Categories
-Top News Australia

Australia activates security suspecting Khalistani activism

Recently, the Indian government has raised concerns about growing Khalistani divisive activities in multiple capital cities of Australia…reports Asian Lite News

After the Indian government raised concerns about activities of anti-India elements in Australia, the Canberra officials started working with the security apparatus to look into the “Khalistan referendum” matter.

Recently, the Indian government has raised concerns about growing Khalistani divisive activities in multiple capital cities of Australia and one of the officials in the meeting said, “Allegations of some overseas players entering into Australia and running a malicious campaign with elements of possibly violent past are very concerning to us,” The Australia Today reported. During the meeting with Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Home Affairs Minister Claire O’Neil, officials also said that they respect freedom of speech but now it looks like something is not going right.

The Australia Today revealed that in the latest development, the Department of Home Affairs of Australia is examining the visa conditions of some Khalistani overseas players who are actively involved in a proposed Khalistan referendum to be held in Melbourne.

In the meeting, Indian government officials strongly advised the Albanese government that this could lead to violence toward Indian Australians.

In the social media space, “The Last Battle to kill Indian-Hindutva system” along with pictures of Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh are circulating which are seen as Khalistani propaganda posters.

Notably, Satwant Singh was one of the bodyguards who assassinated India’s then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at her New Delhi residence on October 31, 1984. Meanwhile, Kehar Singh was tried and executed for conspiracy in the plot of the Indira Gandhi assassination, carried out by Satwant Singh and his accomplice Beant Singh (nephew of Kehar Singh), according to The Australia Today.

Another poster with Australian phone numbers accuses Hindu mobs of killing an infant of a Sikh Army officer.

A representative of the Hindu Council of Australia who does not want to be named for security reasons told The Australia Today, “Concerned community members have reached out to them as they live around the route of the proposed Khalistan Referendum Car rally.”

“Tens of thousands of Hindu families living in Melbourne’s western suburbs of Tarneit are scared of not only their wellbeing but also their properties.”

In November 2022, members of the Indian-Australian community in Victoria were left shocked and deeply disturbed to see Khalistani flags, booklets and T-shirts distributed and displayed at the Nagar Kirtan/Humanity Walk organised by the Victorian Sikh Gurdwaras Council (VSGC), as per The Australia Today.

Earlier in June 2022, members of the Indian-Australian community were upset to see the Australian Defence Force marquee at the Griffith Sikh Games where Khalistani banners, posters and flags were displayed.

According to The Australia Today, the Australian Defence Force spokesperson in a statement conceded that they have identified an internal process issue and are working to address it. It noted: “While the attendance of the ADF personnel at this event was well-intentioned, it has identified some internal process issues around attendance at community events and a requirement for further awareness training, both of which are being addressed.”

After this news, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that the matter has been taken with the Australian government.

“We came to know there was an instance. We have taken it up with the Australian government. It pertained to some soldiers of Australia. Talks are being held, don’t have more details,” Bagchi said during the weekly media briefing in July. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Australia, US vow to increase cooperation in Indo-Pacific region

Categories
-Top News Australia USA

Australia, US vow to increase cooperation in Indo-Pacific region

The two countries also released a statement on the occasion of the 32nd annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN)….reports Asian Lite News

Australia and the United States have announced plans to increase cooperation for maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

This commitment was made as US State Secretary Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin hosted Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Defence Minister Richard Marles on December 6 in Washington to advance cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, according to a statement released by Pentagon.

The two countries also released a statement on the occasion of the 32nd annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN).

“The principals committed to deepening cooperation, bilaterally and with regional partners and institutions, to ensure an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, stable, peaceful, prosperous, and respectful of sovereignty. The principals affirmed that regional growth and stability are underpinned by international law, which serves the interests of all nations,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

They committed to enhancing deterrence and resilience through coordinated efforts to offer Indo-Pacific nations support to resist subversion and coercion of any kind.

Defence and Foreign ministers of the US and Australia committed to strengthening their engagement with Indo-Pacific countries to promote economic development and security.

“The four principals emphasized the importance of all states being able to exercise rights and freedoms consistent with international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), including freedom of navigation and overflight,” Pentagon added.

They reiterated their strong opposition to destabilizing actions in the South China Sea, such as the militarization of disputed features and dangerous encounters at sea and in the air. They also expressed concern about other actions by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including it asserting excessive maritime claims that are inconsistent with international law.

The ministers resolved to work with partners to support regional maritime security and reiterated Taiwan’s role as a leading democracy in the Indo-Pacific region. “They also reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and shared opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo,” the statement read.

The four principals emphasized the importance of all countries managing strategic competition responsibly and committed to work together to ensure competition does not escalate into conflict. “The United States and Australia look to the PRC to do the same and plan to engage Beijing on risk reduction and transparency measures.”

They also affirmed the importance of cooperation with China on issues of shared interest, including climate change, pandemic threats, non-proliferation, countering illicit and illegal narcotics, the global food crisis, and macroeconomic issues. (ANI)

ALSO READ: EU’s fresh sanctions target Russia’s armed forces

Categories
-Top News Australia India News

Women soldiers play big part in India-Australia military drill

This is the largest Australian Army contingent visiting India since the Second World War, marking yet another interoperability milestone…writes Ateet Sharma

As it enters its final phase, the inaugural edition of joint military exercise between Indian and Australian Army ‘AustraHind-2022’ has intensified with women soldiers from both countries taking a lead in the desert of Rajasthan.

The two-week bilateral training exercise – the latest effort in building “positive military relations” between the two Quad partners – kicked off in Bikaner’s Mahajan Field Firing Ranges on November 27 and will end on December 11.

While the Indian Army is being represented by troops from Dogra regiment, the 13th Brigade of the Australian Army’s 2nd Division is participating in the inaugural edition which will be a yearly event now.

This is the largest Australian Army contingent visiting India since the Second World War, marking yet another interoperability milestone.

“This joint exercise will enable the two armies to share best practices in tactics, techniques and procedures for conducting tactical operations at company and platoon level for neutralising hostile threats,” said the Ministry of Defence at the start of the exercise.

Over the last few days, the soldiers have participated in tactical drills in semi-urban terrain and close quarter, sniper action and heliborne insertion practice in a peacekeeping scenario.

At the same time, they also continue to share knowledge and skills to enhance the scope and complexity of their military exercises and engagement activities in the Indo-Pacific region.

Training on new generation equipment and specialist weapons including snipers, surveillance and communication equipment to achieve a high degree of situational awareness apart from casualty management, casualty evacuation and planning logistics at Battalion/Company level have also been held.

Apart from tactical-level info sharing, the soldiers also took part in rotary wing air-land and fast-rope training.

Australia and India are Comprehensive Strategic Partners and Canberra has vowed to work closer with India in support of an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific in view of the fast-changing geostrategic order.

In June, Australian Deputy Prime Minister and also country’s Defence Minister, Richard Marles landed in Goa – the first high-level visit from Australia after the formation of Anthony Albanese government – to personally witness India’s growing prowess in indigenous drone development and autonomous vehicle technology.

In their bilateral meeting in New Delhi on June 22, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Marles welcomed the growing diversity and frequency of defence exercises and exchanges between the two countries.

In September, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral R Hari Kumar’s undertook a three-day visit to Australia as an Indian Navy P-8I maritime patrol aircraft was deployed to RAAF Base Darwin for the second time in six months for a joint exercise.

During his stay, Admiral Kumar held meetings with the Australian Navy chief Vice Admiral Mark Hammond, Vice Chief of Australian Defence Forces Admiral David Johnston, Secretary of Defence Greg Moriarty, Chief of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Air Marshal Robert Chipman and Deputy Chief of Joint Operations Air Vice Marshal Mike Kitcher.

A month later, Australian Defence’s flagship engagement activity ‘Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2022’ returned to India for the third time as Royal Australian Navy’s warships HMAS Adelaide and Anzac arrived at the Eastern Naval Command Headquarters in Visakhapatnam.

India and Australia have also been working together closely in several bilateral and multilateral fora such as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), and Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS).

Highlighting the need for enhanced defence cooperation, Australia’s High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell stated that as the world becomes more multi-polar, the region’s resilience will be tested.

“At our heart, Australia and India are both Indo-Pacific nations. We share the Indian Ocean – one of the world’s greatest maritime resources. Our geography places us squarely in the middle of the world’s strategic centre of gravity,” the Australian diplomat said while addressing the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) conference in October.

ALSO READ: China’s Indian Ocean Game Plan

Categories
Australia India News

Australian IT firm sued for underpaying Indian worker

Melbourne Digital Pty Ltd, a software development company, and its director Julian Smith will face court after the regulator received requests for assistance from workers…reports Asian Lite News

Australian regulatory authority Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has initiated a legal action against an IT company and its director for underpaying four of its workers, including an Indian, in 2021.

Melbourne Digital Pty Ltd, a software development company, and its director Julian Smith will face court after the regulator received requests for assistance from workers the company had employed in various information technology roles.

The workers — a software engineer, a software developer, a user experience designer and a user interface/user experience designer — included an Indian as well as a Pakistani national, who were on temporary graduate visas.

An FWO inspector issued compliance notices to the company in October and November 2021 after probing that it had underpaid four workers it employed for periods of between one month and just over four months in 2021.

FWO alleged in a press statement that Melbourne Digital Pty Ltd, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the compliance notices, which required it to calculate and back-pay the workers’ entitlements.

It is alleged Smith was involved in the contraventions.

The FWO is seeking penalties in court for an alleged failure to comply with two compliance notices.

Melbourne Digital Pty Ltd faces a penalty of up to $33,300 per contravention and Smith faces a penalty of up to $6,660 per contravention.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws and take businesses to court where lawful requests are not complied with.

“Where employers do not comply, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers,” Parker said in an FWO press statement.

“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance,” she added.

The regulator is also seeking an order for the software development company to take the steps set out in the compliance notices, which includes rectifying alleged underpayments in full, including interest and superannuation.

ALSO READ: India to allow E-visas to UK nationals again

Categories
-Top News Australia India News

Indian-origin teacher bags PM’s prize in Australia

As a leading educator in STEAM, Nair has more than 20 years of experience in teaching science-based subjects across India, the United Arab Emirates, and now Australia…reports Asian Lite News

An Indian-origin teacher in Australia has received the 2022 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in secondary schools.

Melbourne-based Veena Nair, who is ViewBank College’s Head of Technology and STEAM project leader, has been awarded for demonstrating practical application of STEAM to students, and how they can use their skills to make a real impact in the world.

“To be recognised in the Prime Minister’s prizes for science, I am deeply humbled. I am very grateful to my school, to my colleagues, to my students, and to my family,” Nair said in a video message.

“Many people know about STEM — science, technology, engineering and maths, but STEAM is with an A, which is for Art. Art brings in out of the box thinking, and it brings in creativity because students need steam skills to innovate, to become resilient and to take risks,” she said.

As a leading educator in STEAM, Nair has more than 20 years of experience in teaching science-based subjects across India, the United Arab Emirates, and now Australia.

Through her work, she has increased the number of students who receive first round offers to study engineering and technology subjects at university, especially young women and students from diverse backgrounds.

Nair began her teaching career in Mumbai, where she provided computers to low socio-economic schools and taught students how to code.

Nair’s students participate in the Swinburne Youth Space Innovation Challenge — a 10-week program that sees secondary students competing to create the best experiment to launch into space.

The winning project is then sent to the International Space Station. She also supports the Young Persons’ Plan for the Planet program, a STEM-based enterprise development program that gives students the opportunity to engage with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as changemakers at a global level.

Via this program, she has led a team of Australian teachers to conduct STEAM workshops for teachers in low socio-economic schools in Mumbai.

Nair is a BSc in Physics and a BEd in Science and Mathematics from the University of Mumbai and an MEd (maths education) from Deakin University.

She won the Educator of the Year Award by the Design and Technology Teachers’ Association of Australia in 2018.

The annual awards celebrate the contributions of 12 of the country’s leading scientists, innovators and science teachers.

ALSO READ: Australia looks forward to working closely with India

Categories
-Top News Australia

Australia looks forward to working closely with India

Prime Minister Modi unveiled the logo, theme and website of India’s G20 Presidency via video conferencing. The lotus in the logo symbolises India’s ancient heritage, faith and thought…reports Asian Lite News

On the occasion of India assuming the G20 presidency, Australian envoy to India, Barry O’Farrell congratulated New Delhi and said that Canberra looks forward to working closely with India to achieve shared objectives.

“Today is a momentous occasion for India as it takes over the G20 presidency. We look forward to working closely with it to achieve our shared objectives and progress on the theme ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’” said Barry O’Farrell, Australia’s High Commissioner to India.

As India assumes the G20 presidency starting today, it has a unique opportunity to contribute to the global agenda on pressing issues of international importance.

G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation representing around 85 per cent of the global GDP, over 75 of the worldwide trade, and about two-thirds of the world population, according to a Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) release.

Responding to the Australian envoy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “India looks forward to working on encouraging sustainable lifestyles, depoliticising the global supply of food, fertilizers and medical products, among other subjects.”

During the G20 Presidency, India will hold about 200 meetings in 32 different sectors in multiple locations across India. The G20 Summit to be held next year would be one of the highest-profile international gatherings to be hosted by India.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Modi unveiled the logo, theme and website of India’s G20 Presidency via video conferencing. The lotus in the logo symbolises India’s ancient heritage, faith and thought.

The philosophy of Adwait, the Prime Minister said, emphasises the oneness of all creatures and this philosophy will be a medium of resolution of today’s conflicts. This logo and theme represent many key messages from India.

“Message of Buddha for freedom from war, Mahatma Gandhi’s solutions in the face of violence, through G20, India is giving them a new height”, the PM said.

The Prime Minister remarked that India’s G20 presidency is coming at a time of crisis and chaos. He said that the world is dealing with the aftereffects of a disruptive once-in-a-century global pandemic, conflicts, and economic uncertainty.

“The lotus in the logo of G20 is a symbol of hope in such tough times,” he said.

On Tuesday, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar said New Delhi would like to use the presidency of the group to reflect interests and concerns today of the global south.

“India would like to use the presidency of G20 in many ways to reflect interests and concerns today of the global south as we feel they’re being sidelined and not just be a voice but would like to take into global south something we’ve tested and prepared at home,” he said.

Incidentally, Australia and India are increasingly working together as strategic and economic partners.

India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (Ind-Aus ECTA) will enter into force on December 29 paving the way for the elimination of duties on 100 per cent tariff lines and creating additional 10 lakh jobs in India. 

ALSO READ-India-Australia trade pact to come into force from Dec 29

Categories
-Top News Australia India News

India-Australia trade pact to come into force from Dec 29

It is expected that with this agreement, the total bilateral trade will cross USD 45-50 bn in 5 years from the existing USD 31 bn, the ministry added…reports Asian Lite News

The India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (Ind-Aus ECTA) will come into force from December 29, 2022.

This follows the exchange of notification between the two countries after completion of the ratification processes and the necessary domestic requirements, including internal legal procedures, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said on Wednesday.

The India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (Ind-Aus ECTA) was signed on April 2, 2022. It will enter into force 30 days after this exchange of written notification between India and Australia.

The agreement will significantly enhance bilateral trade in goods and services, create new employment opportunities, raise living standards, and improve the general welfare of the peoples of the two countries.

Industries, businesses, students, and professionals on both the sides are eager to avail the opportunities arising through this agreement, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry pointed out.

It is expected that with this agreement, the total bilateral trade will cross USD 45-50 bn in 5 years from the existing USD 31 bn, the ministry added.

The other expected benefits, according to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, include:

  • Duties on 100 percent tariff lines are to be eliminated by Australia under the agreement.
  • It is estimated that an additional 10 lakh jobs would be created in India under ECTA.
  • Indian Yoga teachers and chefs are set to gain with the annual visa quota.
  • Over 1 lakh Indian students would benefit from post-study work visa (1.5-4 years) under the ECTA.

The agreement is also likely to increase investment opportunities, promote exports, create significant additional employment and facilitate strong bonding between the two countries.

Australia is an important strategic partner of India. Both nations are also part of the four nation QUAD, Trilateral Supply Chain Initiative and the Indo-Pacific Economic Forum (IPEF).

“ECTA will open a new chapter on India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership between two vibrant economies with shared interest and trade complementarities. The Agreement encompasses cooperation across the entire gamut of bilateral economic and commercial relations between the two friendly countries,” the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said.

ALSO READ-Australian parliament ratifies FTA with UK

Categories
-Top News Australia India News

India, Australia joint military exercise begins

The Indian Army is represented by troops from the DOGRA Regiment. Exercise “Austra Hind” will be a yearly event that will be conducted alternately in India and Australia…reports Asian Lite News

The bilateral training exercise “Austra Hind 22” between contingents of the Indian Army and the Australian Army is scheduled to take place at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges, Rajasthan from today.

Starting on November 28, the joint exercise will continue till December 11. According to the Ministry of Defence, this is the first exercise in the series of Austra Hind with the participation of all arms and services contingent from both armies. The Australian Army contingent comprising soldiers from the 13th Brigade of the 2nd Division has arrived at the exercise location.

The Indian Army is represented by troops from the DOGRA Regiment. Exercise “Austra Hind” will be a yearly event that will be conducted alternately in India and Australia.

The aim of the exercise is to build positive military relations, imbibe each other’s best practices and promote the ability to operate together while undertaking multi-domain operations in Semi deserts terrain under a UN peace enforcement mandate, said the Defence Ministry statement.

This joint exercise will enable the two armies to share best practices in tactics, techniques and procedures for conducting tactical operations at Company and Platoon level for neutralising hostile threats. Training on new generation equipment and specialist weapons including snipers, surveillance and communication equipment to achieve a high degree of situational awareness apart from casualty management, casualty evacuation and planning logistics at the Battalion/Company level are also planned, the statement added.

During the exercise, the Ministry of Defence said participants will engage in a variety of tasks ranging from joint planning, joint tactical drills, sharing basics of special arms skills and raiding a hostile target. The joint exercise, besides promoting understanding and interoperability between the two armies, will further help in strengthening ties between India and Australia. (ANI)

ALSO READ-Australia denies participating in China-led Indian Ocean Forum meet

Categories
-Top News Australia India News

Australia ratifies FTA with India

The pact is likely to be implemented on a mutually agreeable date…reports Asian Lite News

Australia on Tuesday cleared the free trade agreement (FTA) with India as its Parliament has approved the pact.

Taking to Twitter, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said: “BREAKING: Our Free Trade Agreement with India has passed through Parliament.”

The pact is likely to be implemented on a mutually agreeable date.

According to Australian law, the India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA) needs ratification by that country’s parliament before its implementation.

The pact will enable duty-free access for Australian products in India in sectors like textiles, leather goods, jewellery etc.

Union Commerce and Textiles Minister Piyush Goyal reacted to the development by tweeting: “Delighted that India-Australia Economic Cooperation & Trade Agreement has been passed by Australian Parliament. A result of our deep friendship, it sets the stage for us to unleash the full potential of our trade ties and spur massive economic growth.”

Australia on its part would offer zero duty access to Indian products, which currently attract customs duty to the tune of 4 to 5 per cent in that country.

ALSO READ: Will 2 Indian-origin women be running for Prez?

Categories
-Top News Australia India News

India-Australia cooperation on climate action

It has been previously acknowledged that, among other areas, India and Australia could also mutually benefit from a robust involvement in the climate action sphere…reports Asian Lite News

As the 27th Conference of Parties in Egypt comes to an end, it becomes all the more necessary to assess the status of bilateral and multilateral cooperation in climate action.

Positive and tangible action towards reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and the carbon footprint have now become the need of the hour. The world is, at this point, witnessing the brunt of years of negligence of global warming to an unprecedented level. This realisation at the state and community level has brought the question of climate action to the forefront once again.

With summits like COP27 criticised for being inconclusive, it becomes very important for states to engage in bilateral cooperation to develop the technical and legal infrastructure needed for a smooth transition to renewable energy sources, which is a significant step towards a reduction in carbon footprints.

The two powerful democracies of the Indo-Pacific, India and Australia have been diversifying their partnership to include issues of global concern and climate change must take priority in the list. The renewed interest in partnership over critical minerals for environment-friendly technological development is one aspect of it.

During the months ahead of the COP27, India has reiterated the commitments towards achieving the net zero target by 2070 and had also approved an updated plan to reduce the carbon emissions by 25 per cent by 2030. This is an important step forward in the bid to create a tangible action plan.

While the international negotiations over climate action are generally mired by the debate between the ‘developed’ and the ‘developing’, questioning the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’, Australia has often found itself at the centre of this tightrope walk.

Its commitment, however, to reduce the carbon emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 shows that there is an increased awareness to contribute to the climate action framework. The fact that both India and Australia have set the same time frame for achieving their respective targets suggests the scope of cooperation in the process as well.

A budding partnership

It has been previously acknowledged that, among other areas, India and Australia could also mutually benefit from a robust involvement in the climate action sphere. It was last year that the two nations jointly agreed on partnership over low emissions technology as well as a low cost solar programme. This is likely to become an integral part of the overall economic ties that the two countries share.

Building on these commitments, a letter of intent was also signed earlier this year between the two countries to cooperate effectively on the development of new and renewable energy technology as a part of the fourth India-Australia Energy Dialogue.

The recently-signed Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) would further facilitate the sharing of low emissions technological resources, as well as the critical minerals that play an important part in transitioning towards a net zero target.

The need for increasing cooperation in climate action is highlighted best by Dr. Robert Glasser of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) says that “we assume a set pace of change for the future but the pace is increasing much more rapidly than people realise” while addressing the impacts of climate change.

Green Hydrogen

There is immense potential of cooperation between the two nations when it comes to the extraction, investments as well as research and developments of critical minerals like lithium, nickel as well as green hydrogen and other rare earth minerals. Australia has a vast reservoir of not just lithium but green hydrogen as well. India could tap on to the economic investments that the Australian state is willing to make on the commercial production of green hydrogen over the period.

Navigating the impact of climate change

Cooperation in terms of climate change need not always be in technology and research, it is a known fact that the global effects of climate change have also led to a humanitarian crisis.

The vast scale of displacements of communities triggered by the effects of climate change has led to the need for state level and international intervention in their rehabilitation. There needs to be developed a robust mechanism of aid for the communities and bilateral cooperation can become an important asset in this regard.

ALSO READ-Indian-origin wins Victoria’s Australian of the Year