Showing posts with label India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label India. Show all posts

31 December 2021

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands: New Delhi’s Bulwark in the Indian Ocean

Ashutosh S. Patki

In 2015, the Indian government drew up a 100,000 million Indian rupee plan funded by the Ministry of Shipping and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands administration to transform the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI) into the country’s first maritime hub. In 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the islands for the first time, inaugurating several development projects relating to connectivity, energy, and tourism, among other things. Most recently, he inaugurated the Chennai-Andaman and Nicobar undersea internet cable, which is set to provide a high-speed internet connection to seven remote islands of the ANI chain.

The islands have also seen the recent installation of 31 GPS strong motion sensors and accelerometers, SMS alerts dissemination systems, 13 Automated Weather Stations, State Emergency Operation Centers, and the commissioning of a solar power plant at Attam Pahad. The government of India under NITI Aayog’s “Holistic Development Program” for the islands has invited global players to invest in a wide-ranging social and infrastructure development program, including investments in resorts and other tourist infrastructure.

Critical Minerals for India: Assessing their Criticality and Projecting their Needs for Green Technologies

Rajesh Chadha & Ganesh Sivamani

Executive Summary

This working paper assesses the level of criticality of 23 select minerals for India’s manufacturing sector. Various indicators quantify the criticality along the dimensions of economic importance and supply risk. The paper projects India’s mineral needs for green technologies, including renewable electricity generation and electric vehicle manufacturing, in line with the country’s various climate change mitigation objectives over the next two decades.

Lithium, strontium, and niobium have relatively high economic importance, and heavy rare earth elements, niobium, and silicon have relatively high supply risks. The results of this projection exercise indicate that India is not equipped to meet its green technology requirements through domestic mining alone. Imports of minerals for domestic manufacturing or imports of the final product (embedded in these minerals) will be needed to meet its policy agenda on climate change mitigation.

29 December 2021

Nepal Begins Hydropower Export to India

Santosh Sharma Poudel

In November 2021, India threw open its doors to purchase of Nepal’s electricity. This is an important milestone for Nepal as it the first time that the Himalayan country is exporting hydropower.

Nepal will export 39 MW of electricity to India under the Indian Energy Exchange (IEX). The India-Nepal Power Trade Agreement was signed in 2014 during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal. Nepal is the first of India’s neighbors to participate in the IEX.

The sale of electricity to India marks the realization of a long-cherished Nepali dream of exporting hydroelectricity for national prosperity. This is a huge turnaround for the Nepali energy sector, which met more than half of its electricity needs through imports from India during peak demand in 2019.

Nepal became a power surplus country after the 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project came into operation in July 2021. With this, Nepal’s hydroelectricity production has reached 1,900 MW. Meanwhile, the peak-hour demand stands at around 1,500MW only. On top of that, 172 projects have secured generation licenses and construction is ongoing for a total capacity of 4,642 MW. Therefore, the supply will outpace the local demand even further in the coming years.

When Indira Gandhi decided to storm the Golden Temple

Deb Mukharji 

Bhairab Datt Pande, known to his generation as B.D., served in the Indian Civil Service from 1939 to 1977. His memoirs, written largely by hand, in 1986, two years after he demitted his last government assignment, carried his instructions that they should not be published before 1st January, 2001 or five years after his death, whichever was later. B.D. Pande died in 2009. His daughter Ratna Sudarshan has painstakingly edited and published the memoirs in 2021.

The reader and present and future generations must be grateful to her for making available within the covers of a book an insider’s perceptive account of economic and political developments in India in her first four decades after independence. By extraordinary happenstance, B.D. was in the midst of the maelstrom of the fraught years of the Emergency and the period leading to the storming of the Golden Temple.

A shy boy who had felt lonely in his early years in school in Almora was taken away for studies to Allahabad by his father who resigned his government job in the postal department to be with his son. B.D. ‘s brief comment later, “his sacrifices for my welfare cannot be put in a few words”, encapsulates the bonds between father and son. After a fine academic record in school and university, B.D. was sent by his father to study in Cambridge to appear for the entrance examination to the Indian Civil Service. In 1939 B.D. Pande signed the covenant inducting him into the ICS and was allotted Bihar as his cadre.

28 December 2021

Explaining Putin’s efforts to broker peace between India, China


Media have been abuzz with speculations about Russian President Vladimir Putin making efforts to broker peace between India and China, to bring Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping face-to-face to explore a breakthrough in the prolonged and painful stalemate in their border negotiations.

It all began last week with Russia’s TASS news reporting that presidential aide Yury Ushakov said that in their December 15 video call, while Putin not only briefed Xi about his December 6 visit to New Delhi, the two leaders agreed “to endeavor to hold the next summit within the RIC [Russia-India-China] framework in the near future.”

In spite of pointed questions to that effect, neither the Chinese nor Indian spokesmen have confirmed or denied these reports.

Meanwhile, the more than 20 months of border tensions between India and China have entered a stage of a mutually painful stalemate. These border tensions have not just brought their inter-ministry talks and more that a dozen core commanders’ meetings to naught but put an unceremonious end to their much-hyped annual informal Modi-Xi summits.

Indian Army To Deploy Suicide Drones to Boost Artillery in Forward Posts Along China Border

Rishikesh Kumar

Recent satellite imagery shows that China is continuously building-up military assets in the friction areas along the Line of Actual Control — that border dividing it from China from Ladakh in the north to Arunachal Pradesh way to the east. The Indian Army is equipping its forces in forward posts with advanced weaponry.

The Indian army has aimed to procure at least 10 sets of medium-range precision kill system (MRPKS) - comprising 120 loitering munitions - to deploy them in the areas of the northern border.

These loitering munitions, also known as suicide drones, will enhance the capabilities of the army's artillery units.

"The current and future battlefield milieu necessitates precision-guided munitions to achieve first strike kill and psychological ascendance over the enemy," the army document read.

The army said that the need for such a weapon system would be intensified because of the wide spectrum of conflict - ranging from sub-conventional operations to full-scale war.

India’s Dilemmas in Engaging the Taliban in Afghanistan: Too Little, Too Late?

Sudha Ramachandran

On November 10, India hosted the Third Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan, which saw the participation of National Security Advisers from India, Iran, Russia and three Central Asian states. Given the long-running India-Pakistan battle for influence in Afghanistan and ongoing Sino-Indian border tensions, Pakistan and its main backer, China, did not attend the event (India Today, November 9). Although India does not have a diplomatic presence on the ground in Afghanistan, its hosting of the dialogue signaled that it still has political, economic and strategic interests in Afghanistan, and remains concerned regarding developments there.

Over the past two decades, India had a warm relationship with successive governments in Afghanistan. It wielded significant influence in Kabul and was playing an important role in Afghanistan’s capacity building, economic development, and reconstruction. This, in turn, strengthened India’s ambitions of trading with Central Asian countries through Iran and Afghanistan. With the Taliban’s capture of power in Kabul, India’s influence has shrunk significantly as India’s relationship with new Taliban rulers has not only been hostile, but lacking the development of any channels of communication. Moreover, the rise of the Taliban to power resulted in an increase in Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan.

India’s hypersonics hint at nuclear strike policy shift


With little fanfare, India successfully tested its Shaurya hypersonic weapon with a strike range of 1,000 kilometers back in October. But analysts are now starting to wonder whether the weapon’s development could signal a move away from New Delhi’s stated “no first use” (NFU) nuclear policy.

The missile was launched from Abdul Kalam Island, maneuvered during its terminal phase and struck its designated impact point in the Bay of Bengal. Because India keeps the Shaurya program under a tight shroud of secrecy, scant technical details are publicly available.

The weapon is allegedly an improved land-based version of the Sagarika submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which was first developed in the 1990s.

In September 2020, India successfully tested its Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV), which flew at Mach-6 speed while being tracked by a ship in the Bay of Bengal. That success was followed by a failed test in 2019, where the HSTDV’s Agni-I rocket booster became uncontrollable and it did not reach the desired altitude.

25 December 2021

India’s Electricity Outlook and the Challenges for Achieving a Sustainable Power Mix

A.K. Saxena and T.C.A. Avni


In recent decades, the electricity sector in India has seen a dramatic transition as the country achieves near-universal electrification, adequate generation reserves, and connectivity through a robust country-wide grid. The sector is also undergoing an ambitious transition toward higher shares of renewables on the back of increasingly competitive costs and commitments to address energy-related CO2 emissions. In order to achieve the flexibility in grid operations required to accommodate the rising share of renewables, systematic changes will be necessary in almost all aspects of the power system—from passing new policies and regulations to building physical infrastructure and from managing demand response and optimal utilization of existing assets to introducing new technologies.


Achieving India’s stated policy goals will require making systematic changes in nearly all aspects of the power system, including supply and demand management, technology deployment, and infrastructure upgradation; resolving legacy challenges and distortions; addressing the social and political ramifications of the transition; increasing domestic manufacturing and supply chain reliability; and providing access to adequate and affordable financing mechanisms.

Fulfilment of past commitments on climate finance and addressing concerns about developmental constraints and technology transfer will be critical to supporting India’s transition.

Country Reports on Terrorism 2020: India


Overview: In 2020, terrorism affected the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), in northeastern India, and Maoist-affected parts of central India. Major terrorist groups that have been active in India include Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen, ISIS, al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent, and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen. The Indian government made significant efforts to detect, disrupt, and degrade the operations of terrorist organizations within its borders. CT and security cooperation with the United States expanded in 2020. During September the United States and India held the 17th meeting of the Counterterrorism Joint Working Group and Third U.S.-India Designations Dialogue. In December, India proposed holding another Quad counterterrorism tabletop exercise alongside the United States, Australia, and Japan.

Indian forces arrested several members of al-Qa’ida ally Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind in J&K. Although insurgent groups operate in India’s northeastern states, levels of terrorist violence there are low and decreasing. The many organizations involved in the Sikh separatist (Khalistan) movement have not engaged in significant recent activities within India’s borders.

23 December 2021

After raising hopes, India puts off framing cryptocurrency policy

Mimansa Verma

There is no end to the uncertainty in India’s cryptocurrency sector as the country seems to have delayed, once again, framing a law that will signal its policy approach to the rapidly growing field. The government is reportedly considering changes to the proposed bill.

The legislation has been in the works for more than a year now. It had been listed for the ongoing winter session of parliament, which ends on Dec. 23, and was also listed in the budget and monsoon sessions earlier this year.

The reasons cited for the delay include the need for wider consultation due to the evolving cryptocurrency regulation across the globe.

This is in consonance with prime minister Narendra Modi’s comment at the virtual Summit for Democracy hosted by US President Joe Biden on Dec. 11. “We must also jointly shape global norms for emerging technologies like social media and cryptocurrencies so that they are used to empower democracy, not to undermine it,” Modi had said.

22 December 2021

Chinese Army conducts nuclear, chemical, biological warfare drills in Tibet

Nikhil Pandey

In the Tibet Military Region, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) recently conducted a "actual battle drill" comprising anti-nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare.

The drill was carried out in late November by a joint military brigade of the PLA, which included commandos, armoured assault groups, and soldiers trained in chemical warfare, according to a story published on the Chinese version of an official PLA news portal on Tuesday.

The Western Theatre Command (WTC), China's largest of five commands, is in charge of the Sino-India disputed boundary from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh.

The news comes as India and China are locked in a long-running border standoff in eastern Ladakh.

According to the story, "an actual combat drill of a synthetic brigade of the Tibet Military Region took place on the snow-covered plateau in late November,' according to the story.

In Software-obsessed India, Hardware Finally Gets a Place in the Sun

Pranay Kotasthane and Arjun Gargeyas

The Union Cabinet, on December 15, approved a much-awaited ‘comprehensive programme for the development of a sustainable semiconductor and display ecosystem’. Holding up a silicon wafer and a semiconductor chip, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister of Communications and Electronics & Information Technology, outlined the focus areas in a press briefing that’s sure to garner attention from major global semiconductor firms. The programme will cost the government Rs 76,000 crore over six years. The government expects an overall investment of Rs 170,000 crore in return.

There are five reasons to like the programme announced by the minister.

Reason 1: A focus on the entire ecosystem, not merely on one fabrication unit.

The programme envisages building the entire semiconductor ecosystem—from design to manufacturing to assembly and packaging—instead of just focusing on one semiconductor fabrication to start operations in India. This articulation is significant because India’s comparative advantage has long been in semiconductor design; nearly every major global firm in the sector has its design house here. The Rs 76,000 crore package will support 100 domestic semiconductor design companies, 15 compound semiconductors and semiconductor packaging units, two fabrication units, and two display fabs.

21 December 2021

Foreseeing the China-India Boundary Dispute: 2022 and Beyond

Jagannath P. Panda

Over the last year, Chinese politics have been acutely driven by President Xi Jinping’s quest to further cement his leading role in the hierarchy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Xi’s drive to stamp his “strongman” image and personality-driven political ideologies on the CCP system have dominated Chinese politics, with the recently concluded Sixth Plenum only continuing this trend. The Chinese President’s efforts to capitalize on his growing power, on both the domestic and international fronts, has greatly impacted geopolitical dynamics across the Indo-Pacific region. Between nationalist policy releases—such as the new coast guard law (海警法, hai jing fa) or dual circulation strategy (双循环策略, shuang xunhuan celue) (China Daily, August 6)—and continuing disputes with regional powers over land/territorial or maritime boundaries, Xi’s focus has been on reinforcing his own legacy as he aims for an unprecedented third term in office. Thus, Xi has been stroking nationalist fervor to justify the regime’s repressive measures (e.g., Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet) and expansionist maneuvers (Taiwan, East and South China Seas and India’s Ladakh).

19 December 2021

Sanctioning India for Russian Arms Deal Would Be Counterproductive

Jeff M. Smith

On Dec. 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin, joined by his foreign and defense ministers, arrived in India for a summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India and Russia have a defense relationship stretching back to the Cold War, and leader-level summits are a common affair. Yet, the timing of the meeting was unfortunate, coming just as the U.S. and several European capitals are sounding the alarm bell over Russian preparation for what could be a major military offensive into Ukraine.

Further, Modi’s meeting with Russia’s autocratic leader came just days before the Indian prime minister represented the world’s largest democracy at U.S. President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy. Finally, the India-Russia summit landed at a sensitive time in the burgeoning India-U.S. strategic partnership. The Biden administration may soon have to decide whether to impose sanctions on India for its purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system.

The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, was passed by Congress in the wake of complaints about Russia interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Act requires the U.S. president to impose sanctions on foreign entities engaged in significant transactions with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors. Although the India-Russia S-400 agreement predates the passage of CAATSA, India still risks sanctions.

Pentagon Worries About Chinese Buildup Near India China’s new airports and highways near the border have put officials on edge.

Jack Detsch

The U.S. Defense Department is newly concerned about China’s further military buildup near the demarcation line across its Himalayan border with India, a senior defense official told Foreign Policy, after Beijing deployed long-range strategic bombers to the area last month in another apparent warning to New Delhi.

The senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive policy deliberations, said that the buildup fits the pattern of Chinese regional aggression seen elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific region, such as in the Philippines, where Chinese coast guard vessels moved to block Philippine supply boats in November. But there’s optimism among experts and officials that India will be able to stand its ground against the People’s Liberation Army. New Delhi has put up more diplomatic and military resistance than China’s antagonists in other territorial incursions, such as in the South China Sea, experts said.

“It’s just clear that [China has] become more assertive all across their territorial fault lines,” said Jeff Smith, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. “Arguably India is the one where they’ve met the most resistance. The Indians will not be cowed, coerced, or intimidated.”

The Europe-India Balance Sheet: Trade, Like-Mindedness and Strategic Interests

Christophe Jaffrelot avec Jasmine Zérinini

An unfulfilled economic potential

In recent years, the EU has become India’s first or second trade partner. But the country represented less than 2.5% of EU trade in 2020 and ranked well behind China (16.1% of EU trade), the US (15.2%) and the UK (12.2%). Similarly, while European FDI in India more than doubled between 2011-2020, it remains much lower than in China.
Promoting trade and investment

At the EU-India leaders' meeting in May 2021, the EU and India decided to resume negotiations on a free trade agreement, after 8 years of suspended negotiations partly because of many bones of contention. Despite political will by European and Indian governments, complicated negotiations await, with probably even higher stakes for India given its withdrawal from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and its separate negotiations with the UK. Trade talks may now be more complicated due to India’s growing protectionism and uncertainties regarding the protection of personal data.

The attractiveness of the post-Covid Indian market for Europe

European companies are skeptical about the Indian market, not only because of access problems due to protectionist measures, but also due to bureaucracy, corruption, lack of infrastructure and weak consumption. It remains to be seen whether this last trend is only related to Covid-19, or whether it has acquired a more structural dimension. The Indian government should carefully consider this aspect when conducting trade and investment diplomacy with Europe and conducting outreach to European companies.

18 December 2021

Xi's nuclear frenzy aimed at shielding China's expansionism

Brahma Chellaney

Far from seeking to hide its frenzied nuclear-weapons buildup, China is flaunting it, as if to underline that its rapidly growing arsenal is driven more by political than military considerations. The unprecedented speed and scale of the buildup appears to be linked to President Xi Jinping's international expansionism as China seeks global primacy by 2049, the centenary of communist rule.

China's neighbors need to pay close attention to this buildup, even though it seems primarily aimed at dissuading Washington from challenging China's actions at home and abroad.

Just as Xi's muscular revisionism has largely centered on Asia, from the East and South China Seas to the Himalayas, the security-related impacts, as opposed to the geopolitical implications, of the fast-growing Chinese nuclear armory are likely to be felt principally by Asian states.

Neighboring countries, from Japan and the Philippines to India and Bhutan, are already bearing the brunt of Xi's recidivist policies. But with a larger nuclear arsenal, Xi will be further emboldened to step up his conventional-military tactics and hybrid warfare from behind China's highly protective nuclear shield.

17 December 2021

Why Did Russian President Putin Visit India?

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited India in the first week of December. The visit was significant in part because Putin has not traveled abroad to attend recent summits in person, like the G-20 in late October in Rome and COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland in November. Putin did go, however, to India for the 21st Annual India-Russia Summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Russian president appears to have wanted to establish that Moscow can handle the India and China relationships independently of each other. Putin’s visit is seen as an effort to repair the damage done to the relationship over the last couple of years, as Russia and India drifted apart.

Going by the optics and the number of memoranda of understanding (MoUs) and agreements signed by the two countries, Putin’s India visit has attempted to bring back some balance in the relationship. A statement from the Indian Prime Minister’s Office stated that the two leaders expressed “satisfaction at the sustained progress” in their bilateral relationship characterized as the “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.” The two countries also held the inaugural round of a 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue involving the defense and foreign ministers of India and Russia. The Inter-Governmental Commission on Military & Military-Technical Cooperation also held a meeting during the visit.

15 December 2021

Putin’s Visit Strengthens India’s Strategic Autonomy Stance

Dalbir Ahlawat

The first ever 2+2 dialogue between India and Russia’s foreign and defense ministers on December 6, indicated further strengthening of the security and strategic bilateral relationship. At the same time, a visit by President Vladimir Putin to New Delhi for the 21st India-Russia annual summit is telling, specifically at a time when the long-range S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system (priced $5.4 billion) is en route to India. Putin’s visit attracts a great deal of attention; since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic this was his second visit abroad, after a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden in Geneva in June.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined the bilateral relationship as a “special and privileged strategic partnership [that] continues to become stronger,” Putin couched India “as a great power, a friendly nation and a time-tested friend.” A key outcome of the summit was the signing of a 10-year defense technical cooperation agreement, as well as a $600 million deal to manufacture over 600,000 AK-203 Kalashnikov rifles in India as part of the Indo-Russian joint venture. Furthermore, both countries set an ambitious goal of enhancing the bilateral trade to $30 billion by 2025. Overall, the summit included the signing of 28 agreements.