needs.
|Dr Anurag Sharma, who teaches Australian studies at Dayanand College, Ajmer (right), participated in the Association for the Study of Australian Literature conference in Hobart in July 2000 and visited Australian studies centres in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. While in Australia, Dr Sharma also met leading Australian poet Les Murray (left), whose poetry was the subject of Dr Sharmas doctorate. (Photo: Dr Sharma)|
The Council also considered a possible program of short-term fellowships in Australian studies in which the AIC would collaborate with Australian universities to offer a number of one-to three-month fellowships. The Council intends that these fellowships will be implemented during 2001–02.
In the interim, the Council-funded conference of the largely India-based Asia–Australasia Association for the Study of Australasia, held at the University of Mysore in September 2000, provided an important opportunity for Australian studies practitioners in India to discuss key issues in teaching and studying Australian disciplines in India. The conference attracted a wide range of participants from both India and Australia.
The Council continued its support for carefully targeted visits to Indian universities by leading teachers of Australian studies, and to Australia by leading Indian teachers and practitioners of Australian studies, with support for visits listed below.
- Dr Anurag Sharma, of Dayanand College, Ajmer, participated in the Association for the Study of Australian Literature conference in Hobart in July 2000 and visited Australian studies centres in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. Dr Sharma was also able to visit leading Australian poet Les Murray (whose poetry was the subject of Dr Sharma's doctorate) at the poet's home in New South Wales.
- Australian poet and professional writing lecturer Ms Judith Rodriguez, of Deakin University, undertook a further two-month teaching visit at the Department of English at the University of Madras from December 2000 to February 2001.
- Australian writer Ms Inez Baranay undertook a writing exchange, including lectures on Australian studies, also at the University of Madras.
- Dr Harish Trivedi of the University of Delhi participated in the Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies conference in Canberra, and the Association for the Study of Australian Literature conference in Melbourne, both in July 2001.
- Professor Santosh Sareen of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, participated in the Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies conference in Canberra.
- Professor Eugenie Pinto of the University of Madras, Professor K Radha of the University of Kerala, Associate Professor Anjali Roy of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and Dr Suman Bala and Dr RK Dhawan of the University of Delhi participated in the Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies conference in Canberra and meetings with Australian studies experts in several Australian cities.
- Ms Maree Delofski, of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, Sydney, and poet Mr Tim Denoon undertook literature residencies in India organised by the Asialink Centre with additional funding assistance from the Australia Council.