Indians think Australia is dangerous but good place to study

MORE than 60% of Indians think Australia is a dangerous place for students from that country to study, a survey has found.

But the survey of more than 1200 Indian adults, conducted by the Lowy and Australia India institutes, also revealed 53% considered it be safer than it was three years ago when there was a number of highly-publicised attacks on Indian students.

Despite these reservations, 75% of those surveyed rated Australia as a good place to be educated, second only to the United States.

And just a tick under half considered Australia a "generally safe country".

Despite the bad press at home and abroad during 2009/10, the survey found Australia was generally well-liked in India.

Indians held relatively warm feelings towards Australia - 56 degrees on a scale of 0-100 - which ranked fourth after the United States (62), Singapore (58) and Japan (57) out of 22 countries in the survey, which was conducted late last year.

Rory Metcalf, the director of the Lowy Institute's International Security Program, described most of the results as "surprisingly positive".

"Most Indians surveyed seem to admire our society, governance and universities," said Mr Metcalfe, who authored the report stemming from the survey.

"But it is clear we can't be complacent about Australia's image or the welcome Indians receive in this country."

The poll also showed cricket-mad Indians thought the game was good for diplomacy between the countries.

Three-quarters of Indians said cricket projected a positive image of Australia, a positive image of India, and helped the two countries grow closer.

However, more than a third thought cricket sometimes caused friction between the countries.

In other findings, 63% of Indians surveyed saw Australia as a country well-disposed to India, 59% agreed the two countries had similar security interests, 60% saw Australia as a good supplier of energy and other resources and 57% thought it supplied good agricultural produce.

And, interestingly, seven in 10 Indians said the sale of uranium was important to Australia's relations with India, while only 5% thought it was not important.

The poll was conducted in seven languages across India's geographic regions and all levels of society and was part of a larger survey into Indian attitudes to the world, the results of which will be released next month.