EU summit to reboot India’s world outlook

India-EU virtual summit will take place on July 15, 2020 under the shadows of the cataclysmic Covid-19 pandemic. One of the enduring urban legends in modern times is the quip attributed to Henry Kissinger, ‘Who do I call if I want to call Europe?’ Kissinger disowned it subsequently, but the myth lingers on. Europe is … Continue reading “EU summit to reboot India’s world outlook”

India shouldn’t align with Five Eyes

The Five Eyes has been in the vanguard of Hong Kong protests Against the backdrop of border tensions in Ladakh, the Indian media narratives have ascribed to our foreign-policy lurch toward the Quad and the overall tilt to the US, the breakdown of mutual trust in India-China relations. Chinese statements have repeatedly expressed regret that … Continue reading “India shouldn’t align with Five Eyes”

Russia, China keep the ‘dragon in the fog’

Hong Kong is still active as the spy hub of the East Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a phone conversation today with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that Beijing will “continue to work” with Moscow in “firmly supporting” each other’s efforts “rejecting external sabotage and intervention” so as to “preserve their respective sovereignty, security … Continue reading “Russia, China keep the ‘dragon in the fog’”

US lobbyists set the Indian narrative on China border

Special Representatives of India and China on border dispute A.K.Doval (L) and Wang Yi (R) reached a ‘positive consensus’ over de-escalation and disengagement in Eastern Ladakh, July 5, 2020   The civilian-military relationship is a complex matrix. In ‘wartime’, this is more so when civilian leaders who never held a killer’s weapon in their palms … Continue reading “US lobbyists set the Indian narrative on China border”

Don’t beat the bushes for China, there’s nothing out there

Chinese and Pakistani border guards at the Khunjerab Pass in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region bordering China.  The border tensions between India and China are accentuating a malaise among Indian analysts — their tunnel vision.  Every word that slips out of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s garrulous mouth is seen nowadays as ringing affirmation of the … Continue reading “Don’t beat the bushes for China, there’s nothing out there”

Modi terminates his Weibo diplomacy

The common perception among Indian analysts, widely articulated in our media, is that the government’s options to ‘hit back’ at China for whatever has happened in eastern Ladakh during the past two months are very limited. The reported erasure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘official page’ on the Chinese social media website Weibo can only … Continue reading “Modi terminates his Weibo diplomacy”

Russian bounty killing forces Trump’s hands on troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

Pakistan army chief Gen. Qamar Bajwa (L) met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (R) in Kabul, June 9, 2020 As expected, the controversy over Russia’s alleged bounties for killing American and NATO troops in Afghanistan is steadily snowballing. The New York Times has come out with more leaks such as bank transfers from accounts identified with … Continue reading “Russian bounty killing forces Trump’s hands on troop withdrawal from Afghanistan”

Modi raises the nation’s comfort level

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced free ration for 800 million Indians for the coming 5-month period  “to empower the poor, downtrodden and deprived sections of society”, New Delhi, June 30, 2020 Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation today evening has been a remarkable event from several perspectives. For a start, he dedicated his … Continue reading “Modi raises the nation’s comfort level”

Spies return to reset US-Russia ties

FILE PHOTO: US troops patrol in Logar province, Afghanistan. The sensational disclosure by the New York Times on June 26 that Russia’s military intelligence agency paid bounties to Afghan militants to kill American and NATO troops in Afghanistan, opens a can of worms.  It pollutes the air of US-Russian relations with a powerful stench. The … Continue reading “Spies return to reset US-Russia ties”

US-China trade deal unravels. What next?

US-China standoff hots up as White House compares Chinese President Xi Jinping with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin  The world community can heave a sigh of relief that there isn’t going to be a new cold war between the United States and China. A Cold War needs two blocs: while Washington is unable to cobble together a … Continue reading “US-China trade deal unravels. What next?”

China warns Trump not to risk trade deal

The guided-missile destroyer USS Barry operates with the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the Philippine Sea on May 30, 2020. If there is one template on which the Carnegie Endowment of Peace for International Peace, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post can agree with China’s Xinhua news agency and the CGTN in the present-day … Continue reading “China warns Trump not to risk trade deal”

Stars and stripes rise over Vistula River

US President Donald Trump (R) & Polish President Andrzej Duda (L) at a press conference, White House, Washington, June 24, 2020 The visit by Polish President Andrzej Duda to the White House on June 24 marks an important milestone in the United States’ transatlantic strategies. It comes at a time when a growing number of … Continue reading “Stars and stripes rise over Vistula River”

Japan-US alliance gets less intimate

Land-based missile defense system, Aegis Ashore, at the US Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. File photo. Regional security in Northeast Asia underwent a jolt on Thursday with the announcement in Tokyo by Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono that Japan would cancel the purchase of a multi-billion dollar ballistic missile defense system made … Continue reading “Japan-US alliance gets less intimate”

India awakens to hidden charms of RIC

Vladimir Putin (L), Narendra Modi (C) and Xi Jinping (R) met at an informal trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20, Osaka, June 18, 2019 There is a curious hype among Indian analysts over the Russia-India-China videoconference of foreign ministers taking place today. Even the compulsive detractors of processes such as RCI, BRICS and SCO … Continue reading “India awakens to hidden charms of RIC”

Modi only can reach a border settlement with China

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) & Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) at informal summit, Mamallapuram, India, October 12, 2019 The controversy over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks at the All-Party Conference in New Delhi on June 18 regarding the border clashes with China will have limited shelf life only.  All this brouhaha becomes quintessentially an … Continue reading “Modi only can reach a border settlement with China”

1962 India-China war redeux?

Indian & Chinese patrols challenge each other, typically, in Ladakh. File photo The Indian analysts have been comparing the military build-up in the India-China border in eastern Ladakh to the Doklam standoff in 2017. This was only to be expected since the leitmotif was once again a road construction in disputed border regions.  In Doklam, … Continue reading “1962 India-China war redeux?”

Have Gun, Will Travel in Afghanistan

US war crime allegations cast shadow over Afghanistan’s future Britain has joined France and Germany to break with the United States over President Trump’s Executive Order on June 11 authorising economic sanctions against International Criminal Court [ICC] officials directly engaged in investigation over possible war crimes committed by American troops and intelligence personnel during the … Continue reading “Have Gun, Will Travel in Afghanistan”

EU, China draw closer in post-pandemic setting

China’s ‘New Silk Road’ freight train to Europe. (File photo) The 10th annual Strategic Dialogue between the European Union and China on June 9 can be regarded as marking the resumption of structured big-power diplomacy in the post-Covid-19 setting. It was both a symbolic and substantive event, preparing the ground for the forthcoming EU-Summit.  At … Continue reading “EU, China draw closer in post-pandemic setting”

Turkey hangs tough on Libya

The series of debilitating military setbacks that Libya’s renegade general Khalifa Haftar suffered in the recent weeks have spurred diplomatic activities over the conflict in the country. But the war is far from over. Haftar’s dream of capturing Tripoli  from the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has been … Continue reading “Turkey hangs tough on Libya”

Standoff in Ladakh needs political solution

Lone Indian soldier guarding northern border with China. File photo   The good thing about the nihilistic Indian media narratives — relentlessly negative — over the military standoff in eastern Ladakh is that the government largely disregarded them. Hopefully, a de-escalation of tensions is on cards.  Nihilists and cynics are best shunned. Especially when they also … Continue reading “Standoff in Ladakh needs political solution”

New Zealand beats coronavirus. Lessons for India

No limit on crowd sizes for Super Rugby Aotearoa as New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern declares country ‘virus free’ on June 8, 2020  It is seventeen long days since a Covid-19 case has been reported in New Zealand. Announcing this in Wellington today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand has halted the spread of … Continue reading “New Zealand beats coronavirus. Lessons for India”

‘German question’ back on centerstage

Working sessions of US-Russia summit at Camp David on the deck, outdoors –from top left, Secretary of State James Baker, President George HW Bush (3rd & 4th from left), Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze,  President Mikhail Gorbachev (1st & 2nd from right), June 2, 1990. The high noon of the illustrious career of Ambala-born Lord Ismay who … Continue reading “‘German question’ back on centerstage”

G7 walks towards a long sunset

President Trump vs. the West: Iconic picture out of the G7 summit, Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, Quebec, Canada, June 8-9, 2018. The US President Donald Trump will be completing his first term with foreign-policy legacies, which, even detractors must grudgingly admit, are game-changing for world politics. Debris of monumental proportions surrounds him — Paris Accord on … Continue reading “G7 walks towards a long sunset”

India’s reality shows on world stage are wearing thin

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison (L) held a virtual summit today, June 4, 2020 (File photo) In a trove of declassified CIA documents some years ago, there was a list of Soviet jokes from the 1980s offering the glimpse of a secret American weapon to debunk and demoralise the US’ … Continue reading “India’s reality shows on world stage are wearing thin”

Trump’s China policy at a cul-de-sac

US President Donald Trump (R) and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (L) after signing the US-China trade deal, Washington, Jan. 15, 2020   This past week has been a catastrophic seven days that shook America. Some of the debris may have inevitably fallen on President Donald Trump too. Most important, the Trump administration has lost … Continue reading “Trump’s China policy at a cul-de-sac”

NATO returns to Libya to challenge Russia

Libyan conflict set to intensify as NATO plans to intervene.  The great game in Libya has begun surging with the United States shedding its strategic ambivalence and resorting to a proactive role. Earlier this week, the Pentagon marked a dramatic escalation by accusing Moscow of bolstering Kremlin-linked mercenaries who are allegedly helping Khalifa Haftar, the … Continue reading “NATO returns to Libya to challenge Russia”

Covid-19 impacts global alignments

Russia-China partnership challenges US global hegemony The sluice gates have opened, as it were, on world politics after the ‘timeout’ through the past 2-3 months due to Covid-19. The spectacle of America’s epic war with Covid-19 under President Donald Trump’s watch creates a range of emotions in the world community — ranging from sympathy and … Continue reading “Covid-19 impacts global alignments”

Iran surges in Venezuela in defiance of US sanctions

Iranian oil tanker Clavel crossing the Gibraltar stretch heading for Venezuela, May 20, 2020 Escorted by the Venezuelan navy and air force, an Iranian oil tanker named Fortune has entered that country’s waters on Sunday, amidst intense speculation whether the US would interfere with the delivery. The US has imposed oil sanctions against Venezuela and … Continue reading “Iran surges in Venezuela in defiance of US sanctions”

Lal Salam, Comrade Pinarayi. Happy Birthday!

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) in greetings to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan (R) on his 75th birthday said ‘may the chief minister be blessed with good health and long life’. May 24, 2020  The huge outpouring of greetings from all over the country to Pinarayi Vijayan on his 75th birthday, especially from Prime Minister Narendra … Continue reading “Lal Salam, Comrade Pinarayi. Happy Birthday!”

Russia, China won’t accept US nuclear superiority

An American OC-135B takes off at Kubinka air base in Russia to conduct aerial surveillance of Russian military assets under the Open Skies Treaty. Geopolitics has returned with a bang although Covid-19 is still very much around and a ‘second wave’ is also expected. The US President Donald Trump’s arms control negotiator, Special Presidential Envoy … Continue reading “Russia, China won’t accept US nuclear superiority”

India and the politics of Covid pandemic

World Health Assembly, decision-making body of WHO, meets in Geneva every May. This year’s is a virtual meeting. File photo The World Health Assembly’s virtual meeting on May 18-19 has brought into focus the politics of the Covid-19 pandemic in the international arena. The WHA is the decision-making body of the 194-member World Health Organisation (WHO).  … Continue reading “India and the politics of Covid pandemic”

Remains of the day as India exits lockdown

Excavator clearing bags of cement scattered on a road after the truck accident killing 26 migrant workers in the wake of India’s lockdown, Auraiya, Uttar Pradesh, May 16, 2020   The national directives for Covid-19 by the Union Home Ministry that come into force across India on May 18 mark a defining moment. The country has … Continue reading “Remains of the day as India exits lockdown”

Russia makes a botch of its Syrian alliance

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad (L) at a meeting with visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin (R), Damascus, January 7, 2020 Russia’s relationships with its client states have never been easy. Of course, managing client states is always a complicated exercise. The Kremlin’s cupboard is full of skeletons — Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968), Cuba (1962), Afghanistan (1980), Ukraine … Continue reading “Russia makes a botch of its Syrian alliance”

Now General Bipin Rawat speaks up?

General Bipin Rawat took charge as India’s Chief of Defence Staff, New Delhi,  January 1, 2020 Through the past three years and more at the pinnacle of the Indian armed forces, General Bipit Rawat acquired a reputation as an outspoken general causing firestorms of controversy every now and then. The controversies erupted largely due to … Continue reading “Now General Bipin Rawat speaks up?”

US leverages Delhi-Kabul nexus. But what’s in it for India?

India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval (L) and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar (C) met the US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad (R), Delhi, May 7, 2020 The two-hour stopover in Delhi on May 7 by the US special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, accompanied by the White House official in charge of … Continue reading “US leverages Delhi-Kabul nexus. But what’s in it for India?”

US lowers threat perception on Iran

The drawdown of US military presence in the Middle East, especially from Saudi Arabia, may not be an automatic open sesame — to borrow the magical phrase in the story of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”— leading to the hidden treasure of regional peace and stability, but it does open up a tantalising vista … Continue reading “US lowers threat perception on Iran”

Pompeo and the capricious virus

Sanitising the shrine of Hazrat Masoumeh against the coronavirus in the holy city of Qom, Iran, February 25, 2020. File photo Iran has delivered a devastating blow to the ego of the Trump administration, puncturing it beyond repair, by its announcement Sunday that mosques will start reopening in low-risk areas of the country from May … Continue reading “Pompeo and the capricious virus”

Trump’s vacillation on China is well-grounded

China cast the five-day Labour Day holidays as opportunity to ease pent-up travel demand within the country, May 1, 2020   The US President Donald Trump has tied himself and onlookers in knots by his alternating encomiums and diatribes against China over Covid-19 in the recent weeks. Only he can cut the Gordian knot and … Continue reading “Trump’s vacillation on China is well-grounded”

Russia-China entente deepens in the shadow of the pandemic

Richard Lugar Public Health Centre in Georgia, which Russia alleges to be a Pentagon laboratory for biological weapon development. Beijing has called on the US to respond to Russian concerns.   The Russian-Chinese entente emerged as one of the most significant templates of international politics in the recent period since the hugely consequential developments in Ukraine … Continue reading “Russia-China entente deepens in the shadow of the pandemic”

There is no exit from coronavirus, only containment

France bringing an end to lockdown on May 11 but it will not mean instant return to normal life. A woman, wearing a protective face mask, walks past Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral, Paris, France, April 27, 2020. From this point, the buck stops with the Modi government, as the country trudges along the Covid highway. The … Continue reading “There is no exit from coronavirus, only containment”

US return to JCPOA can end impasse over Iran

In business transactions and international diplomacy alike, there could be constant variables and dependent variables. Constant variable is where the value cannot be changed once it has been assigned a value. But it becomes a dependent variable if it is susceptible or open to the effect of an associated factor or phenomenon. Then, there is … Continue reading “US return to JCPOA can end impasse over Iran”

Trump and Putin revisit the “Spirit of the Elbe”

Soviet officers and American soldiers meet up at the Elbe River near Torgau, Germany, 25th April, 1045   Unusual for a Saturday evening, the White House and the Kremlin upgraded their websites simultaneously to feature a joint statement by the two presidents on “Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Meeting on the Elbe” (here and … Continue reading “Trump and Putin revisit the “Spirit of the Elbe””

Trump’s threat to Iran has a hollow ring. It betrays angst.

Afghan President Asraf Ghani (C) received Iran’s special envoy Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian at the presidential palace, Kabul, April 20, 2020 A tweet by the US President Donald Trump on April 22 said, “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at … Continue reading “Trump’s threat to Iran has a hollow ring. It betrays angst.”

Covid-19 has a grandma, grandpa and great grandpa. Where are they?

The 76-day Covid-19 shutdown in Wuhan, China, was lifted on April 7, 2020. The search for the genesis of Covid-19 is developing into an epic story. Thanks to the insinuations by the US President Donald Trump — ‘China virus’, ‘Wuhan virus’, etc. — that were explosive in their political and strategic content, Beijing is now … Continue reading “Covid-19 has a grandma, grandpa and great grandpa. Where are they?”

Kerala’s Covid story is hard to replicate

The Times of India featured a tantalising commentary last week titled Kerala shows the way: Decades of investment in public health is helping the state control Covid-19. The title is self-explanatory. The commentary showered fulsome praise, rightly so, on Kerala’s success in controlling the Coronavirus Outbreak. It attributed Kerala’s success story to three factors: the … Continue reading “Kerala’s Covid story is hard to replicate”

Europe eases Covid-19 lockdown but caveats remain

European Union unveiled a road map to phase out Covid-19 pandemic containment measures, Brussels, April 15, 2020 A European Union road map plotting the way out of the containment measures to counter Covid-19 — commonly known as ‘lockdown’ — was unveiled in Brussels on Wednesday. The document titled Joint European Roadmap towards lifting COVID-19 containment measures holds … Continue reading “Europe eases Covid-19 lockdown but caveats remain”

Biden invites the left into his coalition to take on Trump

Senator Bernie Sanders (R) endorsed the candidacy of Joe Biden (L) in the US presidential election in November For all practical purposes, Joe Biden has emerged as the Democratic Party’s nominee in the US presidential election in November. There was an inevitability about it once Bernie Sanders sensed that despite his impressive network of volunteers … Continue reading “Biden invites the left into his coalition to take on Trump”

Why the OPEC+ deal is a many-splendoured thing

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech proposing a summit in September of the “founder countries of the United Nations, the five states that hold special responsibility to save civilisation,” Jerusalem, Israel, January 23, 2020 A perfect deal is where all protagonists get something out of it. All oil-producing countries stand to gain if oil … Continue reading “Why the OPEC+ deal is a many-splendoured thing”

Flawed coronavirus battle plan lands Sweden in big trouble. India’s blend of risk aversion and practicality is the right approach.

No social distancing in Stockholm: Sweden has taken a “flexible” approach, but Prime Minister Stefan Löfven regrets that wasn’t good enough. It might have sounded exciting two days ago to propose the Swedish pathway as the ideal route for India to pursue to combat the coronavirus . But no longer so.  When it comes to … Continue reading “Flawed coronavirus battle plan lands Sweden in big trouble. India’s blend of risk aversion and practicality is the right approach.”

Covid-19 confronts American exceptionalism

The coronavirus-struck USS Theodore Roosevelt nuclear aircraft carrier went into ‘self-isolation’ in Guam base after disembarking 5000 sailors on board. File photo.  The greatness of the classical Greek tragedies lies in their humanising effect on the spectator or reader — “catharsis”, the purification or purgation of emotions, a metaphor first used by Aristotle in the … Continue reading “Covid-19 confronts American exceptionalism”