India’s Look East policy in need of a relook

Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh listens during the 7th East Asia Summit plenary session as part of the 21st ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh, November 2012. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tridivesh Singh Maini, New Delhi

Does India’s foreign policy suffer from alack of consistent and innovative outreach policies in Southeast Asia?

At a recent East-West Centre conference in Yangon, most participants seemed to feel the answer was yes. Such criticisms are worth mentioning because India’s immediate neighbours, such as Nepal and Sri Lanka often complain that New Delhi intervenes a touch too much in their internal affairs. Some go so far as to argue that China, in spite of being more powerful than India, does not exhibit the same hegemonistic tendencies. Read more…

A view from the India-Bangladesh border

Members of the India-Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Committee rally behind the fence marking the border between India and Bangladesh. Both the border and the bilateral relationship are far from static. (Photo: Jason Cons)

Author: Jason Cons, Bucknell University

On 18 December 2013, the Indian National Congress party government introduced a bill in parliament to facilitate the realisation of the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh. This bill was the latest in a long series of attempts to enable the exchange of 161 enclaves Read more…

Incredible India?

The Qutab Minar is silhoutted against the setting sun in New Delhi during the launch of the Clean India campaign aimed at keeping tourist destinations and public places clean. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Manjula Chaudhary, Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management

‘Incredible India’, an international marketing campaign launched by the Indian government, incorporates images of a vibrant heritage that would seem to guarantee tourism success. India is, after all, a country the size of a continent, bestowed with a variety of natural attractions, archaeological remains, and monuments that showcase over 5000 years of history. Read more…

Break down the barriers to trade in South Asia

Harbour cranes unload cargo from a container ship at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Navi Mumbai, India (Photo: Jaxer / Wikipedia).

Authors: Abhirup Bhunia, IEG and Geethanjali Nataraj, ORF

It is widely thought that non-tariff barriers to trade (NTBs) are the main obstacles to intra-regional trade in South Asia. Intra-regional trade in South Asia is merely 5 per cent as compared to 58 per cent in the EU, 52 per cent in the NAFTA region, and 26 per cent in the ASEAN zone. Read more…

Energy security would mean a brighter future for India

A young Indian girl reads a book by candle light during a regular load shedding in Mainakhurung on the outskirts of Gauhati, India. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Nanda Kumar Janardhanan, IGES

Satisfying the energy needs of one-sixth of the global population is a Herculean task for India. With a fifth of the population still living below the poverty line, as estimated by the Planning Commission of India, there is an increasing need for an efficient, mission-oriented energy strategy that meets the energy needs of its population and helps eradicate poverty. Access to modern energy sources is not a luxury: it is a basic need. Read more…

Will visa power boost India’s tourism?

A man wears traditional costume at the booth of India, during the International Tourism Fair in Berlin, March 2014.

Author: R. Harish, IBS, India

The Indian government recently decided to extend visa-on-arrival to 180 countries — hoping to provide a much-needed boost to tourist inflows. Previously, visa-on-arrival was available to the citizens of only 11 countries that account for just 7.5 per cent of tourist arrivals into India. Read more…

India’s child trafficking epidemic

Liberated Indian child labourers enjoy a tram ride for the city on the World Day Against Child Labour on 12 June 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Biswajit Ghosh, University of Burdwan

National and international pressure to address child trafficking in India has failed to produce results. The Supreme Court of India has also issued directives to the government to take the matter seriously. But there has been little effort to link increasing cases of missing children with the flurry of trafficking. The country is now faced with an epidemic of child trafficking Read more…

Will the ‘India boom’ shake Japan?

Two apprentice geisha from Kyoto appear at a cultural exchage event in New Delhi in India on 22 February 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Richard Katz, TOE

Once again, talk of an ‘India boom’ has emerged in Japan.

This year, India came in second (behind Indonesia) in a government survey on the top countries in which Japanese firms want to set up operations in the medium term and first in the long term— and, at last count, nearly 1000 Japanese firms had already set up there. Some of these new firms are suppliers to Japanese companies who already have operations in India. Read more…

It’s time to get down to business in India

An Indian Loop Mobile staff member speaks with a customer at a company store in Mumbai on February 18 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Deepanshu Mohan, O.P. Jindal Global University

In a recent interview, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Raghuram Rajan, stressed the need to pay more attention to one of the most underestimated issues currently facing the Indian economy: the country’s poor performance in the ease of doing business. It is undeniable that Indian policymakers and legislators have neglected this issue for too long, leading to a downgrading of India’s business and investor environment. Read more…

Beyond Bali: imperatives for reforming India’s food security system

Farmers cut paddy in a field in Baruipur village, about 20 kilometers south of Kolkata, India. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Raghbendra Jha, ANU

India agreed to an interim ‘peace clause’ on its food subsidy policies at the ninth ministerial conference of the WTO held in Bali in December 2013. While the Indian media largely heralded this decision as a triumph for India’s food security policy, a closer inspection of what was actually agreed to shows that this optimism could be misplaced. Read more…

India needs original thinking to lift its economy

Welfare Society members distribute free food to passers-by at a roadside in Amritsar on 29 January 2014. India's economy grew at a decade low of five percent in 2013 - a far cry from near-double digit expansion during the nation's boom times - due in part to high interest rates to combat inflation that have slowed borrowing and spending. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Rajiv Kumar, CPR

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) took the market by surprise by raising the repo rate (the rate at which the central bank lends money to commercial banks in the event of a shortfall of funds) on 28 January by 0.25 per cent to 8 per cent.

But to those who have followed the recommendations of the Urjit Patel Committee (UPC), the measure will be seen as consistent with the RBI’s declared target of bringing headline CPI inflation to below 8 per cent. With this move, the RBI has tried to move ahead of the curve of inflationary expectations, in line with its new official policy of inflation targeting. Read more…

How can Asia protect its water resources?

Children collect water from a hand pump in an urban slum in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Most slums in India lack clean water, electricity, sanitation and other basic services. (Photo: Sukhminder Dosanj/USAID)

Author: Justine Doody, ECFR

Asia’s economic growth has been one of the success stories of the 21st century. But the economic rise of countries such as China, India, Vietnam and Indonesia has created serious pressure on their environmental resources, particularly their water supplies. Read more…

India’s unknown king-makers

Chief Minister Gujarat state and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi takes part in the election campaign in Ahmedabad on February 12, 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Mahendra Ved, New Delhi

India is now preparing for its 16th general election, to be held in April or May, and it promises to be the most difficult yet to predict. India has had coalition governments for nearly two decades, and no single party will sweep the polls this time either. This is despite the hype surrounding Narendra Modi, from the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It will be a numbers game to decide the winners, and since neither national party is expected to gain a clear majority on its own, success will depend upon the allies they can marshal, before and — more importantly — after the poll. Read more…

Alliances not leaders will decide 2014 Indian elections

Indian supporters of ruling Congress Party sit near a portrait of party President Sonia Gandhi in Bardoli, south of Gujarat, 8 February 2014. In January, the party announced that Rahul Gandhi, heir to the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, would lead the Congress party campaign for the elections but refrained from naming him as the prime ministerial candidate. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Arun R. Swamy, University of Guam

Political posturing in India has not changed since 1999, when there was a fascist party posing as a conservative one, and a royalist party posing as a liberal one. The posturing continues, but since then the Indian National Congress (INC) party has embraced coalition politics. And it may now be in a stronger position to attract allies than its rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Read more…

India’s obsession with university rankings

Indian students walk outside Khalsa College in Amritsar on 5 July, 2013.  President of the Governing Council, Khalsa College Amritsar (KCA), Satyajit Singh Majithia said that the 121 year old Khalsa College Amritsar, which was established in 1892, has become the first amongst the colleges affiliated with Guru Nanak Dev University, to be an autonomous college. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Ranjit Goswami, IMT

In India it has become fashionable to bemoan the poor global rankings of higher education institutes. In the three widely regarded global university rankings of 2013, the Shanghai Ranking, QS World University Ranking and Times Higher Education (THE) Ranking, India has no institute in the top 200. Only one Indian institute figured in the Shanghai Ranking’s top 500, while five made the top 400 in both the QS and THE rankings. Read more…