Kerala and Kochi are significant players in the growing strategic partnership between India and Australia, Sean Kelly, Australia’s Consul General for South India, has said.
Mr. Kelly is in town in connection with the port call of Australian frigate HMAS Darwin on way for deployment in the Persian Gulf. He told The Hindu during an interaction that Kerala contributed greatly to India-Australia knowledge partnership. Last year alone, 500 students from Kerala went to Australia for studies, he said. “Kerala, with its high literacy rate and quality of education, sent a fair share of students for post-graduate courses in Australia last year. In fact, one out of every 11 Indian post-graduate students, starting in 2013, was from Kerala.”
Mr. Kelly said while Indian students enrolled for a range of programmes such as information technology and business management in Australian educational institutions, there was immense potential for them to pursue science in Australia, especially at the famed New South Wales University, which produced several Nobel laureates.
Vocational training, he said, was another sector where Australian institutions could partner Indian firms to train students in India itself. Australian educational institutions could enter into pacts with institutions in Kerala for imparting skills in retail, construction and sports management.
Through the Australian Sports Outreach Programme, the Australian government would sponsor Kerala’s first Beach Festival and related tourism conference in Thiruvananthapuram in March, he said.
The ‘New Colombo Plan’, which was a kind of reversal of the old scholarship programme of supporting Asian students, would offer Australian students an opportunity to study and work in Asian countries, which would help them understand the work culture and environment there. “I would want to see them pursue IT, engineering, space science, and medicine in India,” he said.
Terming Kerala as a key link in India-Australia trade and commerce, he said Australia’s economic partnership with the State could be expanded further to agribusiness, food processing with focus on dairy and sustainable fisheries on the lines of Australia’s contribution to Vietnam, renewable energy and water management. He said Petronet LNG’s Kochi plant would start receiving gas from Australia’s Gorgon gas fields from early 2015.
The partnership straddled several growth sectors and IT was one sector. “Some IT firms in [Technopark] Thiruvananthapuram recently inked a five-year-pact with us, which would see them take part in our famous CeBIT programme,” he said.