ASEAN centrality is not what it used to be. Covid, post-pandemic economic recovery, the Ukraine crisis and the challenge of China all tested ASEAN capabilities to manage them. It is now up to ASEAN to work out its unity and centrality with a greater sense of responsibility.
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City-level climate action is gaining pace in India. This is crucial, given the country’s climate vulnerabilities and growing carbon footprint. Its success depends on mobilisation of climate finance, targeted devolution of central resources, inter-agency data-sharing and of course, public participation.
The Quad has agreed to launch a satellite-based maritime security initiative to curb illegal fishing by China. India is a global leader in satellite launches, especially in Earth Observation (EO) satellites. The Indo-Pacific nations are looking at the Indian model because it is applicable, economical, and sustainable.
The EU has been working on an India engagement for two decades now – a strategic partnership and a free trade engagement. It is finally being realised – the outcome of the visit of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to Delhi this month. The upgraded, ambitious partnership Europe’s long overdue pivot to India.
New global economic, military and political alliances are taking shape, and call for like-minded nations to calibrate their strategic, long term interests. The new India-Australia economic trade agreement is reflective of this. It also folds in a critical element: wide cooperation in cyber security, which now impacts the economy, democratic institutions and warfare. India has much to learn from Australia’s low key but smart cyber expertise.
The India-Russia leaders’ summit and ministerial meetings in New Delhi on Dec. 6, scored big. Differences were set aside to make transformative progress in defence, fintech and connectivity among other sectors, commencing a new era of India-Russia relations fit for the 21st century.
After successfully developing Dubai and Abu Dhabi as aerotropoli or cities around an aviation hub the United Arab Emirates aims to become an astropolis, a hub of space tourism and human spaceflight. There is ample scope for UAE to cooperate on this with India, which is also its comprehensive strategic partner.
Cyberattacks from Pakistan-based hacker groups targeting India have increased. The stepped-up cyber activity comes in the backdrop of Islamabad's new cyber security policy and expanded digital cooperation with China. India must bolster its existing abilities in cyber forensics and regulations to counter the enhanced Pakistani threat.
The Bay of Bengal is a natural bridge between South and South-East Asia, which New Delhi seeks to optimise. But progress on India's Act East policy has been slow, creating a space for China's Belt and Road Initiative to step into. While India cannot match China’s cheque-book diplomacy, it can use its start-up industry to pursue a combination of physical, technological and financial projects to improve regional connectivity.
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