Showing posts with label India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label India. Show all posts

16 October 2019

What’s India Doing in Russia’s Far East?

By Sudha Ramachandran

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia in early September saw the two sides sign several pacts in the fields of defense, nuclear energy, natural gas, maritime connectivity, and trade. India and Russia pledged to triple bilateral trade to $30 billion by 2025 and also signed a five-year roadmap for cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector.

However, it was India’s initiatives vis-à-vis the Russian Far East that was the highlight of Modi’s time in Russia. At the fifth summit of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) on September 4-6 in Vladivostok, Modi pledged a $1 billion Line of Credit for development of the Russian Far East.

A vast region, the Russian Far East stretches from Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake, to the Pacific Ocean and comprises roughly a third of Russia’s territory. Although it is rich in natural resources including minerals, hydrocarbons, timber and fish, it is an economically underdeveloped region. The region faces several challenges, including a harsh climate, sparse population, increasing outmigration, poor infrastructure and lacking connectivity. These have contributed to keeping the Russian Far East largely underdeveloped.

Behind the Second Modi-Xi Informal Summit, the Wuhan Spirit Is Fraying

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan
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The second informal summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to take place in Mamallapuram, a coastal town in south India from October 11-12. The meeting between the leaders of the two Asian giants will be closely watched, with consequences not only for their countries but the wider Indo-Pacific region and the world as well.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) made a formal announcement of the visit just a couple of days before the visit. The statement added that the agenda was discussing “issues of bilateral, regional and global importance and to exchange views on deepening India-China Closer Development Partnership.” The two sides appear to be setting expectations low, with good reason.

Prior to the announcement, the Indian media was full of speculation that the summit could even be cancelled. Despite the Wuhan Summit in 2017 and the so-called “Wuhan spirit,” India-China relations have been characterized by a growing number of disputes.

The most serious of these, at least from Delhi’s perspective, is the strengthening Chinese support for Pakistan. Just days before the summit, the Chinese ambassador in Pakistan, Yao Jing, expressed strong support for Pakistan’s position on the Kashmir dispute, saying, “We are also working for Kashmiris to help them get their fundamental rights and justice. There should be a justified solution to the issue of Kashmir and China will stand by Pakistan for regional peace and stability.” This was a red flag for India and led to India lodging a strong protest with China and seeking clarification on what appears to be a change in Beijing’s stated stand on Jammu and Kashmir.

China, India, Pakistan: Who’s really pulling the strings in Jammu and Kashmir?

Brahma Chellaney
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The media spotlight on India-Pakistan tensions over the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has helped obscure the role of a key third party, China, which occupies one-fifth of this Himalayan region. Kashmir is only a small slice of J&K, whose control is split among China, India and Pakistan.

Sino-Indian border tensions were exemplified by a reported September 11-12 clash between troops from the two countries in the eastern section of J&K, where Beijing’s territorial revisionism has persisted for more than six decades.

Meanwhile, ever since India revoked the statehood and autonomy of its part of J&K in August, Pakistan has stepped up its bellicose rhetoric, with military-backed Prime Minister Imran Khan vowing to “teach India a lesson” and promising a “fight until the end”. Khan has even raised the threat of nuclear war with India.

15 October 2019

The ‘India Question’ in Afghanistan

By Avinash Paliwal 

India welcomed the cancellation of U.S.-Afghan Taliban peace talks in Doha. In an expression of support for Kabul, which was ostracized from the talks, New Delhi asserted that any future process on the issue must include “all the sections of the Afghan society including the legitimately elected government.”

On the face of it, India reiterated a long-standing position of supporting Kabul against the Pakistan-sponsored Taliban. But what makes this position interesting is the fact that India’s relations with Kabul have undergone a shift since 2014.

When the Afghan government reached out to the Taliban in 2015, India viewed Afghan president Ashraf Ghani’s desire for talks as a “tilt” toward Pakistan, antithetical to India’s strategic interests. In response, New Delhi canceled high-level bilateral and multilateral engagements with Kabul. By early 2018, though, when Ghani made a similar overture and offered talks without any preconditions, India welcomed the move and sought international support for it. India’s support for the recent cancellation of further negotiations has more to do with its concern regarding Kabul’s exclusion than an aversion to talks with the Taliban.

Transboundary Environmental Stressors on India-Pakistan Relations

by Michelle E. Miro, Miriam Elizabeth Marlier, Richard S. Girven
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What is the status of shared air and water resources and transboundary environmental management practices in India and Pakistan?

What is the potential effect of planned hydropower facilities in India on water availability in Pakistan?

How does the transboundary transport of smoke from agricultural waste burning contribute to degraded air quality in both nations?

Which existing transboundary environmental practices are heightening tensions and which could mitigate water and air quality impacts?

During War Games, an Indian Diesel Submarine Sank a U.S. Nuclear Submarine

The Indian submarine INS Sindhudhvaj (S56) allegedly “killed” USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN 705) during an exercise called Malabar that is held annually between India, Japan and the United States. According to the Indians, the submarines were assigned to track each other down in the Bay of Bengal. “The way it happens is that the Sindhudhvaj recorded the Hydrophonic Effect (HE) - simply put, underwater noise - of the nuclear powered submarine and managed to positively identify it before locking on to it. Being an exercise what did not happen was the firing,” an Indian naval officer told India Today. The Indian vessel then “sank” USS City of Corpus Christi using 533mm torpedoes.

If the Indian description of the events is correct, it would be a bright spot in an otherwise dismal record for New Delhi’s undersea force. In recent years, the woefully neglected Indian submarine fleet has suffered numerous calamities. Submarines have run aground, caught fire and even sunk due to a combination of underinvestment, negligence and corruption. Perhaps the worst incident was when INS Sindhurakshak sank when at harbor in Mumbai after a series of explosions in the forward torpedo bay, killing eighteen sailors.

What Will Xi and Modi Really Talk About?



Less formal summits, such as these, are designed to offer space for the two leaders to engage in candid conversations to develop a deeper understanding for each other, unencumbered by administrative formalities. For Modi, three broad objectives stand out.

First, he is expected to reinforce that administrative changes within the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir are an internal matter for India. On August 5, 2019, the Indian government passed a presidential order to make changes to Article 370 of the Indian constitution, a provision that gave Jammu and Kashmir special status. In the middle of August, the Chinese Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) called for a closed-door Security Council meeting to discuss the changes. This has, without a doubt, irked the Indian leadership. Chinese officials, both in Beijing and elsewhere, had been briefed in detail about the changes and were told that these changes had no effect on India’s external borders. Making sure that Xi appreciates and absorbs India’s position in full will be of paramount importance for the Indian prime minister.

Second, Xi and Modi meet at a time of shifting geopolitical realities. China-Russian ties grow stronger by the day, while there is little to cement fraying U.S.-China relations. What is increasingly clear is that the trade war between the United States and China is only a symptom of a new normal that licenses unfettered geostrategic competition. While Indian officials search for opportunities to leverage these geopolitical cracks—such as the possibility of shifting U.S. supply chains from China to India—it will be left to Modi to assess the extent to which Xi’s China is prepared to accommodate, if not accept, Indian interests and concerns. There is no better time than the present to press Xi. China is very clearly reeling from the United States’ combative methods.

What India's extraordinary growth and future can teach global leaders

If the 19th century can be characterized by the rise of industrialization and the 20th century by the expansion of the market economy and globalization, the defining characteristics of the 21st century are dramatic and pervasive transformations and a shift from unipolarity towards multipolarity.

Triggered by disruptive technological change, the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has led to fundamental changes in the nature and structure of the economy. With significant redistribution of the level, location and composition of output, our organizations are more global and interconnected than ever. A hastening erosion of trust in extant political frameworks and institutions is driving human societies to be more isolated and divergent. Concurrently, the ecological challenges and climate crisis have never been more existential. In a nutshell, in a fragile world order, the need for a cohesive leadership arrangement to drive positive change is conspicuous in its absence.

14 October 2019

'India-US relationship could get worse'

'If we cannot conclude a trade deal, both sides are likely to take trade actions that will further impair our government-to-government ties.'

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra D Modi and United States President Donald J Trump meet on the sidelines of the United Nations general assembly session in New York, September 24, 2019. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

"There is a real chance our (India-US) relationship could get worse, at least in the near-term," Richard Rossow -- who holds the Wadhwani Chair in US-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the respected Washington, DC think-tank -- tells's Archana Masih.

Balakot, China ‘incursions’ prove OSINT images are new threat for democracies and military


With widely and easily available open-source intelligence today, basic information about military intent and movements, strategies and tactics is just a click away. Despite the various names used for it, this kind of intelligence is as old as warfare itself. But the internet, particularly the social media, poses a new challenge for democracies and militaries.

Governments and the military disseminate information to highlight successes and cover-up failures and, at times, even indulge in deception and disinformation. Social media delights in shattering the credibility of this information using open-source intelligence (OSINT). The adversary also uses OSINT to discredit governments. In India, OSINT was in the news during the Balakot strikes and the air skirmishes that followed on 26 and 27 February.

OSINT and multiple versions 

OSINT has been the primary source of basic intelligence with respect to a target country and its armed forces. Its collection and collation are a long-term process. Based on this data bank, intelligence resources are deployed to collect specific information to decide when, where and how the threat will manifest.

13 October 2019

India’s Quest for Jobs: A Policy Agenda



The Indian economy is riding the wave of a youth bulge, with two-thirds of the country’s population below age thirty-five. The 2011 census estimated that India’s 10–15 and 10–35 age groups comprise 158 million and 583 million people, respectively.1 By 2020, India is expected to be the youngest country in the world, with a median age of twenty-nine, compared to thirty-seven for the most populous country, China.2 In the 2019 general elections, the estimated number of first-time voters was 133 million.3 Predictably, political parties scrambled to attract youth voters.4

It is therefore not surprising that, according to several surveys, the parties’ primary concern was job creation.5 The burgeoning youth population has led to an estimated 10–12 million people entering the workforce each year.6 In addition, the rapidly growing economy is transitioning away from the agricultural sector, with many workers moving into secondary and tertiary sectors. Employing this massive supply of labor is, perhaps, the biggest challenge facing India—at the very least, it requires high economic growth for the next three decades. Further, this growth must be sustainable, broad-based, and focused on creating new jobs. 


This monograph examines the potential characteristics of a future conflict between nuclear-armed adversaries based on the only two historical cases of direct conflict between nuclear powers: the 1969 Sino-Soviet War and the 1999 Kargil War between India and Pakistan. These wars suggest five key characteristics of conflicts between two nuclear powers: first, nuclear confrontations are risky and difficult to control; second, information operations and the international community have a significant impact on the outcome; third, military leaders will probably encourage escalation; fourth, military operations will face severe political and strategic constraints; and fifth, horizontal escalation is significantly more destabilizing in conflicts than vertical escalation. Based on these characteristics, current U.S. Army doctrine and concepts are ill-suited for future war against nuclear-armed competitors because the risk of escalation will require significant political and strategic constraints and because future operations should remain extremely limited in size and scope.

India must resist China’s Tibet plan

Amitabh Mathur

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to arrive soon for his second informal meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The coming summit is taking place in the backdrop of important developments on which the two countries have taken confronting stands.

While China advised restraint on rising tensions with Pakistan following the Pulwama and Balakot episodes, it has openly criticised India on the recent constitutional and administrative changes in Jammu and Kashmir. It reiterated its claim on all of Ladakh, stating the changes violated China’s territorial integrity which it would not “idly watch”. It supported Pakistan in the United Nations and has additionally objected to the army exercise currently underway in Arunachal Pradesh, which it claims as its own. So, apart from the usual irritants in bilateral relations such as the border dispute and trade imbalance, not much progress is expected on the traditional faultlines in Sino-Indian relations.

12 October 2019

Prime Minister Khan threatens nuclear jihad over Kashmir

By Shak Hill 

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since the 1947 partition created the two states; two of the three were over Kashmir. None of those wars occurred when either country possessed nuclear weapons. 

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the United Nations on Sept. 29 and threatened to change that. Mr. Khan took the 15 minutes of speaking time allotted him and went nearly an hour, using the entire speech to speak of “jihad” over Kashmir and rail against his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Nehendra Modi

“Jihad” is not a word the world wants to hear from a man atop a self-described Islamic republic that owns more than 100 nuclear weapons. 

Mr. Modi is on a strong run. He was re-elected this past spring in a landslide. He has made significant changes regarding Kashmir’s status under the Indian constitution, changes which the Western media mostly misread or label “annexation.” He also addressed the United Nations the same morning as Mr. Khan, and spoke on Kashmir as well. Prior to the U.N. address, Mr. Modi visited Houston, Texas.

The NRC and India’s Unfinished Partition

By Grant Wyeth

Over the past six years the Indian state of Assam has been scrutinizing the citizenship status of each of its 33 million residents. The goal of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has been to identify those people residing in the state who can be designated Indian, and those who the government would prefer to identify as Bangladeshi. At the end of August the final list was published with 1.9 million people in the state unable to prove their Indian citizenship. Yet due to the complicated cultural, political, and structural forces of South Asia’s history, being able to clearly define exactly who is an Indian is not such an easy task. In attempting to do so, the NRC process instead highlighted the persistent complications of the 1947 partition of India, and brought to the fore an ideological struggle over Indian nationhood.

In order to fulfil the requirements of the NRC, the people of Assam were asked to prove their presence — or that of their ancestors — in Assam or in any part of India on or before March 24, 1971. The date chosen is one day before East Pakistan declared its independence and the civil war between East and West Pakistan began. The war was concluded that December, with East Pakistan formally changing its name to Bangladesh on January 11, 1972. It is believed that many people crossed into Indian territory during and following the war.

India and Russia: Connecting Eurasia And The Indo-Pacific


Last week, Narendra Modi was the first Indian prime minister to visit Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok. He was there to attend the 20th India-Russia Annual Summit followed by the fifth Eastern Economic Forum (EEF), in which he was the chief guest. During the visit, the sides announced a slew of bilateral deals. 

These ranged from expanding cooperation in military technology and civil nuclear energy — for which Russia is India’s foremost partner — to hydrocarbons, mining and space, among other areas.

Most significantly, the countries signed a joint statement that recognized Greater Eurasia and the “regions of the Indian and Pacific Oceans” as forming part of a common space and agreed to intensify consultations on complementarities between their respective integration initiatives. 

The special and privileged strategic partnership between India and Russia now spans across both Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific.

The first is a mutual recognition of converging interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Government’s Corporate Tax Move is Bold. But There is a Fiscal Risk


Private consumption, the engine of the economy that had been firing most consistently in recent years, is losing steam. Two other engines — investments and exports — seem to be slowing down again after a brief period of robust activity. The result is 5% growth.

To boost growth, the government, on Friday, decided to risk the only engine of the tax system that has performed lately — corporate tax. In 2018-19, the actual collection (provisional) of corporate tax was Rs 6.63 lakh crore, against the budgeted Rs 6.21 lakh crore. The collections under other major taxes were much lower than budgeted.

The government’s finances have been under pressure. Tax collections have not grown at expected rates. To meet the fiscal deficit target, the government has pushed a lot of borrowing off-budget, making government agencies borrow more. It has also allowed the National Small Savings Fund to lend to a number of government agencies. Most of household financial savings in India now go towards financing the government and its agencies.

Suyash Rai is a fellow at Carnegie India. His research focuses on the political economy of economic reforms, and the performance of public institutions in India.

11 October 2019

India’s Space Power: Revisiting the Anti-Satellite Test

Against the backdrop of former U.S. president Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars program, Satish Dhawan, a pioneer of the Indian space program, observed that time would tell whether Indian activities in space would remain exclusively civilian and pacifist.1 Around three decades later, on March 27, 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised the world with his announcement that India had become the fourth country to conduct an anti-satellite (ASAT) missile test (after the United States, Russia, and China). The test on March 27 was preceded by an unsuccessful one in February; but that doesn’t eclipse the significance of the exercise. Only three publicly recorded ASAT tests have been conducted since the end of the Cold War, and, arguably (the possession of latent capabilities notwithstanding), it is the actual testing of a technology that represents a salient transformation in a country’s capabilities.

Dubbed “Mission Shakti” (shakti denotes “power” in Sanskrit), the test entailed launching a ballistic missile into outer space to destroy an Indian satellite located about 300 kilometers above the earth’s surface, in low earth orbit (LEO)—which ranges between 80 kilometers and 2,400 kilometers above the earth’s surface, depending on contrasting definitions. The direct-ascent missile destroyed the satellite kinetically, in under three minutes, by the sheer impact of the collision rather than a warhead-induced explosion. India reportedly adapted its missile defense interceptor, the Prithvi Defense Vehicle Mark-II, into an ASAT weapon, making it the third country to demonstrate the capability for a direct-ascent kinetic kill.2 Though its technological antecedents have been engendered through the ballistic missile defense program since 2006, recent global and regional dynamics arguably catalyzed Mission Shakti. The ineluctable questions now revolve around the mission’s intentions, impact, utility, and potential next steps.

ISRO Scientist Assassinated In Hyderabad – OpEd

An ISRO scientist was recently found assassinated in Hyderabad. A native of Kerala, the scientist had been living in Hyderabad for 20 years. His wife was also working in the city but was transferred to Chennai in 2005. Their son is settled in the US, while the daughter lives in New Delhi.

A scientist with the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was on Tuesday found murdered in his apartment, police said.

S Suresh, 56, was allegedly killed by unknown persons at his flat at Annapurna Apartment in Ameerpet area in the heart of the city. Suresh, a native of Kerala, was alone in his flat. When he did not report to the office on Tuesday, his colleagues called him on his mobile number. As there was no response, they alerted his wife Indira, who is a bank employee in Chennai.

Suresh’s wife along with some other family members rushed to Hyderabad and approached the police. They broke open the flat to find Suresh lying dead. Police suspect that he was hit on the head with a heavy object, resulting in his death. The body was shifted for autopsy. Senior police officials visited the scene and a team gathered clues. They said they were scanning the CCTV footage of the apartment complex to probe the case.

A Brief History of India’s Relationship with the People’s Republic of China


The image of China in Indian minds has evolved and changed over the past seven decades. China has been perceived in many ways by many different audiences in India. At the risk of oversimplification, there have been three phases in which China’s image has changed and evolved.


The first phase lasted for a decade, from the founding of the PRC in 1949 to 1959. During these years, India regarded China as a fellow Asian country that had emerged from imperial control and stood ready to craft a new future. Although the political systems of the two countries were rather different, many Indians—including the top political leadership—believed that the countries had lots of avenues for cooperation and learning. This honeymoon period came to a close in 1959, when the border dispute came to the fore and the Dalai Lama fled Lhasa, Tibet, to take refuge in India.