Strategic Forecast

The New Symphony: Emerging Indo-US Security Entente

NIAS Strategic Forecast No. 8 | Author: Vijay Shankar | July 2016

NSF 8Change, more often than not, is driven by circumstances rather than scholastic deliberation. As President Obama once put it, perhaps as an unintended barb to the legions of geo-political seers that stalk Massachusetts Avenue, Washington DC, “Change doesn’t come from Washington but comes to Washington.” So it was with Prime Minister Modi’s three-day state visit to the USA (6th June to 8th June 2016).

Not only did the visit lay the foundation to several strategic goals mutual to both sides, but was also punctuated by symbolism that provides a basis for the future. When Modi suggested stepping out of the “shadows of hesitations of the past” he could not have stated in more unequivocal terms that India’s strategic orientation was now one that not only respected the status quo, but also would contribute towards ensuring that attempts to upset it would not go unchallenged. At the same time laying a floral wreath at Arlington Cemetery to the Tomb of the Unknowns (a first for an Indian PM), on the face of it, was a tribute to that one unquestioning instrument of state power who historically has laid down his all for a national cause. Underlying the salute was recognition of the role played by the military in binding and stabilizing an uncertain security milieu.

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Global Transformations: Four Tectonic Shifts

NIAS Strategic Forecast No. 7 | Author: Vijay Shankar | April 2016

NSF 7To get a deeper sense of the transformations that are occurring in contemporary global affairs one notes four tectonic shifts. First, the diminishing sheen in what was the dazzling two and a half decades of double digit growth which provided global impetus to economic activity and military sway of China; as it shrinks the danger it faces is a bellicose and fractious populace that may not any longer suffer an authoritarian dispensation without the enticement of unparalleled growth.

Therefore, for China and its politburo, garnering resources and control over the instruments of growth becomes an imperative. This may, to some extent explain the urge to securing resources and its flow. Second, the fall and rise of Russia from a one time super power to that of ‘verge’ status attempting to salvage a little of its past with neither the economic clout nor the ideological resolve.

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China and the Arctic: Evolving Geopolitics

NIAS Strategic Forecast No. 6 | Author: Teshu Singh | April 2016

NSF 6There is growing need of oil and mineral resources in the mainland. The Arctic can cater to China’s future needs. In June 2014, a strategic assessment prepared by Defence Policy Research Centre of the of Academy of military science of PLA pointed, the Arctic as a key source of oil and gas as well as means of transport fossil fuels and other goods, even going as far to suggest that the region could be a ‘new Middle East and provide a new lifeline for China. Notably, access to the resources is crucial to China’s future economic, political and military expansion as a global power. It is already engaged in five year assessment 2011-2016 of the polar resources and governance that will help to formulate a better policy towards the region.

At the bilateral level, China is engaging in proactive diplomacy with the Arctic states; Iceland, Greenland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Also it is trying to avoid any conflict states such as Russia, Canada and the US that are closely associated with the region. China has also started developing bilateral relations with Arctic states. Interestingly, in 2013 India was also granted the ‘Observer Status’ along with China. Since 2008, India already has a research station called Himadri and is looking forward to induct a Polar Research Vessel (ice-breaker, research cum supply vessel).Indian interests are not as assertive as the Chinese wherein they have declared themselves as ‘near arctic state. Nonetheless, recently India is trying to expand its diplomatic relation with the littoral countries of the region.

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Myanmar 2016: What next for the NLD?

NIAS Strategic Forecast No. 5 | Author: M. Mayilvaganan | March 2016

NSF 5Myanmar has witnessed significant political and socioeconomic changes during the last five years. Civilian leaders have emerged in a military dominated polity where policy decisions are made through the Parliament. With a GDP growth rate of 7.7 percent and an estimated $74 billion in 2015, Myanmar is one of the rising economies today compared to being a least developed country few years ago. The daily life of the average citizen in Myanmar is better, aided by increasing investment, employment opportunities and new found personal freedom.

While there is widespread recognition within and internationally that the military (Tatmadaw) is the main driver of the current transition, yet there are big questions: Will the military permit triumphant National League for Democracy (NLD) to govern the country peacefully? Will the meaningful changes initiated in 2011 continue? Will Myanmar under NLD move towards a more inclusive and stable development progress? Will peace be finally achieved between the centre — Bamar dominated government — and the periphery— ethnic minorities, which control parts of the states in the border areas? Will NLD succeed in addressing the thorny issue of the religious minority Rohingyas? How will the relations between Myanmar and China develop under NLD regime?

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Will Pakistan Integrate Gilgit Baltistan? And What If?

NIAS Strategic Forecast No. 4 | Author: D. Suba Chandran | February 26, 2016

Suba NSF 4Pakistan government has recently constituted a committee to “upgrade the status” of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) either into a “constitutional province” or a “provisional province” of Pakistan. This perhaps is the second major step by Islamabad in the recent years, after creating the current Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly through a Presidential Order by Asif Ali Zardari in 2009.

What is the contemporary need for Pakistan to change the status of GB? Is it responding to internal demands from GB, or external pressure from China? Or is there a slow burn in the recent years, in terms of fully integrating GB, but through an administrative salami slicing? What is likely to become of the GB status?

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India and East Asia: Will Science and Technology bring them closer?

NIAS Strategic Forecast No. 3 | Author: Sandip Kumar Mishra | February 23, 2016

NSF3 Sandip MishraIndia has been getting increasingly connected to the East Asia in recent years. It began with the adaptation of Look East Policy by India in the early 1990s, which has both broadened as well as deepened with its new version of ‘Act East’. A vibrant India, with a confident agenda for domestic economic growth and development along with vision for a stable regional architecture, has been reckoned positively by the countries of the region. These countries are thus looking forward eagerly to connect India also with their own plans and vision for the future.

India is now seen as land opportunities because of its liberal pluralistic values, democratic political order, open market economy, big market, and huge source of natural and human resources. The economic and military capacities of India is based on its spectacular performance in the field of science and technology and thus Japan, South Korea and even China have been looking forward to forge cooperative partnership with India for the future.

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India and the Middle East Crises

NIAS Strategic Forecast No. 2 | Author: Ranjit Gupta | February 17, 2016

NSF2The current situation in West Asia should be a matter of very deep concern for India because the policies of the GCC countries and Iran have enormous potential for impacting positively or negatively on India’s future well-being and security. India’s relations with GCC countries are today India’s best external relationship globally. Over the last four decades the GCC countries have become India’s preeminent oil and gas supplier, leading trade partner, 8,000,000 Indians live and work there and send annual remittances of $40 billion back home. The largest numbers of Indian passport holders abroad are in Saudi Arabia, a little over three million, and in the UAE, a little under three million, more than Pakistanis in both countries despite these two countries having a long standing particularly special relationship with Pakistan.

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Indian Ocean 2016: Major Trends

NIAS Strategic Forecast No. 1 | Author: Vijay Sakhuja | February 8, 2016

NIAS Strategic Forecast_No_1 SakhujaIn the Indian Ocean, the regional navies are in the vanguard to keep oceans and seas free from threats and challenges posed by violent non-state actors. Concurrently, they are training for war fighting, an important rai-son d’être of the force. Interesting, the regional and extra regional navies are cooperating to respond to asym-metric threats and challenges such as piracy and terrorism. Further, several Indian Ocean countries have given primacy to modernization of navies notwithstanding varying national economic conditions and priorities. The navies are also transforming their operational doctrines to meet the 21st century challenges and are building sufficient naval power to uphold national sovereignty through anti-access capabilities as also protect national maritime interests. Give the above milieu, four trends are discernible in the Indian Ocean.

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