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13 November 2020

Biden/Harris as PM Modi’s “dream team”?

The US will have a Vice President of Indian descent. Kamala Harris, Biden’s Vice-President elect, born in the USA, is the daughter of an Indian lady from Chennai, South East India, who had immigrated to California for higher studies. Kamala Harris’ father was Jamaican, who had immigrated to the USA, also for higher studies. A double racial and national descent is the background of America’s future Vice President. According to all accounts available, Kamala’s Indian background must be predominant, although she grew up in an African-American community. She may call herself a person of colour, but Indians first of all will see in her the Indian legacy. And Indians may ask themselves what is politically in it for India.

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30 October 2020

India’s place in the Middle East

The Middle East and Persian Gulf region has, over recent years and months, experienced events and developments that have changed the pattern of alliances and strategic interests to a large extent. Let’s remember that, for a historical moment, an effective alliance against the so-called “Islamic State” (“ISIS”), composed among others of American, Turkish, Iranian, Kurdish, Iraqi and Syrian forces of both the regime and the anti-Assad opposition, had led a relatively successful war against that terrorist organization of Saudi origin.

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31 July 2020

Chinese dialectics over Bhutan and their correlation with developments in the South China Sea

Remember the “Doklam incident”, when, three years ago, the Chinese started building a road on Bhutan territory and were stopped by Indian forces, Bhutan’s legal and lawful protecting power? The Doklam plateau high up in the Himalayans is locally of high operative value for military strategists. Who possesses it, has a view on approaching adversary troops. It is part of Bhutan’s sovereign territory, whose inviolability is being guaranteed by India based on an Indian-Bhutanese Treaty.

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2 June 2020

PM Modi’s difficult choices between Covid-19, strategic positioning, domestic sectarian violence and diplomatic relations

At the beginning of June of this year, India is experiencing the fastest expansion of Covid-19 infections in the world. Within one week, the numbers have brought the country globally from the eleventh to the seventh rank, and the numbers continue to grow faster than anywhere else. Add to the scaring figures the fact that due to the sub-standard infrastructure of the country huge numbers of infected people and of the dead will never be recorded. In addition, the general shut-down of the country, which was meant to contain the spread of the Corona virus, has triggered mass movements of people, which will increase the number of infections even more.

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13 December 2019

Geo-economics of Indian foreign policy

Continuing along the lines of our last column, where we had commented on some aspects of Chinese-Indian competition on the African continent, we now take a closer look at the economic and financial constraints on the Indian government to follow suit on their strategic options and choices. In 2019 the Indian economy has become the world’s third largest, in purchase power parity (PPP), and sixth largest in US dollar terms.

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11 October 2019

Africa, China and India

The size of Africa’s population is comparable to China’s or India’s population: some 1.2 billion people. They are, however, spread over some fifty countries of very different size, nature, economic power and strategic importance. Since, under the Trump Administration, the US has shifted its strategic priorities with regard to Africa from development to security and counter-terrorism, the field for competitors for influence has been widened. Russia is taking advantage in Northern Africa and China in East Africa, from where the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is spreading to reach out to more of the African continent.

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17 July 2019

China’s expansion, regional reactions to it and India’s ambiguous maneuvering

In the field of competition for domination beyond national borders, one of the keys to strategic power is the capacity to project military power. For those who fear Chinese expansion, it is therefore relevant to look first at the development of China’s military means. From 2008 to 2018, China has doubled its defense budget. That budget is today still a fraction only of the USA defense budget, i.e. less than a quarter, but China’s defense spending is more than double the size of each of the other three biggest spenders in Asia, that is India, Japan and Russia, and it is still growing.

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16 April 2019

Russia’s policies and strategic moves in Asia: with or without India?

Russia, a big European power, is also an Asian power, in fact a genuinely Eurasian great power. Due to its conflict with its largest European neighbour, the Ukraine, Russia finds itself isolated at its European front. Having realised that a greater role in a European context seems unattainable for Russia, it is turning to the East for enhancing its political and economic potential in Asia. China and India have different roles in Russia’s strategy.

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19 December 2018

India’s current geopolitical positioning

India will soon be heading for its next general elections. Prime Minister Modi was brought into power with the general elections of May 2014. His first term, thus, comes to an end in 2019 and the country, as the world’s largest democracy, will be getting prepared to one more giant election process. Modi’s fate will be decided by domestic politics, not policies in the field of external relations. Assessing domestic politics is reasonably possible only from inside India. We, in this column, have been observing India from outside and would therefore not qualify for a domestic perspective. We have been looking at PM Modi’s achievements and positioning in the world. Now, we wonder whether India’s electorate will also take some of that dimension into account when choosing the next government.

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15 October 2018

India and Iran: the wider geopolitical context

US-President Trump’s unilateral sanctions on Iran have one useful side-effect: they shake other big players of world politics so much that their national strategies become visible to a wider audience of observers, either by way of being redefined or by way of confirmation. India, which does so little to impose itself on world affairs according to its potential, appears in shaken power equations as a possible core element of strategic networks.

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