Canberra: The Australia India Institute on Tuesday announced a new Australia-India Defence Program which will be launched in Canberra on February 7.

The program will be led by Security & Geopolitics Director, David Brewster and will be addressed by Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and Minister for Defence, Richard Marles.

“The Institute will commence a new Australia-India Defence Program in 2023 led by Security & Geopolitics Director @DavidBrewster6 and launched in Canberra on Feb 7 with an address from Minister @RichardMarlesMP. #defence #security #geopolitics #indianocean,” tweeted the Australia India Institute.

The security and geopolitics program focuses on the security, defence, foreign policy and strategic affairs critical to both Australia and India, as well as geopolitical developments in the Indo-Pacific region.

Under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) and 2+2 Ministerial Dialogues, both countries have committed to increasing security and defence cooperation on a bilateral basis and within multilateral institutions in order to build and maintain a stable, peaceful, prosperous, and inclusive region.

Through engagement with policy-makers, leading experts, analysts and researchers, this program aims to develop a shared understanding of our regional security environment and the Australia-India security and defence relationship.

This includes cooperation in defence capabilities, maritime security, intelligence-sharing and counter-terrorism, and in the enhancement of regional security institutions and relationships. The program will address security cooperation in a broad range of areas including transnational threats, climate change and environmental security, critical infrastructure and technology, read Australia India Institute statement.

The Australia India Institute was founded in 2008 with funding received from the Australian Government. Founding partners were the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, and the University of New South Wales.

Since its inception, and with subsequent funding received from the Australian and Victorian Governments, the University of Melbourne and other sources, the Institute has been dedicated to the study of India, the understanding of contemporary India in Australia, and to the development of the bilateral relationship.

The Institute is guided by values of Bharosa (Trust), Maryada (Respect), and Kalyan (Welfare), reads the statement.

The growing dependence of the major industrial economies of North Asia on the Gulf region for their energy supplies has steadily increased the importance of the Indian Ocean as a major economic thoroughfare, said Professor Michael Wesley, Deputy Vice-Chancellor International, University of Melbourne.

China’s emergence as the world’s largest oil importer, against a background of rivalry with the US, has transformed the Indian Ocean’s economic importance into a potential power resource. In the event of serious confrontation or conflict, the ability of the US and its allies to restrict China’s oil supplies across the Indian Ocean would be a major strategic asset. It would risk crippling both China’s economic viability and its war-fighting ability.

As Beijing’s strategic capabilities and ambitions have grown, so has the imperative to protect China’s Indian Ocean energy supplies. China’s greater assertiveness since 2008 has brought serious confrontations with India, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia.

For Australia and India, this has changed the salience of the Indian Ocean in both countries’ strategic frameworks.

However, as rising global strategic competition spills into the Indian Ocean, Australia has rediscovered its other ocean. Australia was among the first countries to advocate a conception of the “Indo-Pacific” as a strategic realm rather than just the Asia Pacific, said Wesley.

The convergence of India’s and Australia’s interests in the Indian Ocean now lays the foundations for a burgeoning strategic partnership.

Australia’s inclusion in India’s “Malabar” naval exercises in 2020, and India’s inclusion in Australia’s “Talisman Sabre” exercises, along with the Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement signed by both countries in 2020, are all establishing the scaffolding for a deeper Indo-Australian strategic partnership in the Indian Ocean.