Banner for Melbourne Researcher In Focus Session in November

Regional Stability Through Bilateral Relations: A Case Study of India-Australia Relations, 1991-2018

2:30PM – 3PM AEDT / 9AM – 9:30AM IST

Our speaker for this session is:

Asha Sundaramurthy is a PhD scholar working on an aspect of Australia-India ties. Her current area of research focus is on Australia-India ties and Oceania. She has written academic articles on different areas of the Indo-Pacific, ranging from the China factor in Australia-India ties, Australia-Nepal ties, Australia and the One China Policy, maritime delimitation in India-Indonesia relations, India’s engagement in the Pacific Island states, political thinkers in Myanmar as well as commentaries on various issues in the Indo-Pacific region. She has worked previously in Vivekananda International Foundation, was a part of the delegation of the Australia-India Youth Dialogue 2020 as well as a visiting scholar to the University of Malaya.

More on the research:
The stability of a region is regarded as one of the integral aspects of international studies and is widely deliberated on multilateral and individual state levels; also reflected in repeated references to preserve regional stability in foreign policy documents. The role of bilateralism in maintaining regional stability is also regarded as essential, as the scope of action for an individual state is limited whereas consensus in multilateralism is slow in building. The sphere of bilateralism becomes the median in orienting cooperation between two states to achieve mutual interests of stability in the region. The definition of what constitutes regional stability for a single state may converge or diverge with another state, therefore ideas of building and streamlining joint conceptions of stability become essential.

India and Australia relations have seen a steady rise since the end of the Cold War to address joint concerns across a range of sectors, from trade, defence cooperation, and cooperation in regional institutions. There has been considerable work carried out in different aspects of India-Australia relations, but this study seeks to explore the factor of regional stability in India-Australia relations in the Indo-Pacific. In recent decades, the rise of China has caused a shift in the regional order, such that even the bilateral sphere of India-Australia relations has focused on preserving regional equilibrium to ensure stability. Regional stability with China’s rise is not restricted to balancing but also to constructively engage in ensuring mutual regional concerns are addressed. As India and Australia adjust to the rise of China in the Asia-Pacific, an area previously having a stronger influence of the USA and its partners, Australia and India have converged and reoriented their foreign policies to adjust to the shifting power dynamics in the Indo-Pacific order.

While regional stability has traditionally been regarded in a realist lens in the context of conflict analysis, its prevention and maintenance of status-quo, the term has gained depth in international relations since 1991 to imbibe broader security issues that were marginalised due to Cold War bipolarity. The wider interpretation of the term is reflected in policy documents that emphasise how non-state actors and non-traditional security issues also have the potential to disrupt stability and create a domino effect in creating conflict in the region. As a result, when concerns of regional stability have grown beyond traditional conceptions to imbibe new conceptions, thereby creating nuanced meanings in articulations of preserving regional stability in bilateral ties.