Logbook of an Ambassador
India and Switzerland: economic topics of the relationship
India’s share in the global GDP is five percent, a fraction of what it was in 1820, when it started to contract, and a fraction of what it could be today measured against the size of its population or against the example set by China. Strong actors in world trade like EU member States or Switzerland are aware of the gap between reality and the theoretical claim of India’s economy and see it positively as a potential to tap.
India’s up-coming general elections: Which choices?
India’s “natural party of government” is the Congress Party; it has created the Republic, it has ruled it for most of the time and it still is the one with the widest representation in the country. Its critics, however, consider it as “no longer legitimized for government”. They say Congress is the main cause and the main profiteer of corruption.
India’s role in Middle East conflicts
‘Nuclear negotiations with Iran’, ‘Geneva talks’ on Syria, decades-old conflict opposing Israel to its Arab neighbours, just three trouble spots in the Middle East where former big European colonial powers France and Britain are regularly involved in the forefront of negotiations. India is not involved in the forefront.
India and Russia - How much of the past into the future?
Within three days of last October, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shook hands in Moscow with Russian leaders and in Beijing with Chinese leaders. “A tale of two handshakes” is the shortest possible historic and strategic summary of an important moment for India and possibly for the world. The merit of condensing the event to five words goes to the Indian daily quality newspaper “The Hindu”. The paper’s editorialist recognised the fundamental difference between the two handshakes, the first, with Russia, demonstrating “the comfort of a strategic relationship”, the second the economic weight of the two Asian giants in world affairs.
Afghanistan in India’s neighbourhood or rather India in Afghanistan’s neighbourhood?
What sort of partner is today’s Government of Afghanistan to India? From Afghanistan came the founding dynasty of the Great Mughal Empire, which dominated the Indian Subcontinent from the 16th century until the British established British India in the 19th century. From Central Asia through Afghanistan came Islam and expanded into India beyond even the Mughal Empire’s realm, and stayed.
India and the USA: Is it an alliance?
How close are India and the USA to each other in World Affairs today? Allies? Partners? If allied: against which potential common enemy? The history of Indo-US relations over the last 15 years is an amazing one. In the old days of the Cold War - who remembers them?
Again: India and China
India and China have opened talks on their common border in the Himalayas. Are they determined to put an end to decades of rivalry and dispute? Possibly in order to become stronger together against the world? When they fought a war against each other in 1962, they both were poor developing countries and both were excluded from the dynamics of international trade. Half a century later they are said to be driving forces in globalising economy and politics, leaving the USA and Europe behind when it comes to economic growth figures, challenging the USA and Europe when it comes to political leadership in the world. India and China look like partners when joining hands within the group of the BRIC(S) countries.
Bhutan’s special relationship with India
India does not exert hegemony over its immediate neighbourhood, at least not to the degree that would be expected in the case of any other large country aspiring to global recognition as a big power. Measured against their size and economic power, practically all neighbours, except China, would have to bear the full set of consequences of political, economic and military domination of a giant like India anywhere else on the globe.
Defence Procurement and Corruption
An Indian defence procurement deal is currently in the international media. The Italian helicopter producer Agusta/ Westland is being investigated about alleged bribes for obtaining the order to supply the Indian Government with 12 VIP transport helicopters. Indian investigation authorities are examining corruption allegations.
Strategic challenges for India in 2013
Economists’ forecasts see, among BRIC countries, a bright future or at least a promising 2013 for Russia and China, but less so for India. Hesitant recommendations to foreigners to engage in India are based on poor infrastructure, incredible red tape, continued current account and state budget deficits, insufficient growth, an inflation rate higher than the productivity growth and difficult market access for foreign investors and industrial operators. Nothing of this is new. But, as has been stated in this column before, India remains too relevant to be circumvented or avoided for those reasons.