It is striking to hear an Indian analyst identify why India should take a leading role in cooperating with China in the Indian Ocean, a line contrary to some of the more defensive and fearful arguments coming out of New Delhi's security commentariat.
'The Indian Ocean: Navigating Beyond Rivalry' was the topic of the Lowy Institute's fourth annual Australia-India Strategic Lecture, held last week in Perth. The speaker was Siddharth Varadarajan, strategic affairs editor of The Hindu newspaper and one of India's sharpest foreign policy commentators and thinkers.
We will be posting the full text of the lecture on the Lowy Institute website soon, but in the meantime, here's an interview I recorded with Mr Varadarajan, capturing some of the key arguments as well as some perceptive thoughts on the Australia-India relationship.
Whether one entirely agrees with Varadarajan or not, there are some refreshing counterpoints here and in the longer lecture to claims aired famously last year in an over-rated essay by Robert Kaplan that the region is doomed to rivalry.
I should add that holding the lecture in Perth was a deliberate step by the Lowy Institute towards developing a more active profile in Western Australia, a state which, with its massive resource exports, has a more direct stake than any other part of Australia in economic and strategic ties with Asian powers.
We acknowledge the support of the Australia-India Council in bringing the speaker to Australia, and of the Australian Institute for International Affairs (WA branch) and Australia-India Business Council (WA chapter) in helping to make the well-attended lecture such a success.