Indian view of Australia improves

AFTER a "lost decade" in Australia-Indian relations our reputation on the subcontinent is on the up, but more needs to be done, a report released on Tuesday reveals.

The Australia-Indian Institute report, Beyond the Lost Decade, shows what could be done to improve the international relationship, after it was shattered after assaults on Indian students in Melbourne in 2009.

Report co-author, former federal parliamentarian Maxine McKew, said that while Australia's reputation had improved drastically in the past two years, it was still being affected by the "media firestorm" surrounding the assaults.

"We are still clearly behind other countries in perception in India," she said.

"The vast majority of Indians still see the United States from United Kingdom as a more desirable place to study, but we need to reinforce how we have some of the best courses and educators in the world."

Ms McKew said Australia had a chance to bring more Indian students to metropolitan and regional universities and vocational training places all over the country.

"While it might seem Indians are coming to study only medicine or engineering - the sheer numbers are enough to show you," she said.

"They have hundreds of millions of people needing vocational courses, and they don't have enough places for them.

"India needs plumbers and tilers and builders, and we can bring them here to study and they can go home with a great experience and they will be ambassadors for Australia back home."

She said the report also showed a need to capitalise on our similarities to help develop a better understanding of each nation's culture.

"I think as a nation, if we put some work in now, we can ride out these one-of minor issues.

"If we think about it, in our region, India is the biggest English-speaking, cricket loving democracy, and we can build on that."



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