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India-Pakistan relations: quo vadis? December 23, 2014

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

Maqsudul Hasan Nuri

It is ironical that while India and Pakistan are jointly honoured with Nobel Peace Prizes they should be lately engaged in cross-border skirmishes along their borders.

The Indian view is that Pakistan first provoked the border tension by sending cross-border militants. Also, many Indians took umbrage over Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech in September 2014 UN General Assembly session in which he raised the Kashmir issue. Another contributory factor could have been the exceptionally warm reception by US during the UN session. The US “pivot Asia” policy has also encouraged India as a partner against China in East Asia. The Indian stance, moreover, maintains that the perpetrators of 2001 Mumbai attack have still not been punished by Pakistan.

Justifying cancellation of Indo-Pakistan secretary-level talks, it seems the Indian forays were meant to divert the focus of the Pakistan military from fighting in FATA. In the wake of the US military exit post-2014, so the argument goes, India would not let its bargaining position weaken vis-a-vis Pakistan.

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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.

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BCIM Corridor a game changer for South Asian trade July 24, 2014

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

Pravakar Sahoo and Abhirup Bhunia

The Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor will increase socioeconomic development and trade in South Asia. The initiative seeks to improve connectivity and infrastructure, energy resources, agriculture, and trade and investment. It will connect India’s Northeast, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and the Chinese province of Yunnan through a network of roads, railways, waterways, and airways under a proper regulatory framework. The current focus of BCIM talks is on an inter-regional road network. This makes sense, as roads are the cheapest route of trade. NyaungShwe_Conrad2236 The BCIM Economic Corridor is a modern version of the Silk Road, and a revision of the 1999 Track II Kunming initiative between BCIM countries. It is planned to run from China’s Kunming province to Kolkata in India, and link Mandalay in Myanmar and Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh. BCIM initiatives have gained momentum since Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to India and the conclusion of the first official meeting of the joint study group of the BCIM Economic Corridor on 19 December 2013.

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Will China ‘wedge’ India and the US? June 5, 2014

Posted by southasiamasala in : Gordon, Sandy, India, Pakistan , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

Commentators have generally assumed that the Obama Administration’s wrong-footedness over Modi’s US visa, along with the latter’s pragmatic approach to Chinese investment in Gujarat, signal a new tilt by the BJP away from the United States and toward China. Neville Maxwell, writing in the Times of India, urges India to seize the opportunity offered by Modi’s election to achieve a border breakthrough with China.

Writing in the Global Times, Liu Zongyi, of the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, has hailed Modi as ‘India’s Nixon’ and characterised his pragmatic approach to the conduct of business and foreign relations as ‘very close to Chinese practices’.

India would certainly favour a thaw in relations with China so it can get on with the urgent task of infrastructure development and economic uplift of its people, including with Chinese investment in the otherwise etiolated international investment climate. If we take a long-term view, however, we can discern a number of wildcards that may complicate relations between India and China.

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Will gains for Bangladesh workers founder on political reality? July 24, 2013

Posted by nishankmotwani in : Bangladesh, By contributor, Guest authors , comments closed

Sharif As-Saber

In the two months since the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh left 1129 people dead and hundreds more still unaccounted for, world attention has turned from the actual cause of the incident to scrutinising the entire industry.

So far there has been three notable international efforts aimed at improving working conditions, wages and building safety and importantly, acknowledging the responsibilities of multinational Big Brand retailers and buying house intermediaries making up the global ready-made-garment supply chain.

The Bangladesh government has this week amended its labour laws following pressure from the United States, which suspended its preferential market access following the Rana Plaza collapse.

But those who seek to reform the Bangladeshi ready-made garment industry face political and economic pressures that might stymy these early efforts.

The Bangladesh government has responded to international calls to improve their labour laws, but a fraught political environment could threaten gains. Source: AAP.

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India: corruption affecting investment and economic growth December 13, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Future Directions International, Guest authors, India , comments closed

Gustavo Mendiolaza

Transparency International released the results of its annual Corruption Perceptions Index on 5 December 2012. India was ranked 94 out of 174 countries in corruption, a claim highlighted by the scandals that have hit the Indian National Congress-led government this year.

Background

India, and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government in particular, have felt increasing pressure over the levels of corruption. This year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) illustrates that although the situation has improved since last year, an underlying culture of corruption still exists in India. Such endemic corruption may cause a decline in India’s attractiveness for foreign direct investment (FDI).

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India-Pakistan visa deal: a glass half empty? September 14, 2012

Posted by aungsi in : Gordon, Sandy, India, Pakistan , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

On September the 8th, India and Pakistan agreed to liberalise their visa arrangements. The deal came during three day talks between Pakistani foreign minister Khar and Indian counterpart Krishna at Islamabad. Under the deal eight categories of visa will be liberalised, including the provision of visa on entry at the land border for the elderly and young, and most importantly, the provision of multiple entry and multiple city visas for business people with turnovers of over Rs 3 million annually.

The latter is particularly significant in view of recent trade developments. These include Islamabad’s decision to grant most favoured nation (MFN) status to India – which had been granted by India to Pakistan in 1996.  Pakistan has promised by December this year to grant MFN to India by eliminating the system allowing only stipulated items to be traded in favour of a small ‘negative’ list covering defence-related and other sensitive items. India has also liberalised its regime by agreeing to remove yarn and textiles from its ‘sensitive’ list and allowing Pakistani businesses to set up in India.

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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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Indian car sector booms but transport infrastructure lags February 13, 2012

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

Guest author: Mahendra Ved

Reprinted from East Asia Forum, 7 February, 2012

While the Indian car sector is travelling in the fast lane, road and public transport projects have not kept pace. Indians bought about 2.5 million cars last year, worth US$30 billion, while another half a million were exported.

This year, assuming that car-loan rates decline and the economy improves, the market could grow by 10 to 12 per cent — and even if rates remain static, the car market will still grow by 5 to 7 per cent. But even these figures pale in comparison to the 30 per cent growth experienced in 2010, at which time interest rates were lower and the economy was booming, and the double-digit annual sales throughout the 2000s. No wonder global automakers scrambled to attend the 2012 Delhi Auto Expo earlier this year, where some 60 new models were launched.

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China-India relations in 2012: bilateral ties set to expand January 27, 2012

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

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

First published in Future Directions International on 25 January 2012

After holding talks for the 15th round of boundary negotiations in New Delhi on 16-17 January, China’s State Councillor, Dai Bingguo, and India’s National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon, signed the ‘India-China Agreement on the Establishment of a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Co-ordination on India-China Border Affairs’, which will be headed by high-level diplomatic and military officials from each country.

Building on the spirit of previous border agreements signed in 1993, 1996 and 2005, the 2012 accord is an important practical and symbolic step towards normalising bilateral ties, as both countries pledge to build what has been officially termed the ‘India-China Strategic and Co-operative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity’.

From a broader strategic perspective, the new working mechanism is a clear indication that China and India see increasing benefit from peaceful relations, although they remain strategic rivals competing for regional influence and engage in contradictory and counterproductive acts.

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