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  Opinion   Edit  10 Mar 2023  AA Edit | On a good wicket, India-Australia ties amalgamate

AA Edit | On a good wicket, India-Australia ties amalgamate

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Mar 11, 2023, 12:43 am IST
Updated : Mar 11, 2023, 12:43 am IST

The ties moved on with several Memoranda of Agreements being signed, ranging from sport, culture and innovation to education

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese before the start of the fourth test cricket match between India and Australia, at Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad, Thursday, March 9, 2023. (PTI File Photo)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese before the start of the fourth test cricket match between India and Australia, at Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad, Thursday, March 9, 2023. (PTI File Photo)

India-Australia ties are on a good wicket and that was amply illustrated in the red-carpet treatment meted out to the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. A number of leaders, including China’s President Xi Jinping, the then US President Donald Trump and the former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have been through the immersive Gujarat experience on their visits.

Given the very high optics of his joint visit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, Albanese could easily have gained the impression that he is the most favoured. But then, apart from the hassle of stray Khalistani elements vandalising Hindu temples around Australia and even taking on the Indian diaspora in targeted violence, there is little of cricket’s attritional qualities to special India-Australia ties.

Remarkably, the visit of the PMs also seemed to knock some sense into pitch preparation as the surface laid out at the Narendra Modi Stadium was closer to normal than in the previous three Tests played on designer pitches that were stark turners. How political even cricket can get may have been brought out in such intervention, but then cricket and politics have been bedfellows for a very long time in India that the big surface swing it brought to the series should not have come as a surprise.

Mr Albanese may have been in for a few surprises on his visit, like his tour of India’s indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, an honour that is a first for a visiting leader. The pomp and ceremony of a Rashtrapati Bhavan reception only enhanced the sheer good vibes around two of four Quad members tied to a strategic arrangement that reflects India’s standing among Western and first world countries today while promising to add to its security.

The country-to-country ties moved on with several Memoranda of Agreements being signed, ranging from sport, culture and innovation to education and renewable energy, with the focus on solar energy and clean hydrogen, on which the world must increasingly keep an eye on towards mitigating the deleterious effects of global warming caused by climate change. An agreement to increase mobility of students as well as tech professionals may just help Indians more even as it promotes greater exchanges of people and ideas.

A promise to move along even further after a Free Trade Agreement was signed in 2022 was an anticipated outcome from the summit even if much work remains on the nitty-gritty of the proposed Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. An invitation personally delivered to the Quad meeting in Australia in May stressed the significance being attached to one of the more recent arrangements in fast-changing geopolitics in which China is seen as a prime mover in winning friends and forming new power blocs with Russia, Iran, etc.

If India and Australia can conclude, as promised, their Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement this year, the icing would have been placed on the cake that is already looking attractive with the commitments to ramp up defence and security ties. A shared history of British colonialism will probably remain in the background as two nations deepen ties promoted by their love for sport, especially cricket.

Tags: india-australia ties, anthony albanese, narendra modi, president xi jinping