Wednesday, May 04, 2011

India, Australia and Asia

On Radio National's Saturday Extra program, Geraldine Doogue has been presenting a series of special features on India. I have only caught snippets, but the bits I have heard have been interesting. Those who are interested can find the whole series here

Another interview with Professor Michael Wesley, head of the Lowy Institute, looks at Australia and the rise of Asia.I quote one excerpt:

In a new book called There Goes the Neighbourhood he explores a conundrum that fascinates him, that though Australia is enmeshed more than ever in the world, we seem to be less interested in the region around us. He calls us 'insular internationalists', and he's consulted the realm of psychology to try to probe some fresh answers.

I have commented before on what I see as a decline in Australian popular interest in Asia from a peak in the 1960s, a rise in Australian insularity.

Part of this is due simply, I think, to growing familiarity. At a time when most Australians are used to seeing a very mixed society around them, it is hard to envisage the fascination that Asia exercised at a time when it seemed so different; the differences fascinated.

In Travel, tubing and social change in Australia I spoke a little about the travel habits of young Australians. The things that motivated my daughters' generation in visiting Asia are very different from my reactions at the same age. Then among the growing number of younger Australians with Asian backgrounds, there were very few in the 1960s, the various Asian countries are simply part of their background life in somewhat the same way that Scotland is to me. Interesting and important, but more part of the furniture.

Mind you, there is one difference. I never saw England or Scotland as a place to go to make money! The return of younger Asian Australians to India and China in particular to take advantage of the new opportunities opening is a marked feature of modern Australian life.

It's all very interesting, at least to me!

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