Pat Cummins role model for how all of us can help India

Many of us in business relations with India are wondering what is the right thing to do in the midst of India suffering so much from the pandemic.

Pat Cummins has showed us what to do.

He is staying because IPL creates some joy for lockdown people – and he has made a big donation.

For business and trade the message is striking – keep in touch, build business relations and where you can, donate to support India.

Cummins has starred for the Kolkata Knight Riders so far this season.

The Australian superstar wrote on Twitter on Monday night to announce a donation in the fight against the virus, and to urge fellow cricketers to donate.

I am reproducing his entire Tweet because it is moving and inspirational:

“India is a country I’ve come to love dearly over the years and the people here are some of the warmest and kindest I’ve ever met.

“To know so many are suffering so much at this time saddens me greatly.

“There has been quite a bit of discussion over here as to whether it is appropriate for the IPL to continue while Covid-19 infection rates remain high. I’m advised that the Indian government is of the view that playing the IPL while the population is in lockdown provides a few hours of joy and respite each day at an otherwise difficult time for the country.

“As players, we are privileged to have a platform that allows us to reach millions of people that we can use for good. With that in mind, I have made a contribution to the “PM Cares Fund”, specifically to purchase oxygen supplies for India’s hospitals.

“I encourage my fellow IPL players – and anyone around else the world who has been touched by India’s passion and generosity – to contribute. I will kick it off with $50,000.

“At times like this it is easy to feel helpless. I’ve certainly felt that of late. But I hope by making this public appeal we can all channel our emotions into action that will bring light into people’s lives.

“I know my donation isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but I hope it will make a difference to someone.”

Come on India and Australia – time for an FTA to be number 1 priority

It is high time the close friendship between the PM’s Modi and Morrison led to an FTA.

It is great to see so much friendship and collaboration between India and Australia – but it is time to go to another level and have a serious shot at getting a free-trade agreement between the two countries.

Here’s 3 reasons why an FTA is now urgent:

India wants greater access to Australia’s resources.

Australia wants alternatives to China for resources and wine.

India wants investment and Australia has huge funds under management.

Patience around the FTA has been a good approach but now we have to step up the pace and get on with it.

We need some form of harvest agreements to take the heat out of agriculture – which is always a super-hot political topic in India.

Also, India seriously wants investment flows and Australia has not been forthcoming. Time for the Australian Government to lead our huge investment funds into India.

The reality is – close relations in trade mostly follow investment, and Australia has not invested heavily in India.

Wine barriers to India are huge – there is a 150% tariff – and yet wines like Orlando Jacob’s Creek have done well there.

One problem for India is they are encouraging their own wine industry, typically at the low end of the market. Perhaps they can free up tariffs on high end wine imports?

The relationship between Prime Ministers Modi and Morrison is close and could be a building block for an FTA.

Let’s put it top of the agenda!

USA coming to terms with India’s “longstanding relationship with Russia”

India’s decision to purchase S-400 missile systems from Russia sparked debate in the USA

INTO INDIA has often reminded readers that India has a close and long relationship with Russia – and is capable of being friends with both sides of international disputes.

Now they’re talking about this in the US.

Here’s what Admiral John Aquilino said during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday to be the next commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command or INDOPACOM: “The United States needs to understand that India has had a longstanding relationship with the Russians for security cooperation and military equipment.”

“India is really a terrific partner and as we’ve seen from the recent Quad discussions, I think the importance of India and the rest of the nations in the Quad will increase. We’re at a balance. However, India has had a longstanding relationship with the Russians for security cooperation and for military equipment,” he said.

Let’s hope the USA can also move away from the “goodies and baddies” approach to international affairs and see that it is possible to sustain healthy connections with apparently competing countries and ideologies.

Global “Indo-Pacific” strategies appear to target China

HMS Queen Elizabeth

Global “Indo-Pacific” strategies appear to target China

Here is a selected list of recent initiatives that might be designed to contain China:

  • The British Government is about to announce a foreign and defence policy review with the “new big idea” of a focus on the Indo-Pacific
  • The new UK aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and accompanying fleet will deploy in May on a maiden voyage to the Indian Ocean coordinated with the US
  • On the flight deck will be a squadron of F35 jets from the US Marine Corps, showing UK and US cooperation
  • The UK mission looks very much like a strike force, including two Type 45 destroyers, an Astute Submarine and two Type 43s
  • At the same time the recent QUAD (Japan, India, Australia, USA) meeting was the first attended by all four leaders and was strong on a free and open Indo-Pacific
  • India, Australia and Japan have an active working party examining supply chain security (code for not buying everything from China)
  • Many foreign ministries from France to Germany have recently produced Indo-Pacific strategies
  • Former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer recently said “The single most geopolitical issue in the world today is the rise of China”
  • Downer went much further in his comments: “This is an issue of war and peace.”
  • Meanwhile Australia is in the 10th month of a trade war with Beijing
  • France and Germany are also deploying large warships to the region this year
  • The UK also wants to turn the G7 into an alliance of 10 democracies by inviting South Korea, India and Australia – yet another concern for China

The Indo-Pacific packs some punch – it now accounts for close to half of global economic output and more than half the world’s population: it contains the world’s two most populous nations, China and India; the world’s second and third largest economies, China and Japan; the world’s largest democracy, India.

Add these up – and draw your own conclusions. What do you think?

Is the QUAD becoming more like NATO?

The QUAD meeting in March was the first where all four national leaders attended – signalling a new higher level for the group which is India, Australia, Japan and the USA.

China will see this meeting as “containing China”, an attitude likely to harden stances between China and the countries of the region. Although it is far from being another NATO, there is no doubt this meeting moved the QUAD in that direction.

Since its creation in 2004, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue has striven to be a loose cooperation and has tried not to become an overtly security group along the lines of NATO. It is a fine line to tread, as the increasing focus of the QUAD has been China.

Although the word “China” does not appear in the recent statement, all the language points to it – promote free, open rules based order, international law, counter threats, freedom of navigation and overflight, democratic values and meet challenges to the rules based maritime order in the East and South China Sea.

The US did not hold back in its language – US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who sat in on the summit, declared “these four leaders made a massive joint commitment today”.

“We have taken the Quad to a new level,” Mr Sullivan said from the White House.

Yet the QUAD partners have diverse perspectives and perhaps very different reasons for coming together. Certainly, Chinese belligerence has been a big motivation.

Australia has been bruised and somewhat taken by surprise by the recent Chinese trade war which has seen massive decline in Australian products in China – at the same time as Covid has hit the high paying international education market from China. When Prime Minister Morrison went public and alone in calling for an inquiry into the Chinese origins of Covid19, the diplomatic lines of the two countries went blank and the trade war “punishment” from China rolled out – the two countries have not been speaking for some time.

India on the other hand has close commercial and personal (leaders) ties with Japan, plus it has experienced border clashes with China in the Himalayan region.

For India and Australia, the meeting adds to their increasing close relationship with Japan, boosted by recently creating a three-country working group to improve supply chain collaboration. Further bad news for China.

In another step up, the Foreign Ministers will meet at least once a year.

It’s all about – in the QUAD’s own words – “leveraging our partnership to help the world’s most dynamic region respond to historic crisis, so that it may be the free, open, accessible, diverse, and thriving Indo-Pacific we all seek.”

China will not like what it has seen from this meeting.

China’s “close the doors” diplomacy (as seen with India and Australia) and punitive actions have certainly added urgency to the QUAD dialogue and might in the end be regretted in Beijing. But of course, how would we know? When the doors are closed, there is no diplomacy or discussion with China.

You’ve gotta love Jacob’s Creek wines – consumers in India are loving it!

Despite a tariff as high as 150% plus state taxes, Australia’s Jacob’s Creek is a standout leader in the imported wine market of India. This Aussie winemaker is owned by global giant Pernod Ricard.

Here are some stunning statistics – imported wine accounts for 40% of wines sales in India. 70% of that 40% is Jacob’s Creek. This means Jacob’s Creek accounts for over 20% of the wine market in India.

Another stat – every year 19 million Indians reach legal drinking age.

Wine is mainly an urban success story in India, with three cities dominating the consumption – Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. Apparently women are driving demand for wine – while men stick to whiskey and beer, women have become major consumers of red wine.

Jacob’s Creek has succeeded despite stiff competition from local winemakers, including Sula and Fratelli.

In the context of exporters urgently seeking alternatives to China, Jacob’s Creek is a success story that should be studied by those seeking to succeed in India.

Now – about those tariffs. Australia needs a coordinated campaign to get some relief for wine. This campaign needs to encompass governments, industry and culture/education. My advice – don’t go head-on against the tariff. Subtle approaches are best. Work out what we can offer India and how some reduction in tariff therefore becomes mutually beneficial.

Wow – this is a scene from the South Australian vineyards of Jacob’s Creek

India’s “vaccine diplomacy” a template for the region

We have heard about soft power diplomacy and hard diplomacy, but India is showing another way through “vaccine diplomacy”. It could show Australia and other Indo-Pacific Region countries an alternative diplomacy template.

Right now, Australia is too often the first country to call others out, it is known for “hard talking diplomacy” (sometimes at great cost such as the recent trade dispute with China) and Australia is also known predominately as a close ally of the United States of America. These are not positions that find much favour in a rapidly changing region.

How has India created an alternative diplomacy?

First, India accepts global realities, such as the future dominance of China and the USA, so it tries to find the right niche or niches for itself. It has worked hard to develop and promote a reliable reputation in global pharmaceuticals, to the point it is more trusted in this area of production than Russia or China. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called India’s vaccine manufacturing capacity the “best asset in the world.”

Second, in a distinctively Indian way, India has built generosity into its diplomacy. India has already supplied more than five million vaccines to its neighbouring countries—Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar—as well as additional quantities to other emerging economies like Brazil. This Vaccine Maitri (Vaccine Friendship) will not be forgotten by the people of those countries.

To put this generosity in context, India is the worst affected by Covid19 in terms of numbers and needs to vaccinate 700 million people at home.

Third, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a strong advocate of business and of building transparency and trust across business activities. This, in part, has led to the development of a globally competitive pharmaceutical and biotech industry in India. The “vaccine diplomacy” is built on this foundation of strong private industry.

Part of the success of India’s pharmaceutical industry is an almost accidental outcome of long-term price controls in their domestic markets which forced the pharmaceutical sector into world markets, thereby becoming more competitive with higher quality.  

It is one thing to have a strong pharmaceutical sector – it is quite another creative step to use “vaccine diplomacy” as India seeks to define its niche in the modern world.

For countries that struggle with the subtleties required in diplomacy, India has created a template – accept the reality of global power, find your niche and use “out of the square” thinking such as generosity to reinforce that niche.

Australia Day honours for Robert Johanson – still changing relations of India and Australia for the better

Below (L-R) Robert Johanson, Chairman Bendigo Bank and Australian Friends of Asha Slums; Dr Kiran Martin; Anne Rathbone, Owner of Yering Station Winery, and Harish Rao from Friends of Asha Australia

Robert Johanson AO was honoured in the Australia Day honours by appointment as an Officer of the Order of Australia. This recognises his distinguished service to the banking sector, to relations between Australia and India, and to tertiary education governance and financial administration.  
Robert has brought respect for all and considered commentary to his many roles and especially as Chair of the Australia India Institute – from 2010 to 2019.   He served for 31 years on the board of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, 13 of which were as Chair of the bank’s board.
 
Robert was also Deputy Chancellor of University of Melbourne from 2007 to 2017.   He has also been the Chair of the Board of the Australia India Institute in Delhi since its inception in 2015, a role which thankfully he continues to hold – this continues his relationship with India and ongoing support of Australia India connections. 
 
Robert has a strong personal commitment to making a difference for those in need and has served as the Chair of the Australian Friends of Asha, the Australian branch of Asha India. Asha is a charitable organisation created by Dr Kiran Martin in 1988 which works with people in India residing in slums and benefiting more than 700,000 people from over 91 slum colonies of Delhi. Australian Friends of Asha was launched by former Governor of Victoria The Honourable Alex Chernov AC QC in November 2012 and aims to provide support to Asha and promulgate its work throughout Australia.

Gandhi exhorted us to “be the change you want to see in the world” and Robert has contributed more than any other to the positive change in the relationship between Australia and India.  
Below is Robert Johanson with Mahinder Shrivas who thanks to Asha went from a Delhi slum to Trinity College at Melbourne University

Business and investment can ride the wave of closer relations between India and Australia

Yesterday was both Indian Republic Day and Australia Day – and in these times the closeness of the two countries makes us more aware of what we have in common.

Australia’s Prime Minister Morrison wrote yesterday that: “While, for now, our people are separated, the truth is that Australia and India are closer than we have ever been. Our progress is unchecked. We’ve taken huge strides in the last year, and, despite its enormous hardship and loss, 2020 will be remembered as a pivotal moment in our friendship.”

Business and investment can become the next step in the “huge strides” in the friendship of the two great democracies.

India’s growth and demand right now means that every sector of Australian business should have an “India strategy” and become part of this amazing growth story – and the future closeness of the two countries.

Here is the link to his article:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/what-we-have-in-common-wonderful-coincidence-of-republic-day-and-australia-day-indicates-our-natural-partnership/

First INTO INDIA blog for the year 2021 – and it has to be against racism

The disturbing instances of racism against an Indian cricketer are a reminder that racism is always there and we need to oppose it. It was good to see 6 people ejected from the ground and well done by the Indian cricketer for calling it out.

Racism hurts individuals and communities.

Individuals

A study of over 800 Australian secondary school students found that racism had huge mental health impacts on young people who experience it, including:

  • ongoing feelings of sadness, anger, depression and being left out
  • headaches, increased heart rate, sweating, trembling and muscle tension
  • a constant fear of being verbally or physically attacked
  • not wanting to go to school
  • having little or no trust in anybody apart from family. 1

Communities

Australia is now a very culturally diverse country – about half of us were born overseas or had one or more parents born overseas. When racial tensions develop, they don’t just affect one or two of us – they affect us all… as neighbours, workmates, friends and fellow Australians.

Racism creates a society where people don’t trust and respect each other.

When it’s allowed to flourish, it lessens us as a people.

Let’s all take a strong stand against racism.

(Thanks to the Australian Human Rights Commission for some of the above)