Pointing to the Future in January 2018
Pointing to the Future
India’s Urban Awakening. Urbanization advances economic development, but it also poses major challenges, from managing congestion and pollution to ensuring that growth is inclusive and equitable. India has the tools it needs to overcome these challenges, and can do so if its leaders must use them wisely.
A War of Labels. Why do the Mahars take the risk of being labelled as “anti-national” by celebrating every year the 1818 battle of Koregaon that the British considered as a key victory in their conquest of India? The very fact that the Dalits take this risk reveals their gratefulness vis-à-vis the colonisers who have contributed to their emancipation.
Unsentimental Ties. Delhi and Moscow must move towards a practical relationship that focuses on give and take wherever possible. The two sides must also carefully manage the inevitable differences that arise. For the foreign policy conservatives in Delhi, this sounds “transactional”. But in the dynamic world that confronts India and Russia, “transactional” is any day better than “sentimental”.
What Rahul Gandhi’s Rise Means for Indian Politics. Often derided for his lack of charisma and apparent reluctance to assume the mantle of leadership, Gandhi was an unexpectedly strong campaigner in his first test as leader during the Gujarat state election campaign. This performance has given hope to his party which is at its lowest-ever point after losing a series of state elections.
India’s Investment Deficiency Hides a Blessing. In the December 2017 quarter, fresh investments in India plunged to a 13-year low with the value of new projects declining to more than half of what they were in the year-ago period.
Removing Barriers to U.S.-India Defense Trade. The United States and India are on the cusp of translating a shared vision for the Indo-Pacific into tangible cooperation—with defense trade serving as an important catalyst.
A Digital India Must Embrace the Circular Economy. The circular economy provides an opportunity for India to capitalize and leverage an already existing culture of circular activities, and promote it as a policy agenda that will create new forms of employment while facilitating sustainable environmental management.
The China Factor in India’s Commitment to ASEAN. India’s ASEAN commitment reflects an ambition to create a bulwark against the emergence of a Sino-centric regional order. While the agenda for the upcoming India–ASEAN Commemorative Summit will be dominated by discussions on counterterrorism, connectivity and culture, China will undoubtedly be the elephant in the room.
Babri Masjid – India’s Flashpoint. The demolition of Babri Masjid changed India’s political discourse and practice. The debris of the ruined mosque brought down by frenetic Hindu volunteers just over 25 years ago has given rise to a disturbing trend that has called for assertive Hindu cultural nationalism. This has become ever louder and continues to dominate political discourse.
The Great Indian Fiscal Dilemma. The Narendra Modi government has done well on the fiscal front so far. It should carry this process forward. India needs to create jobs and invest in the infrastructure sector—but experience shows that running a higher deficit is not the solution.
The Class Divide in Indian Education System. There is enormous inequality in access to quality education in India, which results in massive inequality of opportunity. While the sons and daughters of the top 10% are able to get good jobs and compete with the best in the world, the vast majority of poor kids will eke out a precarious living in the informal sector.
China’s Soft and Sharp Power. As democracies respond to China’s use of information warfare, they have to be careful not to overreact. Much of the soft power that democracies wield comes from civil society, which means that these countries’ openness is a crucial asset.
China Vies for Influence in Russia’s Backyard. The window of opportunity is likely to close very quickly before the Kazakhstani leg of BRI fast transforms the country into an open market for primarily China. Once this happens, Kazakhstan will have succumbed to Chinese terms of trade and investment. This may well weaken and undermine the U.S.-led international liberal economic order.
China’s Agenda behind Inter-Korean Talks. By supporting inter-Korean dialogue, China can drive a wedge in the South Korea-US alliance. By supporting Kim Jong-un’s olive branch to the South and Moon’s eagerness to engage, Beijing is also showing support for measures that could ease UN sanctions and frustrate Washington’s strategy of ‘strategic strangulation’.
Macron’s Mission to China. One word from Macron’s rebooting speech on bilateral relations summarises his quest: reciprocity. While he made a passionate plea for France to welcome Chinese investors, Macron clearly hopes that, in return for being allowed access to France’s vineyards and infrastructure, China will lift its restrictions on foreign investment.
The Bad – and Good – of China’s Aid in the Pacific. ‘Useless’ is how Fierravanti-Wells has described Chinese aid projects, leading countries to take on debt they can’t afford. While her concerns are legitimate, her blunt delivery hasn’t been constructive and has led to some considerable political and diplomatic fallout.
Understanding China’s Approach to Aid. International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells’ remarks about China’s aid to the Pacific are part of a long tradition of concern in Australia. Yet while some Chinese aid projects are less than perfect, Fierravanti-Wells’ sweeping comments reflect a lack of understanding about China’s foreign aid.
Why Beijing Should Dump Its Debt. A decade long overreliance on overinvestment in manufacturing capacity and infrastructure has generated crushing debt. Tremendously powerful vested interests in control of state-owned enterprises and provincial and municipal governments, meanwhile, are blocking Beijing’s efforts to break up existing monopolies and stimulate growth.
Chinese Intellectual Property Policies Demand a Smart Response. Broad retaliatory tariffs under Section 301 would likely impose high political, economic and legal costs, while likely failing to achieve needed policy changes in China. A smart course of action could entail responses that would be more likely to achieve Chinese policy changes, and less likely harm U.S. economic and geopolitical interests.
China-Russia Relations Reality Check. Russian enthusiasm for Belt and Road projects that do not go through Russia, or for Chinese Arctic ambitions that avoid the Russian-controlled route, are muted. Even if Chinese economic growth slows, its eclipse of the Russian Federation—and memories of the Soviet Union—is complete.
Chinese Views of Foreign Policy in the 19th Party Congress. The 19th Party Congress represents authoritative confirmation of the end of the “hide and bide” era and the beginning of a concerted effort to unabashedly place China among the first rank of great powers.
How U.S. Strategists Should View the People’s Republic of China. It is critical for the U.S. to not treat China—and particularly the Chinese people—as the enemy. That requires accommodating nationalist aspirations akin to those which motivated the American republic as it aggressively overspread the North American continent.
China’s Coal Consumption has Peaked. China’s coal consumption has steadily decreased by a few percentage points a year since 2013. The real game changer is clean energy. The price of solar photovoltaic is at an all-time low, enough to compete against coal for power generation.
China’s Great City Rivalries. In recent years, as China’s economy has become increasingly reliant on high-tech and modern service industries, jobs and growth have become concentrated in a few high-productivity cities. In fact, it is this inter-urban competition that has driven China’s economic transformation.
China’s Green Opportunity. China is now the world’s largest greenhouse-gas emitter, accounting for over 25% of the global total. But the country has also demonstrated a growing understanding that a truly green economy promises to improve quality of life and create enormous opportunities for technological and political leadership.