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Future Directions International Strategic Weekly Analysis December 2, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : Future Directions International, South Asia - General , trackback

This week’s Strategic Weekly Analysis has several pieces of South Asia interest:

India’s “Neighbourhood Policy”: Internal Challenges

India’s policy of engaging its neighbours appears to be paying dividends of late, as relations with all the surrounding countries seem to be improving. This is happening outside the framework of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC), with New Delhi actively engaging neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and, of course, Pakistan. India has also been very pro-active in its relationship with non-SAARC member, Burma.

Evolving “Mental Maps”: India as an Asia-Pacific Power

In April 1942, an invincible Japanese army stood at India’s eastern border after having conquered the whole of South-East Asia in the space of a few weeks. The Royal Navy largely withdrew to Africa and many believed that the gates to British India lay open. But the Japanese Army stopped where it was and never seriously tried to overthrow the British Raj. There were several reasons why, but underlying it all was the simple fact that India did not then form part of Japan’s “mental map” of Asia.

India Prepares for Mammoth Food Security Task

The Indian Cabinet is expected to agree by 10 December 2011 to the National Food Security Bill, which was released for comment in August. The Bill gives the government the power to offer cash transfers or food coupons to priority households, estimated to be up to 46 per cent of the country’s rural population and 28 per cent of urban dwellers. Government departments have until 1 December to comment on the draft Bill ahead of its introduction to Parliament.

Market Downturn Forcing Indian Economic Reforms

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opened India’s protected retail sector to foreign investment on 24 November and, as a result, the country’s corporate leaders, bankers and businessmen are anxious for further reforms to fight corruption and overhaul the judicial system.

Qureshi Joins Party; Imran Khan’s Political Aspirations Bolstered

Former Pakistani Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, after resigning from the ruling Pakistani People’s Party (PPP) earlier this year, has pledged his support for politician and former cricket captain Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party. This buoys Khan’s chances of becoming Prime Minister in elections due to be held in the next year. The addition of a former member of the political establishment has added further credibility to Khan’s political aspirations, not to mention the large Punjabi voter base, where Qureshi holds a high degree of influence.

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