This month marks the beginning of triple celebrations in Bangladesh, including the 50th anniversary of its independence, for which Prime Minister Modi will be traveling to Dhaka as the guest of honour. There is much to celebrate: A country that began as a case study for development is now on top of the global GDP charts. The springboard was achieved through a thriving textiles industry, women's workforce participation, micro finance, liberal investment policies. There is much to learn from this neighbour.
Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies Programme
Ambassador Rajiv Bhatia is a Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies Programme at Gateway House. He is a member of CII’s two bodies: International Trade Policy Council and Africa Committee. He served as Chair of FICCI’s Core Group of Experts on BIMSTEC and continues to head its Task Force on the Blue Economy. He is a founding member of the Kalinga International Foundation. As Director General of the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) from 2012-15, he played a key role in strengthening India's Track-II research and outreach activities. During a 37-year innings in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), he served as Ambassador to Myanmar and Mexico and as High Commissioner to Kenya and South Africa. He dealt with a part of South Asia, while posted as Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs. A prolific columnist, who has also written a critically acclaimed book, India-Myanmar Relations: Changing Contours (Routledge), he is a frequent speaker on foreign policy issues in India and abroad. He was Senior Visiting Research Fellow during 2011-13 at the Institute of South East Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore. He holds a master’s degree in political science from Allahabad University.
Indo-Pacific (including SEA), Africa, South Asia, Myanmar, Blue Economy, Regional Groupings, Indian Foreign Policy and Diplomacy
Last modified: April 12, 2021
The first-ever Quad Leaders' Summit on March 12, 2021 was a defining moment in Asian geopolitics, with the promise of a strong political commitment in the future. A joint op-ed by the Quad leaders stated a number of priorities for the grouping, ranging from security in the Indo-Pacific to climate change to vaccine partnerships. This is a crucial partnership for India, as this grouping of democracies will reinforce Indian diplomatic initiatives, launching the country into global relevance.
In its recent itineration, the Quad (or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) has been toiling since 2017, through deliberations among mid-level and senior officials, to develop a common vision for the challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region, challenges caused by China's menacing rise and aggressive behaviour.
As multiple foreign powers compete in Africa, there is a need to understand the geopolitical landscape, and analyse the various policies, strategies and motivations of each country. Where lies India in this great strategic game? India has a unique relationship with the continent, with respect for equality, mutual benefit, and need-based assistance. By deepening India-Africa cooperation, bolstering economic relations and leveraging new digital, space and medical technologies, the relationship between India and the African nations can be better cemented, despite the global competition at play.
In principle, India supports democracy everywhere, but is also committed to non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. But instability in Myanmar could trigger support for insurgency in India's North east, which is now on the path to progress. Accelerating the completion of India’s development cooperation projects in Myanmar will send a positive signal for regional stability.
The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) presents a unique opportunity to develop a Blue Economy, with security, sustainability and business profitability as its three pillars. An IOR Defence Ministers' Conclave held on 4 February provided a platform to discuss regional cooperation, linking development with defence, and emphasized India's pivotal position within the IOR.
During the Bay of Bengal Economic Dialogue 2021 on, Post-COVID Challenges in the Bay of Bengal Region, Amb. Rajiv Bhatia, Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, Gateway House addresses the staggered growth of BIMSTEC, whilst also highlighting its potential as a regional grouping. He identifies the lack of political commitment, bureaucratic inertia and insufficient engagement of the Third Space and disregard for the region as a community as the chief obstacles to a successful initiative.
As President Joe Biden completes his first month in office, his foreign policy on China and the Indo-Pacific will come under scrutiny. The choices made will be significant as they will define the future prospects of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. Given China’s long-term and comprehensive challenges, which encompass both, security and economy-technology, the Quad will have to respond with a matching strategy.
On February 1, the Myanmar army seized power, turning a partial democracy into a full-fledged military rule, once again. Whenever democracy suffers, India feels concerned. However, New Delhi is committed to the policy of non-interference in another state’s internal affairs. It is also guided by its national interest and will astutely balance principles, values, interests, and geopolitical realities.
On Jan 16, India will roll out its Covid-19 vaccination programme, the world’s largest. It puts India in the exclusive club of the V-5 anti-Corona vaccine producers, providing an opportunity for the country to scale up its pharma ecosystem and become a net provider of global health security.