Retrospective taxes. Asking OPEC to reduce production. Raising oil prices at the pump. India’s perplexing actions on energy seem designed to defeat the Modi government’s declared goals of disinvestment of the public sector and welcoming foreign capital.
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The U.K. is out of the EU, and re-positioning itself into the idea of Global Britain, seeking partnerships into diverse groupings and regions. India was an early strategic, defence and digital outreach, but a serious pivot has been made to broader Asia for trade and investment linkages, with vigorous follow-up. The re-entry and acceptance of Britain in Asia, has implications.
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.
The Jan 26 riots by the protesting Punjab farmers, is a set back both to the reform of India's domestic agriculture sector, and to the country's external agriculture trade. Nevertheless, willing farmers and communities can improve their engagement with the market, start inter-state trade, and build the farming infrastructure necessary to prepare for a fully free agriculture market. This will ready India to fulfil its commitments and find its rightful place in the international trade system.
Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have come under global scrutiny in recent months following their use to incite or misinform the public. For years, governments around the democratic world have not taken the responsibility to adequately regulate these platforms. Now that may be changing – and it won’t be easy.
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.
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'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.
India’s pledge to the Paris Agreement gives it the flexibility to confidently place its climate action policies across various multilaterals. Although an observer of the Arctic Council, India can collaborate with the body's upcoming chair, Russia, to alleviate climate change concerns stemming from the Arctic. It is time for India to use its goodwill with the Arctic Council members to develop a national Arctic policy.
Australia's much-awaited inclusion at the Malabar Exercise-2020 reflects a hard reset in India's foreign policy that was traditionally accommodative to Chinese concerns on the militarisation of the Quad. In the backdrop of the on-going stand-off with China at the Ladakh border, the Indian Navy has maintained a high operational tempo and deployed the highest numbers of frontline assets during this edition of the Malabar Exercise. India must build on this strategic vision and work towards including France at the next edition of Malabar in 2021.