It has been a year since the democratically elected Myanmar government was overthrown in a military coup. Since then, economic instability and the pandemic have taken a toll on the nation. ASEAN's mediatory endeavours and Western sanctions have shown limited results. New Delhi's diplomacy must support ASEAN, while remaining pragmatic and protecting its interests in the country.
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Since August 2021, Western Europe has faced a problem with renewable energy, causing it to turn to natural gas as an emergency alternative. This has led to a significant increase in gas prices and has serious implications for fertiliser and food prices. If this trend continues, it will be likely to cause food insecurity especially in poorer nations which do not have the monetary cushion of the West.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla's visit to Myanmar has implications for New Delhi's recognition of the new military government in Naypyidaw. India can support ASEAN to stabilise Myanmar, while also checking Chinese influence in that country. For stability in the neighbourhood is crucial to India's own security.
Nine great powers and a number of important multilaterals have vested interests in the Indo-Pacific. Given the U.S.-China standoff in the region, the role of new groupings like the Quad and AUKUS is significant. The time is ripe for India to use its position in the region, and convert its humanitarian duties into economic and strategic opportunities in 2022.
Last month, an Indian delegation led by Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla, visited Myanmar and met with the military leadership. Bilateral discussions prioritised border security, economic cooperation and refugee issues. New Delhi must carefully balance its relations with Naypyitaw, with a dual focus on cross-border projects and restabilising democratic rule in the country.
India has a long-standing and unique relationship with Africa. However, China's presence and influence has resulted in geopolitical competition, with the two Asian nations vying to expand and deepen their engagement with Africa. Beijing's footprint is considerable, with a long-term strategic objective. To strengthen ties with the continent, New Delhi must match Beijing's ascendancy and lay down mutually beneficial goals. The excerpt from this expansive book on Indo-African engagement examines the Chinese presence in Africa, African agency in external partnerships and the importance of recognising African needs to devise better policies by competing nations.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla is on a crucial visit to Nyapitaw, meeting with the military government and opposition for the first time since the military coup this year. This is part of New Delhi's diplomatic agenda for Myanmar, which includes border management and striking a balance between strengthening democracy and supporting the military, amid dynamic regional geopolitics.
India and Russia are natural partners for energy collaboration. India imports 85% of its oil while Russia is one of the largest exporters. An expanded bilateral investment strategy, especially in liquefied natural gas can help Russia access new markets and India meet its energy requirements. This mutually beneficial collaboration can re-affirm trust between the two countries, amidst complex geopolitical realities.
On November 26, the first flight took off from Kushinagar Airport in Uttar Pradesh, set up to help Buddhist pilgrims reach the Mahaparinirvana Temple, where Lord Buddha attained nirvana. Promoting India's Buddhist legacy can lead New Delhi's effort to revive diplomacy between the SCO's eight member nations.
The new Omicron variant of COVID-19 has caused concern across the globe, especially in Africa. India has shown solidarity with the continent, extending supplies of Made in India vaccines, drugs and medical equipment. Despite some setbacks, there is vast potential for Indo-African collaboration based on strategic advantages and mutual goals.