Only rarely has India, home to one-sixth of the world’s people, forced itself onto the maps constructed by Australian diplomats and politicians. In this book, Meg Gurry explores why this is so. “Australia and India: Mapping the Journey 1944-2014” traces the evolution of Australia’s role from outpost of a decolonising British empire and junior member of an American military alliance, to engagement with the Asia-Pacific (without India), and onto partnership in a newly mapped Indo-Pacific region (with India). The story ends with the excitement and optimism engendered by the reciprocated prime ministerial state visits of Tony Abbott and Narendra Modi in 2014, which point, some argue, to a transformative moment for the bilateral relationship.
Along the way, this study explores the obstacles—personal, political, geopolitical—to deeper relations. Based on years of research, the book provides a detailed study of the roles of key players in Australian diplomacy since the first High Commission was opened in New Delhi in 1944. Meg Gurry argues that the Australia-India connection—as well as having its own distinctive bilateral trajectory—can best be explained by locating it within the wider context of Australia’s understanding of its regional identity, and by studying the changing maps that reflect the journey.
Meg Gurry, a graduate of the universities of Monash and La Trobe, has taught Australian foreign policy and written widely on Australia’s relations with India. She has maintained a long interest in Australia’s regional history, particularly its politics and diplomacy. She is currently a fellow of the Australia India Institute.