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.
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The ongoing turmoil in the oil markets due to the pandemic and underutilized supply, presents a long-term opportunity for India to secure its energy future. It can take small stakes in the listed oil and gas companies of stable Western democracies like the U.S., Canada and Australia, through a specially-created sovereign wealth fund. This will allow India to be better prepared for the era when prices rise again.
Vietnam had a busy 2020, starting with its chairmanship of ASEAN and ending with the signing of RCEP, and a free trade agreement with the EU. All were completed successfully despite the pandemic, which it also handled well. It has revealed Vietnam’s dexterity and confidence, good management and societal control and raised the country’s global profile.
India needs a policy mix that nurtures the Space 2.0 industry, secures it from hostile takeovers and predatory investments from overseas investors, and does not suffocate it under excessive protectionism.
As the daily numbers of COVID-19 cases remain high globally, examining Mahatma Gandhi's probable responses can be useful. Gandhi believed that political work shall go hand-in-hand with social reform, cleanliness and hygiene as its chief pillars.
India's presence in the UNSC in 2021 provides a unique opportunity to bring India’s capacities and performance to global notice. It will be on the inside track for critical issues like the election of a new UN Secretary General, and defining global issues like the Corona pandemic and climate change, but must also use its position to prioritise counter terrorism and maritime security, especially with Chinese expansionism in the Indo-Pacific.
As 2021 opens, the post-COVID world can expect some changes in the geopolitics of Asia. It will involve altering equations in the Indo-Pacific among major, middle and small powers. These will fluctuate with characteristic familiarity, creating instability, tensions and strife, but not leading to military conflict – barring an unforeseen accident. Post-COVID, the world will be uncertain and complex.
The U.S. Navy Secretary, Kenneth Braithwaite, visited India on 17 Dec 2020. Will this year-end visit culminate in the reactivation of the First Fleet under the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command? The First Fleet, is likely to be an expeditionary fleet - one without a shore-based headquarters and assigned primary responsibility for the Indian Ocean and parts of Pacific Ocean bordering South Asia. Its reactivation will emphasise the strategic importance of this region. It will also relieve the burden of the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet headquartered in Japan, that is deployed for operations in this vast oceanic space.
On December 15, 2020, Gateway House co-hosted a webinar with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung on Europe in the Indo-Pacific. The panel included: Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon KCB, Member, Indo-Pacific Commission, Policy Exchange, UK, Former Secretary of State of Defence, UK; Karin Mössenlechner Director, Asia and Oceania Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands; Dr. Axel Berkofsky, Co-Head of the Asia Center at Istituto per gli studi di politica internazionale (ISPI), Italy and Peter Max Rimmele, Resident Representative to India, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
Bharti Global’s stake in OneWeb has given India lateral entry into this lucrative and newly-competitive global satellite-based internet services market. India and the U.K., the two stakeholders in this company, can build and sustain this collaboration through a well-thought-out bilateral space diplomacy agenda.