The Modi government is, however, unlikely to capitulate to the opposition’s pressure on this issue as it is following a conscious policy to expand ties with Israel across the spectrum while publicly maintaining that closer ties with Tel Aviv are not the cost of India’s historical and long-standing support to the Palestinian cause. It will be interesting to watch how the Modi government plays this balancing game in its West Asia policy in the days to come.
If I say Amir Khusrau is our poet, I would be stoned in India,” the Tajik ambassador said recently in New Delhi, a shade dramatically. In Dushanbe, don’t be surprised if Tajiks recite to you soulful couplets of Zebn-un-Nisa, Aurangzeb’s eldest daughter better known by her pen-name Makhfil (The Hidden One). Mahabharata and Ramayana are prime time shows on Uzbek TV. And this will be a revelation for those not in the know: on Valentine’s Day, Uzbeks celebrate their love for the 16th century Mughal emperor Babur.
From Bollywood and kathak to yoga and Hindi, Central Asia is suffused with the glow of Indian culture and spirituality. It was, therefore, fitting when India launched its Connect Central Asia policy in 2012 as the two regions have been conjoined intimately through historical and cultural ties for centuries. It’s a relationship that has been enriched by culture and poetry, but geopolitically it’s only now this strategically located region is zooming back into the focus of India’s diplomatic-strategic establishment. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the five Central Asian states is a compelling statement of India’s reawakened interest in the region that is critical to the country’s interlinked strategic, economic and energy interests. The forthcoming visit of Mr Modi, the first by an Indian prime minister to all five post-Soviet Stans states in one go, is a game-changer of sorts that’s set to transform India’s multifarious relations with the energy-rich Central Asian region, where China has firmly positioned itself as the leading economic power and dispenser of largesse.
It’s a digital revolution in the making. If Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of Digital India comes to fruition, the country of 1.2 billion people will be transformed radically into a formidable knowledge powerhouse connected by info highways and powered by transparent governance.
M-governance: Mobile, not Modi
Digital India initiative bears the stamp of the Indian leader, a former tea-seller who has flagged off new dreams for India and is fond of taking slefies with world leaders, but Mr Modi was keen to emphasise at the launch of the campaign in the Indian capital that it should not be equated with him. “We have to move from E-governance to M-governance. M-governance does not mean Modi governance. It means Mobile governance,” Mr Modi said in a messianic tone as he kicked off the Digital India Week in New Delhi on July 1.
Indian corporate honchos, such as Reliance Industries chairman MukeshAmbani and Bharti Enterprises head Sunil Bharti Mittal promised to invest over 4.5 trillion rupees ($71 billion) in Mr Modi-led “Digital India” initiative.
Other organisations, including Metals and resources company Sterlite Technologies will manufacturing LCD panels in India, while a maker of energy-saving motors Japan’s Nidec Corp, will establish 5 factories; all in India’s flagship initiative – “Digital India”.
It’s no longer a pipedream. The long-discussed TAPI pipeline is moving ahead, with India expected to push for fast-tracking this $10-billion project during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Turkmenistan.
Marking a big-ticket breakthrough in strained ties between the once sworn enemies, the US and Cuba have decided to move beyond the baggage of past⋅⋅⋅
Diplomacy, In Pictures
A UN report has underscored that India has made moderate progress in reducing open defecation, and has been able to provide access to improved drinking water to⋅⋅⋅
India’s urbanisation dream has moved one step forward with Prime Minister Narendra Modi launching three signature projects of urban renewal. On June 25, Mr Modi,⋅⋅⋅
Allusions are not new in politics. In 1975 – the year of our own Emergency – Chairman Mao’s views of the Water Margin, a Song⋅⋅⋅
India and France are set to galvanise their multifarious relations during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden trip to Paris. The two countries have a robust strategic partnership over the years, and are looking to push the envelope in a host of areas.
In this interview with Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network, (www.indiawrites.org), Rakesh Sood, India’s former ambassador to France, speaks about a cluster of issues that will be on the table when Prime Minister Modi holds talks with the French President Francois Hollande in Paris on April 10. He provided an overarching view of what makes India-France relations unique and how the forthcoming prime ministerial visit will impart a renewed momentum in areas of defence, nuclear energy and space and open up new avenues of bilateral cooperation.
(Excerpts from the interview)
Q) How do you look at the trajectory of the India-France relations at this moment? And how do you see the importance of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France, which is also his first visit to Europe?
A) India and France have had one of the oldest strategic partnerships. What do I mean by a strategic partnership? I mean that we have had long-standing cooperation in areas of defence, nuclear energy and space. Three areas that normally constitute strategic partnership, and particularly in recent decades we have also strengthened our cooperation in the area of counter-terrorism and intelligence-sharing. So I think it is a very substantive relationship and French President Hollande was here in February 2013. Obviously, in 2014 we had our elections and so it is very opportune that Prime Minister Modi is now visiting Paris and other locations in France.
Vibrant democracies, emerging powers, and partners in the unfolding Asian resurgence. India-Indonesia relations have a rich past, and is looking to zoom into a rich future, bristling with possibilities. Co-founders and fellow-travellers of the Non-Aligned Movement, India and Indonesia have imparted a contemporary strategic dimension to their multi-faceted relationship. From President Sukarno gracing the first Republic Day celebrations of 1950 to India hosting Indonesia’s then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations in 2011, the India-Indonesia partnership in the 21st century is acquiring new layers and depth.
The year 2014 saw a change of guard in both New Delhi and Jakarta, propelling self-made politicians from humble backgrounds to the top of the power ladder. The new leaderships in both countries are keen to seize the moment to infuse a new energy and vitality into this robust relationship.
Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org), caught up with Indonesia’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Dino Patti Djalal in New Delhi for a free-wheeling conversation on the entire gamut of India-Indonesia relations, and much more. In this probing conversation, the suave and eloquent deputy minister shares his views on the future trajectory of India-Indonesia relations, how the two countries can collaborate in areas like pro-poor technologies, a new kind of creative politics emerging in Indonesia and a radical transformation of the image of India from a country ridden with poverty to a country synonymous with enterprise and innovation. India used to be known as a country with a rich past, but now it is seen as a country with a rich future, he says presciently.
India’s multifarious relations with the resurgent African continent has deepened and acquired a new traction over the last decade or so, especially since the inaugural India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) in New Delhi in 2008. India is set to host the third edition of IAFS early next year, which will bring the leaders and representatives of all 54 African countries to the capital Delhi, and is expected to mark an all-round acceleration of this burgeoning partnership. This will also be the first India-Africa Forum Summit, which will be hosted by the Narendra Modi government in New Delhi.
In this wide-ranging conversation with Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and Editor of “Two Billion Dreams: Celebrating India-Africa Friendship,” Ethiopian ambassador to India Gennet Zewide strikes an upbeat note about the future trajectory of the India-Africa relations and hopes that this partnership will “tripled, multiplied and even quadrupled” under the new dispensation in New Delhi. The Ethiopian envoy, a former education minister of the East African country, the seat of an ancient civilization, also speaks about the win-win partnership unfolding between India and her country, and the transformative impact of India’s Line of Credit for the country’s sugar industry, which promises to turn Ethiopia from an exporter into an importer of sugar in days to come.
Looking to make India as its major defence and space manufacturing hub, Airbus expressed its keen interest to invest in India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led⋅⋅⋅
Highlighting India’s subdued rural economy as a ‘credit negative’ for its sovereign rating, global credit rating agency Moody’s has said there are growing concerns over⋅⋅⋅
The Chinese bull is no longer roaring as the markets have been in free fall for the past three weeks. The main index, the Shanghai⋅⋅⋅
India and China are looking to fast-track the resolution of their decades-long boundary dispute even as they focus on confidence building measures to sustain peace⋅⋅⋅
Underlining the need to eliminate a host of armed conflicts that most of the African states have been facing, African leaders have vowed to eradicate⋅⋅⋅
Al-Shabaab, a Somali militant group believed to be a part of the African terror syndicate comprising of groups such as the Al Qaeda in Maghreb⋅⋅⋅
Naseeruddin Shah comes across as an actor who knows his craft but does not take filmdom or stardom with any degree of seriousness. A rare ability to laugh at oneself, coupled with an acute understanding of the world of theatre and Bollywood. It is difficult to talk about one’s life with any kind of objectivity and Shah manages just that with his funny bone absolutely intact. Be it the boarding school at Nainital, the hallowed portals of NSD or the Film Institute of Pune, Shah breezes through it all, seeing it with the critical eye of the present and looking at this intelligent non-conformist young Naseeruddin as he hems and haws through life. Not having set goals and not having made the obvious choices, the journey is tough as the young protagonist stumbles along in the haze of marijuana.
Shah’s book has an extremely humane side to it where the reader does not feel in awe of a star but a human being on a journey that continues with all its rough and tumble in place. The book too, plays by its own rules – deciphering but not revealing the man who refuses to be slotted as a hero or a character artist in Bollywood and who chooses to be remembered and not revered for some of the most virtuoso acting skills in the industry.
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon⋅⋅⋅
If you’re a singer you lose your voice. A baseball player loses his arm. A writer gets more knowledge, and if he’s good, the older⋅⋅⋅
The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make⋅⋅⋅
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,⋅⋅⋅
Ecuador is probably the only country in the world named after a geographical feature – the equator. Crossing over from the Colombian border post near⋅⋅⋅