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The Forum > Article Comments > Can Australia get smart in India? > Comments

Can Australia get smart in India? : Comments

By Trevor Cook, published 9/3/2005

Trevor Cook argues India offers Australia a chance to move beyond being just a commodity supplier.

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Trevor argues rightly that India deserves more attention from Australia. But we should be careful not to overstate the upward trajectory of its economy.

Political-economic turbulence could yet knock growth sideways. India's agriculture sector remains tied to whimsical monsoons; and its government, which needs to placate coalition allies, seems reluctant to pass economic reforms that would speed up growth.
Still, there are other trading opportunities besides selling natural resources and services such as education. If India's economy continues to grow, it will place enormous pressure on its natural environment.

Australia could do no worse than sell products related to India’s mass transport systems, or collaborate in producing cleaner, low-cost, efficient technology for its cities
Posted by Marcelo, Friday, 11 March 2005 6:27:23 AM
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My friend, Mark Thomson, has sent me some insights (the full version of his comments can be found at

"Our efforts in the past have been half-baked and poorly supported by industry. In the past, India presented a regulatory and business maze for the uninitiated, which (saw) 'middle men' ready to smooth the way. I attended high level meetings in New Delhi when the rustling of brown paper bags was almost audible.

India is more open now, and there are great partnership opportunities across a wide range of training and high tech tertiary fields, including re-cycling, food processing and storage, environmental management and IT. On the R&D front India is a world player in organic chemistry, nuclear physics, applied mathematics and a wide range of spin-off technologies.

The legacy of empty posturing on balance of power and security issues in the Indian Ocean and the persisting (perhaps increasing!) perception that we act as a "chamcha' ('spoon' in Hindi) for the US will continue to see Indian policy makers treat Australia with skepticism. Like the Chinese and the Japanese, I am afraid the majority of the Indian trading sector will continue to see Australia as an oversized farm or large open pit.

However, ... our leading tertiary institutions are starting to build strategic partnerships to tap opportunities in the region - and our cleverest businessmen and educators need to cooperate to have another go at this potentially lucrative market in South Asia. But this time they need to go in with the mindset that we have a quality product to offer and to deliver it. Until we get serious runs on the board we will continue to be bit player in the sub-continent.

Although those democratic institutions do work, and the courts administer a legal system that is superficially familiar, the great mass of Indians continue to live in a nightmare world of over crowding, malnutrition, terrible morbidity rates, poor services, petty corruption, a very pervasive organized crime network in the big cities and a black economy that continues to outstrip the white
Posted by Trevor Cook, Tuesday, 15 March 2005 3:44:28 PM
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