India, as chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, hosted the foreign ministers’ meet in Goa last week. What would have been an important and expanding regional grouping has been complicated by the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the increased influence of China and an obstructionist Pakistan. Still, India has played its role with an eye on the long term.
The UK has been admitted to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership or CPTPP, a significant step forward for its efforts in achieving its Brexit goals. The benefits will be more strategic than economic, as it gives the UK a place in the new ‘Atlantic-Pacific’ region.
The state visit by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on 2-3 March marked the elevation of the India-Italy bilateral to a strategic partnership. Both countries have set the stage for an expanding relationship based on shared interests and priorities in defence, security, trade, and energy sectors – domestically and in the broader Indo-Pacific region.
The Ukraine crisis transferred global anxiety away from China and onto Russia. But this has not happened in the Indo-Pacific, where the Quad countries have followed a policy of economic disengagement from China, in the backdrop of the COVID pandemic and the regeneration of some economies. How the Quad managed this, is a worthwhile assessment.
Japan’s recently released National Security Strategy document has pathbreaking commitments to strengthen Japan militarily. It reflects a dramatic change over the last decade, when the national threat for pacifist Japan was largely China. Now North Korea and Russia are included, and a Japan with superior defence capabilities will play a larger role in the Indo-Pacific.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's essay on Zeitenwende emphasises a strong Germany as a guarantor of European security. It has attracted global attention - but has virtually no mention of India. In parallel, however, the visit of Foreign Minister Annalenna Baerbock reinforced Germany's interest in India, and suggested an upgrade to the bilateral. It is necessary, if India is to seek expanded economic ties with Berlin.
Cambodia’s chairmanship of ASEAN exposed the grouping’s inherent incongruities and cleavages, despite its best intentions. To be taken seriously by its partners, ASEAN needs to first take itself seriously and adhere to the core of its charter.
Disenchantment with traditional parties and politics, changed constitutional organisation of Parliament and the election system, over-regulation by the EU, immigration issues. This is why Italy turned right.
The Japan-Africa partnership continues to be emphasised. The goal is to build human capital, sustainable and high-quality growth and the security and stability of the global order in which government, business, and civil society leaders participate on an equal basis. It is an opportunity for Indian companies to work together in Africa, to achieve bilateral goals.
Since 1947, India has had a proud record of development cooperation. It began even though it was newly independent and itself developing, but created a camaraderie with movements in other emerging countries. Now after 75 years, its time to move toward an FDI-led model, which will particularly help reduce the rising indebtedness in the developing world.