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MEA’s Arindam Bagchi Clarifies on Australia India Institute

India has no say in decision-making of Australia India Institute, reports dragging envoy not accurate: MEA

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Noting that India’s missions routinely engage with various academic institutions and think tanks in Australia and other countries to deepen bilateral relations, the Ministry of External Affairs Ministry on Thursday termed as “not accurate” and “very unjustified” reports dragging India’s envoy in a matter related to Australia India Institute based in Melbourne.

Answering queries during a media briefing, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the institute was set up by the Australian government, in partnership with the University of Melbourne. It is funded entirely by the Australian Government.

He said the Indian government does not have any say in the decision making of this institute.

“I have seen some media reports on this, which are actually not accurate. I think there are two different aspects here. First, our missions and post routinely engage with various academic institutions and think tanks in Australia and elsewhere, in other countries, with the objective of deepening India’s relations with foreign countries, and promoting understanding between India and the foreign country,” he said.

Bagchi said the institute is funded entirely by the Australian Government and Australian institutions.

“I think the state of Victoria, as well as the University of Melbourne, are among the funding institutions. The Government of India does not fund the institute in any way. Nor does the Government of India have any say in the decision making of Australia-India Institute (AII). So the report that we saw dragging India or our High Commissioner to Australia into this is actually very unjustified,” he added.

He was asked about media reports that some academics from universities in Australia had resigned from their affiliation with AII over alleged interference and reluctance to discuss certain issues.

Referring to media reports that talk about academic freedom at the Institute are concerned, Bagchi said it is for the Australian authorities to respond.

“I do believe that the University of Melbourne has, and in fact, the officials of the Institute also have made their position clear on this. I don’t have anything to add on that,” he added.

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