The first Global Buddhist Summit is being held in New Delhi this week, a continuation of India's strategic and diplomatic outreach to Buddhist countries in Asia. The Summit offers India an opportunity to deepen the dialogue on its shared, millennia-old transnational Buddhist legacy with these countries, and arrive at contemporary solutions for global conflicts using the lens of Buddha Dhamma.
February 1, 2023 marks the second anniversary of the military coup in Myanmar. The country is now in a dire situation with a deteriorating economy, rising poverty and high unemployment. ASEAN, the UN and India continue to work with the Myanmarese military leadership, which is the only player able to provide solutions to alleviate the distress.
Cambodia’s chairmanship of ASEAN exposed the grouping’s inherent incongruities and cleavages, despite its best intentions. To be taken seriously by its partners, ASEAN needs to first take itself seriously and adhere to the core of its charter.
Nearly two years after the military coup in Myanmar, tensions remain, with no domestic or international solution in sight. Despite these setbacks, the Myanmarese people's commitment to democracy has not faltered. As they did a decade ago, the Myanmar elite and leadership of both camps must once again use resilience and pragmatism to craft a way out of the current crisis.
The Indo-Pacific region envisages the Indian and Pacific Oceans as a continuum and stands on two central pillars – maritime security and economic development. The public discussions, however, are focused on maritime security, strategy and geopolitics, while economic development has received less attention. This imbalance can be corrected by creating an awareness on how to harness the potential of the region's Blue Economy and its vast resources and opportunities.
In his new book, former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran demystifies China's imagined belief of itself as the Middle Kingdom. Contemporary China's propensity to cut and paste history has resulted in China's resentment of India based on a limited understanding of Indian history and of China's past recognition of India as an advanced civilisation which impacted Chinese culture. Today the West recognises India's potential to match China, with depth and skills, over the long term.
Holding one of the G20 meetings in Jammu and Kashmir is a bold, audacious and timely move. It is possible because of the ceasefire along the Line of Control which has been holding since February 25, 2021. The new geopolitical setting offers India an opportunity to diplomatically disdain the Chinese, camping not too far away in the un-demarcated border areas with India.
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.