The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) presents a unique opportunity to develop a Blue Economy, with security, sustainability and business profitability as its three pillars. An IOR Defence Ministers' Conclave held on 4 February provided a platform to discuss regional cooperation, linking development with defence, and emphasized India's pivotal position within the IOR.
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In India, MeitY proposed amendments to the extant Intermediary Guidelines of 2011 in 2018 to include mandatory use of technology in content moderation and data disclosures to the government. These are still under review as the government seeks to align it with the pending Personal Data Protection Bill.
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.
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 recently imposed import embargo on 101 items in the defence sector indicates that the government has confidence in indigineous defence-industrial capacity to fulfill the requirements of the Indian military, without resorting to imports.
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.
With more than 130 and 119 million users respectively, Chinese apps such as UC Browser and TikTok are not merely internet products, but serious content aggregators in India. But the final control of data collected by these apps resides in China, and this creates a grave risk to national security.