A message from the CEO

Premesha
Author Centre for Australia-India Relations
Date 20 May 24

Which foreign or trade policy issue are you most interested in tackling?

My research will focus on how India and Australia together can mutually strengthen their presence and engagement in Southeast Asia. ASEAN centrality is championed by both the countries in their Free and Open Indo-Pacific policies. Both sides share a commitment to supporting a strong and resilient regional architecture, with ASEAN at its Centre. Southeast Asia and the ASEAN forms an important conduit in the foreign policy of both India and Australia and especially in both the countries’ definition of the geographical scope of the Indo-Pacific and in terms of their commitment to upholding a rules-based international order. Amidst US–China great power competition, it will be preferable and desirable for Southeast Asian states to have greater options to engage more with India and Australia together, perhaps in a trilateral framework, rather than platforms like the Quad which are seen as hindering the ASEAN centrality and as being too aligned to the US. 

How is your research going to promote policy translation and public discourse in Australia and/or India? 

Southeast Asia has been central to Australia’s national interests and therefore the partnership has been deep and a long standing one. But currently the perception of the ASEAN countries towards Australia is a mixed one, given its association with the Quad and now the AUKUS. In India’s case, the ties is viewed mostly through the cultural and civilizational linkages lens. Now India is working towards emerging as a strategic and security partner in Southeast AsiaMy objective is to draw lessons for India from studying the Australian experience to help grow its image as a strategic and defense partner in Southeast Asia by laying out potential and implementable policy options for India. Through interviews with the various stakeholders from the think tanks, ministries, academia, private sectors to map out potential areas where India and Australia can work together to further each other’s policy goals in Southeast Asia and by extension their ambitions in the Indo-Pacific.

What are you most excited for during your trip to Australia?

I am looking forward to working in an Australian think tank setup. This will help me understand how the think tank community here works and grow my professional network. I am positive, that my experiences during my stay in Australia, will help me draw some lessons for the policy community in India. This experience will only contribute to developing my skills as a policy researcher and further deepen the ties between the research communities of both the countries.