Tilak Devasher’s book on the Pashtuns brings out the dynamics of the Pashtun, their code, their relationship with Islam and with Pakistan. It contextualizes the current geo-political challenges in South Asia, making it required reading for those who want to understand not only the Pashtuns but regional strategic and security dynamics.
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The last week of September was eventful for Russia. The partial-mobilisation was underway, the referendum of Russian-speaking regions in Ukraine took place, President Putin made a significant speech and the Nord Stream pipelines were damaged. Amit Bhandari, Energy Fellow, Gateway House, was in Moscow during this time. In this podcast, he offers his impressions of Moscow after the sanctions, compared with the city he saw before the Russia-Ukraine conflict
The recent SCO Summit held in Samarkand was significant not only because it was held in-person after three years but also because of its rapid expansion and the increasing attention to economic development. The SCO’s progress on connectivity, commerce and digitalization is relevant for India which takes over the presidency in 2023.
The upcoming SCO Summit led by Uzbekistan seeks to ignite a ‘Samarkand Spirit’ where nations are indivisible and not fragmented, and connected by trade and investment. This is a welcome positive note in the backdrop of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, where Central Asia is now being impacted by diminishing essential commodities, depreciation of local currencies, and reduced remittances from its migrant workers in Russia.
Russia, the founding member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), has been hit by Western sanctions on its energy exports and financial system. Still, Ivan Timofeev, Director of Programs at the Russian International Affairs Council, sees new opportunities to be seized. Deepening India-Russia business engagement is one, and the SCO as a constructive and accommodating force is another. K.A. Dhananjay from Gateway House spoke to Timofeev who visited Mumbai recently.
An estimated 9 million Central Asians reside and work in Russia, and almost every major city in the country is dependent on their labour. It’s a marriage of convenience but beneficial all around. Russia gets modernised infrastructure, while remittances bring in much-needed capital to Central Asia.
The SCO climate change initiatives to mitigate soaring temperatures, recurring droughts, and floods, glacial melts, and desiccation of the Aral Sea, are inadequate. Large swathes of Central Asia are hotspots for human migration due to a lack of freshwater resulting in pressure in a few habitable regions.
The relevance of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has increased due to the clear divisions developing in the world, since the Ukraine crisis began. Several leaders will probably attend in-person, a chance to advance their regional and economic interests. India has good relations with most SCO countries, and sees the upcoming Summit as a way to secure its strategic and security objectives.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s July visit to Iran was a geopolitical reset for both countries. The collapse of the JCPOA and the Ukraine crisis has strategically united Iran and Russia against their common adversary, the U.S. Russia is now a credible alternative to fill the investment vacuum for Iran’s defence, trade and energy sectors.
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.