Archive for March, 2014

Leadership and Conflict Resolution

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Sanjeev Miglani lists a number of possible benefits to engagement between Indian and Pakistani leaders, including reduced military activity in Pakistan, increased trade, and normalized relations. He criticizes Prime Minister Singh’s failure to “fight the forces of obscurantism” by delaying meetings with Pakistani representatives. By saying that there  are limited opportunities for engagement, Miglani implies the interaction between Indian and Pakistani leaders is imperative for ending the long-lasting Indo-Pakistani conflict. However, others believe that meetings between leaders serve only superficial purposes.

Some skeptics believe that the Indo-Pakistan conflict is still far from a diplomatic ending, and that leaders can do little to improve tensions between their populations. The author criticizes a meeting between Prime Minister Singh and Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif last September, contending that “hand shaking” and lip service are not real efforts to relieve conflicts. The author brings up an interesting point when mentioning that the Pakistani army will get a new chief who may not desire bilateral relations. There is no guarantee that foreign policy will remain stagnant as politicians enter and exit office, which is contrary to Miglani’s argument that improved diplomacy between leaders will result in a resolution.

Similarly, Vir Sangvhi reflects upon a domestic source of the struggle. He contends that “India hate” is deeply ingrained into the paradigm of Pakistani culture and politics. Rampant religious bigotry brings into question if tensions will ever truly be resolved. It is stubborn intolerance within both states’ populations, rather than the refusal of India and Pakistani leadership, that prevents that compromise and harmony.

With Indo-Pakistani tensions still strong, I believe that both viewpoints can offer some resolution. The states have potential for improved bilateral relations with encouragement from leaders, but a long-lasting solution is harder to obtain due to the obstinacy of their populations. Strife concerning religion and the Kashmir crisis necessitates the willingness of leaders to compromise, as well as the willingness of the population to welcome the other side.

Indo-Russian Music Festival May be Rescheduled

Monday, March 17th, 2014

‘The Great Live Music Festival Goa 2014’, originally scheduled to be held February this year, may be rescheduled to occur this December. The festival had been cancelled due to numerous disagreements prior to the event. If coordinators are given permission to reschedule the event, possible distressed relations between Russia and India may be alleviated.

Organizers of the event have planned to reapply for permission to host the event. Ksenia Goryaeva, the head of the Russian House in New Delhi, tells The Times of India he has noticed ample support from the Goa government and its tourism department.

Many people were very disappointed when the event was first cancelled. In this article, Alexey M Mzareulo, Consul General of the Russian federation in Mumbai, had said “the refusal to hold the cultural event upset many tourists and musicians.” Organizers hope to have the same line-up of artists at the festival. One of the coordinators expresses the artists are more likely to return if all the conflicts within the government are resolved.

Alexander Antipin, a media partner of the event, believes the Goa chief minister will give permission to reschedule the event. He disclosed the festival’s importance and had described the event as a ‘platform for interaction between Indians and Russians’.

If coordinators are granted permission to host the event in December, Indo-Russian relations could greatly benefit. Cooperation and the respect of each others’ culture holds great importance to both India and Russia. A resolution to the issue could be very helpful to both countries. A shared appreciation for the cultures of the two countries could foreshadow possible support within Indo-Russian relations.

India and Japan bi-lateral relations- China’s Nightmare

Monday, March 17th, 2014

On January 06, Japan’s Defense Minister, Itsunori Onodera went to New Delhi to inspects a guard of honor that India would be presenting during its Republic day parade, to its next guest of honor, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the next couple of weeks. When Prime Minister Abe eventually visited India, his visit symbolized a significant approach to the India-Japan bi-lateral relations. Scholars everywhere know that China is posing a lot of threat to not only its neighboring countries such as India and Japan, but to the world as a whole, with its growing powers in the Asian region. It is up to the second and third biggest countries in Asia, Japan and India to come together on mutual grounds in response to China’s continual rise. China’s history with both countries has been a very unattractive one. Starting with the Sino-India border war of 1962 and the Military standoff in April, when Chinese troops Crossed the Indian lead territory near Ladakh. Such issues have brought on an uneasy relationship between both countries and a future relationship will be one filled with skepticism and lack of trust. Japan too had its own share of China disturbances, starting with the Territorial disputes in the East China sea centred on Senkaku Islands, and also over the controversial visit by P.M Abe to the Yasukuni Shrine, the Tokyo site regarded by China as a symbol of Japan’s Imperial Military past and honors criminals.

On this note, India and Japan are making plans to create a close relationship to counter China’s power in the region. This visits represents one of their strategy. Other strategies include, expanding bi-lateral defense cooperation in nuclear arms and trade resources. During Abe’s visit, India was showcasing its latest Nuclear arms, the “Agni 4” and “Agni 5”. India and Japan also talked about Japanese investments and assistance for the New Delhi industrial corridor and other infrastructure projects, such as the Mumbai Metro.

What does this all mean? Evident from what we know about India-Japan relations compared to their individual relationships with other countries, they are the most befitting partners to face and counter China. Both countries have the least disputes against each other, and have actually had more mutual relations in the past than any other country. Judging from their strategies and recent approach to a mutual relationship, both countries are doing whatever they can to make sure that China is contained.  India places a very high importance to Japan and only wants its relationship with her to go “higher and higher.”

Although all of this sound very optimistic, there are still some obstacles to advancing the  Indian- Japan ties ties. According to Jeffery Hornung, “despite the rapid growth of economic ties in recent years, Japanese investors are not completely sold on India’s business climate…they are also concerned about India’s poor infrastructure, opaque legal and taxation systems, and official corruption.” In order for the India and Japan relation to get even more higher they will have to work on this approaches.



India, Japan snuggle closer as China power grows. By Geoff Hiscock:

Japan and India’s Growing Embrace. By, Jeffrey W. Hornung:



Energy Security in India

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Energy Security is a current issue in Indian Foreign Policy because India currently imports most of its oil and gas from other countries including some countries in Africa.  This interested me because when researching relations between South Africa and India I learned that South Africa is dealing with the issue of climate change because of their energy source being coal dependent. South Africa needs to rely less on coal as a fuel source and more on renewable sources of energy. I think this is an issue that the two countries can work together on to ameliorate their countries energy security. This collaboration would strengthen the relationship between these two countries because South Africa would benefit from continued exporting of energy resources to India, which strengthens their economy and India needs countries that have a surplus of resources to export to them. India needs to be able to rely on many countries to support their increasing energy needs. India needs to focus on this issue to further develop their economy and role in the global world. I think South Africa needs to be careful of this partnership because it could export too much of its resources to other countries.

Indian Arms Imports Triple that of China and Pakistan

Monday, March 17th, 2014

India tops the world in arms imports, according to the Times of India, and has almost reached three times that of China and Pakistan.  Furthermore, according to the same article “the volume of Indian imports of major weapons rose by 111% between 2004-08 and 2009-13, and its share of the volume of international arms imports increased from 7% to 14%.” This comes at a time when India has been struggling to build up its indigenous defense base, in order to become less dependent on foreign nations for its arms supplies.

By far the largest arms supplier to India has been Russia, with a 75% share of the Indian market. Russia is followed by the United States with 7% of the Indian market, which is a first for the US.  The United States has been increasing its arms exports to India, and “has already bagged defense deals close to $10 billion over the last decade in the lucrative Indian defense market, with the latest being the $1.01 billion one for six additional C-130J “Super Hercules” aircraft.” Currently also in the works is a deal for “22 Apache attack helicopters, 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, four P-8I maritime patrol aircraft and 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers, together worth another $4 billion or so.” which would greatly enhance India’s capabilities. A continuing US-Indian military and arms relationship has been a focal point for the United States, especially with the ongoing “pivot towards Asia” under the Obama administration.

India has been struggling to develop its own indigenous defense base, and currently over 65% of India’s weapons are imported from foreign nations. According to Voice of America Asia is the world’s leading arms importing market, with the region receiving up to 47% of all arms transfers.

Pollution Levels Rise in Indian Cities

Monday, March 17th, 2014

A recent article in The Hindu Time’s says that air quality is continuing to worsen in Indian cities, most notably in Delhi, Bangalore, and even Ludhiana. While the India-China Low Carbon Study will be formally launched this Tuesday, it is already apparent that smog levels are much higher than the prescribed level by the World Health Organization (WHO). Some are even claiming that pollution in Delhi is worse than in Beijing, but before the report is launched officials are going to further look into the data.

The Chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr. Pachauri, suggests that “the Ministry of Environment should commission two or three institutions to carry out detailed assessment of the situation and what are the drivers of things making this worse and future policy making.”

When he was asked about nuclear power plants as a source of energy he responded with an impartial answer basically saying you need to be cautious about it. China now is building 28 nuclear power plants for energy purposes. This is an option for India, who, by reading the article “Pollution getting worse in Indian cities: Pachauri”, seems like it could benefit. Pacauri also mentioned that both countries have their own strengths and each can learn from one another.

While there are benefits of India and China working together on pollution issues, Brazil would also be a key partner. Brazil, like India, is also considered a developing country and has a large population. But unlike India, Brazil is not an advocate of nuclear energy but instead relies on hydroelectricity as their main renewable energy source. Brazil’s success in this area can aid India in lowering pollution levels in the country’s major cities.


India’s Growing Ties With Bangladesh

Monday, March 17th, 2014

In 2013 India’s relationship with its western neighbor  continued to decline despite coordinated effort. India was able to cultivate a new friendship with Bangladesh with the signing of a new extradition treaty and visa regime. This allowed both countries to benefit and marked a big shift in their relationship. The treaty allowed New Delhi to reduce insurgency in the northeastern region of India. A hotspot for separatist and insurgency groups that operate in Bangladesh and other neighboring countries. This treaty gave India the power to deport senior leaders from outlawed underground groups that many believed were hiding in Bangladesh. Bangladesh benefited from the treaty because of India’s commitment to finding the two convicted killers of Mujibur  Rahman that were hiding in India.

The new visa regime also helped Indo-Bangladesh friendship because it allows the provision of multiple entry tourist and medical visa (valid up to a year), five year business visas, and other categories. This new regime addresses the issue of illegal immigration in some ways but does not completely fix it. Due to a porous border over 4,000 km long many poor Bangladeshis immigrate to India illegally to find work.

India has also shown a great interest in the development of Bangladesh economically. This is in part because geographic and economic compliments can be used to improve the lives of people from both nations.They have committed large amounts of money to help build better infrastructure in Bangladesh. In 2014 India’s President made it clear that India will benefit most from a democratic, stable, and prosperous Bangladesh and will continuing being an economic partner. Bangladesh has reciprocated these sentiments and is thankful for India’s support. Confirming that India’s and Bangladesh’s relationship has moved from adversarial to friendly.

India and the Ukraine Issue

Monday, March 17th, 2014

In recent weeks, the issue of Russia and Ukraine has gotten a lot of press. On Sunday 3/15/14, Russia voted against a secession referendum that would allow the Crimea region to vote to be part of Russia instead of Ukraine. Russia was alone in this decision, because the West voted in favor of it, and China abstained, but where does India fit in this debate? Like during the Cold War, India has to decide whether to support Russia or the West.

On one side, the US announced that it will impose economic sanctions against top Russian officials to encourage Russia to support the Crimea vote. If India sides with Russia, it runs the risk of angering the US, which wouldn’t help chances for stronger economic ties to the US. On the other hand, the issue harkens back to the Cold War, when India sided with Russia more often than not. According to a Times of India article, earlier this month India called Russian interests in Ukraine “legitimate.” There are over 5,000 Indian nationals throughout Ukraine, so the violence there is cause for concern, but taking a definite side would be dangerous for India for fear of worsening relations with the other side.

One article poses an interesting side to this issue: because of political turmoil in Ukraine, Indian wheat markets may be helped. The supply of wheat from Ukraine will likely fall, which will be replaced by Indian wheat. The article argues that Indian wheat may fetch up to US $290 a ton. In this way, the Ukraine issue may be good for India’s economy, even though bad for world stability.

Women Voters: Hard to Get

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Upcoming elections bring to light a big issue for India, an issue not uncommon for newer democracies- voter equity. Specifically, India faces a problem in engaging female voters. What is interesting in the case of India is the seeming complete disengagement of politicians and their staff to female interests and issues. Some tactics as of late have been to offer women appliances and jewelry for coming to the polls. Arati Jareth asks whether it is social disinterest in fighting patriarchal stigmas of female autonomy, or whether Indian women really are swayed by material voter incentives. That argument in itself leaves a bitter taste.

Women are going out to the polls in record numbers; in some areas they exceed the male turnout. Jareth tosses in the idea that Indian women have increased access to information through electronic media. That means they are able to process that information with a greater chance it is untainted by patriarchal dependencies (just the same media biases as everyone else). The greater concern is that women are not honing in on their own voting power. Getting to the poles is one thing but organizing for women’s issues and pushing them into the political spotlight is another. According to Jareth there are 65 million unregistered Indian women. While many commend India for its feminist presence there is not enough breadth of those movements to engage the entire female population of India and still take on microcosmic issues like rape legislation. Whether female solidarity comes from a branch of a feminist sect or it is generated through women who are fighting against patriarchal residuals in their own homes, Indian women have to come together and vote for each other.

BJP “Chai Per Charcha” Issues

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Narendra Modi, candidate for Prime Minister with the BJP, will host a “Chai Per Charcha” to answer questions on farmers’ issues on March 20. Modi will answer questions from the public at locations all over the country, through the internet. He will personally be staying in Vidarbha in Maharashtra, an area of India that has held numerous suicides by farmers in the past few years due to crop failures and wide-spread poverty.
The “Chai Per Charcha with NaMo” will be an event in which free tea is served. The unique election strategy comes from the remark of Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar who said that Modi couldn’t be Prime Minister but could serve tea at the January 17 AICC session.
The “Chai Per Charcha” strategy seems to be working well for the BJP, which is bad news for the U.S. Modi has previously been not only denied but also revoked visas from the U.S. for alleged human rights violations. If the BJP wins the upcoming elections in May and Modi becomes India’s new Prime Minister, it could spell bad news for India-U.S. relations.
Fortunately for the U.S., there have been some troubles with the regarding such events. Unfortunately for the BJP, serving free tea to voters is considered enticement and violates the norms of the model code. The BJP has argued that past “Chai Per Chacha” events were not authorized by the commission. Therefore, holding future events, such as the upcoming March 20th farmers’ event, could pose problems for the Party.