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Tag Archives | Foreign Policy

A representation of the US policy on Pakistan

by Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas)

We have long argued that Pakistan is not one geopolitical entity, but two: the putative state (represented currently by a civilian government), and the military—jihadi complex (MJC) that has captured the commanding heights of power. One way in which the MJC continues to thrive is to utilise Pakistan’s foreign relationships for self-perpetuation.

In this regard, Pakistan’s relationship with the US is of special significance. Hussain Haqqani’s Pakistan: between mosque and military (2005) postulated that securing finances from the US is one of three legs of Pakistan’s policy tripod, the other two being a pursuit of religious nationalism and near manic obsession for a confrontation with India.

The US fails to differentiate between the MJC and the putative Pakistani state. Jeffrey Goldberg’s article “The Obama Doctrine” for The Atlantic says this about Pakistan:

He [Obama] questioned why the US should avoid sending its forces into Pakistan to kill al-Qaeda leaders, and he privately questions why Pakistan, which he believes is a disastrously dysfunctional country, should be considered an ally of the US at all.

These lines succinctly sum up the world’s Pakistan conundrum. When the policy response of a two-term president of the world’s most powerful nation-state towards a “disastrously dysfunctional” ally is merely restricted to “private questioning”, we know that Pakistan continues to confound all international stakeholders. US Ambassador Richard Olson’s testimony to the US House Foreign Relations Committee further displays the confusion.

The former US Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill also conveyed his frustration over US policy towards Pakistan. He pins the blame on the lack of continuity between successive administrations on taking tough steps against Pakistan. His argument can be summarised in this flowchart:

A cyclical problem

US policy towards Pakistan: A cyclical problem

MJC’s relationship with the US continues to be a prime concern for India.

Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas) is a Research Fellow at the Takshashila Institution.

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The Afghan conundrum and India’s national interest

India’s interest is to find a way to play the role of mediator to negotiate with Taliban towards  stability in Afghanistan

With the exit of US a fait accompli, there is a clear signal to engage with Taliban for an enduring peace in Afghanistan.  A meeting under the auspices of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World affairs was conducted on January 23-24, 2016 at Doha. This was not the first time that a solution was being sought by the concerned parties at Doha. In May 2015, Pakistan, China and US tried to broker a peace between the Afghan government of Ashraf Ghani and Taliban without success. The failure of official mechanism has led to efforts on a track two level.

The argument to engage with a terror entity seems counter intuitive. More so, because India’s relations with the outfit have been patchy especially after the Kandahar hijacking incident in 1999. Dealing with Taliban is the least bad option in the present circumstances. With Taliban controlling almost one third of Afghanistan’s districts, it cannot be dismissed as a fringe player. The US too does not have much leverage to control the violence with a token force of just 10,000 troops. With the reconstruction expenditure from the start to date pegged at $ 113 billion, enough flak is being faced by Obama administration for continued presence and aid to Afghanistan.

Can the Taliban be trusted? They have given assurances of their willingness to share power with the Unity government in the conference at Doha. What is most worrying of its attributes is the extremist interpretation of Islam and denying of equal rights to women. Even if the Taliban assurances were to be trusted, there needs to be a guarded approach of dealing with them. For instance, will they be willing to disarm if brought into the power calculus? This will need to have iron clad guarantees. While advising the Afghan government, India has a bitter experience on this with the LTTE when Prabhakaran made only a token effort to disarm after the accord in 1987. So the Ashraf Ghani government has to have guarantees and make sure that the Taliban does not go back to its old ways once in power. This will be a long and torturous road to travel.

Vanda Felbab-Brown, a Brookings expert on Afghanistan believes that even though Taliban has been actively supported by Pakistan, many within the Taliban resent their Pak benefactors deeply because of Pashtun nationalism. The US usually wants Pakistan to take action against Taliban which it does as a charade against some elements. The Taliban, in turn want to assure India that their foreign policy will not be dictated by any outside power (a reference to Pakistan). The coming months will be closely watched as the cycle of violence repeats itself in Afghanistan. India will have to come up with an out-of-the-box strategy to engage with Taliban and the Unity government.


Guru Aiyar is a research scholar with Takshshila Institution and tweets @guruaiyar

Featured Image: Lake Band-e-Amir by Carl Montgomery, licensed from creativecommons.org



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Talking about the Asia beyond Pakistan

What does India’s search for a new equilibrium state in its engagement with West Asia imply?

By Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas)

As the “talks about talks” with Pakistan continue to garner more-than-required attention in India, something perhaps more significant is in process with regards to India’s foreign policy — a search for a new metastable state for India’s balancing act in West Asia.

The Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Walid Al Moualem is on a four-day trip to India. Not to forget, Mr Moualem is a part of the Bashar Al-Assad government, which is fighting a war on multiple fronts with multiple adversaries in the region. This visit precedes the Indian External Affairs Minister’s visit to Israel and Palestine planned later in the week, which will further set the stage for a visit by Prime Minister Modi to the region in the near future.

These developments immediately lead us to the questions — how does India see itself in West Asia? Is there a change in the way this government is approaching its relationship with the countries in the region?

To answer these questions one needs to first look at the complex canvas that West Asia is. A mosaic chart titled “Grid of Grievances” in The Economist offers some insight into the complexities of the region.

Mosaic Chart of West Asia relationships. Source: The Economist

Mosaic Chart of West Asia relationships. Source: The Economist

As is evident from the graphic, there is no single nation-state in the mosaic that has friendly or for that matter, even neutral relations with all the other geopolitical actors in the region. Even the external actors in the region such as Russia, US and the European states find it difficult to maintain friendly relations with all the states in West Asia.

This challenge of the complex geopolitical environment is exactly the challenge that India will have to manoeuvre as it steps up engagement in the region. The silver lining in all the complexity is that if India were to be mapped on this graphic, it would perhaps be the only state that maintains a non-adversarial relationship with every West Asian state.

However, that does not make the situation comfortable, far away from it.  This outcome is partly a function of the fact that India has kept itself at an arm’s distance away from virtually every state in West Asia, in the fear that building relations with one will come at a direct cost of alienating several others. Thus by following a safe-distance approach, India now maintains decent collaborations in the region. The implication is that it has thus far allowed all the collaborations in West Asia to settle at a low level equilibrium, with none of them taking the form of a strategic partnership. As India tries to scale these local maxima, the geopolitical environment is bound to throw up new challenges and tough choices.

A glimpse of these challenges were on display earlier in the year, after it was announced that Narendra Modi will be visiting Israel, making such a visit the first ever by an Indian PM. This news immediately filtered through the mosaic of West Asia and the visit has since been put under suspended animation.

As India looks to increase its footprint in West Asia and across the world, India will not only have to balance against other countries, but also bandwagon with some others. And no where in the world, as the Grid of Grievances shows, such choices are tougher than in West Asia.

Pranay Kotasthane is a Research Fellow at The Takshashila Institution. He is on twitter @pranaykotas

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Reflections on India’s Nepal policy

What should India do in response to the protests on the Indo—Nepal border?

by Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas)

Creating a new Republic is, at any rate, a gargantuan task. Seldom do states come out unscathed from the process. The task is compounded further in a networked society where failure to reconcile conflicting political demands can quickly escalate into a political crisis.

This is exactly the situation that Nepal’s seventh constitution has led the state to. Failure to accommodate the interests of the people from southern Nepal has led to widespread protests in the Terai region. Because of these protests, the flow of essential supplies into the landlocked country from India has ebbed, leading the pahadis of Kathmandu to label these protests as India sponsored interference. The Indian government has denied any blockade of trade, but has publicly expressed that some sections of the new constitution do not have broad-based ownership and acceptance.

The political protests have shifted the focus back to India—Nepal relations. While many commentators have opined on the hits and misses of the new constitution itself, there’s no assessment of how the latest political upheaval in Kathmandu is going to impact India’s national interests.

Before addressing India’s concerns, a brief review of the geopolitical realities of India—Nepal relations will help understand the situation better. First, Nepal being a landlocked country is heavily dependent on India. Dependence on another nation-state for its own survival is suicidal in international relations. So, it is perfectly understandable that any dispensation in Nepal will seek to reduce this dependence on India by breaking the Himalayan barrier and securing alternate trade and travel routes through Tibet.

Second, some anti-India sentiments in the hill regions are likely to continue for the foreseeable future. This is because any move by India on behalf of the ethnically similar Madhesis is likely to be seen in Kathmandu as a proof of India’s hegemonic stance. Issues of identity are sensitive and can quickly cloud even good karma from the past such as India’s effort in Nepal’s reconstruction following the disastrous earthquake or the fact that as much as 6 million Nepalese prefer to stay and work in India.

With these two conditions as the starting point, what does India seek from Nepal going ahead? One, Nepal has long been used as a conduit by terrorists from Pakistan. Thus, India wants sufficient leverage in Kathmandu such that terrorists attempting to use Nepal can be eliminated.

Second, Nepal is also the route for many organised rackets including human trafficking, circulation of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) and drug peddling. Again, India would want cooperation from Nepal to address these mutual concerns.

Third, India fears that China sponsored Maoists can cause disturbances in the eastern part of India, though this fear has subsided following the waning of the Maoist movements in both India and Nepal. And fourth, India wants to limit the impact of the unrest in Nepal on its own people in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Given these policy objectives and the geopolitical backdrop, India should not be eager to throw its weight behind any side in the ongoing confrontation in Nepal. India’s call of advocating for a representative constitution, without any attempt to project its power in Nepal is a reasonable policy option. Such an approach will calm the Indian borders while also ensuring that India retains enough power in Nepal to prevent it from becoming an anti-India laboratory.

The key for India is to have friends from across party lines in Nepal so that when the dust from the protest settles, India would be in a position to resume its collaboration with the new Republic seamlessly.

Pranay Kotasthane is a Research Fellow at The Takshashila Institution. He is on twitter @pranaykotas

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Narendra Modi’s One Year – A review of reviews

By Anupam Manur and Devika Kher

In one year, the PM has made incremental changes to the economy, government structure, and foreign policy but the lack of the game-changing reforms expected of him renders the year marginally above average.

One year on, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s performance has been under severe scrutiny and though the assessment has been mostly positive and hopeful of the coming four years, there is an underlying recognition that much more needs to be done in order to justify the overwhelming mandate.

Economic Performance under Modi

As per New York Times’s article by Ellen Barry, “India is now seen as a bright spot, expected to pass China this year to become the world’s fastest-growing large economy.” Prime Minister Modi entered the office at one of the most exciting time that the Indian economy has seen till date.

To begin with, almost all the dailies commonly acknowledged Prime Minister’s ‘luck’ with the oil price fall and discounted his contribution to the financial condition of the country. The Live Mint’s editorial article remarked on lower commodity prices bringing down inflation, fiscal deficit and the current account deficit. However, Raghuram Rajan is quoted by Barry as appreciating the government’s steps to create an environment for investment.

India also saw liberalisation of sectors untouched for a long time; limits on foreign investment in defence and insurance were both raised to 49 percent. The PM also deregulated the prices for diesel, petroleum and cooking gas. Live Mint also appreciated the PM’s move to avoid lavish increases in minimum support prices and the successful auction of coal blocks and telecom spectrums.

The improvement in economic performance has largely been attributed to positive global factors rather than the present government’s interventions. There have been no revolutionary game-changing reforms and the government is struggling to implement its Goods and Services Tax and Land Acquisition Bill, even in a diluted form. Surjit Bhalla, in his Financial Express column, is particularly critical of the confused tax policy. The retrospective Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) has led to Foreign Institutional Investment outflow and a loss of confidence in the Indian economy. The data on FDI for the popular ‘Make in India’ campaign does not match the brouhaha. The Urbanization agenda also scores rather poorly, with no real activity on the ‘100 smart cities’ project. The government’s track record on education and health is not impressive either, as argued by Tavleen Singh. Another article in the Hindustan Times also severely attacked the government for reducing the budget in areas like food subsidies, health, education, etc.

Social Policies

Subir Gokarn’s one year report card in Business Standard positively assessed the progress on three critical structural challenges: food, infrastructure and employment.

The PM has, however, been applauded for the announcement of various social schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana and the Atal Pension Yojana that will improve the financial inclusion of the people. However, G. Sampath has dubbed these financial inclusion schemes as Modi’s war on welfare as they have come at the cost of poverty alleviating ones. While the MGNREGA and the Food Security Act were rights-based social provisions, the Pradhan Mantri Yojanas “put the onus of social security on those who lack it the most — the poor themselves”.

PM Narendra Modi and President Obama

Foreign Policy 

An Open magazine article by Brahma Chellaney commented that pragmatism, zeal and showmanship were the trademarks of the PM’s foreign policy. He describes the PM as a ‘a realist who loves to play on the grand chessboard of geopolitics’ and postulates that the foreign policy strategy is to revitalise India’s economic and military security. He does appreciate the PM’s “non-doctrinaire foreign-policy approach powered by ideas”. In a Hindu article, Chellaney states that “for a politician who came to office with virtually no foreign-policy experience, Mr. Modi has demonstrated impressive diplomatic acumen”.

The Diplomat’s two part review of the PM’s one year by Rohan Joshi complimented the PM on his efforts ‘to correct the faltering trajectory of India’s relationship’ with the United States and China and described them as “a positive departure from the past”. Joshi also acknowledged the PM’s attempt to strengthen relations with “Asian Sates that share India’s anxieties over China’s aggressiveness in its neighbourhood.” He goes on to commend the PM’s indifference to Pakistan and his work to build relations with Bangladesh.

It is generally agreed that Narendra Modi has been the most active PM in India’s recent history with regard to foreign policy. However, critics have questioned the timing and number of Modi’s foreign visits as it has left Modi with little time for domestic affairs. Chellaney points out that the Sri Lanka visit could have been extended till after their domestic elections and that his visit to China within 8 months of Xi’s visit to India can be considered too soon.

The Autocratic ruler

The PM’s micro-managerial style has come under intense scrutiny. The Economist ran a cover story on “India’s one man band” where the PM was appreciated for his move to devolve powers to the states. According to The Economist, this would help in creating a manufacturing boom in the country. However, the magazine contends that Modi’s biggest mistake is to believe that he alone can transform India.

The PM is however, having an impact on the bureaucratic culture in India. One of his first reforms was to push for the self attestation of documents. The fastidious whip of the PM has made the bureaucratic staff more efficient and punctual. According to the New York Times article, the PM has ensured that all business deals by ministries are routed through his office to remove the “informal meetings that business leaders used to hold with ministry officials.” This opinion was also backed by Mint, which dubbed the PM an effective administrator.

Brahma Chellany also supported this view by pointing out that the PM has realised the negative impact that corruption would have on internal security and foreign- policy options, and is seeking to bring it under control.

However, not everyone is happy with Modi’s style of governance. The biggest criticism against Modi and his government is that it is hard to distinguish between the two. Santosh Tiwari, in his Financial Express column, contends that the fallout from PM Modi projecting himself as the sole panacea to all of India’s woes is that there is a genuine lack of second rung leadership in the party and the government. The result is that the PM is the final authority on all matters, which hampers the ability of other ministers/leaders to act competently and independently.

Mihir S Sharma, in his acutely critical article “Wasting 282” in the Business Standard, argues that Modi has wasted the enormous mandate presented to him in his first year and attributes this to the lack of direction of top officials.  Ministers and bureaucrats are confused and pulled in different directions because there are no clear set of guiding principles from the PM. The PM insists that “hands-on, case-by-case action such as he delivered in Gujarat, is enough”. This explains the piece meal reforms and lack of big sweeping reforms.

The final word:

Given the nature and enormity of expectations, PM Modi’s government was bound to fall short. As Rajiv Kumar puts it “surprisingly, thus, at the end of one year, Modi finds himself facing disquietude and impatience from the middle, neo-middle and business classes who were his star supporters during the campaign”.  In one year, the PM has made incremental changes to the economy, government structure, and foreign policy but the lack of the game-changing reforms expected of him renders the year marginally above average.

Anupam Manur is a policy analyst at Takshashila Institute and tweets @anupammanur

Devika Kher is a Research Associate at Takshashila Institution. Her twitter handle is @DevikaKher

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The global problem confronting India

Ankit Agrawal

The most important global problem confronting India is “Energy Security”. The dimensions of the problem are multi-axial. To put it succinctly, India needs access to hydrocarbon fuels like coal, oil and gas and it needs to be able to use these fuels (and others like uranium) to generate power and energy to meet the exploding demand of a fast-growing economy. These fuels may be domestically produced or imported.

As of today, not only do we not have access to enough energy domestically, it costs a lot to meet the shortfall through imports. The domestic production of coal is not sufficient to meet the demand for electricity. More than 70 percent of oil and gas requirement is met through imports, nuclear plants don’t have access to enough uranium to run at full capacity and the hydropower potential remains under-exploited. The imported supply and its price tag are vulnerable to currency fluctuations, geopolitical events and equations and hostile military action from enemy countries.

To make sure that energy security is never a problem, we first need to devise and implement sensible domestic policies to resolve issues within the ambit of the state’s influence and authority. Focusing solely on the territory covered by the question, there are elements of the larger problem which can only be solved in co-operation with or influence over other countries:

One,  Assured long-term supplies of oil and gas (in which we are deficient) from friendly countries, which can reach us through sea-routes safe to navigate and pipelines not vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Two, Assured supplies of uranium to feed and expand our nuclear power generation capacity.

Three, Access to latest technologies from advanced countries to make our nuclear plants more efficient and fail-safe, exploit domestic reserves of oil and gas found in challenging geologies and improve productivity and efficiency in the mining of coal. To give an example, hydraulic fracturing has been hailed as the technique heralding an oil and gas revolution in the U.S. due to which its output is expected to exceed Saudi Arabia’s by 2020, according to an IEA report. US oil and gas majors have gained substantial expertise with the technology which could benefit India. India is believed to have shale reserves in Cambay, KG on-land, Cauvery on-land, Assam-Arakan and Indo-Gangetic basins.

China is an upper riparian state controlling some major rivers flowing into India. It has built huge dams on many of those and diverted waters to other regions of the country, thus reducing the flow to India. This not only deprives India of water resources, it also reduces the hydropower potential of the country.

How Does It Affect The Foreign Policy?

Meeting these needs and solving these problems requires long-term strategic thinking from a foreign policy perspective. We need to develop and maintain good relations with countries exporting these products and technologies. This requires a fine balancing act when faced with competing demands from two countries, both of which may be crucial to us. For example, while we import large quantities of oil from Iran, the U.S. has been demanding that we stop doing so or face retaliatory sanctions in other arenas which could affect our global competence in trade, services and agriculture, and deprive us from gaining access to advanced technology. It also confronts us with moral dilemmas. India has opted to do business with the military government in Myanmar after decades of support to democratic forces led by Aung San Suu Kyi. This has been done keeping in mind India’s need to access Myanmar’s rich gas reserves, build a gas pipeline from it through Bangladesh and the need to prevent China from gaining a monopoly in the region. The decision erodes India’s global credentials as a champion of democracy and may reduce its heft on international forums, making the job of diplomats tougher.

How Does India’s Policy Affect World Efforts To Solve The Problem?

Being a major consumer, India’s bid to lock up energy supplies crowds out smaller countries from the market, thus putting their energy security in jeopardy. Insufficient supplies drive up prices, making energy unaffordable to poorer nations. India’s recent involvement in the South China Sea by way of carrying out exploration activities in disputed territory has muddied geopolitical waters. It has complicated resolution of the dispute over resource ownership by boosting the confidence of smaller countries in the region which are wary of confronting China on their own.

India is expected to enjoy a demographic dividend over the next 30-40 years with the relatively low average age of its population making the workforce more productive. A McKinsey report estimates that by 2030, 590 million people in India would be residing in cities, 91 million urban households will be middle class compared to 22 million today and GDP would have increased five-fold. It is logical to assume that energy demand will thus increase manifold in the next 20 years alone. To meet this demand, the basic elements of our energy security strategy need to be in place by the end of this decade.

What If India Can’t Solve The Problem In Time?

Economic growth rates will plunge, productivity will take a hit and unemployment will soar. As a consequence, a massive swell of unemployed and dissatisfied youth will rise in revolt, causing social and political unrest and chaos. The democratic fabric of the country will be threatened. Food security of the country will be threatened if the agriculture sector doesn’t get enough power, resulting in soaring inflation. Low growth, rampant unemployment and high inflation is a perfect recipe for a full-fledged civil war.

Failure to achieve diversification of energy supplies across countries and sources such as hydrocarbon, nuclear, solar and wind, will make India beholden to other nations. This will reduce our autonomy and manoeuvrability over other issues of national interest, force us to compromise against our will and principles and yield to nefarious interests. We will be taken for granted in a global power configuration driven by real politik, leaving us unable to defend our national interests. In absence of robust economic growth, our military will find it difficult to keep pace with rival powers. Regional rival China will lose no opportunity to compound our woes. It might engage in military adventure in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim and collude with Pakistan to facilitate its grabbing of Kashmir. Neighbours like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka may start ignoring us and join hands with Pakistan and China.

Ankit Agrawal is an Equity Research Analyst based in Delhi                                                                   

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Foreign Policy Must Power Indian Growth.

Ameya Naik

Problem: Energy Crisis (Inability to find sufficient fuel resources, or to generate sufficient electricity to meet the demands of a high-growth trajectory.)

Why this is a Foreign Policy problem: India’s national interest has broadly been defined as following a high economic growth path, which implies sharp increases in agricultural productivity, industrial productivity & international trade. The first two rely sharply on availability of electricity at critical times. Even trade can at a minimum be said to benefit in an energy surplus environment – indeed, the trade of electricity is most lucrative – besides which it remains affected by currency exchange rates, inflation rates or forex levels, which again link to both productivity & fuel prices. International relations are thus a key component of ensuring we always have the energy supply to maintain the desired trajectory, ceteris paribus, as it were.

Substantive Solution: acquire supplies of fuel which, in combination with technologies available, reliably produce enough energy to meet the demands of the desired growth trajectory. By corollary, acquire technologies that enable us to meet such demands with the levels of fuel supplies we can afford. Given that the problem is hardly unique to India, the implementation of such a solution might generously be described as an intractable problem.

Impact on Foreign Policy: Our freedom to follow strident policies towards existing or potential suppliers of fuel resources or energy generation technology is curtailed. Witness our studied silence on Saudi Arabian action in Bahrain. Hydel power generation is an important component of our negotiations with upper riparian states such as Pakistan, Bangladesh & (especially) China. The proposed TAPI pipeline is an important component of our Af-Pak policy. Maintaining a balance between oil suppliers & nuclear suppliers is a particular challenge: this was India’s dilemna when USA insisted we comply with sanctions against Iran! At the same time, we become natural rivals to nations competing with us for the same fuel resources. Nowhere is the intricacy of the balancing act involved more evident than in our choice of arguments & allies on climate change.

Impact on global capacity: India is seen as a key player in global economic stabilisation & growth. This demands a stable energy supply in India, which in turn means certain concessions have to be made to us. Similar arguments apply with effect to China. Where Indian & Chinese claims come into competition – the recent OVL South China Sea adventure, or as regularly occurs in MENA – a diplomatic impasse is likely. Given relatively limited supplies as well as the linear relation between thermal power generation & carbon emissions, global concerns over energy security & climate change in the coming decade will probably rely on India & China as test cases. The inability to manage demand from the two largest consumers of energy can only lead to increasing global instability. In the simplest terms, if India continues to be energy starved for want of purchasing power, many other developing (or “global South”) nations have little hope of finding supplies.

Time Constraints: In questions of productivity, every day of underutilisation of capacity is deadweight loss. The one state in India that currently seems able to manage these demands is Gujarat; it is possible to see electoral returns in this. In other words, the current government would want to address this issue before the next general election, or risk conceding an important electoral  plank to the opposition. On the other hand, even if this is leveraged into a new mandate by the opposition, it would become a central parameter for assessing their accomplishments when in power. (Note that the current disputes on dispensation of coal in India is precisely along party lines between states.) In other words, the latest time window to solve this issue would be the general  election after next – 2019. Failure to do this would condemn India to a lower growth trajectory than what is currently postulated for the decade 2020-30, with a corresponding retarding effect on the global economy.

Impact on Global Standing: The question is a tautology: how does the global distribution of power affect the global distribution of power? The more stable, diversified & sustainable our energy situation, the greater our pre-eminence in global politics as well. The less we are beholden to any one nation or cartel for our energy needs, the greater our autonomy with respect to allowing other criteria to dictate our policy to them. Indeed, India’s greatest scope to distinguish itself from China is to become a high productivity/high growth energy surplus state, given that we are likely to remain net importers of fuel resources. This requires some adroit diplomacy as well as multiple power sector & policy reforms in the domestic arena, but if successful would position us with diplomatic capital enough to counter the sheer volume of the Chinese political-economic juggernaut. The opposite scenario could see us approach the precarious situation East European states face with respect to Russia – held hostage for daily heat or power over every annoyance their supplier state may face or imagine!

Ameya Naik is a student of International Law and Foreign Policy , living and learning in New Delhi.

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