China-India Brief #99


Published Twice a Month
August 09 – 22, 2017

Centre on Asia and Globalisation
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Guest Column

India-Japan’s Newton Logic to China’s BRI

by Amrita Jash

According to Newton’s Third Law “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. In applying this logic to international relations, some links can be drawn to the way states behave geopolitically and economically. The geometrics of power politics are useful in analysing the India-Japan Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

In 2015, India and Japan elevated their bilateral engagement to that of “Special Strategic and Global Partnership” – a key relationship with the largest potential for growth into a deep, broad-based and action-oriented partnership. As the Joint Statement on India and Japan Vision 2015 reiterates their “unwavering commitment to realise a peaceful, open, equitable, stable and rule-based order in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond,” it also emphasizes that “India and Japan uphold the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity; peaceful settlement of disputes; democracy, human rights and the rule of law; open global trade regime; and freedom of navigation and overflight.”

What explains this convergence of strategic goals between New Delhi and Tokyo? Undoubtedly, the key causal factor is the looming concern over China’s rise, more specifically, China’s growing ambitions. Both New Delhi and Tokyo face the China challenge on several fronts including disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime issues, India-China boundary dispute and China-Japan’s Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute in East China Sea, which are both unresolved and escalating; China’s gradual inching into the Indian Ocean with the establishment of an overseas military base in Djibouti; China’s increasing muscle flexing and land reclamation activities in the South China Sea. With such forces at play, India and Japan have felt the need to address the China challenge – thus, diversifying the scope of their long held economic ties to  include strategic ties as well.

What significantly unnerves India and Japan is China’s grand BRI that aims to connect Asia to Europe and Africa via the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR). Often touted as China’s Marshall Plan wherein China seeks to play a much larger role in shaping the Eurasian and even global order. Not surprisingly, it has caused strong security worries in other power centres such as New Delhi and Tokyo.

Highlighting this dynamic, China recently opened its first overseas naval military base in Djibouti, reflecting the military dimension of the BRI. This base will facilitate China’s ability to respond to contingencies affecting freedom of navigation in and around the Persian Gulf, which is mainly controlled by the United States. Furthermore, China can expand its sea denial capabilities through the deployment of submarines in the Indian Ocean and strategic anti access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. This would strengthen its foothold in the Indian Ocean through BRI. Understandably, the lack of transparency in China’s intentions has caused concern in various countries including India, Japan and the United States. To date, none of the three have shown an interest in participating.

What makes India anxious is that it sees BRI as an ongoing attempt at encirclement in sync with the so-called “String of Pearls.” India’s core concern is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that aims to connect Kashgar in China’s restive Xinjiang province with the Gwadar port in the volatile Pakistani province of Baluchistan. It will pass through the Pakistan-controlled and administered Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan – territories claimed by India.

The infrastructure projects in and around India’s neighbourhood amplify India’s anxieties over China’s intentions. The other worrying factor is the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor, which would have to pass through India’s security-sensitive and strategically vulnerable North East, where China is accused of playing a controversial role and has laid territorial claims to large parts of Arunachal Pradesh. The ongoing Doklam standoff has exacerbated India’s security concerns over BRI.

As China has emerged ahead of Japan in investing and developing infrastructure in Asia, Japan has begun to counter China’s BRI. In 2015, Japan launched its Partnership for Quality Infrastructure (PQI) initiative under a $110 billion fund, which was raised to $200 billion in 2016 to fund infrastructure in Asia. In addition, Japan-led Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2016 also increased its lending to 17 per cent to $31.5 billion from $26.9 billion in 2015, an all-time high, as a counter to China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The competition is evident in terms of the projects undertaken: Japan launched the New Tokyo Strategy 2015 for Mekong-Japan Cooperation (MJC2015) as a counter to BRI’s Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Framework and is battling against China for rail projects in Asia. For example, a high-speed railway bid that brought China and Japan face-to-face was the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail link in India, where Japan clinched a USD 15 billion worth deal against China. In Sri Lanka, Japan is pursuing a plan to build a port and industrial zone at Trincomalee, in response to China’s USD 1.4 billion project in Hambantota.

These dynamics indicate that India and Japan share a common view on the China-led BRI. Given this convergence of interests to counter China’s ambitions, the most significant response by New Delhi and Tokyo against Beijing came in the form of the AAGC, now labelled as the “other” New Silk Road. This “joint corridor” idea was flagged in May 2017 by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the annual general meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB). This resulted in a Vision Document titled “Asia Africa Growth Corridor: Partnership for Sustainable and Innovative Development.” The unveiling of the AAGC vision coincided with China’s grand “Belt and Road Forum,” which India skipped. However, the AAGC idea was first conceived in the India-Japan Joint Declaration – which emphasised the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” – issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in November 2016.

Under AAGC, India and Japan aim to build a sea corridor via the Indian Ocean that integrates the economies of South, Southeast, and East Asia with Oceania and Africa. The key objective is to create “free and open Indo-Pacific region” by rediscovering ancient sea-routes and creating new sea corridors that will link the African continent with India and countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia, putting into action India’s Act East Policy and Japan’s PQI. As the Vision Document notes, AAGC would consist of four main components: development and cooperation projects, quality infrastructure and institutional connectivity, capacity and skill enhancement, and people-to-people partnerships. Here, common links can be drawn to China’s BRI, which has similar goals of connectivity in Eurasia, therefore reaffirming India and Japan’s counterbalance strategy.

Overall, it can be well stated that India and Japan’s joint collaboration in AAGC is a strong counterbalance strategy to check China’s growing ambitions. AAGC in essence is India and Japan’s somewhat “equal  and opposite reaction” to China’s BRI. Still at the nascent stage, it is crucial to watch how the strategy will evolve in terms of its implementation. However, the prudence for India and Japan lies in making the initiative a more proactive one, instead of merely limiting it into a reactive response to BRI.



Amrita Jash is the Editor-in-Chief at IndraStra Global, New York. She has pursued a Ph.D in Chinese Studies from Centre for East Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi-India. She can be reached @amritajash.


The views expressed in the article(s) are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy or the National University of Singapore.


News Reports

Bilateral relations

Bhutan hopes to resolve border disputes ‘peacefully and amicably’
Global Times, August 12
Amid the Sino-Indian border standoff in Donglang area, Bhutan Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji met his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj claiming that Bhutan hopes the situation in Donglang will be resolved “peacefully and amicably.” The two ministers met on the sidelines of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Ministerial Meeting and both sides discussed the continuous military standoff at Donglang, the tri-junction area of three countries: China, India and Bhutan. This was the first meeting between the two ministers since the standoff broke out and also the first time for Bhutan to officially express their voices since the press release put out by Bhutan’s foreign ministry on June 29. The previous Bhutanese official statement only argues that the status quo on the boundary issue should not be changed.

No signs of thaw in Doklam standoff as China unlikely to attend Border Personnel Meeting
International Business Times, August 15
Amid the Doklam standoff, which has been going on for almost two months now, the Indian and Chinese military representatives will not hold the Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) today, August 15. Before the BPM is conducted, both the sides usually give a confirmation on it a few days in advance, but this time the Chinese side reportedly did not respond to the invitation. India is said to have sent the invite a few days ago for a BPM at five border points, but is yet to receive a response from the People’s Liberation Army. “Invite was sent to PLA a few days ago, but they didn’t respond. So orders were given to stand down and no BPMs will be held at any of the five locations tomorrow,” the Economic Times quoted an officer as saying. BPMs are usually held on Indian Independence Day, Republic Day and PLA Day on August 1 at Nathu La in Sikkim, Daulat Beg Oldie and Chushul in Ladakh, and Bumla and Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh. On the occasion, the armies of the two countries have discussions and group activities and also take part in sports.

India, China troops in high-altitude clash: Officials
Channel Newsasia, August 16
Indian and Chinese troops clashed briefly on a disputed area of land in the Himalayas, officials said on Wednesday (Aug 16), exacerbating tensions during a months-long standoff between the two armies. Chinese troops threw stones at Indian soldiers near Pangong Lake, a major tourist attraction in the picturesque mountain region of Ladakh on Tuesday, an Indian defence official said. He said Chinese soldiers had twice tried to enter the Indian territory but had been pushed back. The incident occurred as the nations are locked in a tense standoff in another border region. “There was a minor incident. There was some stone pelting from the Chinese side but the situation was quickly brought under control,” he told AFP on condition of anonymity. The brief confrontation was resolved after Indian and Chinese sides retreated to their respective positions, he added.

China riles India with ‘racist’ video over tense border standoff
Newsweek, August 17
China state-controlled news agency Xinhua published a video on its English-language YouTube channel under the title “7 Sins of India,” in an apparent attempt to ridicule India’s stance on the ongoing border standoff while advertising China’s position to a foreign audience. Running for just over three minutes, the video featured an actor wearing a turban, aviator sunglasses and a curly fake beard, who was purportedly impersonating India, tilting his head as he spoke with a caricatural Indian accent. At one point, he intimidated another actor, representing Bhutan, with a pair of scissors. The video was labeled “racist” in the Indian press and among social media users. The Hindustan Times newspaper said the video had “racist overtones.” The Financial Express called it a “bizarre racist propaganda video.”


News Reports

China and India in the Regions

Nepal torn both ways as stand-off between India and China continues
South China Morning Post, August 9
A senior Chinese official’s visit to Nepal next week will highlight the dilemma faced by the Himalayan country amid the ongoing standoff between its two giant neighbours China and India. Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang’s four-day official visit to Kathmandu, starting on August 14, will come at a sensitive time as Beijing and New Delhi are at loggerheads over a protracted military standoff in the Himalayan Doklam plateau. Wang’s visit, which will be followed by Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s official visit to India between August 23 and 27, is seen by analysts as part of Kathmandu’s delicate balancing act between Beijing and New Delhi.

India urges East Asia Summit to focus on maritime ties
Live Mint, August 10
India on Wednesday flagged the need to make maritime cooperation a central theme in the dialogue among countries making up the East Asia Summit (EAS) process, as it stressed the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight in the backdrop of an aggressive China putting such embargoes against countries in the region.

In a speech at a meeting of the foreign ministers of the East Asia Summit in the Philippines, India’s minister of state for external affairs V.K. Singh also called for the unimpeded flow of lawful commerce through the region.

Dueling ports underline China-India rivalry
Asia Times, August 10
India’s eagerness to develop Iran’s southern Chabahar port project has irked certain military circles in Pakistan which view the facility as a potential security threat that aims to economically isolate their country. India has intensified its efforts to commission the Chabahar port in the strategic Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran within 12 to 18 months, as envisaged by a tripartite memorandum of understanding signed last year by India, Iran and Afghanistan. India has pledged investment worth US$500 million for the development of a Transport and Transit Corridor at Chabahar, situated less than 100 kilometers from Gwadar port in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. Gwadar is being built with Chinese investment under the US$46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative, part of Beijing’s wider US$1 trillion One Belt One Road infrastructure-building scheme.

Narendra Modi may visit Myanmar to boost ties as China shadow looms
Live Mint, August 11
Against the backdrop of China increasing its economic footprint in Myanmar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit the country next month to shore up bilateral ties with one of India’s key neighbours. This will be Modi’s second visit to Myanmar—his first was in November 2014 to attend the India-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit as well as the East Asia Summit. India, which shares a 1,640km long border with Myanmar and has been worried about northeastern militant groups taking shelter in that country, has pledged to help Myanmar in areas ranging from agriculture to skill development. New Delhi has also moved to speed up connectivity projects with Myanmar, including the Asian Trilateral Highway linking India and Myanmar to Thailand and beyond to Laos and Cambodia. India’s total development assistance to Myanmar currently is about $2 billion.

India, China to join Indian Ocean exercise
The Hindu, August 13
Despite growing tensions with China, official sources said the Indian Navy would join the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in a maiden maritime search and rescue exercise to be chaired by Bangladesh at the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) in November this year. “Bangladesh, the current Chair, is scheduling a maiden International Maritime Search and Rescue Exercise (IMMSAREX) in November in the Bay of Bengal to be attended by ships and aircraft of the members and observers of the IONS,” an official source said. The IONS is a regional forum of Indian Ocean littoral states, represented by their Navy chiefs, launched by India in February 2008. It presently has 23 members and nine observers.

‘China is not Father Christmas’: India’s concern about Beijing’s expansion grows after a new port deal
Business Insider, August 14
China’s growing influence in its near abroad has stirred concern among its neighbours, none more so than India. New Delhi regards Beijing’s expansion – through military and commercial agreements alike – warily, particularly China’s recent agreement on a 99-year lease to operate a strategically located deep-water port at the southern tip of Sri Lanka, a small island nation just south of the Indian mainland.

Sri Lanka started building the Hambantota port about five years ago, relying on heavy Chinese investment but planning to operate the facility itself. Ambitions for the port have foundered, however, and Colombo struck a billion-dollar deal with Beijing for a 70% stake in a joint venture with Sri Lanka’s port authority. The lease also gives China control over 15,000 acres of land near the port for development of an industrial zone.


News Reports

Trade and Economy

India builds highway to Thailand to counter China’s Silk Road
Bloomberg, August 9
India’s decision to revive plans for the trilateral highway, part of an ambitious 1,360-kilometer (845 mile) crossing to link northeastern India with markets in Thailand and beyond, marks the next phase in the jostle between New Delhi and Beijing for economic and strategic influence in the region. In the last two years alone, India has assigned more than $4.7 billion in contracts for the development of its border roads, according to government figures, including the highway which will run from Moreh in Manipur through Tamu in Myanmar to Mae-Sot in Thailand.

Rupee falls most in five weeks amid India-China standoff
Bloomberg Quaint, August 10
Although more beneficial when freshly read, Bloomberg reported that “The rupee fell the most in five weeks on Thursday [August 10] and weakened against the U.S. dollar for the second straight day as the Doklam standoff between India and China and the political friction between the U.S. and North Korea continued…Traders may have been caught off-guard, as Desai pointed that most of them had long-term positions on the rupee, an indication that they were expecting it to strengthen.”

Due To Strong Rupee India’s Imports From China May Cross $61 Billion: Report
NDTV, August 10.
The rupee has appreciated significantly against the dollar and the Chinese Renminbi since February and if the trend continues, imports from China may cross $ 61.30 billion, a level attained during last fiscal, says a report. The domestic currency has firmed up by close to 5.5 per cent against the dollar since February on the back of a significant portfolio capital inflows of about $27.5 billion. Moreover, the Indian currency has appreciated by 3.7 per cent against the Chinese Renminbi since February, resulting in surge in cheaper imports from China. According to SBI’s research report Ecowrap, appreciation of the rupee against the Renminbi has enabled Indian importers to purchase larger quantity of goods at lower prices and if the firming trend continues, it will make goods from China even cheaper.

Guess who won an Indian contract in Iran: the Chinese
The Hindu Business Line, August 11
New Delhi and Beijing may be in the middle of a bitter standoff on the Sino-Indian border, but it is a Chinese company banned in India that has won the contract to supply cranes to Iran’s Chabahar port. The port, on Iran’s south-eastern coast, is being developed by India as a counter to China’s involvement in Pakistan’s Gwadar port. The contract was awarded by Indian Ports Global — a 60:40 joint venture of Jawaharlal Nehru Port, India’s biggest container port, and Kandla Port — that is tasked with developing the Chabahar facility. “The crane supply contract has been given to ZPMC,” a Shipping Ministry official said, referring to the world’s largest port crane maker, which has been barred by security agencies from supplying to Indian ports. ZPMC, which has a 70 per cent share of the global quay crane market, won the ₹380-crore order through an auction. The contract comes amidst the backdrop of Indian and Chinese soldiers locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation at the trijunction of the India-Bhutan-China border.

India under pressure to ease protection of industry, agriculture at RCEP talks
The Hindu Business Line, August 13
India will be under a lot of pressure to raise its offer on eliminating tariffs on goods at the trade ministers’ meeting of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) countries in the Philippines next month, after senior officials of the 16-member grouping failed to reach a compromise on the issue at the last round in Hyderabad. “In Hyderabad, all members put unrelenting pressure on India to increase its commitment in goods. With Singapore, which already has zero tariffs on almost all items, heading the negotiating group on goods, members were just not ready to hear about India’s sensitivities. “A team from the PMO took stock of the situation prior to the Hyderabad meet, but more difficult decisions need to be taken before the trade ministers’ meeting,” a government official told BusinessLine.

Trade war looms between India-China after 93 Chinese products attract anti-dumping duties: Chinese media
The Indian Express, August 14
Amid the Doklam standoff, a trade war appears to be looming between India and China after New Delhi last week imposed anti-dumping duties on 93 Chinese products, according to Chinese newspaper The Global Times. Urging the Chinese companies to think twice about the risks involved before making investments in India, the news report warned India to be prepared to face the consequences for its ‘ill-considered action’. The report also said that China could easily retaliate by putting restrictions on imports from India, but it doesn’t make much economic sense for the country. It said, “If India really starts a trade war with China, of course China’s economic interests will be hurt, but there will also be consequences for India.”

Government reviews IT imports from China
The Times of India, August 16
The government has started a review of the massive import of electronics and information technology products from China due to concerns over security and data leakages. There has been a growing clamour for import restrictions and other curbs on such products, which currently constitute a huge chunk of shipments from across the border. The review comes at a time when the India-China standoff over Doklam has been intensifying, and may signal the onset of a strategic trade war as tension on the border worsens and concerns about trade imbalances and security increase. The growing engagement of Chinese companies within India’s burgeoning electronics and IT industry — worth nearly $22 billion, according to a recent study by industry chamber CII — has sounded alarm bells within the government, especially as it is felt that much of this can be used to gain unlawful access to critical information about individuals, businesses, and government set-ups.


News Reports

Energy and Environment

China blocks info on river water inflow, raises hackles
Hindustan Times, August 13
At a time when major rivers in Himachal Pradesh are in spate due to heavy rain, lack of information from China on water inflow from Pareechu rivulet that meanders through the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) has prompted the Central Water Commission (CWC) to seek intervention of the ministry of water resources. A flooded Pareechu, a tributary of the Sutlej, had wreaked havoc in the state in 2005, causing huge loss of property. Currently, the Sutlej is flowing above danger mark. India and China annually renew their protocol on sharing information on two major rivers — Brahmaputra and Sutlej. But China has reportedly stopped sharing information with India on water inflow in Pareechu.

Rising Chinese Solar Panel Prices May Put Indian Projects At Risk 
Bloomberg Quint, August 20
The price of Chinese solar panels rose up to 20 percent in the last six months to 35 cents per watt, Sanjeev Aggarwal, managing director and chief executive officer of Amplus Energy Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a solar rooftop project developer, told BloombergQuint. Growing risks may be a setback, at least in the short term, to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s target to install 100 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2022 from a little over 13 GW now. That’s because about 84 percent of solar panel requirement in the country is met through imports from China, a report by renewable energy consultancy Bridge To India said. Solar panels account for more than half of a project’s total costs, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Major Chinese solar panel makers include Trina Solar, Jinko Solar, Canadian Solar, JA Solar.



India must stop trampling on Bhutan’s sovereignty
South China Morning Post, August 9
Marco Hoksum Hung, Vice-President of HK InnoVision and Chairman of its Public Affairs Committee, writes, “[i]n the current dispute, New Delhi claimed that its troops entered Bhutan’s territory ‘in coordination’ with the latter’s authorities, but what exactly do the Bhutanese think about this? Information from both public and non-public sources suggests that talks between China and Bhutan over their border dispute have been smooth and peaceful. If the Indian authorities disregard Bhutan’s sovereignty by forcing Thimphu to stir up controversy in what is an undisputed area, while India sends its troops across the Chinese border, it would be an unthinkable act in the 21st century.”

A Sino-Indian clash could end the Asian century
The Straits Times, August 11
Ravi Velloor, Associate Editor of The Straits Times, expresses his views on the current Sino-Indian border standoff.
“[T]he two sides have to sort this out themselves, and quickly. Only a sequenced withdrawal of troops under rock-solid guarantees of good faith will make this possible. Once that is accomplished, the two simply need to find the political will to close a border deal. After all, most of the preparatory work for this has been completed more than a year ago. Another open conflict between China and India will end all prospects of an Asian century and will probably throw New Delhi fully into Washington’s embrace. Fifty-five years after their last war, the 1962 loss continues to be seared in Indian consciousness. Another one would prevent a flowering of bilateral ties for at least a hundred years and the rest of Asia would suffer alongside.”

View: Dokalam crisis is a reflection of China’s expansionist tendencies
Economic Times, August 11
Kanwal Sibal, former Foreign Secretary of India, writes that, “China’s hegemonic ambitions fuelled by its economic power and growing military strength resemble those of Germany and Japan in the 30s”. He further alleges cases of what he terms as China’s selective, scheming and obscuring use of communications, diplomatic tools and information – especially the record of bilateral relations. The author concludes that “China has done lasting damage to bilateral ties, as India will henceforth be exceedingly cautious about its intentions. China is alienating a billion plus Indians.”

Doklam standoff: China playing out its ‘Three Warfares’ strategy against India
The Times of India, August 13
Indrani Bagchi, diplomatic editor at The Times of India, proposes that China is applying what is referred to as the ‘Three Warfares’ strategy in the current Doklam crisis. Comprising public opinion/media warfare, psychological warfare and legal warfare, the Three Warfares have been critical components of China’s strategic approach in the South China Sea+ and beyond. It is now being applied in the Indian context. “Comprising public opinion/media warfare, psychological warfare and legal warfare, the Three Warfares have been critical components of China’s strategic approach in the South China Sea and beyond. It is now being applied in the Indian context.”   

Strong rupee raises questions about India’s real competitiveness
Global Times, August 14
Radhika Rao, an economist at DBS Bank expresses her thoughts on the strong rupee performance this year. 

“Against the dollar, the Indian rupee is up 6.8 percent so far this year and is at a two-year high. In sharp contrast to being one of the “fragile five” during the 2013 taper tantrum, the rupee is one of the region’s best performers this year. The strong rupee, nevertheless, raises questions. First, what is driving this rally? Both global and domestic factors have helped. Second, markets wonder if the authorities’ stance toward the rupee has changed. We suspect it has. Third, will this appreciation pose a headwind for exports and manufacturing growth? It does hurt, but other factors can mitigate the strength.”

The logic of India’s response to China
Live Mint, August 15
Harsh V. Pant, distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation and professor of international relations at King’s College London, writes that “[t]his crisis between China and India is different from other such episodes in the past but what makes it unique in recent memory is New Delhi’s determination so far not to concede the standoff on China’s terms. Beijing has tried everything. It has used its media to bully India; it has threatened India officially; it has used colonial era records selectively; it has tried to rally world public opinion. But India has not budged. And that, in essence, foreshadows the future of the global order. Underlying all this petulance about boundaries and territories, behind all this façade of sovereignty, the Sino-India standoff in Doklam is about whether the future of Asia will be one with China as the dominant actor, dictating the terms of acceptable behaviour to other nations or whether the future of Asia will be a multipolar one in the real sense of the term. India has decided to stand its ground because there is far too much at stake in responding to Chinese bullying.”

Indian Democracy at 70: Some General Lessons
Institute for South Asian Studies, August 15
Subrata Kumar Mitra, Director and Visiting Research Professor at the Institute for South Asian Studies offers his views on some important lessons from India’s 70th Independence Day.

India’s democratic experience is analysed in the light of six general propositions about institutions and processes that pave the way for transition to democracy and its consolidation. The author proposes that alone, or in combination, popular elections, institutionalised countervailing powers endogenous to the political system, power-sharing, the accommodation of diversity based on region and community, inclusive citizenship and a previous experience of limited franchise on which to build the post-transition regime can help pave the way towards democratic rule in transitional societies.

For the United States, India’s moves at Doklam signal its willingness to act
The Diplomat, August 17
Richard M Rossow, Senior Adviser & Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) offers his perspective on the Doklam crisis.

“India and China are currently engaged in a significant military standoff on a plateau along the China-Bhutan border. Calling it a standoff, however, somewhat clouds the real story: India sent its troops into foreign territory to stand up to China’s bullying of a much smaller neighbor, and to support peaceful negotiation of border disputes. This marks a significant milestone in India’s emergence as a regional power, and is a strong signal to Washington that India’s ascendance as a major power is underway.”

“U.S.-India defense ties, largely dormant from the 1960’s until the early 2000’s, have dramatically accelerated in the last three years. Our defense relationship has important new operational and philosophical underpinnings, articulated in key documents like the “Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Region,” signed in January 2015, and our renewed “Framework for the U.S.-India Defense Relationship” signed in June 2015. The United States has become India’s largest defense partner, both in terms of exercises as well as equipment sales. And the U.S. Department of Defense has created India-focused offices and programs that do not exist for any other country, including the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) and the India Rapid Reaction Cell (IRRC).”


Books and Journals

India Transformed: 25 Years of Economic Reforms
Penguin Random House India, 2017
Dr. Rakesh Mohan is a Senior Fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Yale University, Distinguished Fellow at Brookings India and the  former deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Including contributions from Mukesh Ambani, Narayana Murthy, Sunil Mittal, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Shivshankar Menon, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, T.N. Ninan, Sanjaya Baru, Naushad Forbes, Omkar Goswami and R. Gopalakrishnan, his book delves deep into the life of liberalized India through the eyes of the people who helped transform it.

This book examines India’s 1991 economic liberalisation. It was the year that saw India begin its transformation from a locked down, socialist economy to a more progressive, free market system. From the perspective of India’s best minds in business, government, finance and media, the book seeks to answer some important questions about the reforms: What were the kind of economic reforms carried out and how did they affect the country? What were the expectations in 1991, and how much has been achieved? Coinciding with India’s 70th Independence Day, the book highlights the significant changes in India from the inception of the reforms to its status today as one of the fastest growing economies in the world.


Compiled and sent to you by Centre on Asia and Globalisation and
the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore