Friday 26 Apr 2019 | 02:03 | SYDNEY
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India

Coal comfort: Australia-India ties after the elections

In an odd quirk of timing, this year Australia and India’s elections will run in parallel. On 11 April, Scott Morrison made the trip to Canberra’s Government House and the official campaign finally began. On the same day, Indian voters began to go to the polls in the first of seven phases of

Modi’s drive for Brand India

In 2014, the average Indian voter was restless for change. Regular revelations about corruption scandals, frustrating policy paralysis, incessant price hikes and widespread unemployment all coalesced in a virtually stalled economy. In polls that year, the Indian electorate delivered the Bharatiya

India: never quite in focus

Last month, Financial Times columnist Edward Luce asked, what would it take for India to get America’s attention? His question was rather aptly answered a couple of weeks later with a spot of brinkmanship in Kashmir (Pulwama terrorist attack: Modi under pressure), meaning India hit the

India’s wobbly quest for fighter aircraft

India’s air strikes this week targeting suspected terrorist hideouts in Pakistan and subsequent air battles comes at a time of growing concerns about sharply declining strength of India’s fighter squadrons. The number of aircraft presently stands at 31, against the authorised level of 42. The

The intrusion of domestic politics in Kashmir tensions

On Tuesday, India launched air strikes targeting what it claimed was the biggest training camp of the militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) near the town of Balakot in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The strikes were said to be aimed at preventing an imminent attack on India and

India-Pakistan: shadow dancing in the Himalayas

The strike by the Indian Air Force on Tuesday against targets in Pakistan is the latest step in a delicate shadow dance between India and Pakistan. This began after a suicide bombing of an Indian military convoy at Pulwama in Indian Kashmir on 14 February, which killed more than 40 Indian

Pulwama terrorist attack: Modi under pressure

The Pulwama attack was clearly calibrated to pile pressure on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run-up to the general election to be held in April and May 2019. The location and the target – paramilitary police deployed in Kashmir as part of an on-going effort to quell unrest that has

Demystifying Kashmir

A suicide attack on the Indian forces in Pulwama, Kashmir that killed more than 40 security officials has set India and Pakistan – two nuclear powers ­– on a warpath. India has blamed Pakistan for sponsoring the attack, while Pakistan has denied any involvement, blaming India for its human

India: another five years of Modi?

That India’s 14th prime minister is a gifted storyteller is well-known. An author of several children’s storybooks, Narendra Modi has in the past few years not only trumpeted the narrative of a poor tea-seller making his way to the highest office in the land but has also controlled every

Pulwama attack: more questions than answers

The attack on a convoy of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on 14 February is one of the most serious single strikes against security forces in the troubled region of Kashmir. Travelling from Jammu to Srinagar in the South Kashmir Pulwama district, a vehicle laden with 350 kilograms of

Mediation a long shot in Kashmir conflict

When former prime minister of Norway Kjell Mangne Bondevik met with separatist Kashmiri leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in Indian Kashmir last month, a barrage of questions followed.   Fruitful meeting of JRL with Mr Kjell Magne Bondevik,Ex Prime Minister

Choking point: India’s environmental crisis

It is January; a month that, in north India, once fell in the season of winter, but now is more synonymous with the depths of the region’s dreaded pollution season. This month, as in recent years, a brutal combination of diverse factors has continued to coalesce to produce dire air quality in its

Competing shades of saffron in Indian politics

The Indian city Ayodhya recently once again turned into a saffron fortress. The BJP seems set to fight the 2019 elections by rallying its factions and allies to assert the Hindutva agenda and further politicising Hindu-Muslim relations. More than 50,000 supporters of the Hindu Right,

How Australia should deepen ties with India

Ties between India and Australia have always been a little constrained – and unsurprisingly so, as traditionally there has been little to connect the two countries. For its part, Australia has for decades sought to have a better relationship with India, one that extends beyond shared democracy,

The India-Pakistan corridor of peace

The recent decision by the government of Pakistan and India to build a corridor from Indian Punjab to Kartarpur in Pakistan has raised hopes for the revival of a dialogue between the countries. The Kartarpur corridor will be built over a 4km stretch and will enable Sikh pilgrims from India to

Taking the air in north India

Could there be a silver lining to India’s choking air pollution? A recent report from the World Health Organisation showed India with 9 of the 10 worst cities in the world for atmospheric pollution. Even more breathtaking was the fact that New Delhi, most often in the news for its abysmal air

The growing attention on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

You don’t hear much about India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands aside from tourism or tribes. The islands, which make up one of India’s seven union territories, are a remote archipelago in the Bay of Bengal, about halfway between Thailand and India. They have traditionally been highly protected

Modi and Abe: judgement waits on India-Japan ties

India and Japan have forged a special strategic and global partnership over the years, and Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe have developed a personal and special relationship, propelling the relationship between the two nations to greater heights. Last month, Abe invited Modi to his

#Metoo catches up with Bollywood and India beyond

An awkward scene unfolded earlier this month in Lonavala, a hill town in the west of India. A group of men claiming to represent a regional political party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), entered a house where a reality television game show called “Bigg Boss” is filmed. They handed over a

India’s Arctic energy partnership with Russia

When people discuss Indo-Russian relations, they generally focus on Russia’s arms sales to India. However, India’s energy relations with Moscow also possess considerable and, arguably, growing significance. This was revealed at the latest bilateral summit this month during Vladimir Putin

Thawing tensions in the Himalaya

In the last few decades, state-making projects have transformed life in the Himalaya. Infrastructure development intended for troop deployment along disputed borders has, more recently, enabled large-scale transport and extraction projects and a tourist rush in this globally influential region

South Asia diplomacy hostage to a bitter legacy

The bitter legacy of the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 continues to be an impediment to normal relations between Pakistan and India. Proper and meaningful diplomacy between Bangladesh and Pakistan remains elusive nearly 50 years after the war of 1971. India and Bangladesh remain

Missing in action: India’s aircraft carriers

Long considered the crowning jewel of the fleet, India has continuously operated an aircraft carrier for well over half-a-century. Since 1961, when its first carrier entered service, India has gone to war with Portugal (1961), China (1962), and Pakistan (1965, 1971, and 1999). How is it then, that

India’s airlines take off and hit turbulence

Some years ago, I took a domestic flight in India on one of the many new airlines that had cropped up over the preceding decade. The flight was on time and smooth, the food was good, the flight attendants friendly, attentive and courteous, their designer uniforms gleaming. All was fine with the

India's game-changing health care initiative

It has been dubbed the world’s biggest experiment in universal health care. Last Sunday, India launched its A$2.2 billion universal health care plan that was promised in the budget earlier this year. It gives 100 million of its poorest people access to free health care to treat serious ailments

The other Rohingya crisis

As the world’s eyes are focused on the unfolding Rohingya refugee crisis Bangladesh, to the east in India another danger may be brewing for the Rohingya Muslim community. Over the past year since the latest wave of state-backed violence and displacement began in northern Myanmar, almost a

India’s navy: between carriers and patrol boats

Last month, the Indian Navy conducted the largest ever disaster relief and rescue operation under its Southern Naval Command, part of an effort to rescue thousands of people affected by the devastating floods that ravaged the coastal state of Kerala. Known as Operation Madad, the navy led a

China’s trans-Himalayan tango with Nepal

Crossing the China-Nepal border via Tibet and the Himalayas is as formidable as it has been for centuries. To drive from Tibet’s capital city Lhasa to the Gyirong checkpoint bordering Nepal’s Rasuwa takes at least 15 hours – if weather condition allows. That is why, during my meeting with

India-US: two plus two equals hopes and troubles

After talks had been delayed previously owing to domestic developments in the US, causing much disappointment in India, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis finally arrived in New Delhi last week for meetings with their counterparts in India – Foreign

Beleaguered Bangladesh and big neighbour trouble

A new threat from beyond its borders looms over Bangladesh. With as many as nearly a million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar having already taken shelter in the south-eastern part of the country, there is now bad news filtering in from the neighbouring Indian state of Assam. The state, recently

India: the north-south disparity

In India, a recently-released report ranking the states by their governance levels has once again highlighted the great disparities between north and south. The Public Affairs Index 2018, released last month by the Bengaluru-based think tank Public Affairs Centre, ranked states by how well

India: don’t blame WhatsApp for the lynch mobs

On 17 July, the Supreme Court of India was moved to condemn the recent spate of lynchings across the country as “horrendous acts of mobocracy … which cannot be allowed to become ‘the new normal’”. The justices had gone straight to the heart of the matter. The loss of so many innocent lives

Against female genital mutilation in India

Campaigners in India fighting against female genital mutilation prevalent among members of the Muslim Dawoodi Bohra community are growing more optimistic for a ban against the inhumane practice.  The long-term health effects of FGM include pain during menstruation and sexual intercourse

India: a “major power” still below its potential

India is ranked a “major power” in the Lowy Institute’s new Asia Power Index. The Index sifts through more than 100 indicators across eight different measures to create a unique ranking of the relative power of 25 Asian countries. And for New Delhi, the analysis by and large looks

The US shadow over India’s Iran policy

At a recent event in New Delhi, Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations, called Iran “the next North Korea” and urged India to rethink its relationship with the Islamic Republic. This was followed shortly afterwards by an American delegation, led by Assistant Secretary for Terrorist

A blueprint for India–Australia economic relations

Few people are as qualified as Peter Varghese to draw up a timely, sound, and realistic blueprint to build a dynamic yet sustainable economic partnership between India and Australia. Unlike the case with China, an expanded trade and investment relationship with India will enhance Australia’s

India’s demographic timebomb

In India, it’s all about the age of 25: that’s the median age of the entire country, and there are 600 million Indians, more than half the population, who are aged 25 or younger. Young people are everywhere you look: on the streets, in offices, in shops, on campuses, and bring with

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