India’s relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran over the last few years have been marked by various hurdles. These pertained to the unresolved payment imbroglio for the import of Iranian crude oil; inability to streamline trade between the two countries and various other issues. These limitations have cropped up ever since the United States imposed economic sanctions on Iran for its controversial nuclear programme. The sanctions have led to negative impacts on India’s overall bilateral relations with Iran.
With fears of confrontation between the supporters of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and former President and human right activist Mohamed Nasheed sparking a wave of unrest in this littoral nation, Maldives has yet again attracted world attention, albeit for the wrong reasons.
A quick peep into the past
To better understand the current happenings in this island nation, it’s pertinent to take a quick peep into the major events over the last two years.
The hype over the nuclear deal has obscured the main achievement of the Obama visit: this is in the Joint Strategic Vision Statement for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region, to give the full name of the separate document issued by the two leaders. This is not to gainsay the importance of civil nuclear cooperation, or the understandings reached on defence and economic cooperation.
A ceasefire deal to end the fighting in Eastern Ukraine was reached in Minsk after a marathon session of negotiations running into almost seventeen hours amongst the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France. This seeks to end a year of bitter fighting that has seen many thousands killed and millions uprooted from their homes. The main points of the peace agreement are:
- Ceasefire to begin at 00.00am local time on 15 February
- Heavy weapons to be withdrawn in a two week period starting from 17 February
- Amnesty for prisoners involved in fighting
India needs to proceed with utmost caution on its civil nuclear deal with the United States.
The pathbreaking agreement, dramatically ‘operationalised’ in a 25 January meeting with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi by U.S. President Barack Obama during his three-day state visit to India, has raised high expectations in both countries and elevated their partnership to a new dimension. However, the advancements made by India in the atomic energy sector compel the question whether the country needs to be buttonholed into such an arrangement.
India has been one of the largest beneficiaries of World Bank assisted schemes in the last few decades and due to this, several health and educational schemes were implemented. But in the life of every society and country, there comes a time to say that we can stand on our own feet particularly if the country has ambitions to become an important power. Since India cannot be both a supplicant and also a candidate for the high table of global powers, it is perhaps time to say good-bye to World Bank assistance by India.
The monsoon period has traditionally been a time of relative quietude in rebellious activities of the Maoists. But this year, even before as well as after the nature’s rain lashing, there has been a noticeable dip in the number of major anti-state incidents perpetrated by them. Indeed, in the Maoist dominated regions, there are visible signs of the Government’s efforts to control the insurgency fructifying to encouraging results, tentatively at least.
Apart from all the other seminal outcomes of the visit of the US President Barack Obama to New Delhi, the complete absence of any reference to Pakistan is quite remarkable. Although Pakistan was never really mentioned by name in any of the previous declarations and joint statements between India and US, it was always an issue that rankled with India and invariably became a cause for grouse with the Americans. But now both countries seem to have transcended this issue in taking their bilateral relationship to a new level.
India’s relations with the US in the last decade have undergone a transformation. Ever since our independence, our relationship with the US has been marked by suspicion, lack of empathy and differences in world view. In recent years, many in India have viewed with cynicism US using the excuse of its “values” to justify its interventionist and regime change policies marked by, what is more, glaring double standards. We have been chary of excessive engagement with the US lest it acquires too many leverages over our policies.