Australia-India Council (AIC)

Annual Reporting: Performance Statement 2005-06 Financial Year

Council Overview

Establishment

The Australia-India Council (AIC) was established by an Order-in-Council on 21 May 1992, implementing a key recommendation of the July 1990 report of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade on Australia’s relations with India.

The Australian Government established the Australia-India Council to broaden the relationship between Australia and India by encouraging and supporting contacts and increasing levels of knowledge and understanding between the people of both countries.

Objective

The objective of the AIC is to advance Australia’s interests in India by:

The AIC achieves this objective by initiating and supporting activities among influential persons and groups in Australia and India that:

The AIC’s programs and activities are a form of “second track” diplomacy that complement and support official exchanges at the governmental level. The AIC does not fund activities that are the responsibility of other funding bodies or other government agencies (eg academic research, development assistance, activities under bilateral science and technology agreements, and trade promotion activities normally handled by Austrade), or activities which are commercially viable in their own right.

The AIC is the only government-funded body charged with identifying, initiating and supporting projects to promote Australia-India links across the broad spectrum of bilateral activity. India’s growing economic and strategic weight, the increasing convergence of interest between Australia and India, and fast-growing opportunities for co-operation in economic and in other areas provide a platform for the AIC to continue with its projects in new areas of cooperation that can be developed to advance Australia’s interests.

In 2005-06 the AIC delivered targeted and innovative projects, frequently in partnership with key stakeholders in India and Australia. The projects focused particularly on increasing Australia’s profile - as scientifically, technologically and educationally advanced, economically enterprising and culturally diverse - in India and enhancing Indian understanding and appreciation of contemporary Australia.

Board Members

The AIC comprises a board of members with an interest in the Australia-India relationship, drawn from a wide cross-section of the Australian community.

Chairman

Mr Darren Gribble (international trade consultant and former High Commissioner to India, 1994-97) was appointed as Chairman of the Council in July 2005.

Board Members

Members receive sitting fees for attendance at Council meetings and for other agreed Council business, at rates determined under the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973, as amended, for part-time members of non-statutory bodies. Members are also eligible for travel allowances at rates determined under the Act and for reimbursement of travel costs incurred on Council business.

Administration

The AIC is supported by a secretariat located in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra. The Australian High Commission in New Delhi promotes the Council’s activities in India.

The principal functions of the Australia-India Council secretariat are to make recommendations to the Council's board on program expenditure and other matters, to implement board decisions and to provide administrative support. This support includes project development, implementation and assessment.

The AIC receives its program funding from the Australian Government in the form of an annual grant through the International Relations Grants Programme (IRGP) administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Council has succeeded obtaining substantial project partnership funding, in financial and/or in kind contribution, from other relevant agencies in Australia and India, which enhances and multiplies the effectiveness and reach of the Council's own funding.

The IRGP funding received by the AIC is committed to projects that are consistent with the government’s foreign and trade policy objectives. Funds allocated to the AIC are used to develop, broaden and deepen Australia-India relations through contacts and exchanges in a range of fields which promote mutual awareness and understanding.

The funds are spent on a range of projects either initiated by the AIC, or initiated by individuals or organisations who sought and obtained funding under the AIC’s competitive funding application process.

The AIC’s competitive funding application process enables the initiative and enthusiasm of a wide range of individuals and organisations to be encouraged and supported in furthering the Council’s objectives. The competitive process has also helped to identify areas worthy of more systematic or long-term Council involvement.

The AIC particularly welcomes innovative projects that continue to advance the aims and objectives of the Council beyond the term of AIC funding, and therefore provide significant continuing benefits from what is often a modest initial outlay.

When considering funding proposals the AIC Board is very mindful that the objectives and outcomes of the proposal should contribute to Australia’s interests: building networks and contacts; developing habits of working together; facilitating growth and transfer of knowledge; and generating mutual respect. Principal among them is highlighting Australian excellence to the Indian audience (especially opinion formers). While the AIC is open to proposals which build the bilateral relationship, they are most attracted to proposals which do this by promoting Australia’s image to India, not the other way around, or at least which do both and therefore generate/lift mutual respect.

The Council considered 54 applications for funding during 2005-06 and provided funding for 24 of the projects represented by these applications.

Summary of 2005-06 receipts

IRGP 2005-06 funding: $725,000.00

Refunds of Expenditure: $14,045.31

Balance in Special Account as at 1 July 2005: $373.82

Total Available: $739,419.13

Meetings

The Council met on 10 August 2005 (Canberra), 8 November 2005 (Melbourne),

28 February 2006 (Melbourne) and 23 May 2006 (Sydney).

Freedom of Information

The Council received no applications under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 in 2005-6.

Performance

The five core program areas for the AIC during 2005-06 included: the arts (including film and literature); education; society/social (including health and sport); science/technology/environment (including heritage); and public policy (including media links).

Outcome 1. The Arts (including film and literature)

The objective of the arts program, which includes performing and visual arts, as well as arts management, is to encourage understanding between Australia and India by developing in each country an appreciation of the quality, diversity and sophistication of the other country’s practices.

Key Achievements:

Australia International Cultural Council (AICC) ~ India Promotion: The AIC partnered the Australia International Cultural Council (chaired by Hon Alexander Downer MP) in its activities in India (commenced in November 2005 and concludes in early 2007). AusArts: Celebrating Australian Art and Culture is a two year cultural program showcasing the diversity of Australian culture through major events in India focusing on art exhibitions, design, film, literature and other art and cultural events across India. Several of the on-going AIC funded activities in 2005-06 (such as supporting film festivals and literature programs) were activities under the AICC promotion.

The film component of the program (also supported by the Australian Film Commission) provided audiences with a unique insight into the diversity and excellence of Australian films. Australian films featured at a number of prestigious Indian film festivals including in Goa, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune and Mumbai. Australia was the focus country at the Chennai Internal Film Festival. The Pune International Film Festival opened with an Australian film, Japanese Story and the Australian films were presented under ‘Reflections from Australia’. Mr John Winter, one of Australia’s foremost producers with credits such as Rabbit-Proof Fence and the award winning film, Doing Time for Patsy Cline, was invited to be on the jury at the festival in Pune. At the Mumbai International Film Festival, a festival exclusively for shorts and documentaries, Australian film Yellow Fella was screened at the opening. The film was included in a selection of quality Australian films presented as ‘Dramatically Black – films from Indigenous Australians’. Mr Kim Dalton, CEO, Australian Film Commission, spoke at the opening event.

As part of the AICC promotion Australia participated at the Kolkata Book Fair (the largest book fair in the world) as a ‘guest-of-honour’ country (24 January – 5 February 2006). The touring Australian authors (Larissa Behrendt, Isobelle Carmody and Luke Davies) participated in a range of programs at the fair. An Australian pavilion, on the theme of Ulura, showcasing a selection of contemporary Australian writing drew huge crowds. The AIC provided a small grant to the Australian Poetry Foundation to enable them to participate in the fair.

Artist-in-residency program: Managed by Asialink (Melbourne University) and part-funded by the AIC, the program aims to make Australians more India-literate. It enables Australian artists, writers and arts managers to work in India for up to four months and contributes to developing networks, future exchanges and enhanced collaborations. The program also enhances the profile of Australia as a sophisticated, contemporary culture and further intellectual and cultural exchanges.

Les Murray: On invitation from the AIC, eminent Australian poet, critic and essayist, Les Murray, participated in a series of programs in Pune, New Delhi, Ajmer, Cochin and Chennai during 8-20 January 2006. Mr Murray was very well received in India and drew engaging crowds. He also participated in Australian studies conferences and interacted with the academic community. A selection of his poems are taught in a number of Indian universities and colleges as a part of the Australian literature component. An outcome of the highly successful tour was the production of four bilingual publications of a selection of his poetry. The publication was produced by KATHA, an Indian NGO working in the areas of education, culture and translation and part-funded by the Australia Council and the AIC.

Small grants were approved to showcase and promote young Australians and new talent in India and to showcase high quality Indian artists in Australia. Such grants included: Helpmann Academy visual arts cultural exchange; Biennale of Sydney 2006; and the Queensland Art Gallery Asia Pacific Triennale.

A full list of grants is included in the program expenditure statement.

Outcome 2. Education

The objective of the education program is to increase knowledge and understanding in Australia of India, and in India of Australia, through the education sectors in each country. The Australian studies component aims 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 Indian studies component aims to promote, through support of Indian studies in Australian universities and schools, an informed understanding of Indian society and politics. The AIC’s primary focus on education in general and Australian studies in particular complements and augments the Government’s successful promotion of Australian education services exports to India.

Key achievements:

Australia India Teacher Exchange: One of the AIC’s longest-running collaborations, the Australia-India teacher exchange program, managed by the Asia Education Foundation and part-funded by the AIC, is designed to give Australian teachers and educational administrator a working familiarity with India while providing Indian teachers and administrators with a better understanding of Australia. The exchange also contributes to the long-term positioning of Australian education in India. A key outcome of the program is that both Indian and Australian teachers return to their home country with a greater interest and understanding of each others contemporary society and culture.

Australian Studies Fellowships: To complement the Australian Government’s commitment to strengthening educational links between Australia and India, including links between academics and institutions, the AIC initiated the Australian Studies Fellowships. The fellowships, introduced in 2003, are aimed at both established Indian academics and postgraduate students from Indian tertiary institutions with a strong interest in Australian studies, allowing successful awardees to undertake special projects drawing on the resources of Australian universities. The fellowships are administered by a consortium of universities, led by Curtin University and supported by Monash University, Queensland University, ANU, University of NSW and University of Adelaide. Six of these prestigious fellowships (maximum of ten weeks in Australia) have been awarded annually in areas such as Australian literature, politics and history, environment and health, tourism, film, media communication, gender issues, multiculturalism and indigenous issues. The research and development of contacts carried out by the awardees’ will help deepen India’s understanding of Australia’s vibrant and diverse society. The fellowships have added a significant new dimension to the education and research relationship between the two countries.

Indian Association for the Study of Australia (IASA): The AIC provided funding support to the third bi-annual international conference of the Indian Association for the Study of Australia (IASA) held in Pune (India) in January 2006. The IASA conferences cover a wide range of areas across the humanities and social sciences. The large delegations from both Australia and India are an indicator of gaining academic ties between Australian and Indian universities.

A further indicator of the growing academic engagement was the number of Australian Studies conferences that were organised during the reporting period.

The AIC also continued its promotion of India studies in Australia. Of particular note was a grant to the South Asian Studies Association for the 2006 South Asia Lecture.

A full list of grants is included in the program expenditure statement.

Outcome 3. Social/Society (including health and sport)

The objective of the social/society program is to develop collaboration between Australia and India in public health and social issues, and to demonstrate in India the quality and innovation of Australian expertise in the areas of health and sport.

Key achievements:

Critical Health Issues: In partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), India’s peak industry body, through the Burnet Institute (led by Professor Suzanne Crowe) and the Alfred Hospital (Melbourne), the AIC has provided funding support to send Australian doctors to India for HIV/AIDS train-the-trainer programs. The aim of the HIV program is to train doctors in India on HIV clinical management with a strong focus on understanding the complicated regimens of antiretroviral (anti-HIV) drugs. To date there have been over 25 programs in cities and rural areas all over India, in which over 900 doctors and allied health staff have received training. As part of this activity, scientists from Australia have also visited Indian laboratories and worked with the local technicians to transfer technology for low cost test in order to monitor HIV infection.

Also in conjunction with the Confederation of Indian Industry the AIC has provided seed funding for a nutritional education program (conducted by Monash University/Bayside Health) targeted at health workers and peer educators to raise awareness among women (particularly in rural areas) regarding the importance of nutrition.

These programs have been extremely successful and have gained momentum. Given that HIV and nutritional deficiencies are two of the largest problems faced by India, the work of the AIC in these areas, showcasing Australian medical expertise and forging new collaborative links, will continue to reap benefits for years to come.

Commonwealth Games and major events: The AIC’s strategic plan gave particular attention to the emerging complementarities between Australia and India in management of sports and major events, with a particular focus on the Commonwealth Games (Melbourne hosted in 2006 and Delhi to host in 2010). In this regard, the AIC, in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), organised a high-profile forum focusing on Australia-India collaboration in sports and major sporting events. The forum was designed to define more closely the complementarities between our two countries and opportunities to learn from each other. The Indian participants appreciated the detailed presentations and the willingness to share knowledge. Topics covered: Australian approach towards administration and development of sport; the importance of sports and major events in India; sports development in India; preparations and planning for the Commonwealth Games; promoting business and tourism through sport; and city legacy.

Australian expert speakers included: CEO, Australian Sports Commission; CEO, Sports Knowledge Australia; CEO, Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre; General Manager, Project Planning, Risk and Strategy, Melbourne 2006.

The event consolidated previous activities by the AIC and governments in Australia designed to build relations with India in the sports field and met its objectives of elevating the profile of Australian excellence in sports administration and major sporting events. It provided a basis for even closer collaboration in the future, especially as India moves towards 2010.

Border-Gavaskar Cricket Scholarship: Under the AIC-sponsored Border-Gavaskar Cricket Scholarship Program, young Indian cricketers continued to receive specialist coaching at the Australian Cricket Academy (Commonwealth Bank Centre for Excellence). The three players – bowlers Vikram Rajvir Singh and Rudra Pratap Singh, and batsman Fiaz Fazal – were selected for the scholarship by a Board of Control Cricket India (BCCI) panel headed by Indian great Sunil Gavaskar. The Border-Gavaskar scholarship (a joint initiative between Cricket Australia and the AIC) program has provided benefit for both Australian and Indian cricket and has quickly established itself as an important feature of the Australia-India cricket relationship. During their six-week stay (two weeks supported by the BCCI) at the CBCE the players received specialist tutelage and development support from some of Australia’s leading coaching staff, including head coach Tim Nielsen.

Several past program participants (Mohammad Kaif, Sridaran Sriram,Shiv Sunder Das, Parthiv Patel, Lakshimiphathy Balaji and Gautam Gambir) have gone on to achieve places in the Indian Test cricket team.

A full list of grants is included in the program expenditure statement.

Outcome 4. Science/Technology/Environment (including heritage)

The objective of the Council’s science, technology and environment program is to demonstrate in India the quality, sophistication and diversity of Australian expertise and to promote professional and institutional links in these fields between Australia and India.

Key achievements:

Biotechnology/Biomedical Fellowships: Recognising the potential for collaborative research in the various fields of science, the AIC initiated a biotechnology/ biomedical fellowship, following a recommendation by Sir Gustav Nossal. This is the third year of the Fellowship. The current exchange is between Deakin University (Dr Leigh Ackland, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences), Melbourne, and TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute), a world-renowned centre in Delhi, India. The aim of the exchange is to consolidate the link between India and Australia with the purpose of furthering the application of “state of the art” technology for bioremediation (bioprocessing of heavy metals for reclaiming of contaminated soils). The exchange has provided an opportunity for Australia to showcase to India its excellence in cutting-edge molecular techniques. The exchange has resulted in groundbreaking research.

Scientific Exchange: Associate Professor Samsul Huda, Centre for Plant and Food Science, University of Western Sydney, received funding from the AIC to strengthen research ties between Australia and India in the area of climate related risk analysis and management, with a particular focus on managing crop disease. The exchange involved a visit by Dr Jagir Singh Samra, Deputy Director General (Natural Resource Management) Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), who shared his expertise through a series of meetings and lectures at the University of Western Sydney to relevant schools and colleges, outside research co-operators, community workers and farmers. Dr Huda will in turn visit selected sites in India, including the ICAR to strengthen the collaboration of climate knowledge and plant protection which will contribute to sustainability in agricultural production and land use.

A full list of grants is included in the program expenditure statement.

Outcome 5. Public Policy (including media links)

The objective of the public policy program is to strengthen links between key institutions in Australia and India with a view to promoting the long-term bilateral relationship.

Key activities:

Sir John Crawford Lecture: A joint initiative of the AIC and the National Centre for Applied Economic Research (New Delhi) the lecture series is a forum for eminent Australians to give a prestigious lecture in India. Sir John Crawford worked closely with Indian and international colleagues to pioneer the Green Revolution in India’s agricultural development. In this spirit the Crawford lecture is a project to exchange knowledge and understanding between Australia and India on issues of major public interest.

Professor Allan Fels AO (Dean, Australia and New Zealand School of Government and former Chairman, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) delivered the fourth Sir John Crawford Lecture on “Competition Matters: Perspectives of a Practitioner” in New Delhi on 18 April 2006. Professor Fels spoke about Australia’s competition law and policy, a topic highly relevant to India which at the time was introducing a new and modern competition law. The lecture was well attended by economists, key government contacts, academics, diplomats and the media.

Narayanan Oration: The Narayanan orations, part-funded by the AIC, are among the major public lectures within the Australian National University (Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies). Each year, this oration has been delivered in Canberra by a major Indian public figure. The ninth oration, “Science and Shaping our Agricultural Future”, was delivered on 27 September 2005 by Professor M S Swaminathan, Chairman of the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai, India. Professor Swaminathan's contributions to the agricultural renaissance of India have led to his being widely referred to as the scientific leader of the green revolution movement. His advocacy of sustainable agriculture leading to an evergreen revolution makes him an acknowledged world leader in the field of sustainable food security.

In addition to the lectures, both the Australian and Indian public figures undertake a wider program which is useful in furthering relations between Australia and India in academic, diplomatic and business areas. Such links provide major inroads into promoting future collaborations and consolidating institutional and people-to-people linkages.

Australia-India Focus: The electronic newsletter reports information on recent and forthcoming events within the bilateral relationship. It is jointly funded by the AIC and the Australia India Business Council and distributed in both Australia and India.

A full list of grants is included in the program expenditure statement.

Program Expenditure Statement: 2005-2006 [PDF]