Understanding India: a complex strategic partner

National Security College | Professional course


India is rising to greater prominence in Australia’s external relations against a backdrop of great power transitions and growing strategic rivalry in the Indo-Pacific region. The Prime Minister has described India as a natural and like-minded partner with shared values and interests, while the Foreign Minister has described closer ties with India as critical for providing ballast in the region and the international system. This intensive one-day program critically considers India’s place as a global strategic player and key partner for Australia, focussing on economics; foreign, defence and strategic policy; societal and demographic enablers and constraints; and the implications of these complex factors for Australian policy and decision makers.

The program is designed for practitioners who would benefit from a deeper understanding of India and the opportunities and limitations of closer Australia – India relations


Please click here to register or contact us at epd.nsc@anu.edu.au or on (02) 6125 2233 for further information.

Course date: 
9am 1 February – 5pm 31 July 2020
#132 Crawford Building, Lennox Crossing, ANU

$1,300 (GST ex) for government, $1,560 (GST ex) open rate. Course is fully catered and parking permit is supplied.

Course presenter(s)

Professor Rory Medcalf

Professor Rory Medcalf has been Head of the National Security College at the Australian National University since January 2015. He has led the expansion of the College into policy engagement as well as education, executive development and research. His professional background involves more than two decades of experience across diplomacy, intelligence analysis, think tanks and journalism, including a formative role as Director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute. In government, Professor Medcalf worked as a senior strategic analyst with the Office of National Assessments, Canberra’s peak intelligence analysis agency. He was also an Australian diplomat, with wide experience including a posting to New Delhi, a secondment to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, truce monitoring after the civil conflict in Bougainville and policy development on Asian security institutions. Professor Medcalf has been prominent in developing Australia’s relations with India. He has been Associate Director of the Australia-India Institute and Senior Research Fellow in Indian Strategic Affairs at the University of New South Wales. He has been recognised as a thought leader internationally for his work on the Indo-Pacific concept of the Asian maritime strategic environment. Professor Medcalf was a member of the expert panel providing independent advice on the Australian Government’s 2016 Defence White Paper. His research areas include Australia’s security challenges, the further development of an Indo-Pacific concept of the Asian strategic environment, China-India relations, and prospects for maritime and nuclear stability in Indo-Pacific Asia, on which he has led projects funded by the MacArthur Foundation.

Dr Meera Ashar

Meera Ashar is a historian of ideas at the School of Culture, History and Language at the Australian National University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of history, political theory and literary studies. Her work questions categories and conceptual frameworks with which we seek to make sense of human societies past and present. In critically investigating the genealogy of the terms with which human and social sciences make sense of the world, she engages in a study of colonialism, postcolonialism, decolonization and nationalism. Her manuscript on the social history of colonial Gujarat examines the region through the lens of a controversial nineteenth-century novel, Saraswatichandra; its author and its audience. She has also coedited a volume on Everyday English Keywords in India.
Meera is currently the Director of the South Asia Research Institute (SARI). She has previously worked as an Assistant Professor at the City University of Hong Kong and was the LM Singhvi Fellow at the Centre of South Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge.

Professor Ian Hall

Ian Hall is a Professor of International Relations and the Deputy Director (Research) of the Griffith Asia Institute. He is also an Academic Fellow of the Australia India Institute at the University of Melbourne and the co-editor (with Sara E. Davies) of the Australian Journal of International Affairs. He is the author of three books, including Modi and the Reinvention of Indian Foreign Policy (Bristol University Press, 2019) and Dilemmas of Decline: British Intellectuals and World Politics, 1945-1975 (University of California Press, 2012), and more than seventy journal articles and chapters. His research focuses on India’s foreign and security policies and on the history of international thought.

Associate Professor Elizabeth Hill

Elizabeth’s research focuses the political economy of gender, work and care in the Asia Pacific. She has published on work and care regimes in Australia and the Asia Pacific, gender and the future of work, migration and care work in Australia, informal work and employment policy in India, and women’s unions and collective action in the Indian informal economy. Elizabeth is interested in how economic institutions shape women’s paid work, unpaid care and the care workforce – especially as they evolve in response to the rapidly evolving dynamics of the global political economy.

Mr Peter Varghese AO

Peter Varghese began as Chancellor of The University of Queensland on 11 July 2016. Prior to this appointment, Mr Varghese’s extensive career in public service and diplomacy spanned 38 years and included senior positions in foreign affairs, trade policy and intelligence. Most recently, he served as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2012-2016). Previous senior appointments included High Commissioner to India (2009-2012), High Commissioner to Malaysia (2000-2002), Director-General of the Office of National Assessments (2004-2009), and Senior Advisor (International) to the Prime Minister of Australia (2003-2004). Mr Varghese was the author of a comprehensive India Economic Strategy to 2035 commissioned by the Australian Prime Minister and submitted in July 2018.

Mr Varghese was educated at The University of Queensland, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours and a University Medal in history in 1978. He was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) in 2010 and received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from The University of Queensland in 2013.

Mr Varghese sits on the boards of AMP Limited and North Queensland Airports. He is also on the international governing board of the Rajaratnum School of International Studies in Singapore and the governing board of Nalanda University in India. He was awarded the Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop Asialink Medal in 2019 in recognition of outstanding contributions to improving Australia-Asia relations.

Professor Ramesh Thakur

Professor Ramesh Thakur is Director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (CNND) in the Crawford School, The Australian National University and co-Convenor of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (APLN). He was Vice Rector and Senior Vice Rector of the United Nations University (and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations) from 1998–2007. Educated in India and Canada, he was a Professor of International Relations at the University of Otago in New Zealand and Professor and Head of the Peace Research Centre at the Australian National University, during which time he was also a consultant/adviser to the Australian and New Zealand governments on arms control, disarmament and international security issues.

Dr David Brewster

Dr David Brewster is a Senior Research Fellow with the National Security College, Australian National University where he works on Indian Ocean and Indo Pacific maritime security.
He also holds appointments as Fellow with the Royal Australian Navy Sea Power Centre and Distinguished Research Fellow with the Australia India Institute, University of Melbourne.
He is a frequent speaker at international security conferences throughout the region and is as an Australian delegate to several major 1.5 Track security and defence dialogues.

Dr Brewster is a frequent writer about security developments in the Indian Ocean and Indo Pacific for numerous publications.

Dr Brewster’s books include India as an Asia Pacific power, about India’s strategic role in the Asia Pacific and India’s Ocean: the story of India’s bid for regional leadership which examines India’s strategic ambitions in the Indian Ocean.

Mr John McCarthy AO

John McCarthy AO is a former senior Australian diplomat. He has served as ambassador to Vietnam, Mexico, Thailand, the USA, Indonesia and Japan, and as High Commissioner to India.

He was appointed an Officer of the Order for Australia in 1999 for service to the enhancement of Australia’s international reputation and to the development of Australian regional policy while serving as Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia in Jakarta.

PDF document nsc_india_program.pdf424.59 KB
Australian Government logo
‘The National Security College is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Government and The Australian National University’

Updated:  9 April 2020/Responsible Officer:  Head of College, National Security College/Page Contact:  Web administrator