Dhaka recently hosted the Indian Ocean Conference 2023, a multi-country event featuring speakers and participants from the Indian Ocean countries. In recent years, Bangladesh has gone from a ‘basket-case’ to a case study in progress, and across Dhaka are signs of a city undergoing dramatic change.
The Sri Lankan economy is showing signs of stabilizing after experiencing the worst contraction in its history in 2022. Decisive policies by President Ranil Wickremasinghe, timely Indian aid, and an IMF Programme have laid the groundwork for a return to growth. India and Sri Lanka must now shift from an aid relationship to one which deepens bilateral trade and investment flows.
India, as chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, hosted the foreign ministers’ meet in Goa last week. What would have been an important and expanding regional grouping has been complicated by the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the increased influence of China and an obstructionist Pakistan. Still, India has played its role with an eye on the long term.
India’s Northeast is developing and getting close to its goal of being part of the Indian mainstream in connectivity and business – which is also critical for the success of India’s Act East Policy. For both goals, Bangladesh and Japan are invaluable partners and friends. The troika’s collaboration can be a model in the region.
On 17-18 January, 2023, Rajiv Bhatia, Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies Programme, Gateway House participated in the 14th South Asia Conference on the theme “Think20@G20: Towards a Resilient South Asia” hosted by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi. Amb. Bhatia suggests that in due course, BIMSTEC should be given the status of a permanent guest in G20.
Tilak Devasher's book The Pashtuns: A Contested History delves into the Pashtun tribe, highlighting its geopolitical significance and far-reaching consequences in the South Asian region. Reviewer Tim Willasey-Wilsey says the book brilliantly explains how the Pashtuns were strong-armed into joining Pakistan and why the prospect of Pashtun unity poses a threat to security in Pakistan and the entire region.
India’s economy is looking bright, but there is a shadow in its neighbourhood. Pakistan’s fast deteriorating political and economic condition can create fresh uncertainties for India on the national security and economic security front.
2023 brings responsibility and opportunity for India. As the host of the G20 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the world will be watching closely. With this authority, comes challenges encapsulated by five C’s: Covid, Contraction, Climate crisis, Conflict and China. If India is able to use its opportunity, the year could end with India viewed as a near-great power, an international bridge-builder, and a successful democracy.
Tilak Devasher’s book on the Pashtuns brings out the dynamics of the Pashtun, their code, their relationship with Islam and with Pakistan. It contextualizes the current geo-political challenges in South Asia, making it required reading for those who want to understand not only the Pashtuns but regional strategic and security dynamics.