Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘GeoPolitics’


India is willing to join the NSG now, today if possible. It has all the elements in place for membership. As the 48-member NSG works by consensus, not majority, India is reaching out to every possible country, much like the push at the UNGA for reforms.

Why NSG?

  • Membership of the NSG creates a climate of predictability with regard to rules for nuclear commerce with India, giving both Indian and foreign companies the confidence to commit the resources that will be needed for the expansion of nuclear power in India. India being a price-sensitive energy market, such an outcome also helps keep the cost of nuclear power within a reasonable band by lowering the risk premium.
  • Access to technology for a range of uses from medicine to building nuclear power plants for India from the NSG which is essentially a traders’ cartel. India has its own indigenously developed technology but to get its hands on state of the art technology that countries within the NSG possess, it has to become part of the group.
  • With access to latest technology, India can commercialize the production of nuclear power equipment. This, in turn will boost innovation and high tech manufacturing in India and can be leveraged for economic and strategic benefits. For example, India has signed a civil nuclear energy co-operation pact with Sri Lanka. Currently,  this entails training people in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including use of radioisotopes, nuclear safety, radiation safety, nuclear security, radioactive waste management and nuclear and radiological disaster mitigation.
  • Having the ability to offer its own nuclear power plants to the world means spawning of an entire nuclear industry and related technology development. This could give the Make in India programme a big boost.
  • With India committed to reducing dependence on fossil fuels and ensuring that 40% of its energy is sourced from renewable and clean sources, there is a pressing need to scale up nuclear power production. This can only happen if India gains access to the NSG. Even if India today can buy power plants from the global market thanks to the one time NSG waiver in 2008, there are still many types of technologies India can be denied as it is outside the NSG.

 

On the surface, India appears to have fulfilled the commitments it agreed to in exchange for the deal that ended the nuclear trade prohibition.

  • It officially implemented a separation plan, which placed 14 civilian nuclear power reactors under IAEA safeguards, leaving 8 military reactors outside of safeguards,
  • It has sustained its unilateral halt on testing nuclear explosives and,
  • In June 2014, India ratified a protocol that expanded the IAEA’s access to its nuclear sites.

Though U.S. has argued that despite its status outside the NPT, India is sufficiently like-minded regarding non-proliferation to merit membership. Some sceptics, such as Switzerland, might be amenable to this argument if India demonstrated support for non-proliferation through concrete actions. Others, such as Austria, Ireland or New Zealand,may remain opposed on principle unless India joins the NPT, which is extremely unlikely as this would require Delhi to disarm. China has also opposed India’s bid to get NSG membership on the ground that it was yet to sign the NPT.

But India defends its stance by saying that NSG members have to respect safeguards and export controls, nuclear supplies have to be in accordance with the NSG Guidelines. The NSG is an ad hoc export control regime and France, which was not an NPT member for some time, was a member of the NSG since it respected NSG’s objectives. Thus there is no need for NPT as per-requisite for India,s membership in NSG.

 As an important global partner for the United States and a leader in Asia, India’s half-in-half-out nuclear status should not remain permanently unresolved. With the US once again openly endorsing the Indian membership to the NSG in recent, India has begun preparations for the NSG plenary, scheduled to be held in Korea in June.

Read Full Post »


The last two decades have seen a remarkable shift in India’s security dialogue. From almost nowhere, issues in the maritime sector have begun to acquire increasing focus. Terms such as Sagar Mala (development of ports), Mausam (promoting inter-connectivity with littorals in the waters around us) and Blue Economy have entered the discourse even as efforts to build a stronger Navy and Coast Guard to safeguard the nation’s interests at sea and to act as a Net Security Provider have come to the forefront. At every strategic discussion maritime security gets mentioned at the very start of the debate.

Despite its two-coast configuration, dozens of ports on both sides and access to open seas, India has always been a continental country. There were kingdoms which did take our culture to distant lands across the seas but not our power. All invaders, those who came and went and those who stayed to rule, came from across the land borders in the north. The Europeans did come in their ships but had to fight no great battles at sea; they only required a few limited skirmishes on land as kingdoms, big and small, were added one by one to the fold that ultimately became India. In independent India, power at sea was never seriously in the consciousness of our political leadership till as late as the war of 1971 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi first saw its potential. Rajiv Gandhi gave it further meaning in the mid-1980s. From a paltry 4.7 per cent of the Defence Budget in the mid-1960s, the figure reached 13 per cent two decades later and close to 18 per cent by the turn of the century. This is positive movement but we are far from having become a maritime nation.

America has consistently advocated an Indo-Pacific role for us with joint naval patrols in the South China Sea, most recently during the visit of US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter where for joint petrol India instantly rejected any possibility. This is largely because for the US, the Indo-Pacific only seems to start from our eastern seaboard extending into waters of the western Pacific; it does not see major roles for our country westwards and it will provoke china too. But, we ourselves have begun to adopt a profile which is veering to ‘Act East’ from ‘Look East’. For example, Indian warships now routinely deploy in the South and East China Seas and visit ports in those regions, exercising with littoral navies.

Moving in to western waters should be cautious step because, even though half of our overseas trade now transits the South China Sea and tranquillity in those waters is important, confrontation with China will not ensure it. We must protest any actions in those waters which could jeopardise safety of commerce and freedom of navigation but actions such as joint patrols with others should not be part of the menu. An Asia-Pacific profile will also not have credibility, at least in the foreseeable future; it can await better days. On the other hand, an Indian Ocean Region (IOR) role is both credible and commensurate with our valid interests that stretch across the Indian Ocean. India in IOR has also proved its worth by successfully leading The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and fighting piracy in the region. In this space, India’s interests and responsibilities must be those of the major littoral power able to reach places of its choosing and operate credibly for as long as it needs to. We are also better placed than the Chinese to deal with issues in the IOR than in waters farther away and can dominate its entries and exits. This will need maritime forces significantly more than are presently there but not a level that we cannot reach if we plan for it systematically. Interestingly, given clear political direction, these goals are achievable with a less than 20 per cent share of the Defence Budget and predominantly through the ‘Make in India’ route. This approach will also contribute to development of maritime infrastructure in the country, a necessity now recognised at the highest levels.

In short, to develop credible maritime assets and capabilities, India should structure itself essentially as an Indian Ocean Region player, rather than seek a broader Asia-Pacific profile. Without compromising on our long-term interests we must clearly identify our core area and that must be the IOR. This expands our operating space sufficiently without compromising any vital concerns. Such a posture will, in the next two decades or so, result in maritime assets and capabilities which will be credible and commensurate with what we will need.

Read Full Post »


Founded in 1989 at Australia’s initiative, APEC’s members include the US, Russia, China, Australia and Japan. It’s 21 members represent 2.8 billion people and accounts for 57 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and 47 percent of global trade. For 26 years, the APEC has served as the key driver of Asian regional economic integration by developing habits of economic dialogue and cooperation and facilitating market opening and trade expansion. India had applied for APEC’s membership in 1993 and has been an observer at the forum since 2011.

Why APEC membership important for India:

  1. The APEC’s institutional processes of trade facilitation, consultation on standards, and sharing of best practices will help India improve its regulatory regime and business environment. This, in turn, helps make India more attractive to investors and more competitive in international markets.
  2. India’s inclusion in APEC will give a boost to its ‘Act East Policy’ and will further integrate the Indian economy into the Asia-Pacific economic milieu.
  3. The APEC would help India access the transnational supply chains that increasingly dominate the global economy. To achieve the growth rates of 8 to 10 percent for lifting millions out of poverty, India would have to participate in the global trade system.  In recent share of APEC in India’s total exports declined from 46.2 per cent in 2000-01 to 32.7 per cent in 2013-14 while imports from APEC countries to India increased from 29.2 per cent in 2000-01 to 36.2 per cent 2013-14. Membership to APEC may help India in maintaining trade balance.
  4. In addition to facilitating greater regional economic integration, APEC promotes the development of small and medium enterprises in the member countries.
  5. APEC membership is also a facilitating condition for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) membership. It makes more sense for India to join APEC now because it is also negotiating a regional trade pact Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) where China is an influential member, including the 10 Southeast Asian countries and their partner countries.
  6. Membership in the APEC would promote equal participation by government and private institutions and help deal with the disconnect between policy and business.

India’s candidacy for the APEC is viewed sceptically in some parts of the region for two reasons.

First, critics say India’s past behaviour in trade negotiations, especially in multilateral settings such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), has been reflexively difficult, even intransigent. Some critics fear India would disrupt the APEC’s consultative and consensus-based processes and impede progress on key initiatives. These parties remain unconvinced that India’s government or business community are ready to take more constructive positions despite India’s progress over the past 15 years.

Second, some parties believe that India must prove it is serious about the APEC by completing or committing to certain major steps such as land policy reform or bilateral investment treaty negotiations. It is not unreasonable to look at the government to signal in some significant fashion its desire to be part of the APEC by implementing substantial economic reform.

These perceptions of India’s past stances are based on its behaviour in binding negotiations such as the Doha Round of the WTO. Domestic attitudes about trade, as well as bureaucratic and corporate resistance, have so far made it difficult for India to achieve the scope and pace of reform that would benefit India and its economic partners. Access to APEC’s processes and best practices would help India’s bureaucracy deal with their obstructions. In fact, participation in APEC will over time help India achieve the major policy reforms that India has said it wants. More importantly  APEC is a non-binding forum, and while a consensus of all members is always the goal, some initiatives proceed with a limited consensus of some members. The APEC is a process not a destination And as a non-binding forum for discussion and consultation, it is designed to be flexible even as it holds out the very ambitious goal of pan-regional economic integration.

Making the accomplishment of specific reforms a condition for APEC membership is not consistent with the APEC’s history or character. Throughout its history, the APEC has included economies that have varied widely in their size, stage of development, and trade policy orientation. China was an APEC member for 10 years before making the reform commitments that brought it into the WTO. When Vietnam joined, its economy and policies were very different from those of most APEC members. Now, it is a TPP member. One of APEC’s most important contributions has been to assist the gradual opening of emerging economies. Major policy changes have not typically been pre-conditions for APEC membership.

US was the only major country that did not want India’s entry to forum but now that also watered down after US Congres brought a bill to this effect.The legislation notes that the US-India partnership is vital to the US strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region and across the globe, and is an integral aspect to the Administration’s Rebalance to Asia. It opens opportunity for India to become part of APEC in near future.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: