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Australia in the World: Episode 48

04 Jun 2020
By Allan Gyngell AO FAIIA and Dr Darren Lim
The High Commission of India in Canberra, Australia. Source: Bidgee

Harinder Sidhu, former High Commissioner to India, on the Australia-India relationship.

Allan and Darren welcome Harinder Sidhu to the podcast to discuss India and Australia-India relations. A Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Harinder recently returned from a posting as the Australian High Commissioner in New Delhi. Before she went to India, Harinder headed the multilateral division of DFAT while Australia was on the UN Security Council. Prior to that, she spent time in the Department of Climate Change, the Office of National Assessments, and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. She’s also previously had postings in Damascus and Moscow.

The conversation begins with India itself. What is the spectrum of views inside India regarding the role it should be playing in the world? How much does India’s domestic political system—both its strengths and continuing challenges—influence its behaviour on the international stage? What is India’s “pitch” for international leadership, and what would be the characteristics of an Indian “model” of international order? And does Covid-19 change the answers to these questions?

Turning to Australia’s relationship with India, while successive Australian governments have tended to “discover” India only for the relationship to recede, why might the foundations for a stronger and more durable partnership now be in place? What’s the Indian view of the bilateral relationship? What role does the Indian diaspora in Australia play, and what about Australians who are in India?

Finally, what was Harinder’s own experience as High Commissioner as a woman of Indian heritage? And Darren finishes with a very on-brand question for the podcast, asking for Harinder’s views on the need to integrate economics and security into policymaking.

As always, we invite our listeners to email us at this address: We welcome feedback, requests and suggestions. You can also contact Darren on twitter @limdarrenj

We thank AIIA intern Maddie Gordon for her help with research and audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant links

Harinder Sidhu, “Celebrating the ties that bind”, Speech at Hawker Ball, the opening of the Asia Society Australia Centre, Melbourne, 3 October 2019:

University of Sydney, “Meet Australia’s High Commissioner to India”, 20 November 2019:

Australian PM Scott Morrison’s Message for Raisina Dialogue 2020, 14 January 2020: