Indian opinions towards Australia warm: study

The Lowy Institute and Australia-India Institute opinion poll shows 75 percent of those surveyed believe Australia is a good place to be educated, ranking second only to the United States.

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A further 60 percent of the 1233 adult respondents also said they would like India’s government and society to be more like Australia’s.

Overall, Indians ranked Australia among the top four countries they felt closest to, with the United States, Japan and Singapore taking out the top three.

“It reveals that ordinary Indians quite like Australia despite all the trouble that’s happened,” said the study’s co-author and Director of the Lowy Institute, Professor Rory Medcalf.

“All the trouble” refers to series of much-publicised attacks on Indian students, studying in Australia, in 2009 and 2010. And these events have still left their mark on Indians’ opinions of Australia.

The poll found 62 percent of Indians still considered Australia a dangerous place for students, and 61 percent also felt the attacks were racially motivated.

“There’s still some fragility in the relationship and if there was another crisis it wouldn’t take much to raise these ghosts about racism and danger,” said Professor Medcalf.

According to Professor Medcalf, the main difference between Australia-India relations now, compared to five years ago, is that “champions of the relationship” have emerged.

The poll also found Indians wouldn’t be nearly as interested in Australia if it weren’t for the countries’ mutual love of cricket.

Three-quarters of those surveyed said the game projected a positive image of Australia and helped the countries grow closer.

“It shows the Australian cricket team is still good for one thing, and that is projecting a positive image of Australia in India.”

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