Over the past decade, India has marginally increased its regional trade with its neighbors, specifically Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal. Currently, India’s actual trade in South Asia accounts for $19.1 billion, which is just three percent of its total global trade at $637.4 billion and around $43 billion below the potential. It has recently been estimated that by reducing man-made trade barriers, trade within South Asia can grow three times, from $23 billion to $67 billion.
India in Transition
India is, today, a country of about 1.35 billion people. United Nations’ population projections of 2017 say that India is likely to surpass China’s population by 2024 and reach 1.5 billion by 2030, making it the most populous nation on the planet. About two-thirds of Indians are below 35 years age. India’s GDP has been growing at around 7 percent annually for the last two decades, and likely to continue at this pace for at least another decade.
Shortly before the 2014 elections, Narendra Modi—at that time practically a novice in foreign affairs—stated in an interview that “my Hindutva face will be an asset when dealing with foreign affairs with other nations.” This statement might have been indicative of a strict ideological, assertive foreign policy posture that put India first in all her future engagements.
Millennials—individuals born between 1980-99—are constantly scrutinized as Generation Me. They are misrepresented, stereotyped, and unappreciated. Millennials—often referred to as irresponsible and lazy young persons—have recently received a lot of media attention in India, from speculations about their spending habits to whether they are the most depressed of all generations.
Amongst the many initiatives to end the Afghan conflict, the one led by the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, is critical for it has given the Taliban a direct hotline of sorts to America. In fact, the US is doing precisely what it had refused to do in 2002 when the Taliban had assured a “discussion to turn over Osama bin Laden” if America stopped bombing Afghanistan.
In the last five years, there has been a slow but growing international consensus around the withdrawal of financial capital from the coal industry. Large sovereign wealth funds and pension funds, as well as multi-national aid agencies like the World Bank have undertaken this virtue signalling exercise by announcing their exit from coal financing. While coal-based generators in the West were already on the back foot because of rising regulatory costs, most of the coal expansion in the 2010s has come from Asia, particularly India and China.
In the West, Brexit and the rise of rightwing populists such as Donald Trump in the United States and Viktor Orban in Hungary have been blamed on globalization. In particular, many have argued that unchecked international migration—a prominent form of globalization—has generated a “nativist” backlash. The developing world has long been accustomed to such a backlash. However, the focus of nativist ire in developing countries is frequently domestic rather than international migration.
Quotas for women in government have swept the world as a revolutionary tool to further female political inclusion. India is both the source of much evidence and contestation on quotas’ impact, particularly in economic domains. When do quotas ultimately benefit those they are meant to empower—women—in the crucial domain of land inheritance rights?
In March 2016, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi announced a historic shift in India’s agricultural policy: doubling farmer incomes by 2022 would replace increasing food production as the main focus of India’s policies—a goal many experts criticized as unachievable even as they lauded the shift in priorities. What lay behind Modi’s departure from decades of policy attention and where does the initiative stand today?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan as part of the 13th Annual Summit on October 28-29, 2018 has shed light on the evolving dynamics of the Indo-Japan bilateral relationship against the backdrop of a changing but volatile global order. Both India and Japan are confronting similar challenges in the Indo-Pacific region. Therefore, cooperation between them, and that too on multiple fronts is both obvious and desirable.