Low global commodity prices, strong FDI inflows, and sustained growth have boosted the Indian economy in the preceding decade. This favourable economic climate, however, was disrupted by the pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine, exposing vulnerabilities in the global economic system. This paper focuses on India’s economic security challenges, particularly in six sectors - Food, Energy, Finance, Data, Space & Undersea Cables and Critical Minerals - and suggests possible courses of action.
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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 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.
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.
In June 2019, BITS Pilani became the first academic institution, globally, to offer a Master’s programme in Digital Manufacturing. The programme, currently open only to working professionals, focuses on developing an expertise in the manufacturing of the future including Industrial IoT, additive manufacturing, big data analytics, industrial cybersecurity, and logistics and supply chain optimisation. The ongoing pandemic has exponentially increased digital adoption, increasing the demand for the study of digital manufacturing within corporate India.
For years, Western countries have used sanctions as a means of economic warfare against their adversaries. Now, China and Russia are utilising the same tactic against the West. The United Nations Security Council is paralysed by differences between the five permanent members, leaving the tools of unilateral sanctions and counter-sanctions to proliferate at the cost of UN-approved multilateral sanctions.
Border regions and communities, some of them far from the heartland, constitute India’s first line of defence, a critical link in its national security. India’s 15,000-km borders touch seven neighbouring countries: Afghanistan (abutting Gilgit), Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Bangladesh, Myanmar. Border regions have their own local dynamics, often shaped by subnational and religious identities that do not necessarily align neatly with political borders. Some also serve as flourishing corridors for illegal smuggling of goods and humans. Technology plays an important role in better protecting borders, but in some cases it has made borders obsolete. Despite their importance, border regions do not receive the full attention of the Indian mainstream, except when border tensions arise.
Pakistan is about to launch two military satellites in June with aid from China. It is pursuing its renewed space programme, using the same clandestine tactics it used for developing its atomic programme
China is steadily deploying state-of-the-art communications systems to connect its strategic and economic assets in Asia. It is then linkingthe Asian mainland to Africa, and Africa to South America. The investment spree is rapidly making Beijing a major player in global telecommunications – and ‘informationisation warfare’.