Australia-India Council (AIC)

Australia-India Council Annual Report 1999-2000

Contents

Letter to Minister >> Introduction >> Chairman’s message >> Board members >> Mission statement, aims and objectives

Activities
Funding Application Process >> Australian studies >> Commerce >> Education >> Indian studies >> Institutional and professional links >> Performing and visual arts >> Print and electronic media and film >> Public awareness >> Science and technology >> Sport

Administrative overview >> Appendix: Australia–India Trust Account Financial Statements 1999–2000

Science and technology

The objectives of the Council’s science and technology program are to demonstrate in India the high quality, sophistication and diversity of Australian science and technology products and services and to promote professional and institutional links between Australia and India in these fields. The science and technology program is by far the broadest of the Council’s areas of activity, and covers several areas of particular Council focus, including environmental management, medicine and public health, agriculture and agribusiness, mining and energy, and heritage conservation.

Environmental management

The Council’s major environmental management initiative in 1999–2000 comprised preparations for an Australia–India Disaster Management Symposium, planned for New Delhi during November 2000. Developed jointly with Emergency Management Australia and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the symposium aimed to bring together Australian and Indian emergency management specialists to discuss how each country deals with disasters, and to identify procedures with common benefits for affected communities. The symposium was first proposed in discussions with the CII during the Council’s November 1999 visit to India, and following the disastrous Orissa cyclone in late 1999.

Participants in training course

Dr Pichu Rengasamy of the Department of Soil and Water, Waite Institute, University of Adelaide (seated, third from left) conducted a training course on diagnosis and management of soil degradation at five campuses of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) during March 2000 with AIC funding. The photograph shows participants in the course at the Coimbatore campus. (photograph courtesy of Dr Rengasamy)

During the previous financial year, the Council provided funding to Dr Frank Stagnitti of Deakin University for a bilateral scientific exchange to identify sources of groundwater pollution in Tamil Nadu from surface-applied chemicals and to develop modelling and monitoring strategies to minimise the environmental impact of such pollution. In the second stage of that project, Dr Elango Lakshmanan and Dr Raj Mohan from Anna University, Chennai, visited Deakin and Wollongong universities from July to September 1999 for joint research and fieldwork. As well as fostering bilateral, and also international, collaboration in groundwater pollution research, the project led to a memorandum of understanding between Deakin University and Anna University to facilitate staff and student exchanges.

With funding agreed by the Council in the previous financial year, Dr Pichu Rengasamy of the Department of Soil and Water, Waite Institute, University of Adelaide, carried out a training course on diagnosis and management of soil degradation at the Coimbatore campus of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) during March 2000. In response to demand, the training course was subsequently conducted at another four campuses of the university. The project also included a visit to Australia by Professor P Singaram of TNAU for discussions with Australian soil scientists and to participate in the National Sodic Soils Conference at Tatura, Victoria, in February–March 2000, and the translation of the SASkit soil analysis field kit developed by Dr Rengasamy and colleagues into the Kannada language for use in Karnataka.

Medicine and public health

With the objectives of developing collaboration between Australia and India in medicine and public health, and promoting Australian health and medical services in India, the Council provided funding for the following activities during 1999–2000:

Agribusiness

The Council provided funding to Associate Professor Mohan Singh of the Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Laboratory, University of Melbourne, for long-term plant biotechnology collaboration with the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in New Delhi from July 2000 to June 2001.

Mining and energy

With funding agreed by the Council during a previous financial year, Professor Chem Nayar of the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology Australia at Curtin University visited Mumbai and New Delhi in July and October 1999 for follow-up work on his visits to Rajasthan, Haryana, New Delhi and Kerala states during 1998 and 1999 as part of a feasibility study on the potential application of various forms of renewable energy to Indian rural health schemes. Professor Nayar’s project has led to an Indian order for Australian continuous power supply equipment.

The Council also continued to explore possible bilateral projects in mining technology, including a proposed visit to Australia by a delegation of Indian mining and environmental management representatives to examine Australian expertise and regulatory frameworks in sustainable mining practice and mine rehabilitation. In this context, the Council agreed to provide funding to the Australian Centre for Mining Environmental Research for preliminary costs of a visit to Australia by Indian mining industry personnel to study sustainable mining practices during 2000–2001.

Heritage conservation

With funding agreed by the Council during the previous financial year, Ms Carole Chisholm-Shaw and Ms Kate MacMaster of the Australian Conservation Training Institute and Dr Rik Thwaites of Charles Sturt University conducted a one-week ecotourism planning and management workshop in Dehradun, including a field trip to Corbett National Park, during May 2000, with the Wildlife Institute of India as the principal project partner. The workshop was attended by a wide range of Indian participants including forestry officers, members of government tourism agencies and representatives of non-government conservation agencies. Most Indian states were also represented. The workshop established new Australia-India links in ecotourism and environmental management, and has established a basis for further bilateral collaboration in these areas.

Materials research

The Council provided funding to Dr Sri Bandyopadhyay of the School of Materials Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales, to enable a collaborative research visit from the University of Calcutta on lightweight composite materials with possible application to the transport industries.

 

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