Logbook of an Ambassador
India and the European Union: a stagnating relationship
The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally made it to Brussels two months ago. With the EU-India Summit of 30th March, Modi remains loyal to his policy of a more ascertained outreach to the world. Since coming into office, he has given the world, especially the wider regional neighbourhood, a clear signal that India wishes to engage again and more forcefully in international affairs, but no longer along the traditional lines of the Non-Aligned and Third World solidarity, as developed by Nehru and his Congress Party successors.
The Indian Ocean and the Mughal Empire: a lesson for today
The North Indian Mughal Empire ascended during the 16th century, deployed its splendour and might during the 17th century, descended during the 18th century and disappeared in the 19th century. It never ruled over the whole Indian Subcontinent but was, for some three centuries, the dominant empire of its region. Indian history over those three centuries was a history of competing land powers.
India’s need of enhanced power-projection capabilities
India’s aspiration is to become a ‘leading power’, rather than a ‘balancing power’. We have quoted the Indian Government’s determination before in this column. Re-entering the stage of international politics with this strategic intention takes enhanced capabilities of power-projection. They were lacking in the past; Prime Modi understands that India needs also military means for the higher profile he is seeking for India in world affairs. Sustainable military power depends on a corresponding economic substance. The fall of the international oil price has turned energy imports into a less costly expenditure.
Hindus and Indian Muslims: History and PM Modi
The Subcontinent is the cradle and home of Hinduism. The Muslims came later; the first were Arab merchants, who reached the Subcontinent’s shores. That was some one thousand and three hundred years ago. From 1200 onwards, Arab, Persian, Turkic and Afghan Muslims settled in Northern India, around Delhi, and built the Sultanate of Delhi. 1526 the Afghan Babur founded in Delhi the Great Mughal Empire on the debris of the Sultanate. Thus, Northern India became home to one of the most splendid empires in history, adding to the Ottoman Empire in Konstantinopel and the Persian Empire of Shiraz and Isfahan one more high civilisation in the Islamic world of that time.
India’s PM Modi implements his maritime strategy
PM Modi’s diplomacy has demonstrated his strategic choices. In these columns, we have written before about India’s choice to (re)establish ambitions in the Indian Ocean. Now, PM Modi has started the implementation. He does the necessary, he builds up India’s naval forces and reaches out to the Island States in the Indian Ocean for strategic partnerships.
India’s strategic position in the world today
Prime Minister Modi has been in office now for some fifteen months. From the outset, his determination to reset India on the world map has been noticeable. That’s what the international strategic community is thinking of his achievements in this regard: From hindsight, it may well be seen as historic, when Modi skipped the Asia-Africa Summit in April 2015 held in Indonesia, with which the participating countries marked the 60th anniversary of the birth of the Non-Alignment Movement.
Leading India: Mission impossible?
It has been said before in this column: India’s new government does a few important things differently than most of its predecessor governments. First it is run by a party less identified with the country’s history of the last sixty years than the perennial Congress Party. Then it is led by a man who distinguishes himself with a stronger determination than what the Republic has seen over recent years in that position.
India and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
India is seeking membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, SCO. Why? And what is the SCO? PM Modi attended the SCO summit in Ufa, Russia, the other day and was welcomed as a new member by the next year. Along with India, Pakistan will also join the SCO. The Organisation, headquartered in Beijing, is a creation by Russia and China and counts the Central Asian States of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan among its members.
India’s role in global trade
In global trade, power has shifted and new blocs have been created. After two decades of changes in the fundamental structures of the global trading system, China has risen to the rank of the mega-trader of its own class, whereas the USA, Canada and the European Union have consolidated their dominance of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment region and the USA, Japan, South-Korea together with smaller Asian economies represent the Trans-Pacific trading bloc.
Is the Indian Ocean India’s Ocean?
The “Persian Gulf” is a well-established historical and geographical term, practically uncontested. Iran, today’s Persia, would not allow anybody to shorten it just to the “Gulf” or, even more daringly for Iran, to alter it to “Arab Gulf”.