Observer Research Foundation
Observer Research Foundation
News Article | April 11, 2017
Malcolm Turnbull has assured the Indian billionaire hoping to build Australia’s largest coal mine in Queensland, Gautam Adani, that native title issues will not stop the $16bn project. The prime minister, who is halfway through a four-day visit to India, also confirmed the Adani Group would seek a $1bn government loan to fund a rail line for the Carmichael mine project, but said Adani understood the request would be independently assessed. Earlier in the day, Barnaby Joyce said the $1bn loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility was a “tipping point” issue for Adani, defending the subsidised loan for a railway line from the mine to the port. Turnbull on Tuesday refused to answer whether he considered the loan was a tipping point which would make or break the project. “Mr Adani in our discussion simply noted his company expects to make an application to the Northern Australia Infrastructure fund on the basis that we have described several times,” he said. “But that has got an independent board, it will assess the application on its merits and it is obviously going to be dependent on there being other funding as well from the private sector from external sources to support the railway line. There is no new news on Adani and the railway project. They are entitled to make an application to the Northern Australia Infrastructure fund, they expect to do so and it will be assessed scrupulously and independently.” The prime minister is understood to have assured Adani that a recent native title case in the federal court, which has thrown an obstacle in the way of the project, would be overcome when parliament resumes in May. The Coalition has already drafted legislation to bypass the native title decision, which Labor says it supports in principle. “Mr Adani noted this is an issue for his development but frankly it’s an issue for just about every development in Australia where native title issues are involved,” Turnbull said. “It’s an issue for the native title owners as well because plainly you’ve got to be able to reach agreements to get the development to ensure native title owners, first Australians, get the economic returns and the advancement that they deserve and we all aspire for them to have.” The Adani board is expected to decide whether to approve the controversial project as early as May. Turnbull had a lengthy meeting with the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, on Monday night and the pair appeared to have struck a personal rapport, sharing selfies during a ride on Delhi’s metro system and jokes at an official dinner. After signing six agreements, including one pledging closer cooperation against terrorism, Modi quipped that he was “glad that our decisions are not subject to the DRS review system”. Use of cricket’s controversial “third umpire” was a flashpoint in the recent four-match test between the two nations that India took out in Dharamsala last month. Modi said he hoped Turnbull’s visit to the south Asian giant had been “as productive as it has been for Steven Smith’s batting, the other Australian captain”. But despite the goodwill and burgeoning security ties between the countries, Turnbull has conceded a free-trade agreement is still years away. Successive deadlines for the deal, which was a major priority of the Tony Abbott government, passed in 2015 and 2016. Turnbull said on Tuesday the Indian government had “not been as enthusiastic about [the agreement] as we would have liked”. In a joint statement, the two leaders said they “reaffirmed their commitment” to the negotiations but stressed any deal would need to be “commercially meaningful”. Mihir Sharma, a senior fellow at the Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, said India was increasingly determined to protect its agricultural sector. “Australia, of course, is a big exporter of agricultural products. Sectors such as dairy farming are politically powerful and sensitive in India, and a government dependent on rural votes is reluctant to open them up,” he said. Australia too was “unwilling to move forward on liberalising trade in services, particularly what is called ‘Mode 4’ trade, which might involve the temporary movement of people”. Sharma said the Indian government was less willing to embrace free trade than in the past because large, inefficient sectors, such as the country’s state-owned airline, had proved difficult to reform. “Hopes that [Indian] industry would be able to transform itself and become more competitive have been belied by recent experience,” he said. “The government is partly responsible, because this failure on the part of Indian business is a consequence of stultifying, archaic regulations. But either way, there is a strong temptation to just try and focus on developing India’s vast home market.”
News Article | May 11, 2017
A dredger pumps sand to reclaim land outside the port of Colombo as part of a $1.4 billion real estate development by China. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads to Sri Lanka Thursday as New Delhi seeks to reassert its influence on the island (AFP Photo/Ishara S. KODIKARA) India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads to Sri Lanka on Thursday on a charm offensive as New Delhi seeks to reassert its influence on the island amid signs of a Chinese comeback. Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena came to power in January 2015 promising to loosen ties with China after a decade of hefty funding by Beijing under his predecessor. When Modi visited the island shortly afterwards, he promised to "script a golden chapter in the history of India-Sri Lanka relations". Just two years later, analysts say Beijing's influence is on the rise again as Colombo struggles to find alternative sources of foreign capital. For India, which wants to keep Sri Lanka within its sphere of influence, that is a worrying sign. "For Modi to visit again so soon is clearly an expression of India's concerns about China's deepening economic roots in Sri Lanka and the potential strategic, even military, advantages this might ultimately bring," said Alan Keenan of the International Crisis Group. Sirisena halted all Chinese-funded infrastructure projects when he swept to power in 2015, ousting the island's strongman leader Mahinda Rajapakse, who had aggressively courted Beijing. Now these projects, which included new highways, railway lines and a telecommunications tower, are back on track. A $1.4 billion Chinese-funded land reclamation project outside Colombo harbour has also been relaunched. New Delhi has long been nervous of a Chinese presence at the Colombo port, a key transshipment point for Indian cargo. Even more controversially, Colombo is trying to sell a controlling interest in a strategically-located deep-sea port in the south to China. Shortly after hosting Modi, Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will travel to China, where he is expected to try to finalise that sale. Experts say India simply doesn't have deep enough pockets to take over China's place as the country's main financial backer. "The new government realises that its Western allies have not delivered and only China has the deep pockets to invest," said Sri Lankan political analyst Kusal Perera. "The new government has understood this reality and they are wooing China while keeping India on board." Last time Modi visited Sri Lanka, he made a highly symbolic trip to the war-ravaged north in a demonstration of support for Sri Lanka's mostly Hindu Tamil minority, who share close cultural and religious ties with counterparts living in southern India. This time, he will be guest of honour at a major Buddhist festival -- a move seen as aimed at winning the support of the Sinhalese majority, many of whom are suspicious of India. Former leader Rajapakse's political allies among the Sinhalese community this month called for a black flag protest during Modi's visit. Manoj Joshi of the Observer Research Foundation think tank in Delhi said Modi would likely use the visit to deepen economic ties with Sri Lanka. But he cautioned against overly high expectations. "Everyone in New Delhi has realised that the new Colombo government isn't going to abandon China just like that. It has certain big infrastructure investments," he told AFP. "When confronted by a big neighbour like India, they can leverage China, just like other countries in the neighbourhood like Nepal and Bangladesh."
News Article | February 27, 2017
On the morning of 4 February, Harish Tikedar, Ganesh Soni, and Mohammed Isafil Ansari waited in a queue to use the community toilet in the Indira Nagar slum in eastern Mumbai. All of a sudden the floor collapsed, plunging Tikedar, Soni and Ansari into the septic tank 15-feet below. Two others who also fell – Sirajjudin Turat and Ramakant Kanojia – managed to hold on to the sides until they were rescued. “I was submerged up to my shoulders in the slush,” says Turat. “I could feel it pulling me down but somehow held on to a slab. Then some people pulled me up and I passed out.” The five men who were pulled out were unrecognisable, covered in faeces. They were all taken to a nearby hospital but Tikedar, Soni and Ansari did not survive. In Mumbai’s slums, the simple act of relieving oneself is fraught with danger, especially in the slums of M-East ward where population density is high, and the few public amenities are crumbling. M-East is the poorest and most deficient in civic services of Mumbai’s 24 administrative wards. It has expanded over the last 15 years but has remained on the periphery of the city’s consciousness and governance systems. The differences between the civic amenities available in the smattering of middle-class apartment blocks and the slums, which dominate M-East, are stark. Most of the 100 square feet slum houses do not have sanitation and water facilities, either because applications for individual toilets and taps are pending approval or because the slum is on encroached land, which means that the civic body will not provide any services there. For sanitation, people in Mumbai pay two to three rupees (£0.02-0.04) to use a community toilet, which generate revenues of 3.6bn rupees (£47m) a year, according to a recent report by the Observer Research Foundation. The poorest of the poor pay more than 10m rupees (£120,000) per day for the most basic necessity, yet the facilities are rarely maintained despite complaints. Some 78% of community toilets in Mumbai’s slums lack water supply, 58% have no electricity, and many don’t have proper doors or facilities for women to dispose of sanitary napkins. The statistics are worse in M-East. “The chief minister [of Maharashtra] should order a structural audit of all community and public toilets. All those found deficient must be demolished and reconstructed,” says Dhaval Desai, author of the Observer Research Foundation report. “The long-term solution is to allow slum dwellers to construct individual toilets inside their houses. About 83% of the people we interviewed said they would spend the money, but the BMC [Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation] denies permission on technical grounds.” Most of the slums appeared after 2005, which makes them illegal. “That slums post-2005 are not given water is a sham,” says Rais Shaikh an elected representative to the BMC from M-East, and leader of the Samajwadi party. “All of them get water; by what means is an open secret. If it wants, the BMC can find a way to provide basic rights.” The majority of slum residents are forced to depend on the thriving informal market, operated by a network of local strongmen that supplies water through tankers and via the unfinished pipe system laid by the civic body. The cost depends on demand and supply, from as high as 40 rupees (£0.48) to as low as five rupees (£0.06 ) for a 40-litre can. When the municipal corporation imposes water cuts in the summer, the cost rises considerably. Where there is a gap in sanitation services, NGOs step in to construct community toilets, or local MLAs (member of legislative assembly) and MPs contribute money from area development funds. A coterie of contractors usually takes up the construction and management of these community toilets. But they have no accountability to either the BMC or residents, and repeated complaints about sinking floors and full septic tanks go unheeded. The community toilet that collapsed in the Indira Nagar slum was only 10 years old and was built using the local MLA’s area development fund. The contractor was arrested and booked under the Indian Penal Code on charges including culpable homicide not amounting to murder, but he was eventually set free. He was not available for comment. The accident is not an isolated one. Across Mumbai, seven people have died and one was left disabled in similar incidents in the last three months. “There must be guidelines that the BMC enforces for construction, otherwise this kind of death will become routine,” says Razzaq Shaikh, who helped rescue the two survivors. “After an incident, the MLA or MP comes visiting, often with a cheque. But what’s the point? We know life is cheap in Mumbai, but so cheap?” The benchmark for toilets, adopted as part of India’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan [Clean India Mission], is one toilet for 25 women or 30 men. In M-East, however, the average is one toilet per 190 people, according to surveys by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. “The availability of toilets and tap water is so abysmal that the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan is laughable,” says Amita Bhide, dean of the institute’s School of Habitat Studies and head of its M-East ward project. “The state and the BMC has to intervene and be innovative, not sit on applications for individual toilets because there aren’t sewer lines to link to.” Regular water supply is also a perennial election promise, but despite politician’s campaigning, nothing seems to change in Mumbai’s poorest slums. “All political parties come here using the water issue as their trump card,” says Syed Lateef. “All of them say that when they come to power, water issues will be resolved. Water pipes have been installed and reinstalled, but we don’t get water. We buy it.” A version of this article first appeared on scroll.in and has been republished with permission. Follow the author @urjourno and @scroll_in on Twitter. Join our community of development professionals and humanitarians. Follow @GuardianGDP on Twitter, and have your say on issues around water in development using #H2Oideas.
News Article | February 21, 2017
Nanotechnology - What You Should Know Graphene - Here's What You Should Know Inert gas helium, famous for its reluctance to react with other elements, has produced a very stable new compound called sodium helide. This feat was achieved by subjecting helium to high pressure to react with sodium in high temperature. The structure of the resulting compound had strong bonds, a far cry from the usual weak bonds of some helium compounds. Explaining the behavior of helium at high pressure was Alex Boldyrev, Utah State University professor. "That's because of extremely high pressure, like that found at the Earth's core or giant neighbors, completely alters helium's chemistry," Boldyrev said. Boldyrev and his doctoral student Ivan Popov were part of an international team of researchers, led by Artem Oganov of Stony Brook University, who conducted the research on helium. They have published the findings in Nature Chemistry. However, the new compound's properties have not been fully understood with practical applications yet be charted out as scientists have created only small amounts of the compound, according to Alexander Goncharov, a physicist from Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C, and the co-author. However, the new compound will be a stepping stone for researchers to produce new weird materials in lower pressures. Efforts to make compounds with helium started in the 1960s despite its reluctance. As a least reactive element, helium was deemed incapable of forming chemical compounds at all. Though xenon compounds were created with helium, they were all short lived. Before planning the reaction of helium with sodium, scientists led by Artem Oganov of Stony Brook University in New York made the necessary computer calculations to confirm what all compounds are possible with helium. The analysis showed sodium can work with helium if it can be squeezed under high pressure. In the experiments, Goncharov and colleagues mixed small amounts of helium and sodium between a pair of diamonds and scaled up pressures million times the atmospheric pressure of Earth. Thereafter the material was heated with lasers to temperatures above 1200° Celsius. The resulting X-rays gave an idea of the compound's structure that matched the computer predictions. The unusual compound is an electride, and defying its bizarre nature, sodium helide behaved like a commonplace compound where chloride ions are negatively charged. While the isolated electron pairs act like negative ions, the eight sodium atoms enveloping each helium atom will be acting as positive ions. In the computer calculations, the possibility of forming a compound of helium, sodium and oxygen, called Na HeO, at lower pressures was also predicted possible. Meanwhile, a scientist with India's space agency ISRO has said India is looking to meet its entire energy needs by mining lunar dust from the moon in the next two decades. Sivathanu Pillai, the distinguished professor with ISRO, and former head of BrahMos Aerospace program, said the bulk of India's energy requirements could be met by mining helium-3 from the moon. The space agency has accorded top priority to the program. "By 2030, this process target will be met," Pillai told the ORF-Kalpana Chawla Space Policy Dialogue held by think tank group Observer Research Foundation. The expert noted that lunar dust is rich in helium-3 and added that not only India but many other countries are also working on such projects as the moon has enough helium to meet the energy needs of the world. The European Space Agency is also on record as it is believed "this isotope could provide safer nuclear energy in a fusion reactor since it is not radioactive and would not produce dangerous waste products." © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | December 16, 2016
At a political rally in early December, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi quipped that even beggars are warming to digital money—referencing a two-year-old YouTube video in which a homeless person pulls out a card machine for a driver who doesn't have change. On November 8th, Modi, who leads the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, announced that 86 percent of the country's circulating cash, via 500 and 1000 rupee bills, would be voided within hours to curb corruption and bring unaccounted income to light. That's kind of like being told you can't use $1 or $20 bills in a cash-only restaurant. This colossal shift is particularly difficult to implement here in India, where cash drives over 90 percent of transactions, and where credit card machines aren't widely available. Modi's new policy might be revolutionary, but at a high price: it has left behind millions of Indians who are unbanked and digitally illiterate in its bid to push transactions online. Although there are over 25 million credit cards and close to 700 million debit cards in India, most people only use the latter to withdraw cash from ATMs. And even if they have credit cards, shop owners and vendors often do not have the connectivity or power to charge them—leaving card-swiping machines to collect dust. Rural India, meanwhile, remains almost entirely run by cash. For every 1 million Indians, there are 693 Point of Sale (PoS)—credit and debit card processing— machines in comparison to the 4000 machines for every 1 million people in China and Russia. Moreover, well over half of all PoS systems in India are confined to major cities. That impacts both consumers and vendors. In the weeks since Modi's announcement, millions of Indians have stood in hours-long lines outside banks and ATMs to deposit their money—below a $4,000 limit—and exchange their old notes for new ones. And small business owners are left in limbo. In the southern city of Hyderabad, Bishan Garashia, a 50-year old salesman, sat idle behind stacks of bright blankets and sweaters. He had two weeks to sell before he packs his unsold stock worth around $3,000 back to his village in central India, he told Motherboard. The trader, whose roadside stalls line a bustling highway, said his business has dropped by 70 percent since Modi's November 8th announcement. He, like much of India's informal sector which makes up 45 percent of the country's GDP, cannot afford using a PoS system, nor does he have the network connection required for one. The machines are a few thousand rupees (starting at $30), but the bigger expense is the transaction fee, which can run as high as 2.5 percent on credit cards. "Who is going to come teach us how to use these things?" Garashia said, shrugging away knowledge of how PoS systems or digital wallets work. He said he has a bank account but hasn't been able to send home money in weeks due to the sharp drop in sales after demonetization. The shortage of available currency in the last month has made many Indians save the cash that they have for essentials. In this plastic-averse climate, digital wallet mobile apps are more likely to become the country's most viable alternative to cash. Low-value transactions in India—a pack of cigarettes, roadside meals, or goods like Garashia's sweaters—usually cost less than $5, making credit and debit cards an inefficient and expensive payment mode. In this plastic-averse climate, digital wallet mobile apps like Paytm and Mobikwik—which allow online and offline payments using money deposited from a bank account—are more likely to become the country's most viable alternative to cash. Paytm, which is backed by Chinese behemoth Alibaba, reported a 300 percent hike in downloads following Modi's announcement and Mobikwik claimed over 5 million new users in two weeks. In the last month, digital wallet transactions have outnumbered those of both credit and debit cards. Demonetization has also alerted these companies to India's vast and largely untapped rural market. The Economic Times said Paytm and Mobikwik have each deployed thousands of employees to enroll rural (and semi-rural) owners of mom-and-pop stores. And for good reason. By 2020, rural users will make up half of India's internet base, according to Boston Consulting Group. "There's an undeniable surge in people interested in using mobile wallets and wondering whether their ATM cards can be used as debit cards—which they can. It's an idea whose time has come," says Ashok Malik, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, a Delhi-based think tank. According to Malik, a conservative analyst, even a small uptick in online payments could result in more of India's economy going digital than ever before. How many of these digital users stay on after the cash scarcity ends—which is said to last until March based on current printing rates—is anyone's guess, he said. "It's a question of habit and getting used to it as well." But challenges persist, even for those who are using digital currency. Ravi Kumar, a mechanic shop owner in Hyderabad, signed up for Paytm weeks ago, but is among the millions of Indians waiting for bills smaller than the new 2,000-rupee note (worth about $30) to arrive. For the past three weeks, he has accepted 'IOUs' as payment from customers since he cannot break the high-denomination note into smaller change. "Paytm may work, but even if I take it, how am I supposed to pay my suppliers? At first we supported [demonetization] but we also thought that there would be enough cash by now." Even if urban India begins embracing digital or credit-based financing, there's still the issue of those who are without bank accounts. In the last two years, millions of Indians have opened bank accounts, as part of the government's sweeping financial and digital inclusion program. But hundreds of millions remain unbanked. E-banking in rural areas—where internet access is patchy—is out of the question. Banking disparities can be seen right at the front of the now-famous lines outside ATMs as the demonetization effort persists. Individuals with multiple bank accounts often withdraw three or four times more than the daily limit of 2,500 rupees per person—by using more than one ATM card in a single trip. Laxmi Nalla**, for one. Shuffling through her purse as she approaches the ATM, the middle-aged homemaker passes two ATM cards to her teenage daughter as she keeps three. Moments later, Nalla and her daughter emerge from the claustrophobic space with five slender 2,000-rupee notes in hand. "Anyhow 4,000 of this will go to the watchman," she says. "What will I be left with?" Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.
News Article | December 21, 2016
Down one of the hundreds of dusty lanes that make up Gandhi Nagar market, Delhi’s largest textile bazaar, the small factory where Neeraj Sharma produces girls’ jeans is quiet. “Normally you couldn’t walk in here,” he says, ambling across the concrete shop floor, past dormant sewing machines and piles of unfinished denim. Sharma estimates around 80% of his workforce have left Delhi for their villages in the past month. “It’s good that they left,” he adds. “Because of this demonetisation problem, there’s no work for us either.” India’s vast informal economy has been reeling since 8 November, the morning after India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, announced the sudden voiding of the country’s two most-used bank notes. It is the largest-scale financial experiment in Indian history: gutting 14 trillion rupees – 86% of the currency in circulation – from the most cash-dependent major economy in the world. More than a month on, India’s Reserve Bank has issued around 1.7 billion new notes, with less than one-third the value of what was removed. The sixth-largest economy in the world is running on 60% less currency than before. Lines outside banks continue to stretch, and India’s small business lobby says its members are facing an “apocalypse”. But Modi insists he isn’t done. Initially intended to flush out the “black money” said to be hoarded by elites and criminals, the government now frames demonetisation as the first step in a “cashless” revolution to shift the billions of transactions undertaken each day in India online – and onto the radar of tax authorities. This week, labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya announced it would soon be mandatory for employers to pay their staff into bank accounts, a hugely ambitious step in a country where as many as 90% of workers are paid in cash. Already struggling, businessmen such as Sharma are dreading the prospect of more enforced digital migration. “How do you think I can pay the workers with a cheque if they don’t have a bank account?” he asks, in a tiny office thick with incense smoke. “And it takes three days to clear a cheque. What will they eat during those days?” His reasons are not just altruistic. Apart from potentially raising his tax bill – in a country where just 1% pay income tax – paying salaries electronically would mean giving staff Delhi’s mandated minimum wage, currently 9,724 rupees (£114) per month for unskilled workers. “Right now no one pays the minimum wage that the government decides,” Sharma says. “It will only make things expensive: we will charge the customer.” Outside his workers’ earshot, he adds: “If someone is doing the work of Rs.2000, why should we pay them Rs.15,000?” But workers too are wary of the big push online. Tens of millions of Indians have been given zero-deposit bank accounts in the past two years under a government scheme to boost financial inclusion. But even after demonetisation prompted a rush of new deposits, 23% of the accounts still lie empty. Asha Devi sits spread-legged on the Sharma factory’s floor, using fine scissors to cut loose threads from piles of jeans. A migrant labourer from Bihar state, she has a bank account, but has not been able to access her money since early November. “I’ve been standing in [bank] queues from 7am until 5.30 in the evening,” she says. “I still cannot withdraw money, and I lose a day of work each time.” The experience has heightened her scepticism about being paid online. “I am a daily wage worker and I’m not sure if I’ll have a job tomorrow,” she says. “If I get [the cash] in hand, I know I have the money.” Cash has a cold, hard certainty that still matters to itinerant workers. “There are many factory owners who will make these daily wage workers into fools,” Devi adds. “They’ll tell them they have deposited the money when they haven’t.” “In theory, it’s a great idea to actually ensure that workers actually get the wage they’ve been promised,” says Aparna, the president of the Indian Federation of Trade Unions, who like many Indians uses only one name. “The downside is: we can’t do it. It’s a bit like say the government has announced the end to all poverty by tomorrow. It’s not taking into account any of the obvious constraints that even a child in India could see.” Around one in three Indians still don’t have bank accounts, she says, many of them put off by the need to navigate banking bureaucracy. “For people who don’t have matching identity cards – say, if somebody made a mistake typing their name – then it’s a nightmare,” she says. Nagendra Sarkar, another of Sharma’s employees, has been trying to open an account in Delhi, but keeps running into an obstacle: he has no fixed address. “The bank people are asking for papers to prove that it’s my account,” he says. It is one of many points at which the digital salary plan, and the entire “cashless” vision, butt up against the stubborn reality of Indian working life. “Take an example of rickshaw puller who transfers goods from my shop to the factories,” says Pyarlal, a lace factory owner in Gandhi Nagar. “For one trip I pay him 100 rupees. Does the government expect me to give him a cheque? I mean, how do I pay him?” Such a major reform, even one that might benefit workers, can’t be enforced overnight, Aparna says. “You have to do it gradually, let the system be put in place, create the infrastructure first.” Mihir Sharma, a senior fellow at the Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, agrees. “The law might well be passed,” he says. “But it would likely be widely ignored, which is the fare of most labour regulation in India.” Digital payments might be novel, but the ambitious plan is “an old Indian pathology”, he says. “The belief that if you legislate something, it happens.”
Chaudhury A.B.R.,Observer Research Foundation |
Basu P.,Observer Research Foundation
Journal of the Indian Ocean Region | Year: 2016
The Bay of Bengal is of vital strategic, economic and maritime importance, as the Andaman Sea and the Malacca Straits link South and Southeast Asia. The Bay is intrinsically rich in hydrocarbons and minerals. Several major rivers of Asia flow into the Bay and the adjoining seas creating vast sedimentary basins that have potential hydrocarbon deposits. The growing role of the Bay of Bengal as a reservoir of vital resources has contributed to the regional powers’ ability to exert influence in this arena. The changing dynamics are particularly relevant for India and China, whose rising economies are dependent on the steady flow of resources, most importantly oil. The geopolitics of the increasingly volatile South China Sea could possibly impact on India’s interests and relations with Southeast Asian countries. This paper examines whether China and India’s Indian Ocean strategies underpin greater cooperation, rather than competition to generate synergies in the region. © 2016 Indian Ocean Research Group.
Ghosh P.K.,Observer Research Foundation
Journal of the Indian Ocean Region | Year: 2016
India perceives itself as a net security provider and a balancer of power in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). This has resulted in the emergence of the Indian Navy (IN) as an important actor in the implementation of India’s foreign policy that embraces a holistic approach towards maritime security cooperation and capacity building. Having overcome its Cold War era isolationistic profile, the IN has expanded its maritime outreach in the IOR and beyond the region. Given that India is perceived as a benign power this has proved to be a strategic advantage in favor of India. The prime driver of increasing role of IN is to counter Chinese moves in the IOR following New Delhi’s discomfort and apprehension with China. To address this, the IN has been conducting regular joint exercises for enhancing interoperability, largesse towards weapon inventory, port visits and coordinated patrols, and assistance. In addition, the IN follows a cooperative approach for sharing of security-related technology. In this manner, the IN has successfully furthered India’s foreign policy objectives while achieving its maritime and strategic aims. © 2016 Indian Ocean Research Group.
Ghosh P.K.,Observer Research Foundation
Journal of the Indian Ocean Region | Year: 2015
The vast Indian Ocean is an active oceanic body encompassing extensive sea borne trade/commerce and energy transfers. Unfortunately, it is also a region plagued with a plenitude of military, economic, religious and racial insecurities and asymmetric maritime threats. However, the common thread that binds the littorals is that most of the regional trade is sea borne and hence it forms one of the primary drivers of economy in the region. In this context, a unified approach towards sea governance for overcoming myriad maritime threats and challenges facing the littorals is a diminished factor. The reason being that is the current maritime security architecture in the region and the various fora that uphold the same are mostly listless and in dire need of impetus. Comparatively bi/multilateral naval engagements have been more successful. Multilateral exercises like the MILAN and IBSAMAR (as a maritime extension of IBSA) have ensured a degree of inter-operability and helped in the maintenance of “good order at sea”. But these naval engagements suffer from inherent lacunae and cannot be substituted for a formal forum. The issue of sea governance is far larger than bi/multilateral naval meets and requires holistic approaches that may be missing from such naval exercises. This article suggests methodologies to infuse energy into existing multilateral constructs and make them relevant towards better sea governance rather than create superfluous newer ones which are often impractical. © 2015 Taylor & Francis
Powell L.,Observer Research Foundation
Journal of the Indian Ocean Region | Year: 2010
To attain the scientific goal of limiting the average increase in global temperature to 2°C at the least possible economic cost, developing states need to participate in an international effort to contain greenhouse gas emissions. But on the grounds of equity, developing states cannot be expected to share the burden. Climate narratives emerging from developed states take cognisance of this inconsistency and frame the climate problem in a manner that allocates a greater share of the responsibility for causing climate change to developing states without appearing to be 'inequitable'. The redistribution of 'climate guilt' equally among people irrespective of their contribution to climate change and their vulnerability to its impacts paves the way for a more economically efficient but inequitable multilateral climate agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012. Inaccurate and generalised assumptions that are built into mathematical simulation models that influence climate policymaking lend themselves easily to this effort. © 2010 Indian Ocean Research Group.