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Rebalancing Asia: Panetta visits India July 24, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, India, Merrington, Louise , comments closed

Louise Merrington

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s visit to India in June highlighted both India’s increasing importance as a regional balance in the US ‘pivot’ to the Asia Pacific and the extent to which the US–Pakistan relationship has deteriorated in recent months.

Although the US–India relationship reached a high note with the 2008 civilian nuclear deal, several sticking points remain. First, India’s nuclear liability law, designed to guard against a repeat of the Bhopal disaster, made the manufacturers of nuclear reactors liable for accidents caused by faulty equipment. (more…)

The India–US–China–Pakistan strategic quadrilateral May 14, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Merrington, Louise, Pakistan , comments closed

Louise Merrington, ANU

Although the disputed border between China and India is often highlighted as the major sticking point in Sino–Indian relations, in reality it has remained relatively peaceful since the end of the 1962 war, and the potential for overt military conflict in the region remains minimal.

Of much greater concern is the strategic quadrilateral relationship in South Asia involving China, India, the United States and Pakistan. It has both regional and wider implications. At the heart of this matter is the India–Pakistan conflict over Kashmir, and continuing US involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The relationships between these four actors are extremely complex. China’s support for Pakistan in its conflict with India is a serious and ongoing source of tension in the Sino–Indian relationship, while the US relationship with Pakistan is looking increasingly fraught even as its relationship with India improves in the wake of the 2008 civilian nuclear deal. Growing closeness between India and the US has caused some concern in China about the possibility that the US may be establishing a policy of containment or encirclement, and this concern in turn affects China’s relationship with both the US and India. Understanding this complex web of relationships is key to understanding the issues which are at the heart of China–India relations and which affect markedly how these two countries interact in the region.

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Uneasy neighbours August 28, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Merrington, Louise , comments closed

Louise Merrington

Reprinted from Inside Story. Read the full article

In August last year the Chennai Centre for China Studies, a hawkish Indian foreign-policy think tank, published a copy of an article it clearly hoped would create a furore. Translated from a Chinese website, the article detailed how China could split India into ten or twenty ethnically based states by funding insurgents and supporting restive neighbours like Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan. As expected, controversy ignited across India.

With their usual tendency to manufacture outrage, India’s voracious tabloids and twenty-four-hour television stations began baying for Chinese blood. And in a typical display of the Indian media’s tendency to eat their own, they also turned on the Hindu’s Beijing correspondent, Ananth Krishnan – one of only four Indian correspondents in China – when he dared to suggest that not everything on China’s internet can be associated with the Chinese government.

Coming on top of a series of low-level skirmishes on the India–China border, the controversy illustrated just how deep anti-China feeling still runs in large sections of Indian society. The roots of the hostility lie in the still-disputed border and a three-month conflict – nearly fifty years ago – that many people outside India have never heard of. As the furore showed, the relationship between the two countries might have evolved in many ways over the last six decades, but some things haven’t changed.

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Big dreams, little direction: India’s foreign policy machine August 4, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Merrington, Louise , comments closed

Louise Merrington

With the increasing tendency to link China and India in Western analyses of Asia, there is now a growing insistence by India that it be viewed by the international community on the same level as China, in spite of being far behind the latter in terms of infrastructure, development and economic influence. Although this hubris is not exhibited on an individual level by every official in the government or civil service responsible for foreign policy or defence, on a collective scale there appears to be a sense of entitlement which emanates from India but lacks clear direction – that is, India feels that it wants to achieve great things, but can’t articulate exactly what these things are. This has led to a series of missed opportunities.

These attitudes and outcomes have several roots, including a lack of cohesion within the foreign policy establishment, the overly bureaucratic and hierarchical structure of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), and immaturity within the strategic policy sector. India is often touted as the ‘world’s largest democracy’, and as such a diversity of opinion is to be expected. At the moment, however, this diversity is translating into a lack of decisiveness and cohesion in terms of foreign policy.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.  Too much advice for the PM?

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