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. Still, 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.
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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.
Should the Quad be formalized? It has evolved from a crisis response group in 2004 to a strategic partnership today between the four member-countries – India, the U.S., Australia and Japan. There are benefits and challenges to the institutionalisation of the Quad which require timely analysis, especially as the group has renewed vigour this year with the COVID-19 pandemic and China’s aggression in the Indo-Pacific region.
Saudi Arabia hosted the G20 Summit on 21-22 November, this year. A strategy to protect the global economy, which is the heart of the G20’s existence, was reflected in the updated G20 Action Plan, a clear by-product of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the immediate, is the plan for a resilient and long-lasting recovery.
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.
India will be hosting the Heads of Government Summit of the SCO on 30 November -the first time as host to a major SCO meeting, which it joined as a full member in 2017. The goal will be to connect the past of Central Asia and India to their present and future. The sweep of medieval history will then join the 21st century to bring prosperity to both regions.
In November this year, India will be hosting the Shanghai Cooperation Council (SCO) exhibition “Shared Buddhist Heritage” to coincide with the SCO Council of Heads of Government Meeting and two Ministerial Level Meetings. This paper recommends a theme on India’s Buddhist legacy in the SCO, which ties together three important Buddhist historical narratives (based on archaeological evidence), that can add heft to India’s leadership in reviving people-to-people ties through Buddhism amongst the eight member nations
The expansion in membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is an opportunity to review, possibly revise and widen the scope of its Charter to make it more suited to address the concerns of all its members, including new ones like India. This paper recommends what the changes in the SCO Charter ought to be by comparing it with the successful ASEAN charter.