As China’s global competitive edge is sharpening across the military, economic, diplomatic, and technological domains, it is clear that the extent to which the Quad countries (Australia, India, Japan, and the United States) can collaborate across all four domains will be an important factor in determining whether China’s hegemonic designs on the Indo-Pacific will succeed.
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China has been steadily increasing its influence within the United Nations using a combination of increased funding, strategically placing its key officials and selecting the most influential agencies and bodies to lead. The clusters of agencies headed by China are directly and indirectly linked to its domestic agendas like the Belt and Road Initiative, Make in China 2025 and the rise of Chinese companies. The world is just starting to take notice - and so must India.
Since the military coup in Myanmar on February 1, violence and protests have broken out across the country and are continuing. Supported by India and Japan, ASEAN has played a key role, by calling the emergency summit in Jakarta. It has bridged internal gaps and helped navigate the international community to a reconciliation of the crisis. India must continue support to such efforts, which aim for immediate and long-term peace.
The India-EU summit held May 8, was more ambitious than previous ones. Now the summit’s words must turn into action, an effort that will require continuous discussion, patient negotiation and uninterrupted dialogue between Delhi and Brussels. Will the two capitals be willing to compromise and find common ground that they have not managed to demonstrate before?
This India-EU summit was different from the ones past, and India is a significant gainer. A trade agreement and connectivity partnership aside, the EU has stepped up to help India during this emergency, viewing it not as a weak state but as a partner in distress. The geopolitical indicators for an enhanced engagement are now also in place.
In the past two weeks, the U.S. has been sending planeloads of aid to India. This is a welcome change from its previous hesitation, which turned around in four critical days. It reflects the importance of an effective Indian diaspora and of the Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with India.
The American decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan will strengthen the Afghan Taliban and possibly ensure its return to Kabul. This has implications for India’s security and economic interests in Afghanistan. India must step up its game by showing willingness to talk to the Taliban, while simultaneously expanding training assistance to the Afghan security forces.
With the space sector being divided into astro-political blocs, India can't afford to stay non-aligned. A recent treaty between China and Russia makes it plain for India that leaving space exploration to a few science aficionados can be dangerous. India needs a national space exploration strategy with tangible economic and meta-strategic goals in sight.
On 27th April, the President of the UN General Assembly convened a one-day High-Level Thematic Debate on Digital Cooperation and Connectivity, bringing together the international community to commit to a common digital future for all and leave no one offline – especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Manjeet Kripalani, Executive Director of Gateway House, was invited to deliver the Keynote Address in the Opening Plenary session, held virtually in the UN Assembly Hall. Her speech on digitalization as a public good, is below.
The Taliban should have been reintegrated into Afghan society several years ago. It is now probably too late to persuade them to accept anything less than a dominant role in Kabul. However, Turkey, Pakistan and the United States may have one last chance to pressure the antagonists into a negotiated settlement, perhaps along the following lines.