Sydney Dialogue

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    • Recently, the Prime Minister (PM) of India delivered the keynote at the inaugural Sydney Dialogue via video conferencing.

    Key Highlights

    • The PM of India discussed the theme of India’s technology evolution and revolution. 
    • He noted recognition for India’s central role in the Indo Pacific region and in the emerging digital world. 
    • As a democracy and a digital leader, India is ready to work with partners for shared prosperity and security.
    • India has created a robust framework of data protection, privacy and security.
    • Five Important Transitions Taking Place In India:
    • The world’s most extensive public information infrastructure is being built in India. Over 1.3 billion Indians have a unique digital identity, six hundred thousand villages will soon be connected with broadband and the world’s most efficient payment infrastructure, the UPI. 
    • Use of digital technology for governance, inclusion, empowerment, connectivity, delivery of benefits and welfare.
    • India has the world’s third-largest and fastest-growing Startup Ecosystem.
    • India’s industry and services sectors, even agriculture, are undergoing massive digital transformation.
    • There is a large effort to prepare India for the future. India is investing in developing indigenous capabilities in telecom technology such as 5G and 6G. 

     

     

    Image Courtesy: PIB

    • Digital Revolution: 
      • The PM highlighted the leaps in India’s digital revolution and said it was taking care of “individual rights”.
      • India was experiencing five-fold changes involving the digital domain, such as building of the most extensive public information infrastructure and agriculture.
      • India’s industry and services sectors, even agriculture, are undergoing massive digital transformation. 
      • India’s space sector was open to private investment and that the agriculture sector was reaping the benefits of the digital revolution.
      • India is also using digital technology for clean energy transition, conservation of resources and protection of biodiversity.
    • Artificial Intelligence
      • India is one of the leading nations in artificial intelligence and machine learning, especially in human-centred and ethical use of artificial intelligence.
      • India is developing strong capabilities in Cloud platforms and cloud computing.
    • Concerns:
      • The PM’s speech referred to the perils of technology and data that had turned them into new forms of “weapons”.
      • The world also faces new risks and new forms of conflicts across diverse threats from sea-bed to cyber to space.
      • The biggest strength of democracy is openness. At the same time, we should not allow a few vested interests to misuse this openness.

    Suggestions

    • India called for a collaborative framework- 
      • To invest together in research and development in future technology; 
      • develop trusted manufacturing base and trusted supply chains; 
      • deepen intelligence and operational cooperation on cyber security, protect critical information infrastructure; 
      • To prevent manipulation of public opinions; 
      • To develop technical and governance standards and norms  consistent with our democratic values; and, 
      • To create standards and norms for data  governance and for cross-border flow that protect and secure data.
    • On crypto-currency: It is important that all democratic nations work on this and ensure that crypto-currency does not end up in the wrong hands, which can spoil our youth.
    • Use of Experience: India’s extensive experience with use of technology and policy for public good, inclusive development and social empowerment can be of great help to the developing world.

    Conclusion

    • The digital age is changing everything around us. It has redefined politics, economy and society. 
    • It is raising new questions on sovereignty, governance, ethics, law, rights and security.
    • The world can work together to empower nations and their people, and prepare them for the opportunities of this century.

    About the Sydney Dialogue (TSD)

    • An initiative of Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).
    • It is a world first summit for emerging, critical and cyber technologies.
    • TSD aims to become a place where the world can anticipate and respond to the complicated challenges and immense opportunities presented by the increasingly complex advances in technology. 
    • The purpose is to discuss the fallout of the digital domain on the law and order situation in the world.
    • Currently, debates are taking place in silos—for example, on artificial intelligence, quantum computing, the use of surveillance technologies, supply chain resilience, disinformation and cyber-enabled interference, biotechnology, space technologies and the future of cyberspace.

    India-Australia Relations

    • Diplomatic Relations:
      • Established in the pre-Independence period, with the establishment of India Trade Office in Sydney in 1941. 
      • The end of the Cold War and simultaneously India’s decision to launch major economic reforms in 1991 provided the first positive move towards the development of closer ties between the two nations. 
    • Strategic Relations:
      • Australia looks at India as an important partner in promoting regional security and stability.
      • This led to upgradation of the bilateral relationship to a Strategic Partnership, including a Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation in 2009. 
    • Bilateral Engagements:
      • Bilateral mechanisms include high-level visits, Annual Meetings of Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue, Joint Trade and Commerce Ministerial Commission, India-Australia ‘2+2’ Foreign Secretaries and Defence Secretaries Dialogue, Defence Policy Talks, Australia-India Education Council, Defence Services Staff Talks, etc.
    • Multilateral Engagements:
      • Both countries have close cooperation in multilateral fora like Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and G20.
      • The Quadrilateral Framework (QUAD) of India and Australia along with the US and Japan emphasise the collective resolve to maintain a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
    • Bilateral Trade:
      • India is the 5th largest trade partner of Australia with trade in goods and services at Australian Dollar 29 billion representing 3.6 percent share of the total Australian trade in 2017-18, with export at AD 8 billion and import at AD 21 billion. 
      • India’s main exports to Australia are refined petroleum, medicaments, railway vehicles including hover-trains, pearls, gems, jewellery, made up textile articles.
      • India’s main imports are coal, copper ores and concentrate, gold, vegetables, wool and other animal hair, fruits and nuts, lentils and education-related services.
      • India Australia Circular Economy (I-ACE) Hackathon 2021 was an effort to strengthen bi-lateral innovations in Circular Economy.
    • Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement:
      • It was signed between the two countries in September 2014 during the visit of the Australian Prime Minister to India.
      • The Australian Parliament passed the Civil Nuclear Transfer to India Bill 2016 which ensures that Uranium mining companies in Australia may fulfil contracts to supply Australian uranium to India for civil use.
    • Defence:
      • In 2014, both sides decided to extend defence cooperation to cover research, development and industry engagement and agreed to hold regular meetings at the level of the Defence Minister conduct regular maritime exercises and convene regular service-to-service talks
      • The first-ever Bilateral Maritime Exercise, AUSINDEX, was conducted in Visakhapatnam (Bay of Bengal) in September 2015.
      • In 2018, the Indian Air Force participated for the first time in the Exercise Pitch Black in Australia.
      • INS Sahyadri participated in Kakadu, the biennial exercise of the Australian Navy held in 2018, in which 27 nations participated. 
      • The 4th edition of AUSTRAHIND (Special Forces of Army Exercise) was held in September 2019.
    • Environment:
      • It is an area where there is great opportunity for India and Australia to work together since both countries had similar commitments.
      • The flagship program of National Innovation for Climate Resilient Agriculture and collaboration with the research organisations of Australia.
    • Indian Community:
      • The Indian community in Australia continues to grow in size and importance, with a population of nearly seven lakhs.
      • India is now the third-largest source of immigrants to Australia, after the UK and New Zealand and the largest source of skilled professionals for Australia.
      • There is a  constant flow of students and tourists from India. 
      • The growing significance of the community is reflected in the large-scale celebration of Indian festivals in Australia, especially Deepawali.

    Source: TH