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.
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The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has increased global oil prices and highlighted India's vulnerability to price shocks. Green hydrogen is a viable alternative for India to diversify its energy sources and maintain energy security. It will need a concerted effort by government, private companies and start-ups with venture funds focused on green hydrogen.
The Bay of Bengal is gaining relevance as a significant sub-region within the Indo-Pacific. Despite its importance to regional security, there is inadequate financial, physical, and energy connectivity. India must use its strategic and political pre-eminence and influence in the sub-region to pursue deeper connectivity with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal, and Sri Lanka and to block China's growing influence.
Last month, at a hybrid meeting, the Foreign Ministers of India, the U.S., Israel, and the UAE set up a forum for quadrilateral cooperation. In the many issues discussed, the technology dimension shows the most potential for collaboration, with unique contributions of expertise and resources available from each country's tech hubs: Bengaluru, Silicon Valley, Dubai and Tel Aviv.
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.
The recent Quad Leaders' Summit set cybersecurity cooperation as a priority for the four countries. The Quad leaders also announced the creation of a Senior Cyber Group, a joint effort on establishing cyber standards and security. This builds on an already-robust collaboration, especially since Quad members have shared cyber threat perceptions.
In June this year, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency collaborated with Honda Research to build an energy system for surface mobility on the moon. SpaceX and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Tesla and Mitsubishi Motors have similar alliances, reflecting the increased participation of the automotive sector in the space economy. Tokyo wants its biggest export, automobiles, to pick up stakes in this space. India should have a similar ambition. The May 2020 space reforms recognise the significance of commercialising the space sector. But now is the time for long-term R&D investments in the domestic auto sector, to help India step into this play.
The simultaneous rise of India's tech unicorns with the unexpected crackdown by China on its star tech players, is an interesting study. India will certainly be a beneficiary of China's move, which is likely to scare foreign capital away. There's plenty on offer in India, with nearly 60 IPOs scheduled for a 2021 listing.
As the private or autonomous space industry becomes more developed, an interesting phenomena is occurring. The public sector which runs space programmes has lagged behind, but also profits from the recent success of private space companies are limited to direct stakeholders. After a decade of private investment, it is worth assessing why countries like the U.S., Russia, China and India have pursued independence from government entities in space over the last decade.
The idea of a U.S.-India-Israel trilateral cooperation is not unknown, but rather unfulfilled. Diaspora associations have repeatedly raised the idea of a technology triangle amongst the three countries, and in 2020, the three countries explored a potential cooperation in 5G communication technology. On these terms, taking advantage of the bilateral synergies and establishing a start-up corridor between Tel Aviv, Silicon Valley, and Bengaluru, can launch this partnership.