South Asia requires resilient and cost-effective regional supply chains. This can be achieved through Indian investment, fostering local linkages while reducing dependency on Chinese financing of regional partners. A new approach enhances India's regional influence, creating a win-win scenario for the entire South Asian neighbourhood in a changing global landscape.
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When the 154-year-old man-made Suez Canal became operational, it reduced the voyage between Europe and India from four months to 30 days. It made Egypt the centre for the development of modern tourism in the mid-19th century, attracting entrepreneurs from across empires. A brisk business grew with the Sindhis from the Bombay Presidency, who made the Egyptian free ports and Cairo as their first overseas bases.
Tensions in West Asia have disrupted global shipping and revived interest in the Chennai-Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor. Better freight and passenger connectivity between Southern India and Russia’s Far East will open new areas for bilateral cooperation such as the export of machinery, auto parts and engineering goods from India, and progressively integrate the economies of the two countries.
Recent attacks on commercial shipping vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden by the Houthis have led to increased costs and global trade disruptions, and drawn the Indian Ocean into the ongoing conflict in West Asia. Most at risk are Indian seamen, who comprise the officer and saillor class of these vessels. Michael Pinto, former Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, Government of India, speaks with us about ensuring maritime security and safe passage.
Two climate and environment conferences in December 2023, one with global attention in Dubai and the other with a hyper-local focus in the Eastern Himalayas, highlighted the need for a more nuanced conversation on climate and forced population displacement. They both point to a need for a multi-factored model in the analytical approach to forced migration.
President Emmanuel Macron is the Chief Guest for India's Republic Day celebration. This comes six months after Prime Minister Modi went to Paris as the Chief Guest for France's Bastille Day. It marks a special continuum in the India-France bilateral, and the growing convergence of their respective visions which include a shared dedication to strategic autonomy, an understanding between friends, and the maturity of the bilateral.
The proximity in the Indo-French relationship is reflected in the countries' increasing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. An ambitious joint Indo-Pacific roadmap is supported by the Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative and the recently announced Indo-Pacific Triangular Development Cooperation Fund. Both partners must now devise timelines for the implementation of the proposals.
India and France are both large energy importers with a shared interest in stable prices and decarbonisation. They have much to offer each other. France is a leader in nuclear power and green hydrogen, and can help India with the technology it needs. India, with its large and growing market, can help bring down the cost of these technologies and mainstream them.
Bhutan’s newly elected People’s Democratic Party is inclined to modernize the bilateral ties with India through investment and commercial ties with cities like Mumbai and Bangalore. This is the moment for New Delhi to view Bhutan with a new, non-linear lens, to deepening ties with a valuable neighbhour.
Maldives’ President Mohammed Muizzu’s desire to have an independent foreign policy has steered it away from India and closer to China. It has added a new dimension to the strategic contestation in the Indian Ocean. Rajiv Bhatia, Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, shares his insights on the Maldives’ strategic importance in the region, the ‘India Out’ campaign, and the way forward for Indian diplomacy in South Asia.