On 6 October 2021, Ambassador Rajiv Bhatia, Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies Programme, spoke to Dr. Pramod Jaiswal, Strategic Affairs Editor at Khabarhub on the role of Nepal in BIMSTEC and SAARC, in an analysis of the 17th BIMSTEC ministerial meetings. He also highlighted the role of SAARC and BIMSTEC in countering Chinese influence in the region.
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We hosted a webcast with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung on, Myanmar: Hundred days after the coup on 13 May 2021 at 5:30 PM IST. This webcast discussed the conflict in Myanmar, the pulse of the protesters’ fight for democracy, the ominous presence of China as well as Russia and multilateral measures that the neighbouring countries including India can take towards restoring democratic processes in Myanmar.
Since the military coup in Myanmar on February 1, violence and protests have broken out across the country and are continuing. Supported by India and Japan, ASEAN has played a key role, by calling the emergency summit in Jakarta. It has bridged internal gaps and helped navigate the international community to a reconciliation of the crisis. India must continue support to such efforts, which aim for immediate and long-term peace.
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 January 14, 2021, Gateway House co-hosted a webinar with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung on G20’s future: Italy, Indonesia, India. The panel included Marco Felisati, B20 Sherpa, Italy, Dr. M Chatib Basri, Former Minister of Finance, Indonesia, and Sanjeev Sanyal, Principal Economic Advisor, Government of India.
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.
The recently concluded ASEAN and EAS Summit saw Prime Minister Modi highlighting the Indo-Pacific region. That’s because a cohesive, responsive and prosperous ASEAN is seen as vital to India's Indo-Pacific Vision and to Security And Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR). India’s decision to opt out of RCEP, even when all ASEAN member countries are signatories to that agreement, will mark a shift in how India enhances bilateral engagements with ASEAN nations with greater strategic intent.
Now that the India-U.S. 2+2 meeting has ended, Indian officials are preparing for a hectic season of summiteering in November, from the SCO to the BRICS and the G20. All will give India global attention, and help the country prepare its positioning at home and abroad.
The UN turned 75 this year but instead of grand celebrations, the world witnessed an empty UNGA with world leaders addressing it via video screening because of the pandemic. The UN is under unprecedented stress and being shown up for its inability to tackle the challenges of today like the pandemics, climate change, terrorism or global peace and security. The institution's key governing structures, especially the UN Security Council, are inadequate and demand reform. India must now use gritty resolve to ensure its place in these governing structures.
The visit of Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and COAS Gen. MM Naravane to Myanmar on October 4-5 will advance this vital relationship at a critical time. As the region’s geopolitics change, India’s Neighbourhood First and Act East policy and Myanmar’s deep-seated instinct for a balanced and independent foreign policy, must ensure that the two countries journey together as companion souls.