The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) presents a unique opportunity to develop a Blue Economy, with security, sustainability and business profitability as its three pillars. An IOR Defence Ministers' Conclave held on 4 February provided a platform to discuss regional cooperation, linking development with defence, and emphasized India's pivotal position within the IOR.
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During the Bay of Bengal Economic Dialogue 2021 on, Post-COVID Challenges in the Bay of Bengal Region, Amb. Rajiv Bhatia, Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, Gateway House addresses the staggered growth of BIMSTEC, whilst also highlighting its potential as a regional grouping. He identifies the lack of political commitment, bureaucratic inertia and insufficient engagement of the Third Space and disregard for the region as a community as the chief obstacles to a successful initiative.
The U.K. is out of the EU, and re-positioning itself into the idea of Global Britain, seeking partnerships into diverse groupings and regions. India was an early strategic, defence and digital outreach, but a serious pivot has been made to broader Asia for trade and investment linkages, with vigorous follow-up. The re-entry and acceptance of Britain in Asia, has implications.
The recently-enacted China Coast Guard laws have renewed uncertainty in the South China Sea. India must work with the Quad to build collective maritime competence of maritime law enforcement agencies beyond the Indian Ocean Region within the Indo-Pacific.
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. Nevertheless, 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.
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.
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.
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.
On December 15, 2020, Gateway House co-hosted a webinar with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung on Europe in the Indo-Pacific. The panel included: Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon KCB, Member, Indo-Pacific Commission, Policy Exchange, UK, Former Secretary of State of Defence, UK; Karin Mössenlechner Director, Asia and Oceania Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands; Dr. Axel Berkofsky, Co-Head of the Asia Center at Istituto per gli studi di politica internazionale (ISPI), Italy and Peter Max Rimmele, Resident Representative to India, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
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.