With China watching, India, Vietnam to deepen economic embrace


    In a clear signal that Vietnam is a special friend and strategic partner of New Delhi, India will be rolling out the red carpet for Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung Oct 27-28, a visit that comes just five weeks after President Pranab Mukherjee’s high-profile trip to Hanoi.
    The core focus of the visit will be economic as strategic and defence ties were dealt with exhaustively during President Mukherjee’s trip. The two countries have already exceeded their trade target of $7 billion set for 2015 ahead of schedule, and will be looking to map out new opportunities emerging in the economic arena. This economic focus will be reflected in the 50-strong delegation comprising a veritable who’s who of Vietnam’s business word the Vietnamese prime minister will be bringing with him to India.
    Although the focus of the forthcoming trip by Vietnam’s prime minister will be predominantly economic, the symbolic significance will not be lost on China, which has warily looked at the closer Delhi-Hanoi strategic and economic embrace with a distinct unease. China has repeatedly objected to Indian companies’ involvement in oil exploration in South China Sea, which it claims in entirety. But India has made it clear that its energy cooperation with Vietnam is strictly bilateral, and does not impact the interests of any third country.

    Indo-US détente: Beyond economics?


    While India and the US might achieve breakthroughs in the economic realm, the story of geopolitics seems to be more challenging.
    The most important aspect of the relationship is the American recognition that India’s success and transformation towards a more prosperous society is in America’s interest, and India’s emergence as a major and prosperous power requires a closer relationship with the US both in the security and economic realms. As Senator McCain states, “Ultimately, this strategic partnership is about India and the US placing a long-term bet on one another – a bet that each of us should be confident can offer a big return.” The countries might have divergent perspectives, but their visions and commitment to a liberal international world order, and a rising Asia that is stable with no single power exercising disproportionate influence, do not conflict. This should be the dominant idea taking the relationship forward, as it did during the civil nuclear agreement, after which this central story line got blurred.

    ITEC toasts 50 years: Celebrating South-South spirit of sharing


    Made in India! It’s their tryst with India, and the spirit of South-South sharing, that has branded them for life. On the night of October 22, which coincided with the Diwali eve, students and mid-career professionals from dozens of countries across the globe celebrated a unique institution called ITEC, which brought them together to India in an adventure of learning, seeking, sharing and skilling.

    Singing and dancing amid animated chatter to Indian pop star Alisha Chinai’s foot-tapping number Made in India, this rainbow brotherhood toasted the golden jubilee of Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme, which has become their ticket to India and the world in more ways than one. The atmosphere was heady and resembled that of a graduation dinner, with ITEC alumni from diverse nationalities exchanging notes, clicking photos and packing their nostalgia bag with memories of India. Noor Mohammed from Afghanistan said disarmingly: It’s a gift. I am so happy to be part of ITEC and come to India.” Catherine from Colombia was also all praise for the ITEC ethos: ”It was an invaluable experience. India is an amazing country.”


      ISIS in Central Asia


      It has now become imperative to assess the impending security situation in Central Asia, India’s extended neighbourhood, after the recent appearance of ISIS footprints that⋅⋅⋅

      India to bolster counter-terror cooperation with Canada


      Strongly condemning the terror attacks in Canada, India has underlined its solidarity with the North American nation and stressed that the two countries will bolster⋅⋅⋅

      India re-elected to UN Human Rights Council

      In a sign of its growing global stature, India has been re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council for 2015-17 term, with the country’s envoy⋅⋅⋅

      Politics / Policy

      National Security Decision Making: Overhaul Needed

      Indian Army

      In May 1998, India conducted five nuclear tests at Pokhran and declared itself a state armed with nuclear weapons. It later emerged that these weapons⋅⋅⋅

      Takeaways from the 2014 Floods in J&K

      The unprecedented floods in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), have wrecked havoc and led to widespread loss of life and damage to property. While the focus⋅⋅⋅

      India’s smart 100: 10 cities, 10 lessons

      smart cities

      Narendra Modi seems serious about building 100 smart cities. Just look at how the port city of Dholera in Gujarat is shaping up. It’s might⋅⋅⋅

      The Quote Hanger

      "Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well being," - Prime Minister Narendra Modi

      In Conversation

      UN reform process has acquired a critical mass: India’s UN envoy


      The United Nations will turn 70 in 2015. But the world body is increasingly looking like a relic of the past and is badly in need of reform to stay relevant amid the ceaseless flux in geopolitics in the 21st century. Amid the defining shift of power from the west to the rest and the emergence of India on the global stage, the case for the reform and expansion of the UN Security Council has become all the more urgent. In his maiden address at the UNGA, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a robust pitch for reform of the UNSC to “make it more democratic and participative.” “Institutions that reflect the imperatives of 20th century won’t be effective in the 21st century. The world in the 21st century has changed and will be changing at a faster pace. It becomes imperative that we formulate according to the changing times and new ideas of 21st century to sustain our relevance,” Mr Modi told delegates at the 69th session of the UNGA.
      In this free-wheeling interview with Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network ( in New York, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Kumar Mukherji speaks about India’s strategy for accelerating the reform of the UNSC, the enthusiastic support for India’s candidature for a permanent seat in the powerful council and the way ahead on Prime Minister Modi’s initiative to get the UN to designate an International Yoga Day.

      Modi at Madison Square Garden: It will be a coming-out party for Indian-Americans

      ROnen Sen

      India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US will put the spotlight on the growing profile of the about 3-million strong Indian-American community. Cutting across castes, provinces and religions, around 20,000-odd Indian-Americans will be travelling from all over America for the largest-ever civic reception in honour of the Indian leader at the iconic Madison Square Garden.

      In this interview with Mr Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network, Ronen Sen, India’s former ambassador to the US, speaks glowingly about the multifarious success stories of Indian-Americans in their adopted homeland and their role as bridge-builders in bringing the two vibrant democracies together in an arc of intersecting national interests.

      ‘Japan is India’s all-weather friend, China needn’t worry’


      Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s August 30-September 3 visit to Japan is laden with great expectations and hopes of substantive outcomes, which can transform the geopolitical dynamics of Asia. In this conversation with, Sanjaya Baru, a well-known commentator on foreign affairs and Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, speaks about the unique character of India-Japan relations, Japan’s starring role in the development of India and his expectations from the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Japan. Baru, the author of The Accidental Prime Minister and Director of Geo-economics and Strategy at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, predicts a robust future of India-Japan relations and underlines that Japan is and will be India’s all-weather friend in days to come.


      India’s new foreign trade policy should focus on LatAm, Africa, CIS

      India’s foreign trade has badly suffered since the beginning of the global financial crisis in August-September 2008. The subsequent shock of the sovereign crisis in⋅⋅⋅

      Egypt’s new Suez Canal can boost India’s trade


      Egypt’s plan to build a new $4 billion  canal parallel to the 145-year-old Suez Canal can impact India as over 90 per cent of the⋅⋅⋅


      When Modi met Xi


      On the day Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Gujarat on September 17, The Hindu newspaper published an op-ed called ‘Towards an Asian century of prosperity’ in which President Xi spoke of his country as the factory and India as the world’s back office, he referred to the new government in power bringing in new reforms. He spoke of deepened mutual trust by “strengthening strategic dialogue and enhancing political confidence.” The article was expectedly replete with bonhomie and optimism although India was not too happy being relegated to the back office. Nevertheless, Xi concluded by saying that he was “confident that as long as China and India work together, the Asian century of prosperity and renewal will surely arrive at an early date.” All this sounded wonderful.

      Hong Kong Protests: What it means for the Chinese leadership?


      hongkong-protestsong Kong is slated to have elections for the post of Chief Executive (CE) in 2017. However, there is a disagreement between sections of the Hong Kong civil society and Beijing on how these elections are to be conducted. In a nutshell, Hong Kong wants a free and fair democratic elections and not be told the list of candidates it can choose from. Beijing wants that it vets the final list of candidates, fearing probably a CE, who would be critical of government policies. Beijing’s desire to manage the political process in Hong Kong stems from the ‘one country two systems’ model whereby it continues to retain its influence.

      Africa Rising

      Demographic shift: Africa heading for population explosion


      Africa will herald one of the most radical demographic shifts of the century. Latest estimates indicate that by the end of the century, 40% of⋅⋅⋅

      US raises bar for Africa ties, billions to flow


      The first US-Africa summit ended on a high note, with US companies pledging investments worth $17 billion and President Barack Obama heralding Africa as a⋅⋅⋅

      US ups stakes, holds first summit with Africa


      Against the backdrop of the rise of Asian powers, most prominently China, in Africa, the United States is hosting its first summit with the resurgent⋅⋅⋅

      Culture / Books / Ideas


      China to be Guest of Honour at 2016 New Delhi Book Fair

      Xi flowers

      Seeking to build a knowledge bridge between the two ancient civilisations, India has selected China as the Guest of Honour at the New Delhi World⋅⋅⋅

      Australia’s cultural diplomacy: Ancient Shiva statues back in India


      Modi’s trip affirms India-Japan spiritual bonds

      Modi meditating

      Centuries-old spiritual connections came alive during India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan, as ancient civilisational linkages were reaffirmed by the message of harmony⋅⋅⋅


      A conflicted family reunion

      Land where I flee

      BOOK REVIEW Book: Land Where I Flee; Author: Prajwal Parajuly; Publisher: Quercus A caustic grandmother, a lovable eunuch, and four orphaned siblings returning home to Gangtok after⋅⋅⋅

      Demystifying Tibetan culture: Uncle Tompa’s profane adventures


      In these 20 stories Rinjing Dorji narrates how Uncle Tompa gets the better of others through his trickery. The ‘others’ here are usually the rich, the foolish, the virtuous, and the stubborn. While tales of Uncle Tompa are very similar to those of other tricksters like the Persian Mullah Nusruddhin, or the American Cayote, Uncle Tompa’s stories differ because of the centrality of sex in his adventures.

      For Borges


      Silence is a Forest. Rootless words Perch on filtered sunlight, shadows dance with rhythm of swaying distance, dead wind caresses.   You are welcome to⋅⋅⋅

      Why Write?

      Neil Gaiman on the magic of writing


      The best thing about writing fiction is that moment where the story catches fire and comes to life on the page, and suddenly it all⋅⋅⋅

      Paulo Coelho on writing well and notetaking


      On Confidence You cannot sell your next book by underrating your book that was just published. Be proud of what you have. On Trust Trust⋅⋅⋅

      Roald Dahl on fools and writers

      Roald Dahl

      “A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that,⋅⋅⋅


      Border-crossing: Supper in Sweden, Dinner in Denmark

      Arial photo of the bridge with ferry passing under

      For those of us living in India, crossing over casually is a distant dream. Even though India and Pakistan were one over six decades ago,⋅⋅⋅

      At the Equator: A tryst with Assange, Darwin and sea lions


      Ecuador is probably the only country in the world named after a geographical feature – the equator. Crossing over from the Colombian border post near⋅⋅⋅

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