Early 2020 feels like a key moment in the context of the tragic bushfires that have affected Australia over the past few months and the equally troubling evidence of the devastating effects of climate change globally. Looking across Australia and India there are pressing questions about how to support people and communities who are adversely affected by change and who are also working to build positive action.
At the Aii we are determined to engage with these questions.
In 2020 we will concentrate on three main sets of activities. First, we will be conducting scholarly research. I’ve been greatly impressed in the capacity of our researchers to combine research excellence and external engagement through the development of exciting new applied research projects. Aii staff have won six Australian Research Council grants in areas as diverse as how training in agricultural development is provided in India, young people’s role in defending liberalism in South Asia, health emergencies in India, and the impact of the Right to Education Act in the subcontinent. We have also been supporting colleagues outside the Institute in their development of new India-related research projects and initiatives. The four themes of education, health, infrastructure, and governance/security remain a useful way of summing the Institute’s main research focus areas.
Second, the Institute will be communicating the results of this research and engaging government, business and the community in discussion of its utility. This will include the teaching of new subjects, the staging of symposia related to India, and a new series titled ‘elements of the India-Australia relationship’, that uses a focus on earth, air, water, and fire to elaborate on possibilities for learning across the Australia and India boundary.
Third, we will be using research to shape policy and business/community engagement, for example through the development of a research hub in India. We were delighted to have influenced government policy in this area in 2019 – see here.
Among other highlights in 2020, we will be partnering with the Victorian Government on industry-focused roundtables, organising our third India Week, developing our Affiliate Centre at the University of Western Australia, running events with the Indian diaspora in Australia, and collaborating with artists to develop art projects across the Australia-India boundary. We will also be running fortnightly informal chai discussions at our Aii offices in Carlton.
I would like to thank the Department of Education, Victorian Government and University of Melbourne for their financial support, the staff and board of the Institute, past and current fellows, the team at Aii@Delhi and the excellent set of senior executives – including recently appointed DVC-International Professor Michael Wesley at the University of Melbourne – who assist in guiding the Institute’s work.
I wish all our supporters a superb 2020.