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Twenty years of BRICS

It is 20 years since Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill invented the BRIC economic grouping – Brazil, Russia, India and China – with South Africa added later to make up the BRICS. He celebrated this anniversary with a self-congratulatory article in the Financial Times, expressing his

Russia, more than China, leaves India with a dilemma

Ukraine and Taiwan are now the major focal points in the geopolitical arena, testing the diplomacy of the United States but also other nations – India as much as any. Where India-China relations have soured in recent years, in some ways making India’s response to the Taiwan issue more

India, China cop finger pointing in climate politics

Two weeks of negotiations in Glasgow meant that COP26 resulted in a resolution – of sorts. Nations agreed to resume next year with stronger 2030 emissions reduction targets in a global bid to try to alleviate the worst consequences of the climate disaster. It wasn’t the achievement that was

Maldives: India first or India out?

Recent protests in Maldives against India’s influence in the country calling for “Indian military out” has led the Maldives government to respond by reiterating its “India First” policy. This has highlighted the difficulties that both countries face in building a stable strategic

India’s answer to China’s ports in Sri Lanka

On 30 September, Adani Group, India’s largest private port operator, signed what has been reported as a US$700 million agreement to build a new container terminal in Sri Lanka. The deal to jointly develop the Colombo West International Container Terminal (CWICT) with Sri Lanka’s largest listed

Sport between India and Pakistan is not just that

Cricketing salutations can be baffling. Why did India’s men’s team captain Virat Kohli hug Pakistani player Mohammad Rizwan, and team mentor M.S. Dhoni greet Pakistani players, after India’s defeat last week to Pakistan in cricket’s Twenty20 World Cup in Dubai? India’s leaders seemed

India’s AI conundrum

Late last month, people across the globe gathered online for the second Annual Artificial Intelligence for Information Accessibility Conference (AI4IA), organised by UNESCO. Fittingly for an AI conference, it was hosted on the Gather.Town platform, which allows for virtual customisable spaces to be

Could India join the Five Eyes?

As the United States grapples with China, Washington is seeking to build a tight-knit security network in the Indo-Pacific. Among those measures is a possible expansion of the Five Eyes, as the intelligence sharing arrangement between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United

Economic diplomacy: After Kabul, Australia looks to India

Suitcase intelligence Bob Carr recalls in his Diary of a Foreign Minister how a senior Australian intelligence official told him bluntly in 2013 that the war against the Taliban was failing. “We spent a billion dollars in Uruzgan province … We could have achieved the same result if I had been

India fears a poison harvest from Afghanistan

The takeover of the Afghan government by the hard-line Islamist Taliban was swift and bloodless – at least on the day the group marched into the capital, Kabul. It means a u-turn for the country domestically, away from progressive policies and relatively liberal climate, and a return to the

Australia and India: A time to refocus on trade talks

Australia’s former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has just completed a packed visit to India from 2–6 August as Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s special trade envoy. Abbott should have reason to be encouraged by his interactions and his meetings with a cross section of decision-makers in India,

India-US ties: Work in progress

Diplomatese papered over the political turbulence in India during US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s two-day official visit to the country on 27 and 28 July. Narendra Modi’s government has been stigmatised not only by the Indian public and the opposition parties for its excesses against

India: A very colonial hangover

In the 1830’s Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay set about drafting a piece of legislation that would outlive not just him but also the empire that gave him the license to do so. Indeed, it’s a cruel irony that Macaulay’s world view, long discredited in the former colony, has found an almost

Another proxy war in Afghanistan?

With the US in the process of withdrawing the last of its troops from Afghanistan, it has taken little time for fierce fighting to flare up in several parts of the country, as the Taliban seeks to wrest control from the elected government. Already, it has overrun large swathes of territory and is

Central Vista Project: Raining on Modi’s parade

The face of New Delhi’s political heart, Lutyens Delhi (named after the British architect Edwin Lutyens who designed it) is a place of broad boulevards, imposing red sandstone buildings, flowing fountains and wide swathes of green space. Built between 1911 and 1931, the area was intended to be the

The dangers in Australia’s blissful ignorance about India

A major headline from the 2021 Lowy Institute Poll is the dramatic decline in the Australian public’s assessment of China, continuing the trend already observed in previous years. While 52% of respondents said they trusted China to “act responsibly in the world” either “a great deal” or

India’s hidden Covid crisis

India’s second wave of Covid-19 has been brutal on its people. During the first wave, images emerged of a mass exodus from the major cities with countless people walking – sometimes more than 700 kilometres – back to their villages, many not surviving the journey. Now it is happening again.

China’s never-ending Tibet paranoia

Beijing has long been anxious about the popularity of the Dalai Lama, and Tibet remains a principal source of international vulnerability for the Peoples Republic of China. After the Dalai Lama relinquished political responsibilities in 2011, the position of Sikyong, considered president of the

India’s Covid-19 wave is spreading south

Images of the pandemic in Delhi that currently saturate the international media depict ailing patients struggling to find beds, oxygen and medical attention. Amid a highly privatised healthcare terrain with underfunded public hospitals, access to Delhi’s hospitals has long depended on one’s own&

India’s power illusion

India was proud to boast about being the “world’s pharmacy” as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded, particularly after other members in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue asked India to mass-produce Covid-19 vaccines for export across the world. Indeed, high-minded government decrees about

India: Smoke and mirrors

Watching a Hindu cremation, in which the body is burned on an open funeral pyre, is a profoundly confronting experience. The body is placed onto a cement platform. A pyre is built around it, with wood stacked in a triangular tunnel to allow the fire to breathe. Ghee is scattered around the

Taiwan: Renewing a southbound vision

For all the talk of cross-Strait military tensions – which are real – in the economic realm, Taiwan’s fortunes have been bound to those of China. Recognising the need to diversify, when Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016, she initiated what was dubbed a “New Southbound Policy”, with the

Russia’s Asia diplomacy

Russia’s long-serving Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shuttled between Beijing, New Delhi and Islamabad in recent weeks, putting on a diplomatic display that could be described as admirably adroit as much as it was divisive. From China and India, Lavrov fulminated against a hostile America’s

The Quad (finally) delivers: Can it be sustained?

On 19 March, the leaders of four important democracies of the Indo-Pacific region – the United States, Japan, Australia and India – held (virtually) their first-ever “Quad Summit.” This meeting at the leaders’ level of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue was significant on two counts. It

Unresolved questions in US-India relations

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s recent visit to New Delhi was a chance for the United States and India to discuss the nature and depth of their strategic partnership – particularly against the backdrop of tensions with an aggressive China. Austin visited New Delhi soon after leaders

In India, a taste of political variety

With five state elections to be contested in coming weeks, India is heading back into election mode: alcohol shops are being shuttered, petrol prices have been cut to appease voters, and top leaders of both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the main opposition party Congress have been

The Quad gives a boost to India’s vaccine diplomacy

The most notable takeaway from the first-ever “Quad” leaders meeting involving the US, India, Japan and Australia at the weekend was the agreement on expanding the global vaccine supply. The vaccination capacity of India will be increased to produce 1 billion doses by 2022, the leaders announced

A new “concert” to govern the Indo-Pacific

The joint statement issued following the weekend meeting of the four “Quad” leaders was titled “The Spirit of the Quad”. This title could be read as either self-affirmation or self-praise. The Quad’s first summit of leaders was a somewhat informal affair, held virtually amid a global

Cracks beginning to appear in the Russia-India relationship

India’s annual summit with Russia was cancelled last year for the first time since its inception – the official reason, as was commonly blamed for many abandoned events, Covid-19. The summit’s cancellation was a rare hiccup in what has otherwise been a traditionally close partnership. Moscow

India must be realistic about Russia relations

The visit to Moscow by India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla on 17–18 February was his first overseas trip outside South Asia during the corona crisis, underscoring the importance India attaches to its strategic partnership with Russia. But it is a relationship where New Delhi must also be

India’s Koo plots a digital coup

Facebook might be a social media behemoth, its reach and power made apparent when Australian users saw local news rubbed off their screens from Thursday in response to new media laws, but the platform is also just one among an ever-growing online milieu. China has WeChat, the world has Twitter, and

India, Canada and the new vaccine politics

The threat of wealthy countries hoarding vaccines for themselves and denying access to smaller and poorer countries has become the world’s primary cooperative concern. Yet how vaccine nationalism also attaches itself to pre-existing relationships between countries may become another part of this

Crushing dissent in a new paranoid India

The signs were always there. With a thumping majority in parliament, a nonexistent opposition and diminishing institutions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had the potential to proceed down the dangerous and desperate path of intolerance. Two months of sustained pressure from a

India and Australia: Beyond the three Cs

India often breezes through the window of Australia’s national consciousness, but rarely lingers. Will India once again disappear from our collective awareness, following a short summer in which we were captivated by a sublime test series in Australia? Cricket has been a common denominator

Australia’s Pacific Step-up and the Quad

The growing synergy among the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue powers of Australia, Japan, the United States and India has provided a crucial impetus to the security architecture of the Indo-Pacific. Bilateral ties between these four states have also seen positive growth, largely a result of “like-

India launches its mammoth vaccine drive

India officially launches its Covid vaccination program tomorrow (16 January) in a major logistical exercise aiming to inoculate hundreds of millions of people. And with it, the hustle begins. India, just like China, will be looking to leverage the diplomatic benefit of its ability to manufacture

Can Modi calm the farm?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always been coated in Teflon: the kinds of policies and actions that would have brought down other leaders have barely left a dent in his impeccably tailored vests. But as it turns out, there is a chink in his armour: farmers. Specifically, 250 million of

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