While several Bay of Bengal countries are rich in hydropower and thermal electricity generation, others are net energy importers with large markets. India can lead creative energy projects with its eastern neighbours, supported by regional and international institutions.
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China is a clear winner in the physical connectivity stakes in the Bay of Bengal, and there's a reason a why: Its projects are connected to one another, from rail to road to port. While India also has some successful cross-border road and rail infrastructure projects, they are often an extension of an existing railway line or highway, not specific to the connectivity needs of the region. India can win by focussing instead on building infrastructure to maximise the vast maritime potential of the Bay of Bengal, especially the Andaman and Nicobar Islands that give India access to critical sea channels and trade routes.
The Bay of Bengal is a bridge between the Indo-Pacific and the Indian Ocean, and with a population of 1.4 billion, an increasingly important economic zone in its own right. India has been slow to build regional connectivity. The space has been filled by China's Belt and Road Initiative projects, which have not always been beneficial for host countries. The region may be better off pursuing digital connectivity by enabling tech startups – areas of India’s strength. This research uses maps to explore the potential for energy, transport, and financial connectivity across the Bay of Bengal.
With the Taliban now ensconced in Kabul and being given legitimacy to represent Afghanistan, the worry for New Delhi is the Taliban-affiliated terrorist groups which are already looking eastward to India. This graphic shows the relationship between the terrorist groups in Afghanistan and their anti-India cousins.
China is rapidly expanding its influence in the Indian Ocean Region, as its massive investment in ports starts to materialise. From smaller investments of $78 million in Djibouti to large ones like $1.6 billion in Gwadar, these are funded largely by Chinese state-owned enterprises. This infographic shows the 17 ports being built by China, which are now important strategic, economic and political outposts for the country.
On 28 May 2021, the Biden administration submitted a much-delayed Defense Budget to Congress, asking for $715 billion for 2022, a 1.6% increase over the previous year’s $703.7 billion. This marginal increase highlights the U.S.’s shrinking capacities compared with China, which spends less than a third of the U.S. on defence. This Budget is focussed on challenges in the U.S.’s geographic vicinity, not the administration’s resolve to counter the threat of China from a position of strength.
On 3 March 2021, the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, commenced an official investigation into Israel and Palestinian Armed Groups' alleged war crimes committed in the occupied territories of Palestine since July 2014. Palestine, which referred the case, is a member of the ICC, but Israel is not. Does the ICC have any jurisdiction in these cases? Will US support for Israel play a role? The three instances in the table show precedents in similar matters.
On 18 Feb 2021, China and India completed a week-long border disengagement at Pangong Tso, ending a 10-month standoff. The Indian Army's Operation Snow Leopard, launched in late August 2020, provided India with strategic and tactical leverage during the negotiations. More broadly, India combined its political, technological, economic and diplomatic forces, creating a Comprehensive National Defense to counter Chinese adventurism. This infographic tracks the chronology of Indian actions, starting with the border standoff from Jan 2020 to last month's disengagement, nearly a year later.
The U.S. Navy Secretary, Kenneth Braithwaite, visited India on 17 Dec 2020. Will this year-end visit culminate in the reactivation of the First Fleet under the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command? The First Fleet, is likely to be an expeditionary fleet - one without a shore-based headquarters and assigned primary responsibility for the Indian Ocean and parts of Pacific Ocean bordering South Asia. Its reactivation will emphasise the strategic importance of this region. It will also relieve the burden of the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet headquartered in Japan, that is deployed for operations in this vast oceanic space.
Taiwan’s increasing threat of takeover from China by possible amphibious assault reveals the urgent need for the island to strengthen its defences. The commencement of the construction phase of the Indigenous Defence Submarine programme, is a crucial step in Taiwan’s quest to build a credible deterrence to counter sustained Chinese diplomatic and economic intimidation and technology denial.