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A new vision for Australia-India relations December 4, 2014

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, India , comments closed

Sourabh Gupta

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. Australia’s strategic discovery of a ‘shared values’ partner in India too has been a near-term development. The Coalition government under John Howard did not deem relations with New Delhi to be a significant interest, let alone a significant bilateral relationship, in its first Foreign and Trade Policy White Paper in 1997.


Modi is the boss!!! August 13, 2014

Posted by southasiamasala in : Awasthy, Richa, India , comments closed

Richa Awasthy

It is close to 100 days since Mr Narendra Modi took charge as India’s Prime Minister. The slogan with which BJP went into the election campaign was “Abki Baar Modi Sarkar” (This time, Modi Government). While the ousted government created an impression that the power centre is at Congress’ President’s disposal rather than the Prime Minister’s, the new government has shown that Mr Modi is indeed the boss of the new government. Since the outstanding win, Mr Modi has left his critics in media and elsewhere astonished with his actions. Mr Modi has shown that he acts based on the position he holds and that is why the Prime Minister Modi-ji is very different from the campaigner Mr Modi.

Softer side of Modi-ji – On the very first day of his entry into the Parliament Hall, Mr Modi astonished the media when he bowed at the footsteps of the Parliament Hall. He gave a message that he is dedicated to restore the value and respect of this temple of democracy. He exposed his emotional side when he was almost in tears on the mention of Mr L.K. Advani’s statement during his speech.



‘Promoting peace and maintaining stability’: the evolution of the Bangladesh Navy April 15, 2013

Posted by aungsi in : Bangladesh, DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

This article originally appeared in South Asia Defence and Strategic Review

As a Bay of Bengal littoral state Bangladesh has strong maritime interests. Increasingly, Bangladesh has recognised the importance of its maritime domain and the requirement to augment its Navy to secure and project its regional interests. Bangladesh Navy chief, Vice Admiral Zahir Uddin Ahmed spoke to Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe about the navy’s changing responsibilities, maritime security challenges, efforts to mitigate the effect of natural disasters and the need for naval diplomacy.

Vice Admiral Zahir Uddin Ahmed (right) and Vice Admiral Anil Chopra of the Eastern Naval Command, India. Source: http://indiannavy.nic.in/


Indo-US defence cooperation: a confluence of strategic interests August 2, 2011

Posted by sandygordon in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, India , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

This article first appeared in Future Directions International on Wednesday, 20 July 2011.


In another example of increasing co-operation between Washington and New Delhi, the US Defence Security Co-operation Agency recently announced India’s intention to purchase 32 US-manufactured MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, in a deal worth US$86 million. The agreement is indicative of the growing confluence of strategic interests between the two countries, which in recent years has seen relations flourish.

A Boeing C-17 comes in to land


China’s investment spurs Bangladesh development June 22, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : Bangladesh, DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, India , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

This article was first posted in Future Directions International on 15 June 2011


On 9 June 2011, Bangladesh signed a loan agreement worth US$211 million ($198 million) with the Export-Import Bank of China to upgrade the country’s telecommunications network. Such initiatives by China to develop critical infrastructure are illustrative of the central role it has played in strengthening Bangladesh’s economy and connectivity to the region.


Bangladesh established formal relations with China in 1975 and thereafter bilateral relations were steadily enhanced by frequent diplomatic visits to both countries. Subsequently, in 1986, the Bangladesh-China People’s Friendship Association was formed, which helped set the pattern in two-way trade and investment, especially throughout the 1990s, fostering China’s emergence as a vitally important partner and ally.

Indeed, from the time relations were first established until October 2000, China provided cumulative assistance worth US$217 million ($205.6 million) to Bangladesh. In the same year, bilateral trade reached an unprecedented high at US$715 million ($677.6 million).

Later, in 2002, on a visit to Bangladesh, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao signed nine bilateral agreements to enhance co-operation in a variety of fields. Among the crucial agreements signed was a defence co-operation accord, which strengthened China’s position as a key supplier of weapons, equipment and ammunition to the Bangladeshi military. ‘Bangladesh wanted time-befitting armed forces for the country. China will co-operate with Bangladesh for this purpose,’ stated Morshed Khan, the former Bangladeshi Foreign Minister. He added: ‘[The] intention is there to co-operate in defence sector; now the two sides will co-operate with each other. This umbrella agreement is not directed against any country and would not affect Bangladesh’s relations with India.’


Looking west again – to the Indian Ocean and India February 16, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

An article in The Australian, published on 31 March 2010, notes Australia’s inconsistent interest in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) in its headline ‘We must look west to the Indian Ocean …’.  It goes on to remind that Australia should be a ‘pre-eminent country’ in the IOR and notes that a ‘new maritime great game’ is visible as ‘strategic competition between India and China’ grows. These ideas, verging on directives, are drawn from Bateman’s and Bergin’s Australian Strategic Policy Institute Paper, Our Western Front: Australia and the Indian Ocean, launched by Australia’s former Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, on the same day in 2010.  The Australian concluded its article by reporting that Australia’s policies vis-a-vis the Indian Ocean have been ‘relatively opaque and spasmodic’, and should be embedded in the mainstream of foreign policy.

Despite its inconsistent and often neglectful approach to engagement in the Indian Ocean as a whole, Australia has had an historical interest in the Indian Ocean, which is vital to its import and export markets and sea-lines communications. It relies on Indian Ocean sea-routes and access points for its globalised trade, and the ever-increasing importance of security and stability demand deeper engagement: geographically Australia is well-placed to play a prominent role in the Indian Ocean region.

Crew of HMAS Melbourne board a pirated Chinese tanker in the Indian Ocean,  Photo ABC