Australia assures India of students’s safetyAug 8th, 2009 | By editor | Category: In News, Lead Story, Nation, World
P. S. Suryanarayana
SINGAPORE: Australia on Friday allayed India’s concerns over the security of Indian students and the quality of education given to them. The two countries also exchanged ideas on how to give a “forward-oriented” thrust to the bilateral ties.
This was conveyed to The Hindu by External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna and diplomatic sources after he met Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith in Cairns. Mr. Krishna was representing India as a dialogue partner of the Pacific Islands Forum at their meeting there.
Speaking over the telephone from Cairns, Australia, Mr. Krishna said: “I was very impressed with the kind of assurances that I have been able to get from the Prime Minister [of Australia], Foreign Minister, national security advisers and others,” across the policy spectrum.
Mr. Rudd “has taken very seriously the [issue of] quality of education,” said Mr. Krishna. This acquires importance in the latest context of revelations about the sub-standard quality in some Australian educational institutions with an intake of foreign students, including Indians.
The Indian delegation, which included Secretary N. Ravi (East) and High Commissioner Sujatha Singh, was briefed by Mr. Rudd on the steps taken to address these concerns. On learning of the physical attacks on Indian students, Mr. Rudd said he tightened the relevant procedures, instructed the police to intensify patrolling, set up a task force in his office and also a helpline. The follow-up actions by the governments of New South Wales and Victoria, hosting big numbers of Indian students, were also outlined.
On talks with Mr. Smith, Mr. Krishna said the “stalemate continues” in regard to Australia’s unwillingness to supply uranium to India, which had not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The issue was “discussed in passing” but he emphasised that “as long as the NPT is discriminatory, we will not be in a position to sign it.”
Australia was also left in no doubt that India was looking for uranium purchases only for power generation.
Mr. Krishna told reporters in Cairns that India was exploring ways to enhance its ties with Australia to the level of a “strategic partnership.”