Since the upgrade of bilateral relations to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ in 2016, India–Vietnam strategic coordination has continued to deepen — as reflected through increased defence and maritime security cooperation. But New Delhi and Hanoi’s economic ties are lagging behind, limiting their ability to address shared security and strategic concerns raised by China’s economic rise in India’s backyard and maritime assertiveness in the South China Sea.
The October 13 meeting in Washington DC between Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Israel’s alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was a reminder of the extent of transformation in West Asia since the announcement of the Abraham Accords on 14 August 2020. A press statement issued by the State Department said that Blinken ‘welcomed the warming relations between Israel and the UAE, including the opening of respective embassies, appointment of ambassadors, new direct flights, dozens of cultural exchanges, and burgeoning economic and business ties that have benefited the people of both countries and the region.’
Thant Myint-U, the noted historian of modern Burma and grandson of former United Nations Secretary General U Thant, has documented the myriad ways in which China and India compete for resources and influence in what he’s termed “the new crossroads of Asia.” The features that make Myanmar attractive to both these two Asian giants are two: large estimated reserves of energy, both onshore and off; and the country’s long Andaman Sea peninsula. From China’s position, access overland to Myanmar’s coast would give them a new opening to the Indian Ocean, one that bypasses the Near Seas and the Malacca Strait — and the U.S. fleet. But should China secure such a route, it would put India’s navy on the front line of dealing with the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The Nicobar Islands are India’s farthest outpost and the place that the Indian navy first encounters their Chinese counterparts as they sail out through the Malacca Straits. But both nations face a challenge in developing Myanmar’s geography for strategic purposes — because both Myanmar and the Nicobar Islands face potential devastation from the changing climate. Of all the places in the world most likely to be profoundly harmed from rising sea levels and increased frequency of storms, the Bay of Bengal and the Nicobar Islands are the most likely to face sustained, wrenching change.
The last few days have been quite momentous in the history of the Indian space policy landscape. The appointment of Pawan Kumar Goenka, the former Managing Director of Mahindra & Mahindra as the Chairperson of Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) indicates that the announcement of the new space-related policies favouring space entrepreneurship aren’t just promises on paper but represent a tangible shift in the vision of the government for the space programme. The further announcements to de-regulate the telecommunication sector has reinvigorated the identity of India as a market for satellite and telecommunication applications. However, these developments notwithstanding, a few concerns remain viz., the lack of single window clearances due to the overlapping/concurrent jurisdiction of the Department of Telecommunication and Department of Space for satellite communication applications; the conspicuous failure of the government’s new policy outlook being translated into a legislation; the draft spacecom policies and remote sensing policies stopping short of providing the clarity and predictability that is considered conducive for investments; and the precise functions, responsibilities, and powers of IN-SPACe, the new industry regulator, not being defined within the framework of a law.
In 2019, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) issued a public Request for Proposal (RFP) to establish a nationwide Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS). A legal notice issued to the NCRB, seeking recall and cancellation of this RFP, was responded to in some sense. The RFP was recalled, but not cancelled; it was simply replaced in June last year with a revised RFP. One of the most disconcerting aspects of both RFPs has been the arbitrariness with which this action is being pursued. As of date, Indian law is devoid of any comprehensive legislation that authorises, regulates, and determines the evidentiary value of automated facial recognition technologies (AFRTs) within our domestic law enforcement processes and the larger criminal justice system. Add to this the fact that in terms of evidence-based decision-making, the espousal of AFRT is arguably driven by a technocratic belief in better, more efficient systems. However, there are no objective measures as to how such efficiency is evaluated, nor what the tradeoff is in terms of rights and liberties, and due process norms. It is also pertinent to mention that AFRTs are not only being pursued at the national level but are, in fact, already deployed by several state police forces in some form or are in the process of acquiring it.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Oct. 11 his government will widen cooperation with industry, young innovators and startups to bring about “exponential innovation” in the country’s space sector. To that end, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will share its expertise and R&D facilities with the private sector.
Modi unveiled this plan in a speech marking the launch of the Indian Space Association (ISpA), an industry association of space and satellite companies, which aspires to be the collective voice of the Indian space industry. ISpA will undertake policy advocacy and engage with all stakeholders in the Indian space domain, including the government and its agencies, according to local reports published in English.
While India’s unreasonable and unrealistic demands during the latest round of corps commander-level talks with China had created new challenges for bilateral ties, India is still showing a willingness to improve economic and trade ties with China. The deepening of economic cooperation between the two major Asian economies can indeed become a stabilizer for bilateral relations. What India now needs to show is its sincerity in repairing trade relations with China.
US multinational retail corporation Walmart has refuted an online rumor that it will move its global supplier business unit from China to India, saying the news is “completely wrong” and is “based on misunderstanding.”
Talks between Indian and Chinese army commanders to disengage troops from key friction areas along their border have ended in a stalemate and failed to ease a 17-month standoff that has sometimes led to deadly clashes, the two sides say.
The continuing standoff means the two nations will keep troops in the forward areas of Ladakh for a second consecutive winter in dangerously freezing temperatures.