Australian military expands Indo-Pacific profile April 9, 2013Posted by aungsi in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, South Asia - General , Comment
This interview first appeared in The Diplomat on March 13, 2013
Emerging out of a decade of coalition military intervention in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is now focused on initiatives to engage the strategic Indo-Pacific region. General David Hurley, the chief of the ADF, spoke to Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe about defence cooperation with the United States, engagement with Asia-Pacific and South Pacific regions, the implementation of the Force Posture Review’s recommendations, initiatives to engage with the Indian Ocean region, and what Australia’s withdrawal from East Timor, Solomon Islands and Afghanistan ultimately means.India, Patil, Tejaswini , 2comments
The decision by Prime Minister Julia Gillard during her recent visit to India to award the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) to Sachin Tendulkar can be traced to the historical and cultural underpinnings of colonialism. The decision has been met with cautious scepticism in various quarters of the Australian media. Indian newspapers basked in the glory and pointedly noted Australian newspapers had criticised the award. Prime Minister Gillard had three underlying themes: extending economic cooperation between Australia and India, changing the military partnership with the selling of uranium to India, and employing cricket to unite the ties between the countries. Clearly, the decision to grant a cricket icon an OAM is worthy in and of itself, but does the Gillard government seriously think that Sachin Tendulkar has contributed to the fostering of better understanding between the two democracies?
Cricket, a game of colonial legacy, acts as a common thread that connects the social and political histories of Australia and India. The game provides an interesting metaphor for the way the recent relationship between the two countries has evolved.
India, the ‘New Asia’ and the American presidential elections September 26, 2012Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, India, Stoddart, Brian , 1 comment so far
Any American presidential election reverberates around global policy corners but, for India, the 2012 contest carries unusual significance. With its economy slowing, national government under severe pressure, and competition with China over ‘new Asian power’ status sharpening, India has a strong stake in the November result. Superficially, India could be contented. A late 2011 Congressional Research Service report shows two-way trade totalling approximately $US50 billion.
The US is India’s largest direct investment partner at over $16 billion, and one of its largest trading partners. As India’s economic growth flourished, American interest and investment soared. The highpoint was America’s 2008-9 agreement on nuclear development and trade – as for Australia a few years later, that was the cost of doing business with India.
India: which way will the ‘swing state’ swing? June 8, 2012Posted by sandygordon in : Afghanistan, Gordon, Sandy, India, Pakistan, Uncategorized , 1 comment so far
According to a leading article in The Times of India, India now finds itself in the enviable position of being courted by both the US and China, thus confirming its status as a ‘swing state’ of Asia.
Two recent meetings highlight India’s emerging role in Asian security. On 6 June, American Secretary for Defense, Leon Panetta, told a think tank in New Delhi that India is a “linchpin” in America’s re-engagement with Asia. He also promised India access to significant military technologies.
Following that meeting, Mr Panetta bypassed Islamabad and warned from Kabul that the US is “losing patience” with Pakistan.
Meanwhile, in the wings of the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Beijing, Chinese vice premier Li Keqiang – widely expected to be China’s next premier – told Indian foreign minister S.M. Krishna that Sino-Indian ties would be the most important bilateral relationship in the twenty-first century. According to The Wall Street Journal, in return Mr Krishna made a strong pitch for full membership of the resource-rich SCO.
Maldives: democracy, back in transition mode? May 15, 2012Posted by southasiamasala in : Future Directions International, Guest authors, Maldives , Comment
N. Sathiya Moorthy
With the People’s Majlis, or Parliament, clearing President Mohammed Waheed Hassan’s vice-presidential nominee, Waheed Deen, after the “majority” Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) group stayed away, the Indian Ocean archipelago seems to be back in democratic transition, for the second time in three years. A new element has been added this time, with a National Inquiry Commission (NIC) probing the circumstances surrounding the resignation of then MDP President Mohammed Nasheed and his succession by Vice-President Waheed. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group has given the Waheed Government four weeks in which to make the probe team credible.
The last time the Maldives went through a similar phase, the nation ushered in multi-party democracy after 30 years of one-person rule under President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. He was elected for six successive terms of five years each, under a constitutional scheme that provided for only a single candidate in national elections. That is firmly in the past, yet, the Nasheed resignation has left a situation of instability. His subsequent charges of a coup-cum-conspiracy, involving some in the uniformed services and “discredited sections” of the polity, and the fact that fresh presidential polls are still a year or so away, in November 2013, have all given rise to the question of whether democracy is really back in transition mode in the Maldives.
Indian Ocean ‘strategy’: don’t make China nervous March 30, 2012Posted by southasiamasala in : Weigold, Auriol , Comment
To borrow from an earlier piece published here at the start of this year (8 Jan 2012), I cited President Obama’s Defence Strategy Review, (5 Jan 2012) in which it was stated that “we will of necessity rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific Region …”, and I take this as an element in raising Chinese concerns.
In his excellent piece “Indian Ocean: don’t militarise the ‘great connector’”, (29 Mar 2012) Sandy Gordon set out the security dilemma in the Indian Ocean region, and argued against any proposals, whether Indian ‘commonalities’ with the US in terms of strategic outlook, or borne of the US-Australian alliance, that make China nervous.
India, he has argued, is in a strategic ‘box seat’ in the Indian Ocean. Another view is that Australia is also in a box seat in the Indo-Pacific region. As a middle power able, if it chooses to do so, to take an independent stance in its own national interest – including its long-term engagement with China that is much broader than trade – and on its relations in the Indian Ocean region, notably with India and the US. (more…)
Indian Ocean: don’t militarise the ‘great connector’ March 29, 2012Posted by sandygordon in : Gordon, Sandy, India, Pakistan , 1 comment so far
The Indian Ocean is Australia’s back yard – or at least if you live in the West. It also plays a major role in transporting energy from the oil and gas-rich Persian Gulf to Australia’s principal trading partners, China and Japan. With each passing year, these and other East Asian powers become more dependent on the free passage of oil over the Indian Ocean.
This makes China nervous. India and China have an ambivalent relationship. On the one hand they have common interests based on growing trade and similar positions in the WTO and on climate change. But on the other, they have abiding suspicions over the longstanding border dispute and what India sees as Chinese meddling in its own back yard – South Asia and the Indian Ocean region.
USN Los Angeles class nuclear powered submarine
‘A third of the RAN is based in the Indian Ocean’ Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, Chief of the Royal Australian Navy March 14, 2012Posted by southasiamasala in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, South Asia - General , Comment
An FDI Feature Interview first published on 12 March 2012
– One third of the RAN operates in the Indian Ocean.
– HMAS Stirling, located in Western Australia, is the RAN’s largest base.
– While the Asia-Pacific will continue to remain critically important, the Indian Ocean has markedly risen in importance to the RAN.
At a time of economic turbulence and escalating regional geopolitical challenges the Royal Australian Navy’s chief, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, recently spoke with Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe about the Navy’s ongoing commitments to maritime security in the Pacific Ocean, the increasing pre-eminence of the Indian Ocean, and the dynamics of the Australian defence department’s ongoing Force Posture Review.
Read this interview – Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, ‘A Third of the RAN is in the Indian Ocean’
Another bead in the ‘string of pearls’?: interpreting Sri Lanka’s foreign policy realignment February 24, 2012Posted by southasiamasala in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, India, Sri Lanka , Comment
Sergei De Silva-Ranasinghe
In this article, Sergei De Silva-Ranasinghe argues that India should be differentiated from the West in analysing Sri Lanka’s apparent drift towards a strategic relationship with China. The West’s diminishing influence in relation to China should be seen as a manifestation of its overall decline. Not so with India, which seeks to balance China’s involvement with Sri Lanka, and which also has a dynamic, on-going aid and trade relationship with the strategically placed island. To read the article in Issue 19 of ChinaSecurity click here.
Maldives: putting democracy back on track February 23, 2012Posted by southasiamasala in : Future Directions International, Guest authors, Maldives , Comment
Guest author: N. Sathiya Moorthy
First published in Future Directions International on 15 February 2012
A week after President Mohammed Nasheed resigned, to be succeeded by his Vice-President Mohammed Waheed Hassan, Maldives is limping back to normality. Hassan is to complete the residual part of Nasheed’s five-year term, ending November 2013. The deep political divisions remain, and the wounds of the previous week’s events have left a bad taste in the mouths of the people at large, and Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) cadres in particular. All now need to take stock of the recent developments with equanimity and arrive at solutions for the medium- and long-term good of the nation.
Nasheed’s sudden resignation had been preceded by a series of events, not just over the previous weeks, as is often being said now, in a reference to the ‘protect Islam’ call by the ‘December 23 Coalition’ launched by religious NGOs, to which desperate Opposition political groups, whose egos were matched only by the personal ambitions of their leaders, tagged along. It had commenced as early as mid-2010, when the parliamentary polls threw up a minority for the President’s party.