Sunday, January 23, 2011

Reflections: Shadow of China

(A) Shadow of China: For India, the implications of this Sino-American detente are challenging for two reasons. First, it reinforces the notion that the key geopolitical axis runs through Washington, DC and Beijing. This bipolarity is not rigid, but it is solidifying as the main strategic centre of gravity, leaving India to emerge as a kind of meso-power that cannot disturb Sino-American parity. Thus, US-India relations might not experience significant changes, perhaps resulting in a sense of the drift that worried many Indians prior to Obama’s visit at the end of 2010. In addition, the payoffs from the Obama visit might seem less impressive from an Indian perspective going forward, than they appeared in the immediate aftermath.

Second, India might worry more about how the “new normal” in Sino-American relations affects Chinese calculations vis-avis India and Indian interests in Asia. With parity and core stability achieved with the United States, will China feel more confident and assertive on other issues because the United States might not be prepared to intervene seriously against China? What is emerging between China and the United States might generate negative externalities for India in terms of its relationship with China, specifically an increased Chinese sense that it does not have to acknowledge any kind of parity in how it deals with India. This outcome would have a ripple effect across Asia, perhaps encouraging countries to perceive India as a second-rate power in its own neighbourhood. Not helpful for a country that believes it deserves a permanent seat on the UN Security Council because of its global importance.

 The shadow of China is bound to become bigger with the new new normal. The US experience in the past suggests that it is likely to work further in that direction, even at the cost Indian interest in the Asian subcontinent. We should be prepared to see worse of China and as a side effect, emboldened Pakistan in future.

(B) Forestation of Deserts: The Sahara Forest Project, which aims to create green oases in desert areas, has signed a deal to build a pilot plant in Aqaba, near the Red Sea in Jordan. With funding from the Norwegian government, the team plans to begin building the pilot plant on a 200,000 square metre site in 2012. The earth has an abundance of sunlight, seawater, carbon dioxide and arid land that could be used for profitable and sustainable production of food, water and renewable energy, while combating the greenhouse effect through binding CO2 in new vegetation in arid areas.

(C) Mobile Number Portability: The much-awaited mobile number portability has finally become a reality, empowering consumers to change mobile operators conveniently while retaining the same number. Experts view it as a great step forward for the consumer, as it enhances the choice and brings in more competition and better services.

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