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The objective of the Council's Australian studies program is to promote in India an informed interpretation of Australian society and politics. While recognising that studies of Australian literature often provide the focus for Australian studies in India, the Council seeks to broaden Australian studies in India to cover history, politics, economics, society and other areas.
Given the importance of Australian studies to the Council's objectives and the need for a firm basis for future AIC-sponsored activity in encouraging Australian studies in India, the Council had provided funding during the previous financial year for Emeritus Professor Peter Reeves of Curtin University of Technology, Perth, to undertake the first stage of a comprehensive review of Australian studies in India, providing recommendations for a strategic program of support for Australian studies.
Professor Reeves' report, which was received during 1998-99, recommended that the Council should fund a second stage of a review of Australian studies, including a detailed investigation in India by an individual or small team with expertise in Australian studies, and providing a report on the most appropriate ways to encourage Australian studies in India. The Council agreed in principle to provide funding during the 1999-2000 financial year for the second stage of the Australian studies review.
One of the principal recommendations of Professor Reeves' report was the importance of recognising and supporting the efforts of those individuals and organisations in India already working to encourage the study of Australia. In this context, the Council provided funding for a visit to Australia during the latter half of 1999 by Professor C T Indra, Head of the Department of English at the University of Madras, to participate in the annual conference of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature in Sydney and for curriculum development discussions with Australian studies centres in Melbourne, Canberra, Wollongong, Adelaide and Perth.
The Council also provided funding to Asialink for a literature residency in India, to take place during 1999-2000. Council support for the residency acknowledged the key role that studies of Australian literature presently play in developing Australian studies in India.
In this same context, Dr Satendra Nandan of the University of Canberra participated in a conference in Mysore and gave lectures at Australian studies facilities at universities in Mysore, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and New Delhi during June and July 1998, supported by Council funding agreed in the previous financial year.