It may have lasted for a minute. But in the end, it was the warm handshake between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif that will remain the most enduring image and the most tweeted photo of the 18th SAARC summit in Kathmandu.
The ringing applause that followed the handshake between the leaders of India and Pakistan and the beaming faces at the end of the Kathmandu summit on November 27 said it all. In the end, despite the official disclaimer that the SAARC is not about India and Pakistan, it was clear that the eight-nation regional grouping can only take off if that handshake translates into a meaningful dialogue between the two estranged neighbours of South Asia.
In a sense, the hype about the Modi-Sharif handshake, with television news channels hysterically speculating 24×7 about a possible meeting between the two leaders which did not happen, also ironically underlines diminishing expectations about the India-Pakistan relations that remain eternally enmeshed in mutual recriminations and the thick fog of suspicion.
In diplomacy, a seemingly impossible situation can change dramatically in a few hours’ time. And so it was with the 18th SAARC summit. The jamboree of the South Asian leaders was dismissed till last night as a no-show till some fresh air and spirited talk among leaders at a resort town outside the mountain city of Kathmandu reversed the gloom and doom narrative, with SAARC signing a potentially defining pact on sharing electricity.
As the curtains came down on the two-day SAARC summit, the optics of the summit had changed radically, with the leaders of India and Pakistan warmly shaking hands after the leaders unanimously adopted the Kathmandu Declaration that outlined a reasonably doable agenda for intensifying multifarious cooperation across the spectrum.
India, which was looking visibly disappointed at the stalling of the three SAARC pacts on energy, road and rail connectivity by Pakistan, heaved a sigh of relief with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif finally going along with other SAARC leaders to give his assent to the pact on creating a regional power grid.
In the end, it was the relaxed and informal interaction among leaders at the retreat at Dhulikhel, an idyllic resort town located nearly 30 km away from the capital Kathmandu, that did the trick. The view of the majestic Himalayas may have helped clear the air.
Amid China’s moves to deepen its foray into the region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repositioned India in the leadership role in the SAARC, with a clear message that India will move ahead with regional integration, with or without SAARC. In fact, India’s ‘enhanced’ South Asia diplomacy is set for a major upsurge with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay travelling to the country early next year and Mr Modi planning bilateral trips to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the coming months.
Refreshingly, India is unfazed by Pakistan’s negativity and is set to galvanize its South Asia diplomacy by backing words with deeds. This enhanced South Asia policy will be reflected in a spate of two-way visits.
Apart from accelerating commerce and connectivity with South Asian countries, India will also be looking to deepen strategic and security ties with South Asian neighbours, which has acquired a new urgency with China deepening its footprints in India’s periphery.
By quoting from an official Chinese statement on India’s purported interest in China’s Maritime Silk Route (MSR) without citing the source, Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya⋅⋅⋅
The first Xi-Abe meeting in Beijing on the sideline of APEC summit is the much needed constructive development in China-Japan relations which is navigating through⋅⋅⋅
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The Congress party suffered a crushing defeat in the last parliamentary elections, and this despite vigorous and aggressive campaigning by the mother-son duo Sonia Gandhi⋅⋅⋅
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The multifarious ties between India and Britain are headed for a marked upswing. Moments after he met India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Brisbane, British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: “Relations with India are at the top of the priorities of UK’s foreign policy.” “Your’s is a very inspiring vision, U.K. wants to partner in any way we can,” Mr Cameron said in another tweet.
The British leader’s enthusiasm seems to be shared across the spectrum in Britain. Soon after the Modi-Cameron meeting, Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org), caught up with UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Baroness Sandip Verma, and found her brimming with enthusiasm about the trajectory of the India-UK relations and the India growth story.
The 55-year-old politician and businesswoman, who has been made a Conservative peer for life, is also a visible emblem of the success of the Indian diaspora in Britain. In this wide-ranging interview with indiawrites.org in New Delhi, the Amritsar-born Sandip Verma speaks about how Britain is eagerly looking forward to offering Prime Minister Modi “exceptional welcome,” the success of the Indian community in Britain and soaring expectations about the India story under the leadership of a reform-minded prime minister.
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 (www.indiawrites.org) 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.
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.
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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.
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.
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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⋅⋅⋅
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.
I write with a sort of grim determination to deal with things that are hidden and difficult, and this means, I think, that pleasure is⋅⋅⋅
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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,⋅⋅⋅
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