|Interest in Australian studies in India is an incipient phenomenon. While the traditional approach has been to provide books to scholars interested in Australian literature through the Australia-India Council, a new beginning was made in early 1997 with the Australian Education International (then the Australian International Education Foundation) inviting scholars from different disciplines to deliberate upon the nature of Australian studies in India. It was agreed that the traditional focus on literature does not present a real perspective of Australian studies and that it was necessary to develop an inter-disciplinary approach.
This approach provided a major departure from past efforts and led to some initiatives in promoting Australian studies across disciplines. For instance, the Indira Gandhi National Open University agreed to introduce courses in Australian Literature, Australian Government and Politics and the Australian Education International organised a conference on 'Understanding Australia: Polity, Economy and Society'. The courses got introduced in 2001 after materials were designed and produced for the launch of these courses.
While academics met to discuss inputs for these courses, an awareness grew that in order to sustain and provide momentum to these initiatives, a platform was needed which could bring together scholars from different backgrounds to work for the promotion of Australian studies in India. It was observed that Australian studies has traditionally been practically synonymous with Australian literature and therefore the new term, 'Study of Australia' would be more appropriate to denote the new thrust and perspective.
It was against this background that a team of academics working in the field of Australian studies got together and decided to establish an independent association which could channel efforts to promote the study of Australia in India. The establishment of the 'Indian Association for the Study of Australia', IASA, by a group of scholars was a response to this felt need. The Association was formally launched at a conference organised by the Australian Education International in July 2000 at Shimla.
The Australia-India Council has been of invaluable help in this enterprise, giving generously of time, personnel and money in the Association's pursuit of its aims.
The objective of the Association is to promote the study of Australia in India through the organisation of conferences/symposia, dissemination of literature on various aspects of Australia and at the same time, work as an information hub for information on Australia. It plans to provide a composite body of data and names that would facilitate researchers and academics alike. The Association hopes to forge links between scholars in far-flung Universities and colleges in small towns in India, helping them to access material in their respective areas of the study of Australia.