Archive for March, 2012

India’s Increasing Soft Power In Russia

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

India and Russia are pushing to strengthen their friendship by increasing collaborations in universities. This is shown by the recent establishment of a “Centre of Indian Studies at the Kazan Federal University.” This is an important step because other universities with Indian Studies are only found in areas like Moscow and St. Petersburg. The increase of Indian study in Russia will help develop greater Indian soft power, specifically in the youth of Russia. There are plans to open more and more centres of Indian Study in the near future, with Putin back in office the programs will see renewed interest from the Russian government.

India offers Pakistan a Helpig Hand

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Kim Jemaine

Earlier this week, GAIL, India’s state owned oil and gas company, offered Pakistan an opportunity to import natural gas from India. This offer comes at a time when Pakistan is going through a particularly difficult gas crisis. GAIL proposed extending its newly installed natural gas pipeline which currently runs from the west coast to Bhatinda, to Lahore. GAIL has plans to import liquified natural gas through terminals in Gujrat and through the Bhatinda pipeline. Using the pipeline, India would transport LNG to Punjab and then into Pakistan. The proposed extension of the Bhatinda pipeline would only take a few months, and would be more practical for Pakistan considering that the country currently has no LNG import terminals. If Pakistan decides that it would rather build its own LNG terminal, the project would take a minimum of four years. This is problematic because Pakistan is expected to experience its worst gas crisis in 2016. In 2016, Pakistan is expected to experience a deficit of 3.021 bcfd (billion cubic feet per day). Therefore, if the building of a new LNG terminal took any more time than the minimally expected four years, Pakistan would suffer dramatically.

GAIL’s final proposal to Pakistan will not be submitted until the proposal gains the approval of the Indian ministry of external affairs.

India’s desire to offer a helping hand in an area as critical as gas supplies indicates a desire on India’s part to strengthen ties with Pakistan. This has been a growing trend on the part of India in recent years. Although Pakistan has tried to distance itself from India during recent years, despite India’s efforts, Pakistan may be forced to accept India’s proposal considering the pending gas crisis.

South Africa seeks to expand its presence in Southern India

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Zach Feinstein

To expand its presence in Southern India, particularly in Tamil Nadu, South Africa intends to open a consul office in the city of Chennai.  To mark this, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Elizabeth Thabethe led a 45-member multi-trade delegation to Chennai which examined the local manufacturing and technology sectors.

South Africa is interested in expanding its diplomatic offices in India because of the increasing volume of trade between both nations.  Thabethe said that South Africa set a target of achieving $15 billion by 2014, while in 2011 bilateral trade reached a new high of $11,125 million.  This trade involved transportation equipment, pharmaceuticals, textiles, gems, agro-processing and telecommunication.

Despite all of these improvements, South Africa would like to further this economic relationship.  South Africa first wants trade to move beyond the traditional commodity-based trade to value-added trade that would help address poverty alleviation and unemployment.  Thabethe specifically mentioned that South Africa and India need to chart a path which is mutually beneficial.

India Soon to Test Agni V (this week)

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

The Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) stated that it will very soon begin tests on its newest class of ICBM, the Agni 5. The Agni 5 is a three stage solid fuel rocket and has a range of about 5,000 km. They carry multiple warheads and could effectively overwhelm ballistic missile defense systems. The Indian nuclear arsenal is not particularly large and development is driven by the desire to have an effective minimum nuclear deterrent.

Test are scheduled for either the last week in March or the first week in April.

Surrounding states will be alerted ten days before the test takes place. The plan is to launch the test missiles more-or-less due South. The Indian Navy will be deployed throughout the Indian Ocean to monitor the results.

India’s “Strategic Partnerships”

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Relationships between nations have slowly become more and more defined by their “strategic partnerships.” These are typically agreements that are for the promotion of a mutually beneficial end. Strategic partnerships are generally thought of in the context of security or defense, but the spectrum ranges from defense to education, agriculture, health, and economics. A New Delhi-based think tank did a study of the top six countries that India has strategic partnerships with. The countries of interest were the U.S., France, Russia, Japan, Germany, and The United Kingdom. The study focused on political-diplomatic ties; defence ties; and economic relations between India and each individual country. Russia topped the list, mainly because of Russia’s support of India on all issues concerning Kashmir, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.  Interestingly, Russia scored the lowest on bilateral trade, with trade being roughly $10,000,000,000 annually. The United States came in second, because unlike Russia, The U.S. has been shaky and inconsistent on political/diplomatic issues such as Pakistan and Kashmir. The future problems that India faces with these strategic partnerships are the conflicts of interest between the different countries India is working with. A particular point is Russia and The U.S.’s differing opinions on Pakistan. India must make sure to maintain a balance of interests and hope that the strategic partnerships will not be effected by the political/diplomatic differences of other large powers.