Hailed as the highest altitude tunnel in the world, the Atal Tunnel at Rohtang pass in Himachal Pradesh is a significant part of India’s border infrastructure push. It has reduced travel time from Manali to Leh and forward areas. It is significant for national defence as also tourism because it provides all-weather connectivity to the Lahaul-Spiti Valley.
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As President Joe Biden completes his first month in office, his foreign policy on China and the Indo-Pacific will come under scrutiny. The choices made will be significant as they will define the future prospects of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. Given China’s long-term and comprehensive challenges, which encompass both, security and economy-technology, the Quad will have to respond with a matching strategy.
The maturing private space sector in the U.S. has learned to raise money from the market in the form of sectoral equity-traded funds. Such financing mechanisms will keep the U.S. ahead in the global space economy, which is slated to grow manifold from $430 billion now to $4 trillion by 2040. India's fledgling private space ecosystem, financiers, and stock exchanges can learn from the U.S. and do the same for India's newly reformed private space sector.
On February 1, the Myanmar army seized power, turning a partial democracy into a full-fledged military rule, once again. Whenever democracy suffers, India feels concerned. However, New Delhi is committed to the policy of non-interference in another state’s internal affairs. It is also guided by its national interest and will astutely balance principles, values, interests, and geopolitical realities.
On Jan 16, India will roll out its Covid-19 vaccination programme, the world’s largest. It puts India in the exclusive club of the V-5 anti-Corona vaccine producers, providing an opportunity for the country to scale up its pharma ecosystem and become a net provider of global health security.
India needs a policy mix that nurtures the Space 2.0 industry, secures it from hostile takeovers and predatory investments from overseas investors, and does not suffocate it under excessive protectionism.
The recent in-person Quad meeting attended by external affairs minister S. Jaishankar and the India-U.S. 2+2 meeting of foreign and defence ministers in New Delhi, highlights not only the big upgrade in India’s strategic relations with the U.S. but also the enhanced U.S. focus on India, the Indo-Pacific and Asia. Clearly then, the foreign policy of the next U.S. administration will impact India, Asia and the world.
The record of regional cooperation on rivers since India's independence in 1947 is one of several successes, with some contestations. In contrast to the past when governments strove to divide and share river waters, the endeavor has now shifted to thinking about comprehensive river basin development which makes the process even more complex. India’s policy on transboundary river governance must now also be aware of the increasing importance of Indo-Pacific in the global geopolitics.
The delivery of five Rafale fighter jets last month is a big boost for Indian military capacity. The government's recent ban on the import of 101 defence items is a major step forward in building domestic defence-industrial capabilities. Partnering with like-minded diplomatic partners and adopting emerging technologies will help India in this endeavour.
After the strategic digital pushback against Chinese investments and apps, India should turn its attention to the biggest Chinese domination tool – 5G. This is the mother lode that enables the efficient gathering of data, which when mined, results in product enhancement and pricing benefits to products listed in China 2025 and helps China set global standards. There is an urgency for alternate suppliers of 5G equipment and other technologies to avoid relying on China.