HEADLINES:
Indian Army successfully test fires Agni-II IRBM for the third time। Agni-II is nuclear capable। The firing on February 20 in full operational configuration। DAC clears proposals worth Rs 15,935 Cr (approx $2.2b) । The approval covers purchae of Rifles, Carbines and Light Machine Guns for the Army, Navy and Air Force । New weapons are required by the Indian Army’s for effective engagement of Pakistani infiltrations । Leading Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir passes away । Globally respected for her liberal views, she was a strong pro-democracy activist । SpaceX Launches the World’s Most Powerful Rocket, and aboard it, Mr Musk’s electric red sports Car । “It’s kind of silly and fun, but silly and fun things are important,” he said Feb 6। Mr Elon Musk owns both SpaceX, the world’s biggest space company, as well as Tesla cars। SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has ferried payload to Space Station but this time, rocket is turbocharged। For the first time, NASA was not involved in launching such a heavy rocket। Singapore Airshow Opens Feb 6 । Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Airbus, Sikorsky, and the global biggies are taking part । Honeywell Provides Fuel Made From Mustard Seeds For Trans-Pacific Flight । Russia views India as a Privileged Partner, says Rostec CEO Chemezov । US Carrier Carl Vinson to make first ever visit to Vietnam in March । Carl Vinson woll dock at Da Nang, apparently boosting bilateral military cooperation । Happy Republic Day to All Indians । Emirates signs agreement for up to 36 additional A380s । India successfully test fires 5000-Km A380s ICBM। Defexpo to be held April 11-15 in Tamil Nadu, India’s southern state। HAL receives RfP for 83 LCA Tejas from IAF। The new LCAs will have AESA combat Radar। IAF had announced the decision for new LCAs sometime back। INS Kalvari commissioned into Indian Navy December 14। Prime Minister Modi ceremonially inducted the Scorpene class boat in Mumbai। Built by state-run MDL with French collaboration, Kalvari is the first submarine inducted after 2000। Modi described the Kalvari as a fine example of Make in India। Five more Kalvari Class submarines are to be commissioned over the next couple of years।
February 25, 2018
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Raisina Dialogue: Marking the Changing Landscape

By P Venkat Rao Published: February 2018
 

New Delhi. The Raisina Dialogue is increasingly creating its own space in the world of international diplomacy as a forum for frank and unfettered exchange of ideas and contestations amid ever increasing challenges in the world in general and the Asian region in particular.

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The signature exercise initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi Government in collaboration with the Observer Research Foundation in the words of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has ‘’rapidly emerged as the premier conclave in India on international relations. Its broadening participation and expansive agenda is reflective of the growing interest with which India is engaged by other countries in the world.

Modelled on the lines of the Shangrila Dialogue organised every year in Singapore, this year’s Raisina Dialogue on the theme ‘’Managing Disruptive Transitions Ideas, Institutions and Idioms’’ was inaugurated on January 16 by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, a singular honour accorded to the dignitary who became the first Head of the Government ever from this West Asian country to visit India. He called for an Alliance of Democracies to face the “Challenge of Radical Islam” pointing out only democracies and pluralistic societies like India and Israel could help protect the international order.

India Politics

He described the Indian Prime Minister, who graciously conceded the centre stage to the visiting dignitary, a Friend of Israel.

Over 50 sessions, 150 speakers, over 550 delegates from 90 countries participated for three days, January 16-18, and among the galaxy were leaders including former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper, former PM of Sweden Carl Bildt, former United States Army General David Petraeus, strategic affairs experts, diplomats, top brass of the Indian Military.

There was significant presence of Australian Naval Chief Vice Admiral Tim Barret, Commander of the U S Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris Jr, and Japan Self Defence Chief of Staff Joint Staff Admiral Katsutosho Kawano, as well as the Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Sunil Lanba.

Raisina 2018

Ministerial delegations from many countries like Australia, Russia, Singapore, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Poland were there as were ministers include Australia’s Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne, Indonesia’s Minister for Defence Ryamizard Ryacudu, Bangladesh’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, Russia’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Igor Morgulov, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign affairs, Maliki Osman, Poland’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marek Magierowski, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Kazem Sajjadpour, Hungary’s Minister of State for Security Policy and International Cooperation, Istvan Mikola and Sri Lanka’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vasantha Senanayake.

ORF Chairman Sunjoy Joshi said the Raisina Dialogue was born in the belief that the Asian century that the world was talking about was not about any exclusive geographical region. It was rather about the engagement of global actors with Asia and of Asia with the world. So this dialogue took birth as a platform, where the old and the new could work together, to discover their connections, their inter-dependence. It has today become a crucible for conversations and ideas that while located in India can be owned by the world.

Changing landscape

While the Government was adequately represented, articulating the voice of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was its powerful general secretary Ram Madhav.

While taking part in a panel discussion on ‘Towards a new framework for a new free and open Indo-Pacific’ he said India wants to include commerce and trade in relations with other countries for the betterment of the region, and “not against any country…We don’t want it to be seen as a group against China.”

There was Chinese presence at the event, from the world of academia and think tanks.

Nonetheless, many other participants viewed activities of China, especially in the region and South China Sea, with suspicion and circumspection.

Naval Chiefs

That four naval Chiefs took part in the Dialogue underscored the threats being felt from an aggressive China, particularly over its creation and occupation of artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Perhaps the most vocal articulation on this came from the US Naval PaCom Commander Admiral Harry B Harris who described China as the disruptive force in the Indo-Pacific, suggesting all like-minded countries in the region to unite to ensure peace and stability in the region.

Participating in the panel discussion on ‘Unchartered waters: In search for Order in the Indo-Pacific’ he said the Indo-Pacific community needed to take tough decisions to keep the region safe and open. Interestingly, in response to a from a Chinese participant, Admiral Harris observed that he had no issues in engaging China if it was also interested in keeping the region peaceful, safe and open.

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Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said the region was facing a deficiency of trust and fear of insecurity and hence there was need for developing trust among the countries of the region as well as transparent inter-operability. Since 2008, he said a change in the deployment of PLA Navy was noticed but clarified that there was no evidence so far of military purposes in it.

Stating it was difficult to alter China’s aggressive policy, Japan’s Admiral Kawano said Beijing could be isolated soon if it violated international rules in East China Sea and South China

Australian Navy Chief Vice Admiral Timothy William Barrett said there needs to be a meaningful outcome from discussions among like-minded nations to take on China.

Emphasising trust deficiency, Indonesia’s strategic expert, Dino Patti Djalal, lamented poverty of ideas on how to work together to ensure peace and stability in the region, and felt there was a need for a new leadership.

Afghanistan

The situation in Afghanistan continues to engage the strategic community across the globe and the people of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. With the US deciding on a phased military withdrawal and the terror activities continuing unabated, the situation in this terror-infested country remains a matter of concern.

Taking part in a discussion, former President Hamid Karzai hoped US President Donald Trump would “walk the talk” on his position on Pakistan’s support to the terrorists.

Sharing the stage with Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh, who served as the Army Chief of India, Mr Karzai was referring to President Trump’s message on Twitter on New Year Day warning Pakistan to stop supporting terrorists or else the US would stop military aid to Islamabad.

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Russian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Igor Morgulov who was on the panel with Mr Karzai, ruled out a military solution to the Afghan problem, underscoring that talks with all the stake holders was the only way out.

Moscow is working in tandem with Beijing to find a solution and Morgulov said Russia is trying its best to find a solution to the problem with the help of Government of President Ashraf Ghani.

The Russian Minister said his country is seeking to rope in everyone in the talks – the neighbours, stake holders and even the US, regretting that Washington had not shown willingness to participate in this Russia initiative.

Summing up the Raisina Dialoge mean

It was est put in the words of a Brazilian Professor Dawisson Belem Lopes, who was among the Young Raisina Fellows. He said: When participants from approximately 90 countries are commissioned to think about the situation of the Indo-Pacific region, the emergence of a Bay of Bengal community, Digital money and connectivity, or A new ethos for the world to come, it means that India is tentatively drawing the contours of a new self-referenced narrative on geopolitics and geoeconomics.

Having just concluded its third edition, the Raisina Dialogue already shines as a mandatory stop for world leaders and thinkers.

May that impetus last!

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