The Power of 11: An Asian Century

The Power of 11: An Asian Century

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Call it the Power of 11, if you will.
The soaring dream of an Asian Century is poised to acquire new wings as the leaders of India and 10 ASEAN countries participate in a special commemorative summit in New Delhi, marking the silver jubilee anniversary of their multi-faceted partnership. In a captivating spectacle, the 10 ASEAN leaders will also be Guests of Honour at India’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26, 2018, the first time the leaders of a region have been bestowed such a singular honour by New Delhi, underscoring the increasing salience of the region in India’s foreign policy calculus.
In many ways, it’s time for multiple celebrations for India and ASEAN, which are conjoined by “Shared Values, Common Destiny” – the master-theme of the summit, as they toast the 25th anniversary of their dialogue partnership, 15 years of summit-level interaction and 5 years of Strategic Partnership. The intersection of the golden jubilee of the establishment of ASEAN and the silver jubilee of India-ASEAN partnership has only heightened a sense of festivity and pride in what has been achieved so far and what’s yet to come.

Modi chants New India ‘open for business’ mantra at Davos

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DAVOS: With occasional references to Sanskrit shlokas, Prime Minister Narendra Modi renewed the global spotlight on a ‘New India’ shaping under his watch in front of the global elite in the Swiss resort of Davos and underlined his commitment to globalisation amid growing walls of protectionism.

In his keynote speech at the plenary session of the World Economic Forum, the Indian leader upheld a ‘New India’s’ unique role in guiding the world through its ancient liberal values and unique democratic experiment. Weaving India’s growth story with its spiritual ethos, Mr Modi welcomed the world to partake in India’s robust growth and the opportunities and solutions that it has to offer.

Assuming the mantle of globalisation, a role Chinese President Xi Jinping claimed to don in his speech at Davos amid US’ insular turn under the Trump presidency, Mr Modi said that while protectionism and trade barriers were rising, India was marching confidently towards a $5 trillion economy by 2025.

India insists on a “balanced and collectively satisfactory” RCEP

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Ahead of the special India-ASEAN commemorative summit, India has underlined the need for a fair and balanced outcome for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the largest free trade area which is currently under negotiation between 16 countries.In the run up to the summit on January 25 in New Delhi, India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu stressed that that India would agree to this mega free trade agreement provided sensitivities and aspirations of all partner countries are adequately addressed.
Speaking at the ‘ASEAN-India Business and Investment Meet and Expo’ in New Delhi on January 22, Mr Prabhu said: “It is important to address the sensitivity of member countries and their aspirations as negotiations gather momentum. We would all aim to achieve an RCEP that results in the realization of the potential of the three key pillars of RCEP—goods, services, investment—in a manner that is balanced and collectively satisfactory. Keeping this in view, India will be working closely and constructively with all RCEP member countries, particularly Asean, towards early conclusion of negotiations”.

India concerned over Kabul hotel attack

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The savage terror attack at a hotel in Kabul has elicited strong outrage from India, one of major development partners of Afghanistan.In a sharply-worded statement, India has strongly condemned the attack and voiced grave concern at the spread of terror by the “internationally proscribed Haqqani Network” that is enjoying safe haven in the neighbourhood without naming Pakistan, which has called for greater cooperation in combatting terror.
It was 14 hours of terror that kept Afghan security forces and Norwegian troops engaged in a fierce encounter with gunmen who attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul on January 21. With Taliban claiming responsibility, this is a major attack against the international community after the March 2014 similar attack on another hotel in Kabul that left 9 people dead.Among the 18 people reported to have been killed, 14 were foreigners including 2 Venezuelan pilots of the privately owned airline KamAir, six Ukrainians and one Kazakh national.

Modi to showcase India Growth Story at Davos

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Buoyed by India’s growing economy and its rising global profile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is poised to pitch the India growth story to international political and financial elite at the World Economic Forum in Davos.Mr Modi’s overarching message at Davos will be “India is open for business,” also the theme of the promotional campaign India has launched in Davos. Mr Modi will speak on the theme for the 2018 WEF, “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World,” and India’s role in the world. In his plenary speech, PM Modi is expected to highlight pathbreaking economic reforms taken by his government which have led to enhanced ease of doing business. India jumped 42 places in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business last year.
“In recent years, India’s engagement with the outside world has become truly and effectively multi-dimensional covering the political, economic, people to people, security and other spheres… At Davos, I look forward to sharing my vision for India’s future engagement with the international community,” Mr Modi said ahead of his visit to the picturesque Alpine town of Davos that holds the annual meet.

26/11 Memorial: Baby Moshe & Netanyahu revisit horror and hope 

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More than nine years ago, when terrorists opened fire at Nariman House, it was a miraculous escape for two-year-old ‘Baby Moshe’ who was rescued by her Indian nanny Sandra Samuel. He has, since then, come to represent a story of tragedy, love and hope, marking an emotional connect between India and Israel. It was a moment of joy when the Jewish Chabad House, popularly known as Nariman House, hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and eleven-year-old Moshe Holtzberg for the unveiling of a state-of-the-art Living Memorial to commemorate the victims of the 26/11 Mumbai terror mayhem.
“What happened here represents the polar opposites of love and hate, the hatred perpetrated by the terrorists, but it also expressed tremendous love. The love of your parents Gabi and Rivky to you Moshe, and the love that is expressed by the Chabad House here in Mumbai and the love that is expressed by the embracing and loving attitude of the Chabad emissaries around the world which embraces and provides a loving home for every Jew around the world,” Mr Netanyahu told Moshe, who was accompanied by his paternal grandparents, Nachman Holtzberg and Frieda Holtzberg, maternal grandparents, Shimon Rosenberg and Yehudit Rosenberg, and uncle Moshe Holtzberg. His Indian nanny, who was awarded the title of ‘Righteous Gentile’ by Israel as the highest award presented to non-Jews, was also present at the occasion. Moshe, who now lives with his grandparents in the Israeli city of Afula, also read out a welcome speech for the Israeli prime minister.
Still bearing the bullet marks, Nariman House was where Moshe’s parents Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg lived.

Netanyahu pitches for India-Israel alliance of democracies

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Underlining the civilizational and democratic connects between India and Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, in his speech at the third edition of the Raisina Dialogue talked about the need to build power in an increasingly insecure world.“The weak don’t survive. The strong survive. You make peace with the strong. You ally with the strong”, he said like a true realist.
The Israeli leader outlined four types of power- military, economic, political and the power of values- that democracies like India and Israel should focus on. Therefore, building submarines, cyber capabilities, science and technology, interceptors are an essential component of the developmental goals.

Netanyahu in India: Modi hug & soaring hopes

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Hugs, personal bonding and effusive sentiments about India-Israel relations marked the first few hours of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s maiden trip to India.In a special gesture, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi went beyond official protocol to personally receive Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Delhi airport. Mr Modi’s trademark hug and warm expression of friendship set the tone for six-day visit of the Israeli leader to India. Mr Netanyahu is leading a delegation of 130 businessmen from 102 Israeli companies and expects to take relations between the two nations together with the Indian leader to “new heights”.
“Indian Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi is a close friend of Israel and of mine and I appreciate the fact that he will accompany me on extensive parts of my visit,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said just before leaving for New Delhi.After the arrival the leaders headed for a ceremony to rename Teen Murti Chowk in central Delhi as Teen Murti-Haifa Chowk, in memory of the Hyderabad, Jodhpur and Mysore Lancers who carried out a brave assault to liberate the Israeli port city of Haifa during the First World War.

Moving beyond UN vote, Israel, India focus on soaring future

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Moving beyond intricate chessboard of geopolitics in West Asia, India and Israel are set to fashion a robust partnership of the future, revolving around technology and innovation during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s maiden trip to the Asian country.
Days before Mr Netanyahu’s visit, India had voted against the unilateral declaration of Jerusalem by the US in the UN, triggering speculation about New Delhi’s commitment to taking the India-Israeli relationship forward. Now these apprehensions have been dispelled as the Israeli leader began his six-day visit to India on January 14, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally receiving his “friend” at the airport. Ahead of his visit, Mr Netanyahu had clarified that although he was disappointed, one vote won’t affect this relationship of the future.

With China on mind, US envoy pitches for economic, military ties with India

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Amidst shifting geopolitical equations in the Asia-Pacific region, US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster has called for forging a robust strategic economic partnership with India and pitched for enhanced defence collaboration across the spectrum.In a defining speech on India-US relations, organised by Carnegie India and the US Embassy in New Delhi, Mr Juster projected the growing importance of India-US ties and the need to “build upon this foundation in a flexible but purposive manner”.The US ambassador’s big-picture presentation of India-US relations comes ahead of a likely meeting later this month between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos.
Economic ties through strategic lens
Proposing a Free Trade Agreement with India in future, the ambassador pointed out that India could be an alternative for US companies exiting China. He also assured that US President Trump’s call of “America first” and Indian Prime Minister Modi’s “Make in India” initiatives are not “incompatible” since mutually beneficial investment in each other’s markets increases the prospects of economic interaction and a robust trade leading to the technological collaboration and creation of jobs. While India-US trade has grown from $20 billion in 2001 to $115 billion in 2016, the trade deficit in favour of India stands at $30 billion and many US companies are unhappy with the protective barriers put in place by India.
“Increased heft in our economic relationship would necessarily provide a broader and deeper, long-term U.S. commitment to India and the Indo-Pacific region. This would complement our growing defence and counter-terrorism partnership, and moderate any policy differences that might arise along the way,” he said.