Grants to further Australia-India research collaborations

La Trobe University academics Professor Bec Strating and Professor Lauren Rickards were awarded $330,000 from the Centre for Australia India Relations inaugural Maitri Scholarship and Fellowships programs, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

This funding will allow two Maitri fellows, Ambika Vishwanath and Dr Chandni Singh, to spend time at La Trobe University researching climate security and adaptation. The La Trobe Maitri Fellows were two of seven chosen by the Centre to undertake research projects exploring Australia’s shared geostrategic and economic future, including in maritime security, responding to climate change, secure supply chains, and closer regional cooperation.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong announced the funding at the Centre’s launch in Sydney on May 20.

Senator Wong said working more closely with our Indian-Australian communities – our fastest growing diaspora – meant we could better respond to a diverse and evolving India.

“The Maitri Scholars and Fellows will also contribute to a broader and deeper understanding of the Australia India relationship, our shared interests and our shared challenges, while fostering life-long connections,” Senator Wong said.

Ambika Vishwanath, Director of Kubernein Initiative, will spend 15 months at La Trobe Asia investigating enhanced climate and security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. Director of La Trobe Asia, Professor Strating said the La Trobe Asia team was delighted to welcome Ambika to the university.

“We have a long track record of valuable collaboration with Ambika and Kubernein Initiative in areas of climate security and feminist foreign policy,” Professor Strating said. “This long-term Maitri fellowship will deepen our research cooperation on critical environmental and security issues and provide new opportunities for productive policy engagement in Australia and across the Asian region.”

Dr Chandni Singh, from the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, will spend five weeks working in the La Trobe Climate Change Adaptation Lab in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Director of the Climate Change Adaptation Lab, Professor Rickards, said her Lab was thrilled to have the chance to work with Chandni, a colleague from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Chandni and I have designed this research to help strengthen the Australia-India relationship and advance climate adaptation capability in each country,” Professor Rickards said.

“Drawing together a new group of like-minded scholars and policy makers, we will explore how emerging connections between our two countries are increasingly threatened by climate change – think, for example, of trade links and student migration flows – and how cooperative adaptation could protect these valuable links. The recent work on climate change risks and adaptation by the Australian Government only underlines how relevant and timely this analysis and policy engagement will be.”

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