India's strategic implications, challenges, opportunities and quest for great power status

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The Conversation
(from Australian perspective)


The economics of countries in the Indian Ocean region are rapidly growing. from shutterstock.com
Why the Indian Ocean region might soon play a lead role in world affairs
In recent days, Australia’s foreign minister Marise Payne announced efforts to strengthen Australia’s involvement in the Indian Ocean region, and the importance of working with India in defence and other activities. Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue in Delhi – a geopolitical conference co-hosted by the Indian government – Payne said:

Our respective futures are intertwined and heavily dependent on how well we cooperate on the challenges and opportunities in the Indian Ocean in the decades ahead.

Among Payne’s announcements was A$25 million for a four-year infrastructure program in South Asia (The South Asia Regional Infrastructure Connectivity initiative, or SARIC), which will primarily focus on the transport and energy sectors.

She also pointed to increasing defence activities in the Indian Ocean, noting that in 2014, Australia and India had conducted 11 defence activities together, with the figure reaching 38 in 2018.

Read more: Government report provides important opportunity to rethink Australia's relationship with India

Payne’s speech highlights the emergent power of the Indian Ocean region in world affairs. The region comprises the ocean itself and the countries that border it. These include Australia, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Madagascar, Somalia, Tanzania, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

In terms of global political significance, the Atlantic Ocean can be viewed as the ocean of our grandparents and parents; the Pacific Ocean as the ocean of us and our children; and the Indian Ocean as the ocean of our children and grandchildren.

There is an obvious sense in which the region is the future. The average age of people in the region’s countries is under 30, compared to 38 in the US and 46 in Japan. The countries bordering the Indian Ocean are home to 2.5 billion people, which is one-third of the world’s population.



The countries in the Indian Ocean region host a wide variety of races, cultures, and religions. from shutterstock.com
But there is also a strong economic and political logic to spotlighting the Indian Ocean as a key emerging region in world affairs and strategic priority for Australia.

Some 80% of the world’s maritime oil tradeflows through three narrow passages of water, known as choke points, in the Indian Ocean. This includes the Strait of Hormuz – located between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman – which provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean.

The economies of many Indian Ocean countries are expanding rapidly as investors seek new opportunities. Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and Tanzania witnessed economic growth in excess of 5% in 2017 – well above the global average of 3.2%.

India is the fastest growing major economyin the world. With a population expected to become the world’s largest in the coming decades, it is also the one with the most potential.



The strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most strategically important choke points. from shutterstock.com
Politically, the Indian Ocean is becoming a pivotal zone of strategic competition. China is investing hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure projects across the region as part of its One Belt One Road initiative.

For instance, China gave Kenya a US$3.2 billion loan to construct a 470 kilometre railway (Kenya’s biggest infrastructure project in over 50 years) linking the capital Nairobi to the Indian Ocean port city of Mombasa.

Chinese state-backed firms are also investing in infrastructure and ports in Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Bangladesh. Western powers, including Australia and the United States, have sought to counter-balance China’s growing influence across the region by launching their own infrastructure funds – such as the US$113 million US fund announced last August for digital economy, energy, and infrastructure projects.

In security terms, piracy, unregulated migration, and the continued presence of extremist groups in Somalia, Bangladesh and parts of Indonesia pose significant threats to Indian ocean countries.

Countries in the region need to collaborate to build economic strength and address geopolitical risks, and there is a logical leadership role for India, being the largest player in the region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the Shangri La Dialogue in June, 2008:

The Indo-Pacific is a natural region. It is also home to a vast array of global opportunities and challenges. I am increasingly convinced with each passing day that the destinies of those of us who live in the region are linked.

More than previous Indian Prime Ministers, Modi has travelled up and down the east coast of Africa to promote cooperation and strengthen trade and investment ties, and he has articulated strong visions of India-Africa cooperative interest.



China financed Kenya’s biggest infrastructure project in over 50 years – a railway running from Nairobi to the port city of Mombasa. DANIEL IRUNGU/EPA
Broader groups are also emerging. In 1997, nations bordering the Bay of Bengal established the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), which works to promote trade links and is currently negotiating a free trade agreement. Australia, along with 21 other border states, is a member of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) which seeks to promote sustainable economic growth, trade liberalisation and security.

But, notwithstanding India’s energy and this organisational growth, Indian Ocean cooperation is weak relative to Atlantic and Pacific initiatives.



Read more: Cooperation is key to securing maritime security in the Indian Ocean



Australia’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paperseeks to support IORA in areas such as maritime security and international law. Private organisations, such as the Minderoo Foundation, are doing impressive research – as part of the Flourishing Oceans intiative– on the migration of sea life in an effort to advance environmental sustainability and conservation.

But Australia could focus more on how to promote the Indian Ocean. In Australia’s foreign affairs circles, there used to be a sense Asia stopped at Malta. But it seems the current general understanding of the “Indo-Pacific” extends west only as far as India.

What this misses – apart from the historical relevance and contemporary economic and political significance of the Indian Ocean region generously defined – is the importance of the ocean itself.

Not just important for trade and ties
If the Ocean was a rainforest, and widely acknowledged as a repository of enormous biodiversity, imagine the uproar at its current contamination and the clamour around collaborating across all countries bordering the ocean to protect it.

The reefs, mangroves, and marine species that live in the Ocean are under imminent threat. According to some estimates, the Indian Ocean is warming three times fasterthan the Pacific Ocean .

Overfishing, coastal degradation, and pollution are also harming the ocean. This could have catastrophic implications for the tens of millions of fishermen dependent on the region’s marine resources and the enormous population who rely on the Indian Ocean for their protein.

Australia must continue to strengthen its ties in the region - such as with India and Indonesia - and also build new connections, particularly in Africa.
 
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View: India in the Islamic world
Without naming Pak Sushma Swaraj called upon the world to tell the states who provided shelter and funding to the terrorists to dismantle the infrastructure of the terror outfits on their soil.
India has brought in clarity on Iran by not linking our approach to that country with our relations with other Muslim countries.
By D.C. Pathak
Amidst the ongoing repercussions of the punitive air strike made by the Indian Air Force to take out the training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) at Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, the address of India's External Affairs Minister - Sushma Swaraj - at the Foreign Ministers conference of OIC at Abu Dhabi on March 1 was an event of extraordinary significance for the geopolitics of South Asia, the future of India-Pakistan relations and the so-called Islamic world itself.
The Crown Prince of UAE hosting the meet had invited India's External Affairs Minister to be the guest of honour at the inaugural day of the OIC meet and thus for the first time put the stamp of official recognition on India's association with the Islamic block - even as India did not have an Observer's status yet. Brief attempts made by our diplomats in the Cold War Era to secure that position on the ground that India had the second largest Muslim population in the world, had been successfully thwarted by Pakistan. But this time around the UAE, apparently in consultation with OIC Chairman Saudi Arabia, rejected Pakistan's objection to the very presence of India at the OIC.
This resulted in Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan's Foreign Minister, registering his 'protest' by skipping the meet and sending his juniors there to represent the country. This was a new situation that Pakistan faced - as a founder member of OIC - at a time when India had militarily challenged it on the issue of cross-border terrorism. It is enough for India, which is not an 'Islamic' country, that we were able to present at the OIC platform India's stand against the new terror fomented from the soil of Pakistan in the name of religion.
In her address, which was noted for its boldness and finesse, Sushma Swaraj raised the issue of terrorism upfront and pointed out how the menace was caused by 'distortion of religion' and emphasised how in India Muslims and non-Muslims practised their respective beliefs and lived in harmony. She specially thanked UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh but went on to name a whole lot of Muslim countries of West Asia, North Africa and South East Asia with whom India, with its resurgent economy, was developing bilateral relations. She talked of 'indispensable strategic and security partnership and a natural economic collaboration with the Gulf countries' but also declared that India shared 'civilisational and cultural links with Iran' whose partnership with India was something vital for 'stability and prosperity in our region'.
Without naming Pakistan Sushma Swaraj called upon the world to tell the states who provided shelter and funding to the terrorists to dismantle the infrastructure of the terror outfits on their soil. She did well to counter the 'exclusivism' of Islamic extremists by referring to the Indian approach to religion that maintained that 'God is one though He was described by many names'. The base of indoctrination of Mujahideen lay in the fundamentalist line of Islamic radicals and extremists that 'there was no God save Allah' and that the political decline of Islam was to be attributed to the 'deviation' of Muslims from the puritanic Islam that existed in the days of the Pious Caliphs. It is the faith-based motivation that was producing Fidayeen and it is to be seen if OIC would muster courage to pronounce that in today's times Jehad was not the answer to any political problem.
One cannot be sanguine about this. India's strategists have to factor in the more pronounced crosscurrents that are operating in the Islamic world at present. The US-led 'war on terror' targeted Islamic radicals of the Al Qaeda-Taliban combine - and later of ISIS - who all carried the legacy of the anti-West Jehad that the Ulema of the 19th century led by Abdul Wahab had conducted unsuccessfully against 'the Western encroachment on Muslim lands'.
The withdrawal of the Soviet army from Afghanistan gave the radicals a chance to establish an Islamic Emirate at Kabul in 1996 with full backing of Pakistan. Meanwhile, OIC had built an Islamic movement with large funding from Saudi Arabia that also rested on adherence to fundamentalism and aimed at countering the influence of Communism much to the delight of the US. Pakistan, a key member of OIC, housed not only the Islamic radicals of Al Qaeda and Taliban but also the Islamic extremists of Jamaat-e-Islami's Hizbul Mujahideen and Maulana Hafiz Sayeed's Lashkare Toiba. The latter were easily available to Pakistan for being channelised by its agencies against India on the Kashmir front.
When 9/11 tested Pakistan for leading the fight against Islamic radicals on its soil it hoodwinked the US by just pretending to be active against Al Qaeda and Taliban, the same group it had put in power in Afghanistan. Before 9/11, Pakistan had no problem with radicals. It needed all militant groups as its strategic assets to run its proxy war against India. This is precisely what Pakistan is doing now. It feels encouraged by the US dependence on Pakistan's potential to mediate with the Taliban for a negotiated settlement at Kabul.
There is convergence between Saudi Arabia, UAE and the US against Islamic radicals who considered the US their prime enemy and who were also inimical to the Saudis for the latter's identification with the Americans. The 'war on terror' has thus created a division in the Muslim world because large sections of it are not ready to side with the US or condemn Islamic radicals. In India, the influential Darul Uloom Deoband known for its hold on Sunnis, claims nationalist credentials but is firmly against the West. It is in this context that India raising its voice at OIC against all groups indulging in terrorism in the name of Islam is a diplomatic success even though it is doubtful if it would give us any leverage against Pakistan on that platform.
India cannot be happy with the hostile pronouncements of OIC on Kashmir - a resolution surfaced 'condemning the atrocities and human rights violations by India' in the state, denouncing 'mass blindings' inflicted by security forces on protesting youth and, what is worse, charging Indian occupation forces with 'escalating' ceasefire violations on the LOC. It called upon member states to contribute funds for humanitarian assistance to Kashmiri people. OIC voiced Pakistan's line that Kashmir was the 'core issue' between India and Pakistan and that its resolution was a must for establishing peace in South Asia. It welcomed Prime Minister Imran Khan's offer of talks with India. India has, in a prompt rejoinder, declared that J&K is an integral part of India and is a matter 'strictly internal' to India. It seems Pakistan continues to have its way against India as far as the forum of OIC is concerned. We must seek a response from Saudi Arabia, as OIC Chairman, reiterating that Pakistan must take action against terror outfits operating on its soil as was being demanded by the US as well.
India has brought in clarity on Iran by not linking our approach to that country with our relations with other Muslim countries. India has to stay away from the extreme hostility that always existed between the Sunni fundamentalist states like Saudi Arabia and UAE and the Shia regime of Ayatollahs in Iran - reflecting the historical legacy of the Kharijite revolt against Caliph Ali. India has rightly dealt with every nation bilaterally regardless of the Shia-Sunni divide that prevails in the Muslim world. Incidentally, both Islamic radicals and Shia fundamentalists regard the US as their enemy for their own political and ideological reasons respectively. India's foreign policy will have to reckon with this.
Our stand is basically against injection of violence into national and international politics in the name of religion. India's deep military strike against the JeM training camp at Balkot in Pakistan is hastening the process of the world beginning to realise the danger of faith-based terror arising from within the Islamic world. It is, therefore, a matter of great satisfaction for India that we have carried a message against this kind of violence right to the apex of the 56-member Islamic block itself. This vindicates India's role as a frontline leader of the democratic world engaged in fighting terrorists across the Islamic spectrum as a matter of principled strategy.
(The writer is a former Director Intelligence Bureau)
 
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Time for integrated Info War force
photo for representational purposes only
As major militaries across the world evolve into networked ‘systems of systems’ (SoS), they are increasingly seeing the establishment of information dominance as a precursor to gaining pre-eminence in the more traditional warfighting domains of air, land or sea. Information dominance is understood as the denial to the enemy of the use of information-related capabilities as leveraged through the commons of space, cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) while ensuring access to the same for friendly forces.
Moreover, since the use of information warfare (IW) techniques can span peacetime, crisis and conflict, IW is also emerging as a preferred tool for grey-zone coercion in a world characterised by inter-State competition that seeks to stay below the threshold of conventional war.
Given that IW is currently offensive-dominant, in that it is much easier to attack the enemy’s networks than to defend one’s own, it is imperative that India not delay the setting up of a dedicated professional IW force that reflects the current melding of IW capabilities taking place by consolidating computer network operations (CNO), electronic warfare (EW) and space operations under a single umbrella, instead of instituting separate space and cyber defence agencies as is reportedly being considered by the government.
The revolution in military affairs has matured into an era of SoS warfare that has brought in its wake new vulnerabilities, given the dependence on command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) networks. The disruption or destruction of these networks is therefore now a prime objective for any warfighting campaign. This is why the world’s major militaries have been setting up professional warfighting capability in information-related domains.
While the US set up Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) in 2009 for the ostensible purpose of proactively counteracting cyberattacks against it, the Pentagon now aims at attaining information dominance. The components of USCYBERCOM, drawn from each of the services, reflect the melding of IW capabilities. For instance, the Tenth Fleet, which is the US Navy’s contribution to USCYBERCOM, has cyber, EW as well as some space-based capabilities under its ambit.
Importantly, space operations are now regularly referred to as an information warfare arena in US military literature even though space operations currently fall under the purview of the US Strategic Command.
With the creation of the People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Force (PLASSF) as an independent branch that integrates China’s strategic-level cyber, EW and space capabilities, some in China believe that their country has gone a step ahead of the US in terms of organisational innovation in IW by removing redundancies and enabling the generation of synergistic effects, which are not possible if IW capabilities ‘owned’ by different armed services are merely integrated together in a joint command, as is the case with USCYBERCOM.
Instead, the PLASSF has independent IW capabilities under a streamlined structure that works with various PLA services for integrated joint operations. And though the PLASSF currently draws its cadre from existing services, its personnel already wear distinct signifiers on their uniforms and it is a matter of time before it becomes a full service in the Chinese military.
Importantly, while both USCYBERCOM and the PLASSF look to destroy the enemy’s ‘ability to fight’ by attacking C4ISR networks, they can also be used to dent the enemy’s ‘will to fight’ through offensive IW against critical infrastructure and economic targets. Such capabilities can prove useful for grey-zone coercion in support of other strategic objectives.
Obviously, ‘force calibration’ is a major concern for such operations since civilian groups have a tendency to ‘join in’ and magnify effects to a point where they might cross the enemy’s threshold. The PLASSF, with its mandate for ‘civil military integration’, therefore seeks to draw domestic civilian entities capable of computer network operations into its own command and control structure.
Components of USCYBERCOM, of course, have a number of civilians on their rolls who prove useful for ‘red teaming’, etc. Close cooperation with their civilian sectors has also been identified in both the US and China as the key to helping their militaries leverage technologies such as artificial intelligence, deep learning, big data, etc., for the IW capabilities of tomorrow.
India has reportedly studied the development of USCYBERCOM closely, but it should perhaps take a leaf out of the PLASSF’s book and consolidate cyber and space capabilities under a single Information Defence Agency (IDA).
Moreover, while right now the idea might be to put IW capabilities under a joint command structure, technological trends suggest that it would be better if this proposed IDA gets its own independent budget and dedicated cadre. Such an IDA will be in a position to prepare India for a time when war will not just be information-led but information-dominant.
(The writer is a New Delhi-based commentator on security and energy issues)
 
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What India’s Expanded Security Architecture Looks Like
Nitin A. Gokhale
New Delhi 16 April 2019
Twenty years ago today, India’s National Security Council Secretariat or NSCS came into existence through a Cabinet Resolution.
Two decades since making a modest beginning by occupying just half a floor of the Sardar Patel Bhawan on Parliament street, the NSCS has expanded both in its influence and physically too, to spread itself across the entire five storey building as it begins its 21st year of existence.
Just as its physical presence has grown so has its budget. From a measly Rs 39.9 crore (actual expenditure) in 2016-17, its budget was increased to Rs 333.58 crore in 2017-18 although it could spend only Rs 168 crore at the end of the financial year 2017-18. However, for the financial year 2018-19 it has again been allotted Rs 303.83 crore.
Appointment of two more deputy national security advisers, as opposed to just one in the earlier structure, is part of a major restructuring. Accordingly, former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) Rajinder Khanna will look after external and technical intelligence matters, Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer and former Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran is entrusted with handling diplomatic affairs and RN Ravi, former Intelligence Bureau officer and interlocutor for Naga talks, has been assigned to oversee internal security matters. Ravi was Chairman of Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) until he was re-designated Deputy National Security Adviser. Khanna and Saran were already Deputy NSAs.
The three Deputy NSAs will now widen the scope and responsibility of the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), which works directly under National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval, arguably Prime Minister Modi’s closest confidant on foreign and security policies. Doval, a former career intelligence officer—like Ravi and Khanna—has been NSA and Special Representative for talks with China since 2014. His remit has steadily increased since then. With increase in its mandate, the NSCS will likely need more funds in coming years.
Along with the division of responsibility in the NSCS, the government has reconstituted the Strategic Policy Group (SPG), a body that has existed since 1999 (appointed by the Vajpayee government a month before the Kargil conflict began). It was earlier headed by the Cabinet Secretary. In a partial but significant amendment to the original Office Memorandum, the SPG will now be led by the NSA, with the Cabinet Secretary and Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog becoming members of the group. Like in its earlier avatar, it will also have the three service chiefs, the intelligence chiefs, secretaries of defence, home, finance, atomic energy, defence research and development, revenue, space, and governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as members. The NSA will have the power to co-opt any other official and department as and when needed while the Cabinet Secretary will ensure coordination and implementation of decisions taken by the SPG.
 
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PM Narendra Modi says he called Pak's nuclear bluff because India has nuclear bombs
At a campaign rally at Surendranagar, Modi referred to the surgical strikes and air strikes by India inside Pakistan in response to terrorist attacks in Uri and Pulwama.
Modi also slammed the Congress for seeking proof of action against terrorists.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday said he did not fall prey to Pakistan's nuclear blackmail, because India has the "mother of nuclear bombs".
Addressing three poll rallies in his home state, Modi also claimed that the then UPA government arrested BJP president Amit Shah and some police officers in Gujarat to topple the state government then headed by him.
At a campaign rally at Surendranagar, Modi referred to the surgical strikes and air strikes by India inside Pakistan in response to terrorist attacks in Uri and Pulwama.
"Earlier, terrorists from Pakistan would come here and go back after conducting an attack. Pakistan would threaten us, saying it has the nuclear bomb and will press the button (if India retaliated).
"We have nuclear of nuclear bombs (the mother of nuclear bombs). I decided to tell them, do whatever you want to do (but we will retaliate)," the prime minister said.
"In the past our people would weep, go around the world saying Pakistan did this, did that....It is now Pakistan's turn to weep.
"Didn't our jawans kill them by entering their houses? Shall we not kill them by entering their houses? Shall we not take revenge for our martyred soldiers?" he asked the large crowd which replied in the positive.
"Today is Mahavir Jayanti, the day to observe peace. But when shall we have peace? Will anyone listen to a weak man making an appeal for peace or to the warning of a strong man who can flex his mussels? Only the peace appeal of a strong man will be respected, not that of a weak person," Modi said.
He also alleged that the Congress spoke ill of the armed forces.
"You must have seen how the character of the Congress party has changed in this election. The way the Congress spreads lies, and questions the country's military, saying its seniors are street goons, the Air Force chief is a liar...If you say something like this, will it not make Pakistan happy?" he said.
Modi also slammed the Congress for seeking proof of action against terrorists.
"When we conducted the surgical strike, Congress questioned us. When we conducted the air strike, it asked for proof. Do you (Congress) trust your own sons or Pakistan's rhetoric?" the prime minister said.
Earlier, speaking at a poll rally in Himmatnagar, Modi said the then UPA government arrested BJP president Amit Shah and some police officers in Gujarat to topple the state government then headed by him.
Modi also said this election will decide if nationalist forces will rule the country or those who want to help the "tukde tukde gang" by scrapping sedition law.
"From 2004 to 2014, there was a 'remote control government' and you know who was in control. In those 10 years, those sitting in Delhi tried to damage the interest of Gujarat and acted as if the state is not in India," Modi said.
"Our police officers, and even Amit Shah, were thrown behind bars. They (UPA) employed all means to break the Gujarat government," Modi said, alluding to the time when he was chief minister of the state.
"Now should we give them a chance to destroy Gujarat once again? They (Gandhi family) are more angry as they are out on bail. They are thinking that they were ruling this country for four generations and this Gujju, this chaiwala forced them to go to the court and seek bail," he said.
Modi said if voted to power again, he will ensure that they are behind bars.
"You gave me a chance in 2014. I brought them (Gandhis) to the doors (of jail) and if you will give me another five years, they will go inside, Modi said.
"But if they come to power again, their first target will be Gujarat, Modi said.
Modi asked the crowd if people of Gujarat approve the language being used by Congress president Rahul Gandhi against him.
"The British used golis (bullets), while the Congress is using gaalis (abuse) against us," he said.
"Initially, they said anything about chaiwala, then they started saying things about chowkidar and now they are saying the entire community is chor, Modi said.
Later, at a poll rally at Anand, Modi claimed that the Congress always insulted Sardar Patel and is now crushing his ideology too.
"Congress has stomachache as the world's tallest statue is that of Patel," Modi said.
Had Sardar Patel been the first prime minister of India, the country's situation would have been different, Modi said.
"Congress operates through an eco-system by spreading lies. They will get a wrong story published in some paper. The next day, they will hold press conference," he said.
"Congress people will spread the wrong news against the government in the entire country through those who work in their eco-system," he said.
"They will then get someone to file a PIL in the court on this "fake issue" and top advocate-leaders of Congress party will argue for the PIL. This is happening very often now," Modi said.
 
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Modi’s Agenda 2.0 for the Middle East
The resounding re-election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a blessing for India's relations with the countries of the Middle East. With Sushma Swaraj not contesting in these elections, India will be looking for a new External Affairs Minister, but Modi's imprints will be more pronounced than before.
During his first term, Modi had invested considerable political capital, time and resources in cultivating critical players in the Middle East, namely, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Iran in the Persian Gulf region, and Israel in the Levant. Through personal engagement and hardnosed economic interest-driven calculations, he managed to befriend leaders of these countries, who at times do not talk to one another.
The second term should enable Modi to reap the fruits of his political investments and elevate his engagements to a higher level. At the same time, he will not be able to escape from some of the pressing and challenging problems.
First and foremost will be Iran, which has been a major foreign policy challenge since the end of the Cold War. Domestic electoral success will not be enough for Modi to override the determination of the Trump Administration to halt Iran's oil exports completely. The US refused to extend the 200,000 barrels per day waiver granted to India last November, and this meant that India would not be able to import crude oil from Iran from May 2 without evoking American displeasure and even anger. A section of the political class, largely unrepresented in the new Lok Sabha, might advocate a defiant stand to exhibit India's strategic ‘autonomy.’ States do not have the luxury of committing hara-kiri. Hence, Modi will have to devise a balanced approach vis-à-vis the United States and its demands on Iran.
Along with the November waiver on imports, the Trump Administration had excluded Chabahar port from the purview of sanctions. This should give Modi a golden opportunity to satisfy both the United States and Iran. The actual Indian investment in the Iranian port is much lower than the US$ 500 million touted in official circles. By enhancing its financial commitments to the Chabahar Port project, India could mollify Iranian displeasure over the stopping of crude imports.
In other words, what India needs to do is stop the import of Iranian crude to satisfy the United States and expand its financial commitments to the Chabahar project to keep Iran in good humour!
Second, Modi should slash the bureaucratic cobwebs and enable the flow of investments from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which have committed to invest up to US$ 75 and 100 billion, respectively, in India. If the Ratnagiri refinery does not take off due to land issues, Modi should explore other western coastal states to facilitate Saudi-Emirati investments in the mega refinery project. Should Etihad exit from the troubled Jet Air, Modi’s personal equation with the Emirati leadership, would be helpful in the privatization of Air India.
Three, the ongoing intra-Gulf crisis over Qatar does not serve India's interest. Given its economic, political, energy and expatriate links, an early resolution of the Saudi-Qatari standoff is in India's interest. Mediation often comes with inadequate returns and burns, and India has eschewed, and rightly so, the temptation to mediate the Arab-Israeli conflict or the Saudi-Iranian rivalry. But the intra-Gulf Arab acrimony is different and India's stakes are vital. Further, during his first term in office, Modi had established a personal rapport with all key players involved in the crisis, namely Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin-Salman, Emirate Crown Prince Mohammed al-Nahyan and Qatari Emir Tamim al-Thani, and have met them many times. Modi should use the massive domestic mandate and his personal contacts with these leaders to initiate a dialogue process. It is both a doable and vital proposition that Modi considers bridging or healing the rift among Gulf Arab monarchs.
Fourth, China has managed to entice the Gulf Arab countries to endorse and partake in its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. Given the abundance of sovereign wealth, Arab countries are a better bet for China than impoverished Asian and African economies. This would mean that, India will have to expand its trade basket and move into investment projects with the Gulf Arab countries. The Indo-Omani joint fertiliser company in Sur and India’s economic partnership with Jordan presents a model and precedent for more energised Indian investment in the Gulf economies. The government should also encourage the private sector to expand its presence in the Middle Eastern economies, especially the Persian Gulf region.
Five, India should expand its presence in the Israeli economy and technology market through selective but aggressive investments aimed at technology acquisition. More robust cybersecurity cooperation with Israel would require identification of critical areas and significant financial commitments. Mere statements and Memoranda of Understanding will not get India cutting edge technologies.
Lastly, India's growing political engagements with the Middle East must be given more extensive publicity within the country. Looking primarily through the Pakistani prism, many commentators have either ignored the Indo-Gulf and Indo-Middle Eastern relations or have come to the wrong conclusion that under Modi India's relations with the Islamic world has deteriorated. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Modi has skilfully balanced the Israeli-Palestinian, Saudi-Iranian and Saudi-Qatari binaries and furthered India's interests. Saudi and Emirati leaders have bestowed their highest honours on Prime Minister Modi just days before the Lok Sabha elections, thus indicating the status of India's relations with the Muslim world under Modi. A proper understanding of Modi's Middle East policy since 2014 will not only generate broader domestic support for it but also enhance India's influence in the region. If the mantra of NDA-1 was active engagement, now is the time for action.
 
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As mentioned in the article, I want to ask do we need 65,000 ton carrier or a second Vikrant class carrier?
If with 50% more displacement, we can accommodate 100% more aircrafts, obviously I'd vote for second.

What's point of making another Vikrant? If we don't make more capable and advanced supercarrier today, we'll have to do it later when needs will become dire. Why not master when you have time?
 
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India would be a south western power, says Jaishankar

With India emerging as a powerful nation on the global stage and experts and analysts probing which way it would tilt, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said the largest democracy would be a blend of the west and the developed world.
“There’s often the question asked whether India, these are not my words, would be an Eastern power or a Western power, meaning would it be democratic or would it not be democratic? I think by now in 70 years, at least that question is answered, he said. “But I would also suggest to you that it would be a southern power, that it would be a power with very strong bonding with the developed world, which would enjoy as it goes up in the international order, the degree of trust and confidence of other developing states,” he added.
“And that would be reflected in our own activities and commitments to those states,” he said in response to a question during his appearance at The Heritage Foundation. This bounding can be seen in India’s development assistant commitments and disaster relief responses, he said.
“You can see that in our Africa story, which is not written about very much. So I kind of think it would be a south western power. This to my mind would be sort of where is the world and where is India in its mindset at this time,” he said. In his remarks, the Minister said that nationalism is an “X factor” in international relations today and cautioned that it means different things to different people.
Economic progress
“Here is the difference, nationalism has a certain connotation in Europe, which is not necessarily positive, but I think in Asia, nationalism is seen very much as a sort of natural corollary to economic progress, almost like you’re independent, you progress, you are prosperous and nationalism comes with all of that, he said.
He observed that nationalism in the 19th century defeated multinational empires in different parts of the world and in the 20th century, it helped to overcome colonialism. “It then was actually probably the most successful mindset against communists. It has in different parts of the world countered faith based transnational, and loyalties, he said.
It is also interestingly dealt with narrower royalties than national ones. Certainly in our part of the world, it’s been very effective in dealing with regionalism and separatists,” he added. “And today actually, when it set up as a counterpoise to globalism, it is actually, shall I say, the Westphalian construct has actually proved extraordinarily durable or over a very long time, and clearly continues to do so, the minister said.
Contemporary international relation
If you have some exceptions today, I wouldn’t put them in any category -- I think India and China largely because these are civilisational states who have been dominant on the global stage and likely to assume that role more.” “You have today a lot of reactive nationalism, nationalism coming out of insecurity, out of privileges which may not be maintainable, he said, adding that you see a lot of that in Europe.
You have expressive nationalism, I mean very identity driven, which shaped each other a lot of that in the Middle East. Somewhere today, this fusion of economics, politics, culture, faith, identity, this is actually, I would argue one of the difficult issues for contemporary international relation to grapple with, he said. There is an Indian exceptionalism to this nationalism, he argued.
In a sense there is Indian exceptionalism on this issue, but actually on many other issues as well. On the one hand you have a more nationalist India, more nationalist in the sense that, not just that the people, vote a certain way or think a certain way or stronger sense of collectivism, he said. I actually have found empirically that issues which normally would have stayed with people like us, which would not have had a resonance in public, are today doing so.”
“There is much greater interest in India, what’s happening in the world? what are the interests of India? What are the standing of India? How successful or not successful you will be? he said. So, it’s really that connect between the street and policy-making has actually become very much a sharper. But exceptionalism, because while all of this is going, actually the appetite of India for foreign affairs has grown,” he said.
“That’s quite remarkable because it’s pretty much contrary to what you see in many other parts of the world, he added. It’s not unique, by the way, he noted.
 

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