India has had big successes during its first stint as an observer in the Arctic Council. Since then, the country has made substantial progress in its climate action pledges and developed comprehensive strategies to mitigate climate change. With its re-election, India can now offer much more to the global organisation's role in promoting environmental stability in the polar region.
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The 17th Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) ministerial meeting was held on 1 April 2021. Though the grouping is ready to move forward, a number of obstacles stand in the way of this, including regional tensions, uncertainties surrounding SAARC and China's involvement in the multilateral. As BIMSTEC is to celebrate the silver jubilee of its formation next year, can it achieve its goal, to effect “a paradigm-shift in raising the level of cooperation and regional integration"?
Following the lead set by the U.S. and Israel, India is now tapping its domestic start-up ecosystem for technological innovation and self-reliance in defence. Indian entrepreneurs are developing niche technologies which will boost the Indian military’s combat capabilities. They are also enabling the much-needed commercial synergy with Silicon Valley venture firms.
As the density of satellites increases in Earth's orbit, extreme space weather events like solar storms and radiation whiplashes threaten satellite constellations. A ‘whole-of-government’ approach is needed to address the challenges of space weather on India’s converging space and digital economies.
This month marks the beginning of triple celebrations in Bangladesh, including the 50th anniversary of its independence, for which Prime Minister Modi will be traveling to Dhaka as the guest of honour. There is much to celebrate: A country that began as a case study for development is now on top of the global GDP charts. The springboard was achieved through a thriving textiles industry, women's workforce participation, micro finance, liberal investment policies. There is much to learn from this neighbour.
With an increasing human and robotic footprint in the solar system, there is a need to develop robust regulatory mechanisms to prevent the “forward” and “backward” biochemical contamination of these unexplored celestial bodies.
The first-ever Quad Leaders' Summit on March 12, 2021 was a defining moment in Asian geopolitics, with the promise of a strong political commitment in the future. A joint op-ed by the Quad leaders stated a number of priorities for the grouping, ranging from security in the Indo-Pacific to climate change to vaccine partnerships. This is a crucial partnership for India, as this grouping of democracies will reinforce Indian diplomatic initiatives, launching the country into global relevance.
In its recent itineration, the Quad (or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) has been toiling since 2017, through deliberations among mid-level and senior officials, to develop a common vision for the challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region, challenges caused by China's menacing rise and aggressive behaviour.
In principle, India supports democracy everywhere, but is also committed to non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. But instability in Myanmar could trigger support for insurgency in India's North east, which is now on the path to progress. Accelerating the completion of India’s development cooperation projects in Myanmar will send a positive signal for regional stability.
As more countries pursue missions to Mars, planetary explorations are evolving from being science-driven scientific pursuits to an economics-driven one. For India, commercializing planetary exploration must be a national priority. This demands more attention and contributions from the private sector - especially startups and innovative companies - to ensure a vibrant space program.