Australia Thursday decided to scale up its collaboration with India in science and research by pledging over $70 million in areas straddling energy, agriculture and environment.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that his government would invest $50 million for the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund; $1 million for an innovative joint solar cooling research project; and $20 million for research into dry land farming in India.
Rudd arrived in India on a two-day visit Wednesday, his first since becoming the prime minister two years ago, amid the shadow of repeated attacks on Indian students in his country.
He announced more funds for joint research projects, a crucial element of the bilateral relationship, after talks with R.K. Pachauri, director general of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), a premier research body in India.
The additional $50 million for the research fund will begin from the financial year 2009-10 and be over the five years. It will complement $20 million that the Australian government has invested since 2006 to enable Australian scientists to engage in cutting-edge collaborative research with Indian scientists.
The Indian government reciprocated by agreeing to match Australia's increased investment in bilateral research projects.
The fund is already supporting 50 projects cutting across scientific disciplines, including astronomy, climate change and evolution, malaria vaccines, the impact of global warming on agriculture, water management, computing and biotechnology.
Energy cooperation has become an important area of cooperation between the two countries. The solar cooling research project, a joint project between Australian agency Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and TERI, aims to develop a zero emission solar cooling system for use in remote rural communities in un-electrified areas.
The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research will be supporting research into dry land farming in India with $20 million over five years.