Modi’s new diplomatic instruments for a new India

A crowd listens to Narendra Modi deliver a speech in Australia during a recent visit. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Purnendra Jain, University of Adelaide and Tridivesh Singh Maini, O.P. Jindal Global University

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking new ways to enhance India’s global diplomacy. Modi is pursuing two paths largely overlooked by analysts of India’s foreign policy: to connect with the Indian diaspora and to encourage links with subnational governments at state and city levels. Read more…

What can India learn from its investment treaty with the UAE?

Indian commuters wait on an over-crowded platform to board a local train at a suburb railway station in Mumbai, India, 8 July 2014. Indian Railways is to request government permission for private investment, both domestic and foreign, to help expansion and improve safety and amenities. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Kavaljit Singh, Madhyam

In December 2013, despite an ongoing official review of its existing agreements, the Indian government signed a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with the United Arab Emirates. Information on the deal was recently made public by the Ministry of Finance after persistent efforts by civil society groups. Read more…

Sri Lanka tilts to Beijing

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Author: David Brewster, ANU

A sea change is occurring in Sri Lanka’s strategic orientation. Recent developments suggest that Sri Lanka is becoming China’s new best friend and security partner in the eastern Indian Ocean. This would represent a major change in Sri Lanka’s foreign policy and could have significant consequences for regional security. Read more…

A new vision for Australia-India relations

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Author: Sourabh Gupta, Samuels International

Australia and India have not always been the best of friends.

Seven Indian prime ministers from across the political spectrum and spanning three decades have come and gone without paying a state visit to Canberra, a record broken only now with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Australia following the Brisbane G20 Summit. Four unreciprocated visits were made by Australian prime ministers during the latter half of this period. Read more…

India ready to tackle a QE-less future

Indian Finance, Corporate Affairs and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley speaks during an event unveiling a Victoria Cross memorial plaque and individual memorials in New Delhi on October 30, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Ashima Goyal, IGIDR

India was one of the hardest hit of the emerging markets after the US Federal Reserve first hinted it would cut back its quantitative easing program in May 2013. There were three reasons for this. First, global markets over-reacted. Second, India had many macroeconomic weaknesses. Third, since its capital markets were deep and liquid enough, they offered an avenue for portfolio managers targeting reduced exposure to emerging markets.

But since this blow, there have been corrections in all three areas. So the final withdrawal of US quantitative easing (QE), which the US Federal Reserve announced at the end of October, will not have a similar effect on the Indian economy. Read more…

No easy task for India’s labour reforms

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Author: Pravakar Sahoo, IEG

Investors find labour laws in India restrictive. Although progress has been made since reforms began in 1991, the labour market is still subjected to around 250 labour rules at the central and state level. India, a democracy, has found it harder than China — where labour laws are more flexible and business friendly — to undertake important reforms. Read more…

India’s look east policy needs a multilateral vantage point

Indian Premier Narendra Modi shakes hands with his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif prior to a meeting in New Delhi, India, 27 May 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sanjay Pulipaka, ICRIER, New Delhi

Active interest by India’s new leadership has provided an adrenaline shot to the flagging discourse on South Asian regionalism. During interactions with South Asian leaders on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, Modi reiterated the need for greater regional integration in South Asia. Read more…

Time for India to punch above its weight with Japan

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Authors: Keshav Kelkar and Marc McCrum, UBC

Since taking office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made efforts to entice foreign investment into India and to establish closer ties with Japan. Warm diplomatic gestures between Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have garnered considerable attention, with some commentators arguing that Modi’s recent visit to Japan marks the beginning of a new Indo-Japanese relationship aimed at countering China’s growing influence in the region. Others have referred to ‘India’s pivot to Japan’ and ‘Japan’s pivot to India’. Read more…

Modi’s UN speech shows his foreign policy will walk a well-worn path

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters, 27 Sept, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Krishnendra Meena, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Many have hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden speech to the United Nations General Assembly as a historic shift away from the speeches of past Indian heads of government. But in reality, Modi’s speech is more a continuation of the Indian government’s stance on many international issues, albeit with more flourish and charisma, which comes naturally to Modi when he speaks in Hindi. Read more…

The future of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) speaks with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang (R) after visiting an exhibition of innovative technologies at the Open Innovations Forum in Moscow, Russia, 14 October 2014.  (Photo: AAP).

Author: Swagata Saha, Observer Research Foundation

China recently reaffirmed that it backs India and Pakistan becoming members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). At the 14th meeting of the Council of Heads of States of SCO on 12 September, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for full membership for SCO observers, including India and Pakistan. Read more…

India’s misguided schools policy shutting out the poor

Indian school students stand with letters of the English alphabet. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ken Schoolland, Hawaii Pacific University

Millions of children are being shut out of India’s schools by legislation that predated the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is the message of a petition by the Centre for Civil Society, which states: ‘Today, 3,494,520 children are out of school, due to the fact that 19,414 private schools across 17 states have been closed’. But few in India are hopeful that this recent shift in power will bring about a liberalisation of education policy in the near term. Read more…

Are free trade agreements a dead end for India?

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Author: Biswajit Dhar, Jawaharlal Nehru University

When India began negotiations with ASEAN in 2004 for a free trade agreement (FTA) covering the goods sector, it marked a major step in the evolution of the country’s engagement with the global economy.

The agreement signalled a departure from India’s previous position regarding bilateral and regional agreements. Until its deepened engagement with ASEAN in 2003, India was almost unequivocally wedded to the multilateral trading system. Read more…

India’s coal tax is not the best path to a low-carbon economy

An increased tax on coal will help to reduce Indian carbon emissions, but there are more efficient ways of achieving this goal. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Anshuman Sahoo, Stanford University

India’s 2014–15 budget doubled the rate of tax on coal from 50 rupees (US$0.82) to 100 rupees (US$1.64) per metric tonne. Though the additional revenue could accelerate the deployment of renewable energy technologies in India, the increase in coal tax is not an unambiguous step in the ‘right’ direction of lowering the carbon intensity of the Indian economy. Read more…

Border issues gnaw at stronger India–China trade ties

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Authors: Geethanjali Nataraj and Richa Sekhani, Observer Research Foundation

India’s modern relationship with China, beginning in the 1950s when India was the first non-socialist bloc country to rekindle relations, has been volatile — underscored by border disputes, post-colonial bonhomie and Asian solidarity. In 2008, China emerged as India’s largest trading partner — boosting bilateral strategic and military relations as well. Read more…