Holding a G20 meeting in Jammu and Kashmir is a bold, audacious and timely move. It will provide the government with an opportunity to cement the gains it has claimed accrue from revoking Article 370. The geopolitical setting will provide an opportunity to diplomatically cock- a-snook at the Chinese, camping not too far away in the un-demarcated border areas with India.
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The shadow of the Ukrainian war was visible at the G7 summit. Anti-Russian formations were expected, but the extensive reference to China drew attention. The leaders did their part by extensively discussing challenges relating to climate, energy, environment, health, and food security. It is now for the G7 governments to deliver, to be taken seriously.
Hailed as historic, the new global rules to curb harmful fishing subsidies is a step towards sustainable fishery practices. The negotiated deal, however, is fraught with concerns over overcapacity in fisheries, deep-sea fishing legislations, and blue finance. It may be better for developing countries to formulate their own regulations and set up mechanisms to prevent illegal fishing within their territorial waters – and hold the WTO agreement to its word.
ASEAN centrality is not what it used to be. Covid, post-pandemic economic recovery, the Ukraine crisis and the challenge of China all tested ASEAN capabilities to manage them. It is now up to ASEAN to work out its unity and centrality with a greater sense of responsibility.
June 6, 2022, marks 25 years since India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and Thailand joined hands to create BIMSTEC and infuse South Asia with economic and institutional cooperation. The strategic geography of this grouping has the potential to bring new synergy between South Asia and the recently-instituted Indo Pacific Economic Framework, ASEAN and the Quad, for a prosperous, secure Bay of Bengal Community.
The Quad has agreed to launch a satellite-based maritime security initiative to curb illegal fishing by China. India is a global leader in satellite launches, especially in Earth Observation (EO) satellites. The Indo-Pacific nations are looking at the Indian model because it is applicable, economical, and sustainable.
With mass digitisation, India has proved that technology is not just for the educated, privileged, and wealthy. The country's open and secure digital public platforms can be significant for the Indo-Pacific, the world's most data-rich region. The Indian model is applicable because it is open-source, interoperable, auditable, and enshrines individual rights, ownership, and empowerment.
The BIMSTEC charter has laid the foundations for a prosperous, peaceful, and sustainable Bay of Bengal region, a goal that can be achieved by greater integration and deeper collaboration. While ensuring continuity with past efforts and strengthening economic cooperation is necessary, it must also realise its potential in newer areas such as the blue economy, which has three interlinked pillars— connectivity, prosperity, and regional stability.
The recently concluded ASEAN-U.S. Summit has raised the bilateral cooperation to a strategic comprehensive partnership. Key areas of cooperation were identified and global health, SDGs, maritime security and connectivity, and the Ukrainian war dominated the dialogue. The meeting is significant in light of the May 24 Quad Summit, where it is important for the US to have its engagement with ASEAN visible.
The rejuvenated BIMSTEC, with a new charter in hand, is now expanding its ambition and mission. One such area is climate change, which needs greater attention as it will have implications for the Bay of Bengal and beyond. With their unique climate conditions and action plans can together create a model for regional cooperation.