Talking Points on Foreign Policy
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Prime Minister Modi has imparted remarkable dynamism and energy to India’s foreign policy in the past eight years. He has visited a large number of countries, interacted with global leaders multiple times and infused new ideas in Indian foreign policy. Backed by active diplomacy, foreign policy has been instrumental in raising India’s global profile. The foreign policy has been used as an instrument for meeting India’s domestic priorities like Make-in-India and Atamnirbhar Bharat. India has emerged as ‘First Responder’ in the region in the times of natural crises. The motto of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam’- world is a family - has sought to project India’s rise as a “force for global good.” ‘Act Far East’ and ‘Security and Growth for All’ (SAGAR) and ‘Neighbourhood First’ have redefined India’s engagement with India’s immediate as well as strategic neighbourhood. There are signs of fundamental shift in India’s security policy as reflected in India’s growing defence and security engagement with major countries.

The Vivekananda International Foundation has been tracking India’s national security and foreign policy closely. The enclosed “Talking Points” outline India’s position in brief on various issues. They capture the main trends in India’s foreign policy.

The Talking Points have been researched and written by the VIF’s scholars and cover bilateral relations as well as thematic issues like climate change, environment, new education policy, Atamnirbhar Bharat, technology and others. They also cover important international issues such as AUKUS, the Quad, maritime security, cybersecurity, terrorism etc. It is hoped that the present compilation of the ‘Talking Points’ will be useful for students, researchers as well as those who are interested in India’s foreign policy.

Dr Arvind Gupta
Director, VIF


Part 1: India’s Immediate Neighbourhood
  1. India-China Relations
  2. India-Pakistan Relations
  3. India-Bangladesh Relations
  4. India-Nepal Relations
  5. India-Bhutan Relations
  6. India-Sri Lanka Relations
  7. IIndia-Maldives Relations
  8. India-Myanmar Relations
Part 2: India’s Larger Neighbourhood
  1. India-West Asia Relations
  2. India-Central Asia Relations
  3. India-Africa Relations
  4. India-Afghanistan Relations
  5. India-Australia Relations
  6. India-Japan Relations
Part 3: Maritime Issues
  1. Maritime Security
  2. Indo-Pacific and Quad
Part 4: Security Issues
  1. Counter-Terrorism Cooperation
  2. Insurgency in North East
  3. Rohingya Crises
  4. Cybersecurity Cooperation
  5. Terrorism, CAA and Article 370
  6. India-France Relations
  7. AUKUS
Part 5: International Cooperation
  1. India and Multilateralism
  3. Vaccine Maitri
  4. Climate Change
  5. International Solar Alliance
  6. India’s Cultural Narrative on Environment
Part 6: Domestic Initiatives
  1. Renewable Energy
  2. New Education Policy
  3. Aatmanirbhar Bharat Programme
  4. PLI Scheme
  5. Technology

India-China Relations

History of the Bilateral Relations

Written records of contacts between India and China date back to at least 2nd century B.C. Such contacts at the level of people through commerce got a fillip with the advent of Buddhism from India into China in the first century A.D. under imperial patronage. Kumarajiva, a great Indian scholar in Vedas as well as Buddhist Sutras, spent about 23 years in China in 4th century AD both as a prisoner and as a most revered scholar. He was instrumental in translating Buddhist sutras into Chinese language during his stay in China over 2,000 years ago Kumarajiva was the first among the numerous scholars who laid a firm foundation for civilisational links between the two countries. He was born in an Indian Kashmiri Brahmin family – son of a Kashmiri father and a Central Asian mother from a princely family in Kucha. During the fourth century Kuchā was a major Central Asian Buddhist centre with close trade and cultural contact with India. It lay along the trade route connecting India with China. Many of the monks who introduced Buddhist teachings into China from the 3rd to the 7th century CE were from Kucha. (It is currently located in Aksu Prefecture in Xinjiang. His translations of Sanskrit sutras into Chinese are valued even today.

A Chinese monk, Fa Xian (Fa-Hsien, AD 399-414), visited India in AD 402, stayed for 10 years, and after his return translated many Sanskrit, Buddhist texts into Chinese. His record of journeys Fo Guo Ji (Record of Buddhist Kingdoms) is an important historical source. His translations of Sanskrit sutras into Chinese are valued even today. In the 5th Century AD Bodhidharma, a South Indian monk, became the first patriarch of the Shaolin Monastery in China. Xuan Zang (Hiuen Tsang) visited India during Harsha Vardhana's reign in the 7th Century AD, in search of Buddhist scriptures. His journey became part of traditional Chinese lore when narrated in a later period book called "A Journey to the West".

The decline of Buddhism in India and spread of colonialism in both the countries resulted in diminished cultural exchanges. However, when people of both the countries started searching for new answers to new questions in the modern era intellectual ties revived. The respective national struggles for freedom saw resumption of contacts, and feelings of solidarity. Landmark events of this period are Kang Youwei's stay in India (1890s), Tagore's visit to China (1924), setting up of Cheena Bhawan in Viswabharati University by Professor Tan Yunshan under Tagore's guidance (1937), sending of the Aid China Medical Mission, which included Dr. Dwarakanath Kotnis, by the Indian National Congress to China (1938), and famous painter Xu Beihong's visit to Shantiniketan (1939-40).

The early fifties and the ‘Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai‘phase of 1950s witnessed a further strengthening of these ties. Indian films like Awaara, Caravan and Do Bigha Zameen as well as stars like Raj Kapoor and Nargis left a lasting impression on Chinese audiences. The resumption of political relations in 1980s has provided an impetus to cultural exchanges. [1]

Boundary Question

The conflict stretches back to at least 1914, when representatives from Britain, the Republic of China and Tibet gathered in Shimla, India, to negotiate a treaty that would determine the status of Tibet and effectively settle the borders between China and British India. The Chinese, balking at proposed terms that would have allowed Tibet to be autonomous and remain under Chinese control, refused to sign the deal. But Britain and Tibet signed a treaty establishing what would be called the McMahon Line, named after a British colonial official, Henry McMahon, who proposed the border. [2]

China had not raised any border question in 1954 when bilateral negotiations were being held for the agreement on Trade. In 1959, the Chinese side had claimed that conditions were not yet ripe for boundary settlement with India and had no time to study the boundary question. [3]

India maintains that the McMahon Line, a 550-mile frontier that extends through the Himalayas, is the legal border between China and India and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was a flawed concept without any proper delineation of maps and demarcation on the ground. China is insistent on its maximalist position of 1959.
In the eastern sector, China claims approximately 90,000 sq. km of Indian Territory in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Indian Territory under the occupation of China in J&K and Ladakh is approximately 38,000 In addition, under the China-Pakistan “Boundary Agreement” signed on March 2nd, 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5180 of Indian territory in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) to China. Indian side has clearly conveyed to Chinese side on several occasions including at the highest level that Arunachal Pradesh and J&K and Ladakh are inalienable parts of India. [4]

China was unwilling to settle the boundary question based on ground realities. China also halted the LAC clarification exercise in 2003 when concern arose over its rapid infrastructure buildup along the LAC and in Tibet after 2000; it made no basic adjustments in its position on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. [5]

China has passed a new “Land Boundary Law” on October 23rd, 2021. This law states that China abides by treaties concluded with or jointly acceded to by foreign countries on land boundary affairs and has provisions to carry out reorganisation of districts in the border areas. China’s unilateral decision to bring about a legislation which could be manipulated to impinge on existing bilateral arrangements on border management as well as on the boundary question, and that is of concern to India. Such unilateral move will have no bearing on the arrangements that both sides have already reached earlier, whether it is on the boundary question or for maintaining peace and tranquility along the LAC in India-China Border areas. [6]

Since early May 2020, the Chinese side has been hindering India's normal, traditional patrolling pattern in the Eastern Ladakh. They departed from the understandings in the Galwan Valley area and sought to erect structures just across the LAC. When this attempt was foiled, Chinese troops took violent actions on 15 June 2020 when Indian and Chinese troops engaged in a brawl that left twenty Indian soldiers dead while causing an undisclosed number of Chinese casualties. [7]

The clash was a part of a broader border standoff between the two forces along the LAC which is yet to be resolved. [8] The Chinese side also attempted, and succeeded, in transgressing the LAC in four more areas of Eastern Ladakh. These attempts were invariably met with appropriate responses from the Indian side. The resulting face-off is sought to be addressed by the ground commanders as per the provisions of the bilateral agreements and protocols. Presently, the two sides have engaged in discussions through established diplomatic and military channels to address the situation arising out of China’s aggressive activities along the LAC.

The border is divided into eastern, middle, and western sectors wherein disputes exist in each one. In the eastern sector, the line is disputed because China declined to sign the agreement declaring the Shimla Convention and the tripartite arrangement illegal on the grounds that the local government could not be a party to it. Additionally, the middle sector of the border starts from the tri-junction between the Southwestern of Ngari Prefecture, Tibet, to the tri-junction between China, India, and Nepal. The border is 450 km long, with about 2000 of land under dispute. Finally, the western sector covers the entire South-East, East and North Ladakh region.

Notably, the Ladakh region is especially complex, with particularly unusual features. First, there is Aksai Chin that India has long claimed but China has occupied since the mid-1950s. China began building a road through the area in 1956—linking Tibet to Xinjiang—and has occupied it since. There is also the territory that Pakistan has ceded to China in Shaksgam Valley in its occupied North-West Ladakh in 1963. Surveying and mapping the region’s terrain has proved immensely challenging. [9]

The McMahon Line in the eastern sector is a known alignment, marked clearly - though not precisely - on maps in the possession of both India and China. But in the western sector, the situation is fundamentally different. In that area the border alignment was not as clearly defined as the McMahon Line, nor indeed had this desolate and lofty tract between Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh and China, comprising the Aksai Chin plateau, been sufficiently surveyed to make it possible to draw a precise alignment. The British, reflecting their imperialist interests, had over the years, favoured varied border alignments - by one count, 11 variations, in three distinct basic patterns. Between these variations, the broad alignment specified by independent India conformed to the geographical features and traditional practices.

All China’s border claims and disputes have taken decades to get resolved and that too at China’s terms and conditions. This is the legacy that the treaties of Argun (1858) and Peking (1860) have bestowed upon China: never bargain from a position of weakness. This is the reason why China has taken such a long time to resolve its border disputes with its neighbours. The only anomalies have been found in cases where China’s own security interests or economic interests have been the prime concern. In fact, it compromises with its neighbours when its internal stability is threatened. [10]

Indian Position on the LAC: India-China have signed five border agreement in 1993, 1996, 2005, 2012 and 2013

India and China share a border of 3,488 km. Though the LAC can be said to be demarcating the temporary line dividing the two, yet each side’s perceptions of the same differ. That gives rise to regular cross-LAC transgressions by the PLA. In an effort to resolve the dispute, the two sides initiated official level talks in 1981. There were eight rounds of official border talks from 1981 to 1987. In 1988, a Joint Working Groups (JWG) was created to find a solution to the border disagreement. The outcome of the JWG meetings was slow. In 2003, during AB Vajpayee’s visit to China, it was repackaged and rechristened as the Special Representatives’ Talks and Special Representatives were appointed from both the sides. The first round of Special Representatives’ talks was held between Brajesh Mishra and Dai Bingguo. Until now there have been 22 rounds of talks.

In 1993, the agreement on the ‘Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas’ was signed. The agreement stated that neither side shall use or threaten to use force against the other by any means. Each side will keep its military forces in the areas along the LAC to a minimum level compatible with the friendly and good neighbourly relations.

In 1996, the agreement on ‘Confidence-Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas’ was signed. It stated that neither side shall use its military capability against the other side. No armed forces deployed by either side in the border areas along the LAC as part of their respective military strength shall be used to attack the other side, or engage in military activities that threaten the other side or undermine peace, tranquility and stability in the India-China border areas. Measures to reduce or limit respective military forces were agreed.

In 2005, the agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People's Republic of China on the ‘Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question’ was signed. It was agreed that the differences on the boundary question should not be allowed to affect the overall development of bilateral relations; the two sides will resolve the boundary question through peaceful and friendly consultations and neither side shall use or threaten to use force against the other by any means; the boundary should be along well-defined and easily identifiable natural geographical features to be mutually agreed upon between the two sides; and in reaching a boundary settlement, the two sides shall safeguard due interests of their settled populations in the border areas. [11]

In 2012, ‘India-China Agreement on the Establishment of a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs’ was signed. It was agreed that the Working Mechanism will be headed by a Joint Secretary level official from the Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India and a Director General level official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, and will be composed of diplomatic and military officials of the two sides.

The Working Mechanism was tasked to study ways and means to conduct and strengthen exchanges and cooperation between military personnel and establishments of the two sides in the border areas; explore the possibility of cooperation in the border areas that are agreed upon by the two sides; undertake other tasks that are mutually agreed upon by the two sides but will not discuss resolution of the Boundary Question or affect the Special Representatives Mechanism; address issues and situations that may arise in the border areas that affect the maintenance of peace and tranquillity; will work actively towards maintaining the friendly atmosphere between the two countries; and hold consultations once or twice every year alternately in India and China - emergency consultations, if required, could be convened after mutual agreement. [12]

In 2013, the agreement on ‘Border Defence Cooperation’ was signed: The two sides shall carry out border defence cooperation on the basis of their respective laws and relevant bilateral agreements; and shall implement border defence cooperation in the following ways:-

  1. Exchange information-including information about military exercises, aircrafts, demolition operations and unmarked mines-and take consequent measures conducive to the maintenance of peace, stability and tranquility along the line of actual control in the India-China border areas;
  2. Jointly combat smuggling of arms, wildlife, wildlife articles and other contrabands;
  3. Assist the other side in locating personnel, livestock, means of transport and aerial vehicles that may have crossed or are possibly in the process of crossing the line of actual control in the India-China border areas;
  4. Work with the other side in combating natural disasters or infectious diseases that may affect or spread to the other side. [13]
Institutional Bilateral Economic and Commercial Dialogue Mechanisms

India-China Economic and Commercial Relations are shaped through various dialogue mechanisms.

Joint Group on Economic Relations, Science and Technology (JEG) was led by the Commerce Ministers of both sides. The Joint Economic Group (JEG) was established in 1988 during the visit of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to China, to discuss trade cooperation issues. So far 11 JEGs were held with the last one in Delhi in March 2018. During the 9th JEG, the two sides also set up three working groups on Economic and Trade Planning Cooperation (ETPC), Trade Statistical Analysis (TSA) and Service Trade Promotion (or Trade in Services – TIS).

Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) was established during the visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to India in December 2010, to discuss macro-economic cooperation. So far six SED took place in New Delhi from 7–9 September 2019. There are five Working Groups under the SED: Infrastructure, Environment, Energy, High Technology and Policy Coordination. The SED is co-chaired by Vice-Chairman NITI Aayog and Chairman, Chinese National Development and Reforms Commission (NDRC).

The NITI Aayog – Development Research Centre of China (DRC) Dialogue was established pursuant to the MoU signed during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China in May 2015, to discuss global economic cooperation issues. Vice-Chairman NITI Aayog leads the India delegation while President (Minister-level) of DRC of China leads the Chinese delegation. The fifth NITI-DRC dialogue was held in Wuhan on 28-29 November 2019.

India-China Financial Dialogue is held in accordance with the MoU signed during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in April 2005. The ninth India-China Financial Dialogue was held in New Delhi on 25Sepember 2019 which was co-chaired by Secretary DEA.

Other Institutional Mechanisms

Some of the other institutionalized dialogue mechanisms between the two countries include the JWG on Collaboration in Skill Development and Vocational Education, Joint Working Group on Information and Communication Technology & High-Technology, Joint Working Group on Industrial Park Cooperation, Joint Study Group and Joint Task Force on Regional Trading Agreement (RTA), India-China Joint Working Group on Agriculture, India-China Joint Working Group on Cooperation in Energy and the Joint Study Group on BCIM Economic Corridor.


One China Policy

The Indian side recalls that India was among the first countries to recognize that there is one China and that its one China policy has remained unaltered. The Indian side states that it would continue to abide by its one China policy. The Chinese side expresses its appreciation for the Indian position. [15]

Former External Affairs Minister of India, Sushma Swaraj said during a bilateral meeting with Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of China in June 2014 that Indian side recognized the principle of ‘one China’ while Chinese side is yet to accept ‘One India’. Indian side had made this statement to raise concerns over Chinese military presence in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and issue of stapled visas for residents of Arunachal Pradesh.

India was among the first nations to use the world ‘One China’, and along with Burma and Pakistan recognise China. The Indian government might have surmised that an early recognition of the new Communist regime in China would be helpful in securing its goodwill and helpful in settling the border issue. Former Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru’s message to Ambassador Panikkar in September 1949 indicated that Government of India was thinking of making the boundary question and the status of Tibet as part of the negotiations with China on diplomatic recognition. India’s international stature received a temporary boost and India played a role in the Korean peninsula as a result of good relations with China as well as America. India’s recognition provided the space for China to prepare for the invasion of Tibet in late 1950. [16] India also maintained that Taiwan was an inalienable part of China. In about four years, there was the Panchseel Agreement, and India while conceding China’s suzerainty over Tibet, took a nuanced position on Indo-Tibet trade. Various joint statements till 2010 reiterated these positions, but India’s reservations began showing after China insisted on issue of stapled visas to the Kashmiris and Arunachalis. [17]

India’s Position on the ‘Core Interests’ of China

China’s ‘Core Interests’ to refer to sovereignty issues relating to Xinjiang, Taiwan, Tibet and South China Sea.


Although India is concerned about the developments in Xinjiang but it has refrained from issuing any statements. Along with France, Germany, Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and 33 other nations, India avoided in criticizing Beijing for violation of human rights in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet. [18]

South China Sea

Several reasons have been attributed to India’s interest in the South China Sea (SCS):-

  1. Increasing trade with East Asia, freedom of transshipment across the international Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC) over the geographical expanse SCS and the strategic importance of the Indo-Pacific region;
  2. Apprehensions regarding China’s growing assertiveness in the Indian Ocean Region;
  3. Importance of blue water maritime presence and naval partnerships to deter adversarial activities in the region;
  4. Security of trade-transit route across the Indio-Pacific Ocean passing through the SCS is vital to India’s growing trade, energy and security interests. [19]

"India believes that States should resolve the disputes through peaceful means without threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes affecting peace and stability," Gen (retd) V K Singh, Minister of State said in a written response to a question in Rajya Sabha, "India undertakes various activities, including cooperation in oil and gas sector, with littoral states of the South China Sea."

India’s position on South China Sea is consistent and has been articulated on several occasions in the past. India attaches importance to freedom of navigation, overflight and unimpeded lawful commerce in the international waters in accordance with international laws, notably the United Nations’ Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), 1982.

India stands for peaceful resolution of disputes, including respect for legal and diplomatic processes without resorting to threat or use of force, and in accordance with international laws. India stands ready to work with international partners to maintain and promote peace, stability and development in the Indo-Pacific region. [20]


India’s ‘one-China’ policy does not officially recognise Taiwan’s sovereign existence and refers to Tibet as part of China. Government of India’s policy on Taiwan is clear and consistent. Government facilitates and promotes interactions in areas of trade, investment, tourism, culture, education and other such people-to-people exchanges. [21] Ties between Indian and Taiwan-linked political figures are long-standing. Indian and Kuomintang (KMT) leaders interacted in significant ways during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945). Even prior to that, Indian leaders (particularly those on the All India Congress Committee) and Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru expressed solidarity with the Chinese people at an international congress in Brussels while protesting against colonialism in 1927, an event that included Soong Ching-ling, the wife of the famed Chinese nationalist Sun Yat-sen.

India had diplomatic relations with the ROC after independence in 1947 for a brief period till 1949. Both ROC and India had resident Ambassadors in both the capitals of New Delhi and Nanjing till 1948-49. Subsequent to the establishment of the PRC in October 1949, the KMT government of China fled to Taiwan and established the ROC there. India recognised the new PRC regime in Beijing and simultaneously de-recognised her relations with the ROC. India desisted from having any formal relations with Taiwan till the early 1990s.

Though there were no official relations between the two sides, in the 1990s both the countries gradually started improving bilateral relations. India started the Look East Policy in the 1990’s and began giving emphasis to the countries in the Asia Pacific/Indo-Pacific region. Taiwan falls in this domain of the Indian Foreign Policy. In 1992, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) set up a liaison office in Mumbai and, in 1995, India opened its representative office in Taipei and named it the ‘India-Taipei Association’ (ITA). Ambassador Vinod Khanna was appointed as the first Director-General of the ITA. The main aim of the opening of the ITA was economic engagement. Subsequently, a month later, Taiwan opened its office in New Delhi, and called it the ‘Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre’ (TECC). Now, the TECC offices are operational in Chennai, Kolkata, and Mumbai.

In 2010, two ministers from Taiwan, Wu Ching-chi (Minister of Education) and Liu Yi-ru (Chair of the Economic Planning and Development Council) led respective delegations to New Delhi. Shen Lyu-shun (Deputy Foreign Minister) and Hsiung Hsiang-tai (Deputy Defence Minister) also visited India in 2010 and 2011, respectively. On 7 March 2011, India’s foreign secretary, Nirupama Rao, received a group of Journalists from Taipei that briefed about the economic development of Taiwan. On April 8, 2012, India allowed stop-over visits of the Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou in Mumbai on his way to Africa (2012) and Taiwan vice-president Wu Den-yih, had a layover at a Delhi airport en-route to Rome (2014). In 2012, Tsai Ing wen has visited India as the leader of the DPP.

Over the years, bilateral engagement between India and Taiwan has gradually improved. Particularly noteworthy milestones include, but are not limited to, the initiation of direct flights between New Delhi and Taipei in 2003 and a series of visits by significant political figures. Former Indian defense minister George Fernandes visited Taiwan in 2003 and former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam did the same in 2010. Similarly, then KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou went to India in 2007 and Tsai visited in 2012 as the chair of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The India-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Forum in 2016 was seen as a “formal platform for ‘friendship’. On 13 February 2018, a Taiwanese delegation comprising of members of the Taiwan-India Parliamentary Friendship Association interacted with Indian Parliamentarians in New Delhi. Trade has increased six-fold from USD 1.19 billion in 2001 to almost USD 6.4 billion in 2017, and US$ 7.05 billion in 2018.
India should designate Taiwan a consultative partner in strategies such as ‘Make in India’, Skill India, and Digital India. Co-developing industrial zones in India and specifically encouraging small-and medium-enterprise collaborations to create job opportunities could be a new direction for the future of India-Taiwan ties. The focal points of such cooperation could be electronics (and related technologies), automobiles (electric vehicles), petrochemicals, agricultural technologies, and food processing. Over time, the agenda could be expanded to incorporate other matters such as the feasibility of a free trade agreement.[22]


The Indian side recognizes that the Tibet Autonomous Region is part of the territory of the People's Republic of China and reiterates that it does not allow Tibetans to engage in anti-China political activities in India. The Chinese side expresses its appreciation for the Indian position and reiterates that it is firmly opposed to any attempt and action aimed at splitting China and bringing about "independence of Tibet”. [23]

On 10th March 1959, General Zhang Chenwu of Communist China extended an invitation to the Tibetan leader, Dalai Lama to attend a theatrical show by a Chinese dance troupe. When the invitation was repeated with new conditions that no Tibetan soldiers were to accompany the Dalai Lama and that his bodyguards be unarmed, Tibetans gathered around the Norbulingka Palace in Lhasa determined to thwart any threat to Dalai Lama’s life and prevented him from going. On 17 March 1959, Dalai Lama, disguised as a common soldier, slipped past the massive throng of people along with a small escort and proceeded towards the Kyichu River. Three weeks after escaping Lhasa, on 31 March 1959, His Holiness, Dalai Lama and his entourage reached the Indian border from where they were escorted by Indian guards to the town of Bomdila in the present day Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The Indian government had already agreed to provide asylum to His Holiness and his followers in India. Soon after his arrival in Mussoorie on 20 April 1959, Dalai Lama met with the Indian Prime Minister and the two talked about rehabilitating the Tibetan refugees. [24]

The Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE) is the unicameral and highest legislative organ of the Central Tibetan Administration. Established and based in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh in India. The creation of this democratically elected body has been one of the major changes that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has brought about in his efforts to introduce a democratic system of administration. Today, the Parliament consists of 45 members. Ten members each from U-Tsang, Do-tod and Do-med, the three traditional provinces of Tibet, while the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the traditional Bon faith elect two members each. Five members are elected by Tibetans in the west: two from Europe, two from North and South America, and one from Australasia (Australia and Asia excluding India, Nepal and Bhutan). The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile is headed by a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker, who are elected by the members amongst themselves. Any Tibetan who has reached the age of 25 has the right to contest elections to the Parliament.[25]

Tibet road system has increased to 118,800 km, it has expanded approximately 4.93 km per day since 1959. Under the current 14th Five-Year Plan (FYP), China aims to spend over RMB 190 billion (approximately $30 billion) on infrastructure projects in Tibet between 2021 and 2025. The regional transportation department states that by 2025, Tibet will exceed 1300 km of expressways, and have over 120,000 km in highways total. Tibet-related projects in the 14th FYP include the Ya’an to Nyingchi phase of the Sichuan Tibet Railway line, preliminary work on the Hotan-Shigatse and Gyirong-Shigatse (China-Nepal border) railway lines, and the Chengdu-Wuhan-Shanghai high-speed railway network. The plan also mentions upgrading the national highways G219 and G318, both of which run parallel to the China-India border near Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. [26] About 30 airports have been either built or under construction in Tibet and Xinjiang provinces, which will boost China’s civil and military infrastructure in the remote regions bordering India. [27]

One Belt One Road

India shares international community’s desire for enhancing physical connectivity and believes that it should bring greater economic benefits to all in an equitable and balanced manner. India is working with many countries and international institutions in support of physical and digital connectivity in our own immediate and near neighbourhood.

India is of firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality. Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities; balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards; transparent assessment of project costs; and skill and technology transfer to help long-term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities. Connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Expansion and strengthening of connectivity is an integral part of India’s economic and diplomatic initiatives. Under the ‘Act East’ policy, we are pursuing the Trilateral Highway project; under our ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy we are developing multimodal linkages with Myanmar and Bangladesh; under our ‘Go West’ strategy, we are engaged with Iran on Chabahar Port and with Iran and other partners in Central Asia on International North South Transport Corridor. The Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Initiative is aimed at enhancing logistics efficiencies in South Asian region. India is also actively considering acceding to TIR Convention.

Guided by our principled position in the matter, we have been urging China to engage in a meaningful dialogue on its connectivity initiative, ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) which was later renamed as ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI). India is awaiting a positive response from the Chinese side. Regarding the so-called ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’ (CPEC), which is being projected as the flagship project of the BRI/OBOR, the international community is well aware of India’s position. The Corridor passes over illegally occupied Indian territory and no country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity. [28]

China’s imperialist planning has ensured project inroads into the entire Indo-Pacific Region with serious economic and strategic challenges to India in its immediate neighbourhood in South Asia. With Bangladesh formally joining the OBOR initiative in October 2016, New Delhi is making concerted efforts to maintain its balance. The political turmoil in Nepal in recent past has occasionally disturbed its strong relations with India. While recent cancellation of a few BRI projects displays Nepal’s sensitivity towards Chinese ‘debt–trap’, it’s negative response to New Delhi led BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) exercise recently gave opposing signals. As China offers its ports for trade with land-locked Nepal, India is required to put up lot of economic and diplomatic efforts to ensure long term bonding with Nepal is closely maintained. China intends to connect Yunnan province in China to Kyaukpyu port in Burma. The project would provide China an alternate route to the Strait of Malacca for hydrocarbon supply, along with increased Chinese strategic presence in Bay of Bengal. [29]

South Asia

Since at least the seventh century, Nepal has had with contacts with Tibet, which is geographically contiguous across the high Himalayan watershed. While Buddhism was the backbone for cultural exchanges, the commercial motive came from trans-Himalayan trade, which was conducted at almost every geographical point along the border. Much of this lucrative trade consisted of transit of goods between India and Tibet, and Kathmandu served as an important entrepôt.
China under Qianlong Emperor after the 1792 Treaty of Betrawati not only inserted itself as the dominant power to the immediate north of the Himalayan watershed but also tried to degrade Nepal’s status to that of a tributary state. From 1792 to 1910, Nepal sent seventeen missions to the emperor in Beijing. Henceforth, China and Nepal were to have significant and regular contact, and the Chinese Amban in Lhasa became the purveyor of China-Nepal-Tibet relations. Death of King Tribhuvan in March 1955 presented the opportunity that Nepal was seeking to re-establish relations with China. The new monarch, Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah (1955–1972), wrote immediately to India of Nepal’s intention to open negotiations with China. Formal diplomatic relations were established on August 1, 1955. This achieved the first of two Chinese objectives, but there was still the matter of ending Nepal’s privileges in Tibet. [30]

China’s Geo-Strategic Goals in Nepal are to weaken Indian Influence, maintain the Geopolitical Imperative of the BRI, and enhance its political, economic, security and diplomatic influence. [31] For China, increased engagements with Nepal have ensured a near-absence of exiled Tibetans’ political activity in the country. Due to various security agreements and exchanges, the flow of Tibetan refugees into the country has also reduced drastically. Nepali immigration officials’ figures show a sharp drop from 1,248 Tibetans in 2010 to just 85 applications for an exit permit to India (with transit through Nepal) in 2015. Control over Nepal’s affairs also helps Beijing reduce Indian and Western influence in the country. Under the previous Communist Party government of PM Oli there was a growing ‘convergence’ between its pro-China, and nationalist, anti-Indian position and China’s ambitions to reduce Indian influence in South Asia. This aligns with the ‘neighbourhood policy’ Xi laid out way back in 2013, when he said “the diplomatic work with neighbouring countries is out of the need to realise the two centenary goals and achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”. [32]

Some of the major on-going projects in Nepal under Chinese assistance include:-

  1. Upper Trishuli Hydropower Station and Transmission Line Projects;
  2. Kathmandu Ring Road Improvement Project;
  3. Larcha (Tatopani) and Timure (Rasuwagadi) Frontier Inspection Station Project;
  4. Pokhara International Regional Airport;
  5. Upgradation of Syaprubensi-Rasuwagadhi Road;
  6. Upgradation of Civil Service Hospital;
  7. Upgradation of Kodari Highway and restoration of bordering bridges at Kodari and Rasuwagadhi.

With the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation under the BRI on 12 May 2017 in Kathmandu between Nepal and China, new avenues for bilateral cooperation in the mutually agreed areas are expected to open.

China thinks that the unification of the communist forces represents a change in the balance of power to its advantage, and it is working to ensure that this remains so – that is, notwithstanding the recent split in 2021. As a result, there has been a growing and increasing direct Chinese intervention in Nepal’s internal affairs since 2017. To shore up Oli’s position, Xi in October 2019 paid the first Chinese presidential visit in twenty-three years and upgraded relations to a ‘strategic partnership’. Military-to-military relations have seen a paradigm lift with Chinese offers of equipment and training, joint exercises since 2018, and support for the police infrastructure. The Chinese embassy in Kathmandu regularly brokers peace between the various Nepalese factions. In December 2020, after Oli dissolved the parliament, the vice minister of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Department went to Kathmandu to assess the situation. The Chinese ambassador regularly interacts with senior communist leaders and reportedly exhorts them to maintain unity. [33]

The Confucius Institute was established in Kathmandu University (CIKU) in 2017 through a partnership between the Hebei University of Economics and Business . The Confusion Institute offers the services of Chinese language teaching for Chinese language instructors; delivery of Chinese language teaching resources; administration of the HSK examination (Chinese Proficiency Test); provision of information and consultative service concerning Chinese education, culture and other areas; and conducting language and cultural exchange activities between China and other countries. The Confucius Institute at Kathmandu University has established four Confucius classrooms and 14 teaching sites, and cultivated more than 20,000 students in all. [34]

Connectivity linkages between the PRC and trans-Himalayan countries have taken on a new hue with the recent ‘Himalayan Quadrilateral’ meeting between China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal on July 27, 2020. At the Himalayan Quad meeting, foreign ministers from all four countries deliberated on the need to enhance the BRI in the region through a “Health Silk Road”.[35]


China and Bangladesh established their diplomatic relations in 1976 after a military coup in Dhaka displaced and killed the founder of the Republic of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. China had till then opposed the liberation war and backed Pakistan military’s genocidal attempts to subdue the independence movement, refused diplomatic recognition after Bangladesh gained formal independence from Pakistan in December 1971 at the end of the defeat of the Pakistani forces by Indian army, and had persistently vetoed its entry into the UN.

China-Bangladesh relations became stronger under the military regimes of Zia-ur-Rahman and Gen. Ershad Ahmed. Military ties were established during this period, as the Dhaka tried to balance Indian influence and its close ties with the Awami League and the other democratic forces.

In 21st century, economic ties have grown, especially since China began to construct a series of seven bridges over major rivers in the country to improve communications and then offered to build infrastructure under the BRI. Chinese President, Xi Jinping in his visit to Dhaka in 2016 promised to provide some $26 billion in loans for several projects in Bangladesh. So far only a few of them have been funded - total around $ 1.7 billion with Bangladesh being cautious about taking large Chinese loans that cannot be easily repaid. In bilateral trade, China has run an overwhelming trade surplus against Dhaka; Beijing buys little from Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is the second biggest importer of Chinese arms, after Pakistan. Bangladesh has acquired a sizeable amount of military hardware from China in recent years including corvettes, naval guns, anti-ship missiles and surface-to-air missile systems. The anti-ship missile launchpad close to Chittagong Port was built with Chinese assistance. In collaboration with China, Bangladesh successfully test-fired anti-ship missile C-802A (a modified version of China’s Yinh Ji-802) with a range of 120 km in May 2008 from BNS Osman, which is a Chinese built Jianghu class frigate. [36] In 2016, Bangladesh reportedly paid $203 million for the two submarines to boost its naval power. Bangladesh army also had inducted Chinese-built FM-90 surface-to-air missiles. However, China's trainer aircraft to Bangladesh along with the air defence system has developed defects. Similarly, frigates have developed snags. [37] Bangladesh did not allow Chinese investment in deep-sea ports suitable for a future Chinese Navy presence, as it cancelled the Sonadia deep-sea project and only agreed to a port project in Payra, which can be 'approachable only through a 75-kilometre-long canal and so a very unlikely place for a naval base. [38]

Trade. Bangladesh-China bilateral trade is tilted in favour of Beijing. Trade deficit with China has increased 1600% in last 20 years (c. 2019). [23] Some 25% of Bangladesh's total imports are from China, in 2018-19 China's export to Bangladesh was US$13.6 billion whereas Bangladesh's export to China was only $0.56 billion. [23] China has given several loans to Bangladesh, which compared to India [with which Bangladesh shares land border on 3 sides] are on less favourable terms, and could lead Bangladesh into debt-trap.[26]
Export to China: Bangladeshi products export to China is approaching the 1 billion USD mark. It has already reached 600 million USD in FY 2020 from only 32.36 million USD in 2002.

Major Exportable: Bangladeshi export basket to China is dominated by the apparels. The other major export items include fish-crustacean-mollusks and other aquatic invertebrates, raw hides and skins, plastic products, ores – slag an ash, optical-photo-technical and medical apparatus, oil seeds, cotton, electrical and electronic equipment, footwear, furniture etc.

Imports from China: Bangladesh imports almost a quarter of her total imports from China.

Major Imports from China: Bangladesh’s major imports from China include cotton, machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, manmade staple fibers, knitted or crocheted fabric, manmade filaments, plastics, vehicles other than railway, special woven or tufted fabric, lace, tapestry etc., articles of iron or steel, articles of apparel-accessories, fertilizers, organic chemicals, iron and steel etc.

Investment Opportunities

For China, Bangladesh is attractive because of the following reasons:-

  1. Largely homogenous society;
  2. Democratic country with broad support for market oriented economic policies, Steady 6+% GDP growth for the last ten years;
  3. Abundant supply of disciplined easily trainable and low–cost work force with increasing supply of professionals, technologists, mid and low level skilled workers, training expenditure of the employer is exempted from income tax, English proficiency of the workers in general, active encouragement for Foreign Private Investment with legal protection through Foreign Private Investment (Promotion and Protection Act 1980);
  4. Bangladesh exports enjoy EBA (Everything but Arms) to EU and GSP in most of the developed countries including Japan and Australia. Bangladesh has bilateral agreements to avoid double taxation with 31 countries including China.
  5. 4621 Bangladeshi products enjoy duty free and quota free access to Chinese market.


The Maldives

Direct trade between the two countries was restored in 1982, but no significant trade was carried out for twenty years. In 2002, trade volume was US$ 2.977 million in total, and it has increased drastically since, reaching US$ 64 million in 2010.

China’s major exports to the Maldives are rice and consumer goods, whereas the Maldives is exporting more and more of their marine products from their flourishing fishing industry to China, such as Yellow fin Tuna. Representatives from both countries continue to confirm their keenness to maintain this dynamic and successful trade cooperation, particularly in areas such as ‘fisheries, tourism, infrastructure and construction’. Maldivian Economic Development Minister Mahmood Razee confirmed in May 2011 that the Maldivian government is aiming to encourage private sector investment into other sectors, such as energy, health, education and commercial ports development, by carrying out a Public Private Partnership program.

Feydhoo Finolhu is a tiny islet just 0.5 square miles in area, located 3 nautical miles from the Maldivian capital, Malé. An undisclosed Chinese company received a 50-year lease to the island in December 2016 for a bargain price of $4 million. Another Chinese developer is building a similar resort at Kunaavashi, an atoll 35 nautical miles from Malé. China’s largest, and most visible, infrastructure projects in the Maldives have been on the capital island of Malé and adjacent Hulhumalé.
Beijing Urban Construction Group signed a deal to expand the Velana International Airport in 2014, displacing India’s GMR which had previously held the contract. A new 3,400-meter runway, built to the east of the existing runway, opened in 2018. The expansion also included a new fuel farm and cargo terminal. While there may be real concerns about cost, the project made a great deal of sense for a nation that is so dependent on tourism. [39]

These investments have had costs for the Maldives. By 2018, Chinese loans had saddled Malé with nearly $1.5 billion in debt—a high figure for a nation with a GDP of less than $9 billion. Indebtedness to China doesn’t only burden a country’s economy. It also risks making the nation vulnerable to debt trap diplomacy, whereby Beijing leverages debt to get borrower states to serve China’s interests. However, the tables turned again in 2018, when the election of Mohamed Ibrahim Solih restored democracy—as well as strong Maldivian ties with New Delhi. Solih initiated an “India First” policy meant to strengthen “the multifaceted, mutually beneficial partnership between India and the Maldives.” Solih pulled out of his country’s trade deal with Beijing. India authorized $1.4 billion to help the Maldives with loan paybacks and provided additional financial support for community development projects. New Delhi currently has plans to build a new cancer hospital and cricket stadium, to develop a port, and to upgrade an airport. [40]


China and Bhutan became neighbors only after the Chinese annexation of Tibet in 1951. Prior to that it was with Tibet that Bhutan shared borders.
China’s claims over Bhutanese territory are indirect, stemming from its claims over Tibet. When the Qing dynasty extended Chinese rule over Tibet in the 18th century, the Tibetan ruler Polhane, who apparently held suzerainty over Bhutan, passed this on to Tibet’s Chinese overlord. China bases its territorial claims in Bhutan on the latter’s ‘vassalage’ to Tibet. However, Bhutanese scholars reject China’s “vague suzerainty claim over Bhutan” as being based on misinformation.

China began asserting its claims over Bhutan with increasing vigor in the late 19th century to counter growing British influence there. In 1930, Mao Zedong claimed that Bhutan (among other Himalayan kingdoms) fell within the “the correct boundaries of China.” China was even more aggressive in asserting such claims; official maps showed parts of Bhutanese territory as part of China. Moreover, during its annexation of Tibet, China briefly occupied eight Bhutanese enclaves in western Bhutan. Chinese incursions into Bhutanese territory have continued, as China’s has been building roads in disputed areas. This despite the fact that under Clause 3 of the 1998 ‘Treaty to Maintain Peace and Tranquility on the Bhutan-China Border Areas’, the two sides agreed to maintain the status quo..

Although China and Bhutan do not have official diplomatic relations, they have engaged in 24 rounds of ministerial-level talks to resolve their border dispute. In 1996, China put forward a package proposal, under which it offered to recognize Bhutanese sovereignty over the Pasamlung and Jakarlung Valleys in return for Bhutan recognizing Chinese sovereignty over Doklam, Sinchulung, Dramana, and Shakhatoe in the western sector. Bhutan has not accepted this proposal to date. China recently revived this land swap deal. By raising its claim over Sakteng, Beijing has indicated to Thimphu that it wants the border settled now and as per the package proposal. It is also possible that China is eyeing Sakteng for its own strategic value.[41]

Accepting the 1996 package deal would result in settled borders with China and pave the way for normal relations between Thimphu and Beijing. But it would require Bhutan to cede control over the Doklam Plateau to the Chinese, and this will not go down well in New Delhi.

Sri Lanka

China’s relationship with Sri Lanka has been vastly different, due in part to China’s greater distance from the island. The growth of the China-Sri Lanka relationship is a recent phenomenon and one largely anchored on economic and financial ties. However, in recent years, military and political relations between the two countries have also grown.

In terms of public debt, China over the last decade and a half has been the second-largest foreign lender for Sri Lanka. Several large infrastructure development projects, including the Colombo-Katunayake expressway, which connects the main commercial city and the major airport; Hambantota port; and the second international airport of the country, Mattala Airport, all were funded by Chinese loans. During the decade of 2010-2020, China has been the largest foreign investor in Sri Lanka. These investments include two controversial projects: the Colombo Port City Project and the investment in Hambantota Port by the China Merchants Port Company. Under the port city project, 116 hectares of reclaimed land in Colombo was leased to CHEC Colombo Port City (Pvt) Ltd, owned by a Chinese state-owned enterprise for 99 years.

In 2020, China continued to be the largest goods exporter to Sri Lanka despite the heavy import restrictions imposed by the Sri Lankan government to control foreign currency outflows. This policy, however, does not seem to have affected China as much as it impacted India. Chinese imports were reduced by 8 percent in 2020, while in contrast, imports from India went down by approximately 19 percent. [42]

Chinese Investments in Sri Lanka:-

  1. Southern Expressway (ongoing, started construction in 2011);
  2. Outer Circular Highway Project (ongoing, started construction in 2014);
  3. Colombo Katunayake Expressway (completed in 2013, started construction in 2009);
  4. Hambantota International Airport project (completed in 2013, started construction in 2010);
  5. Hambantota Port Development Project (completed, started construction in 2007);
  6. CICT Colombo Terminal (completed in 2014, started construction in 2011);
  7. Norocholai power station (completed in March 2011, started construction in 2006);
  8. Colombo Port City (ongoing, to be completed in 2042, started construction in 2014);
  9. Lotus Tower (completed in September 2019, started construction in 2012). [43]

Over the decade starting 2005-2015, China has emerged as the leading source of Official Development Assistance (ODA) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Sri Lanka – $14 billion. Most of it is ODA in loans and grants–$12 billion in sectors like energy, infrastructure and services.

Note: Indian authors on Xinjiang

[1]Historical Ties, accessed April 24, 2021,
[2]Russell Goldman, India-China Border Dispute: A Conflict Explained, The NewYork Times, accessed April 20,2021
[3]Letter from the Prime Minister of China to the Prime Minister of India, 23 January 1959, Page 52, Notes, Memoranda and Letters Exchanged and Agreements signed between The Governments of India and China 1954-59, Ministry of External Affairs. Government of India.
[9]Alyssa Ayres, “The China-India Border Dispute: What to Know, Council on FR, accessed on April 19, 2021,
[16]Vijay Gokhale, The Long Game
[19]Raja C Mohan, Samudra Manthan

[Back to Contents]

India Pakistan Relations

India-Pakistan relationship is characterized by mistrust and hostility even though the two-share common linguistic, cultural, geographical and economic linkages. The relations have been defined by the Partition in 1947, the Kashmir conundrum and the four wars and numerous cross-border skirmishes fought between the two South Asian neighbours. The differences between the two countries revolve around issues ranging from border disputes to water sharing. However, a far more important factor is the visceral antipathy towards India, which animates Pakistan in all its actions[1]. Pakistan has never shed the animosity and employed various means to pursue its feud through direct military aggression, supporting insurgencies, stoking communal tensions, infiltration and use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy[2]

Timeline: India-Pakistan Relations

August 1947 - Partition of British India, India and Pakistan became independent states carved out of the former British Raj. While India adopted a secular, democratic and liberal vision, Pakistan with its emphasis on religion turned into a militaristic and theocratic society.

1947/48 - The first India-Pakistan war over Kashmir, after armed tribesmen (lashkars) from Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (now called Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) invade the disputed territory in October 1947.

February 1954 - The accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India ratified by the state’s constituent assembly.

September 1960 - India and Pakistan signed a World Bank-brokered Indus Water Treaty governing six rivers, or three rivers each. It is the only India-Pakistan treaty that has held.

August 1965 - A second war over Kashmir that ended a month later in UN-mandated ceasefire.

January 1966- Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistani President Ayub Khan signed an agreement at Tashkent agreeing to withdraw to pre-August lines and that economic and diplomatic relations would be restored.

December 1971 - India and Pakistan war over East Pakistan. The war ended with the creation of Bangladesh. The war was a repudiation of two-nation theory.
July 1972 - India and Pakistan signed Shimla Agreement.

December 1988 - India and Pakistan signed an agreement on the prohibition of attack against nuclear installations and facilities.

December 1989 - Armed resistance to Indian rule in Kashmir.

1996 - India granted Pakistan the status of Most Favored Nation (MFN) for trade.

May 1998 – India detonated five nuclear devices at Pokhran. Pakistan responded by detonating six nuclear devices of its own in the Chaghai Hills.

February 1999 - Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee travelled by bus to Lahore (newly opened Delhi–Lahore Bus service) to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The two signed the Lahore Declaration.

May 1999- The Kargil conflict broke out when Pakistani forces intruded and occupied strategic positions on the Indian side of the LoC, prompting an Indian counter offensive in which Pakistani forces were pushed back to their side of the original LoC.

December 2001- On 13 December, an armed attack on the Indian parliament in New Delhi left 14 people dead. LeT and JeM were held responsible for the attacks.

November 2003- India and Pakistan implement a formal ceasefire along the International Border and the Actual Ground Position Line in Jammu and Kashmir

January 2004- Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf held direct talks at the 12th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Islamabad in January, and the two countries' Foreign Secretaries met later in the year. The year marked the resumption of the Composite Dialogue Process.

February 2007 –The train service between India and Pakistan (the Samjhauta Express) was bombed near Panipat, north of New Delhi. Sixty-eight people were killed, and dozens injured.

October 2008- Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh formally announced the opening of Khokrapar-Munnabao rail link, as well as cross-LoC Srinagar-Muzafarabad and Poonch- Rawalakot roads for trade. Trade began across the Line of Control, limited to 21 items and two days a week.

November 2008- On November 26, armed gunmen open fire on civilians at several sites in Mumbai, India. In the wake of the attacks, India broke off talks with Pakistan.

May 2014- India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi invite Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to New Delhi for his inauguration.

January 2016- Six gunmen attack an Indian air force base in the northern town of Pathankot, killing seven soldiers in a battle that lasted nearly four days.

September 2016- Indian Army carried out "surgical strikes" to destroy terror launch pads across the Line of Control in Pakistan.

February 2019 - Pulwama Attack. At least 40 CRPF personnel were killed and five injured when a Jaish suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kg of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district.

February 2019- Balakot strike, India pounded Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest training camp in Pakistan.

February 2021- India Pakistan agree to ceasefire along LoC at the DGMO meet.

Pakistan-sponsored Terrorism

The greatest problem in the relationship has emerged out of Pakistan’s use of terrorism against India as a tool of state policy. Pakistan's remarkable consistency since its very inception in seeking to bleed India through the use of terrorism is testimony to its abiding antipathy towards the latter. The fundamental philosophy of “bleeding India through a thousand cuts”, a military doctrine given by Zia ul Haq to avenge the defeat of the 1971 war, has not seen a shift and neither is one expected in the near future[3].

The movement in bilateral relations remain constrained owing to the continuing support in Pakistan to cross-border terrorism against India; absence of any credible action on the ground against infrastructure of support to terrorism in areas under Pakistan’s control; and increased incidents of unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistan forces, including in support of terrorist infiltration, along the Line of Control and International Border. [4]

Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir is affected by terrorism sponsored and supported from across the border for the last three decades. Pakistan’s steady support to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir continues. A triad of terrorist groups are being used for this purpose – the Jaish E Mohammad. Lashkar-e Taiyyaba and the Al Badr. The Hizbul Mujahideen, which comprises mainly of local youth from the Valley, also has the backing. Multiplicity of groups enables Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to dissipate the counter terrorist campaign by the Indian security forces in Kashmir while creating a rivalry amongst the leaders and cadres for allocation of resources by Rawalpindi (ISI HQs).

Ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LOC) have spiked into four digits, increasing every year. In 2020, the Pakistan troops made highest number of ceasefire violations along the Jammu and Kashmir border. There have been 5,133 ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army along the Indo-Pak border in 2020. Of these, 1,565 ceasefire violations took place since August 2019, after the Indian government amended Article 370 and bifurcated the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.

Jammu and Kashmir has been affected by terrorist and secessionist violence that is sponsored and supported from across the border. Since the advent of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir in 1990, 14,054 Civilians and 5,294 personnel of Security forces have lost their lives till December 2019. The trends of terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir during the last few years and current year are shown in the table given below[5]:

Pakistan has always sought to use deniable violence to achieve its objective of wrestling Jammu and Kashmir from India. From 1947 onward, Pakistan has used non-state actors to wage proxy warfare and campaigns of terrorism in India under the guise of people’s war, guerilla warfare, or jihad[6]. Pakistan’s deep state (Army and ISI) has vested interests in the continuation of the proxy war and these acts as the principal impediment to normalization between India and Pakistan.

(Source- Ministry of Home Affairs,

Timeline of Proxy Warfare in Jammu and Kashmir

1949- Tribal raids to force Maharaja to accede to Pakistan.

1965- Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto addressed the UN Security Council and declared his nation’s intent to “fight for thousand years” against India.

1978- Zia-Ul-Haq devised a radical strategy to “bleed India through thousand cuts”.

1989- Pakistan launched its proxy war, Hizbul Mujhahidden, led by Syed Sallahuddin, emerged as armed wing of Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) at the behest of Pakistan’s ISI to bringing further movement in militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.

1990- Killings of Kashmiri Pandits and the resulting exodus.

1998- Wandhama massacre, 23 members of Kashmiri pandit community were murdered in their homes in Wandhama village.

1999- Hijacking of Indian airlines plane.

2000- Chitisinghpora incident, innocent killing of Sikh minority.

2000- Series of attacks on Amarnath Yatris and other civilians.

2000- Kothi bomb blast, a bomb blast in Kothi bagh area of Srinagar was carried out by Lashkar-e-Toiba.

2001- Attack on Amarnath Yatris.

2001-Terrorists launched a fidayeen attack on the State Assembly in Srinagar, by blowing up a hijacked car.

2001- A dastardly attack carried out on the Indian Parliament house, New Delhi.

2016- A group of JeM terrorist attacked the air force base in Pathankot, Punjab.

2016- Terrorist attacks in Poonch and Uri army camps.

2019- Pulwama CRPF attack, suicide terror attack was conducted by Pak based terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad, on a convoy carrying CRPF personnel, in Pulwama district.

Khalistan Separatism

Pakistan is strenuously stoking Sikh separatism and is playing a lynchpin role in the renewal of the Khalistan movement in Indian Punjab. Pakistan has been aiding and supporting Khalistan insurgency since 1980. The Khalistan movement aims at the creation of an independent state in India, namely Khalistan. Pakistan’s support is in line with its long-term strategy to bleed India through “thousand cuts” to avenge the defeat of the 1971 war. In September 2020 report titled ‘Khalistan, a project of Pakistan’, published by Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Terry Milewski claims that “Fantasy or not, it is clear who is driving the Khalistan bus: Pakistan – the same country where countless Sikhs were murdered and expelled from in the name of Islam.” [7] Pakistan has been putting efforts to revive the Khalistan movement by smuggling drugs and weapons across the border through drones[8]. The sources revealed that the terror groups like Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) and Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) are in contact with their Pakistani handlers to smuggle weapons from across the India-Pakistan border[9].

In November 2018, a grenade attack at the Sant Nirankari Mission building in Punjab brought back the fears of the Khalistan movement's revival. Reportedly, the attack was a part of efforts by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to revive the Khalistan-related chaos in the State. Pakistan’s enthusiasm to develop the Kartarpur corridor is sourced in its interest to reinvigorate the Khalistan separatist movement in Punjab. At the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor on 09 November 2019, Pakistan's abominable agenda did not take long to reveal itself as the pilgrimages were welcome with the audio-video featuring several slain Khalistani terrorists, including the infamous Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

On 23 November 2019, India’s cabinet approved the Kartapur corridor project; however, on the same day, Pakistan permitted the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ)—a US-based Khalistan sympathiser group, to open its regional office in Lahore, Pakistan. The SFJ had allegedly sought support from the Pakistan government for 'Referendum 2020'—a campaign to separate Punjab from India and establish Khalistan[10].

India has been raising concerns against the pro-Khalistani elements prompting anti-India activities. Noticeable in this respect is the Khalistan Liberation Force's declaration (KLF) as a banned outfit under India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act [UAPA] in December 2018. [11] The proscription has been imposed for involvement killings, bombings and other terror activities. In recent years, several KLF modules and other Khalistan-related groups were revealed in Punjab.

Indus Water Treaty

The Indus Waters Treaty was signed in 1960 after nine years of negotiations between India and Pakistan with the help of the World Bank, which is also a signatory. The treaty gave the waters of the western rivers—the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab—to Pakistan and those of the eastern rivers—the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej—to India. Indus Water Treaty is heavily weighted in Pakistan’s favour and has been systematically used by the latter to stymie Indian projects and has not contributed to improved India-Pakistan ties as originally expected[12]
Despite India’s scrupulous observance of the Indus Water treaty provisions and its concessions, Pakistan accuses of it not fully complying with the treaty’s terms. Pakistan has been expressing concerns over India's Ratle (850 MW), Pakal Dul (1000 MW) and Lower Kalnai (48 MW) projects - located in the Chenab basin - contending they violated the IWT, signed in 1960.

The Permanent Indus Water Commission, set up under the treaty, continues to meet regularly to discuss technical issues concerning the implementation of the treaty. The Annual Meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) comprising of Indus Commissioners of India and Pakistan was held on March 23-24, 2021 in New Delhi. The meeting could not be held last year due to restrictions induced by the prevailing Covid 19 pandemic situation.

Discussions continued on designs of two Indian projects, namely, Pakal Dul (1000 MW) and Lower Kalnai (48 MW). Indian side held that these projects are fully compliant with the provisions of the Treaty and provided technical data in support of its position. Pakistan side requested India for sharing of information on design of other Indian hydropower projects being planned to be developed. Indian side assured that the information will be supplied as and when required to be supplied under the provisions of the Treaty[13].


The India-Pakistan bilateral trade relation has over the last more than five decades, witnessed a chequered history, reflecting the changing dimensions of geopolitical tensions and diplomatic relations between the two countries. India and Pakistan have followed a restrictive bilateral trade regime and hence trade figures between India and Pakistan has remained abysmally low. Trade between both nations had stood at just $2.4 billion in 2017-18, accounting for a mere 0.31 per cent of India’s total trade with the world and just about 3.2 per cent of Pakistan’s global trade. Further In 2018-19, bilateral trade between India and Pakistan was valued at USD 2.6 billion; Pakistan’s imports from India accounted for USD 2.06 billion which is 3 per cent of Pakistan’s total imports, and India’s imports from Pakistan stood at USD 495 million accounting for only 0.1 per cent of India’s total imports.

(Source- Nisha Taneja, Samridhi Bimal, Varsha Sivaram “Emerging Trends in India Pakistan Trade”, ICRIER Working paper)

(Source- Nisha Taneja, Samridhi Bimal, Varsha Sivaram “Emerging Trends in India Pakistan Trade”, ICRIER Working paper)

The India-Pakistan bilateral trade relation has over the last more than five decades, witnessed a chequered history, reflecting the changing dimensions of geopolitical tensions and diplomatic relations between the two countries. India and Pakistan have followed a restrictive bilateral trade regime and hence trade figures between India and Pakistan have remained abysmally low. Trade between both nations had stood at just $2.4 billion in 2017-18, accounting for a mere 0.31 per cent of India’s total trade with the world and just about 3.2 per cent of Pakistan’s global trade. Further In 2018-19, bilateral trade between India and Pakistan was valued at USD 2.6 billion; Pakistan’s imports from India accounted for USD 2.06 billion which is 3 per cent of Pakistan’s total imports, and India’s imports from Pakistan stood at USD 495 million accounting for only 0.1 per cent of India’s total imports.

Barely a day after the Pulwama attack on 14 February 2019, the Indian government in a tough message to Pakistan announced its withdrawal of the Most Favored Nation status for trade accorded to Pakistan since 1996. In the same year after the change in the Constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019, Pakistan completely suspended its bilateral trade with India[14]. It forgot that the move would amount to a flea-bite for India and only cause problems for the balance of payment problems Pakistan itself was facing. The impact of these actions has been telling.

The Indian government’s decisions–withdrawal of MFN status and imposition of 200 per cent duty hurt Pakistan’s exports to India that fell from an average of USD 45 million per month in 2018 to USD 2.5 million per month in March-July 2019. Truck traffic from Pakistan to India in April-November 2019 fell to 348 trucks from 4381 trucks the year earlier same period and from India to Pakistan it was 113 trucks in April-November 2019 as compared to 223 trucks for the same period in 2018.

India Pakistan Dialogue Process

Indo Pakistan dialogues since 1947 has been characterized by rollercoaster of expectations and disappointments. Whether it was the Nehru–Liaquat talks post Partition, or the Swaran Singh–Bhutto talks of 1962–63, or the composite dialogue process of the 1990’s and the next decade, the results have been the same barring some positive movement on issues like connectivity (road and rail), trade, visas and so on. On issues like Kashmir and terror attacks against India, there has been no forward movement[15]
India has made repeated efforts and consistently sought to normalise relations (keeping with its ‘Neighborhood First’ policy) with Pakistan in its own and regional interest with a good neighbourly approach. However, it has been repeatedly rewarded by the attacks on vital Indian targets by Pakistan based terrorist groups - a pattern that has become part of their DNA. Some of the instances are the cross-border terror attack on Pathankot Airbase on 2 January 2016; attack on Army Camp in Uri in August 2016; and terror attack on the convoy of Indian security forces in Pulwama by Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) on 14 February 2019[16]
These measures failed in their endeavor because of Pakistan’s intransigent, unrealistic and unifocal approach, which did not take into account either the moral or juridical aspects of the issue or the existing realities. Over the years United States among other countries had suggested about the possible role of dialogue in reduction of tension. India remains committed to resuming bilateral dialogue with Pakistan in the spirit of Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration. However, Pakistan must stop its sponsorship of cross border terrorism against India for any meaningful dialogue to be held. Members of the international community generally understand India's position.

Timeline of the Dialogue Process

1950- Nehru-Liaquat talks and agreement

1960- Indus Water Treaty signed by India and Pakistan

1965- Swaran Singh and ZA Bhutto talks on Kashmir

1966- Tashkent declaration, Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistani President Ayub Khan signed the Tashkent Agreement in 1966. It was agreed that “both sides will exert all efforts to create good neighbourly relations in accordance with the United Nation Charter” and return to the status quo ante.

1972- Shimla agreement was signed between the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. By this agreement, the countries resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them.

1998- A composite dialogue was started between India and Pakistan. This was the first time reference of "all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir" was mentioned. The CDP comprises discussions on the following issues: Jammu and Kashmir, peace and security, Sir Creek, Siachen, Terrorism and Drug Trafficking, Wullar Barrage/Tulbul navigation project, and promotion of friendly exchanges.

1999- The Lahore declaration, then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Lahore to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The two signed the Lahore Declaration. Kargil war happened in the same year disrupting the talks process.

2001 - President Pervez Musharraf was invited for Agra summit. It failed, as Pakistan was adamant on discussing Kashmir issue first.

2003- India and Pakistan implement a formal ceasefire along the International Border and the Actual Ground Position Line in Jammu and Kashmir.

2004-2005 - Discussions on composite dialogue resumed.

2008 - Mumbai terror attacks stalled the whole process.

2010 - Talks started again and it was named "resumed dialogue" instead of composite dialogue.

2011- Talks stalled following firing on the border and beheading of an Indian soldier.

2015- The External Affairs Minister of India, Smt. Sushma Swaraj led the Indian delegation to the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in Islamabad proposed a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.

2016- Cross-border terror attack on Pathankot Airbase camp, talks stalled

DGMO’s Statement on LoC Ceasefire

On 24-25 February 2021, in a surprise development the Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan recommitted themselves to the 2003 ceasefire agreement at the Line of Control and agreed to address ‘core issues’ that could undermine peace and stability. A joint statement issued stated: “The Director Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan held discussions over the established mechanism of hotline contact. The two sides reviewed the situation along the Line of Control and all other sectors in a free, frank and cordial atmosphere. In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two DGMOs agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence. Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control and all other sectors with effect from midnight 24/25 Feb 2021.Both sides reiterated that existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meetings will be utilised to resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding[17]”.

This sudden move is a welcome step considering that the 2003 ceasefire had been in tatters since 2014 with over 5,000 incidents of ceasefire violations reported in 2020 itself. It has destroyed several homes, schools and infrastructure on both sides of the border. The ceasefire agreement reinforces the sanctity of the LoC and increases chances of stability. However, considering Pakistan’s past track record India can’t be euphoric about it and neither can it afford to lower its guard.

Pakistan and Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), set up in 1989 following a G-7 resolution, provides the international standards for anti-money laundering and combatting terrorist financing (AML/CFT). An Inter-governmental organisation with 38 members and two observers, the FATF is a policy making body which sets “standards and promotes effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system” [18].

The methodology of FATF consists of two basic components. One, the technical compliance assessment addresses the specific requirements of the FATF Recommendations, principally as they relate to the relevant legal and institutional framework of the country and the powers and procedures of the competent authorities. These represent the fundamental building blocks of an anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) system. Two, the effectiveness assessment assesses the adequacy of the implementation of the FATF Recommendations, and identifies the extent to which a country achieves a defined set of outcomes that are central to a robust AML/CFT system. The focus of the effectiveness assessment is therefore on the extent to which the legal and institutional framework is producing the expected results.

Together, the assessments of both technical compliance and effectiveness will present an integrated analysis of the extent to which the country is compliant with the FATF Standards and how successful it is in maintaining a strong AML/CFT system, as required by the FATF Recommendations. Since 2001, FATF has been maintaining two types of list: commonly known as the Black List (Formally called the “Call for Action”) and the Grey list (Formally called “other Monitored jurisdictions).

Pakistan, on whose soil several terrorist groups operate freely, and whose agencies are known to have created and supported many of these groups, is an obvious weak point in the International fight combat terrorist financing[19]. Pakistan has been under scrutiny of this terror watchdog and has a long history of FATF grey listing- from 2008 to 2010 and then from 2012 to 2015 for making money laundering and terror funding as its foreign policy tool to foment violence and civil disturbance in its neighborhood.

In June 2018 Pakistan was again placed on the ‘Grey List’ by the FATF and was given a plan of action to complete by October 2019 or face the risk of being placed on the 'Black List' along with Iran and North Korea. The FATF press release indicated that the ‘action plan’ should largely look at plugging the holes in terror financing and activities of UN-designated terrorists.

Action Plan given by FATF

Pakistan will work to implement its action plan to accomplish these objectives that include: (1) demonstrating that TF risks are properly identified, assessed, and that supervision is applied on a risk-sensitive basis; (2) demonstrating that remedial actions and sanctions are applied in cases of AML/CFT violations, and that these actions have an effect on AML/CFT compliance by financial institutions; (3) demonstrating that competent authorities are cooperating and taking action to identify and take enforcement action against illegal money or value transfer services (MVTS); (4) demonstrating that authorities are identifying cash couriers and enforcing controls on illicit movement of currency and understanding the risk of cash couriers being used for TF; (5) improving inter-agency coordination including between provincial and federal authorities on combating TF risks; (6) demonstrating that law enforcement agencies (LEAs) are identifying and investigating the widest range of TF activity and that TF investigations and prosecutions target designated persons and entities, and persons and entities acting on behalf or at the direction of the designated persons or entities; (7) demonstrating that TF prosecutions result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions and enhancing the capacity and support for prosecutors and the judiciary; and (8) demonstrating effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions (supported by a comprehensive legal obligation) against all 1267 and 1373 designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf, including preventing the raising and moving of funds, identifying and freezing assets (movable and immovable), and prohibiting access to funds and financial services; (9) demonstrating enforcement against TFS violations including administrative and criminal penalties and provincial and federal authorities cooperating on enforcement cases; (10) demonstrating that facilities and services owned or controlled by designated person are deprived of their resources and the usage of the resources. [20]

Since then, the country continues to be on that list due to its failure to comply with the FATF mandates and the successive deadlines.


In February 2020, the organization expressed reservations over “Pakistan’s failure to complete its action plan in line with the agreed timelines and in light of the terrorist financing risks emanating from the jurisdiction” and was retained on the grey list till June 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it managed to get an extension of four months[21].

On 13 October 2020, The Asia Pacific Group, an additional affiliate of the FATF in its 45-page mutual evaluation report on Pakistan, mentioned that out of the 40 recommendations only 25 were partially compliant; 4 were non-compliant; 9 were largely compliant areas, only one was fully compliant.

During its virtual plenary held from 21-23 October 2020, FATF concluded that Pakistan will continue in its 'grey' list till February 2021 as it has failed to fulfill six key obligations of the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog that include failure to take action against two of India's most wanted terrorists - Maulana Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed. It also mentioned that Pakistan should continue to work on implementing its action plan to address its strategic deficiencies, including by: (1) demonstrating that law enforcement agencies are identifying and investigating the widest range of TF activity and that TF investigations and prosecutions target designated persons and entities, and those acting on behalf or at the direction of the designated persons or entities; (2) demonstrating that TF prosecutions result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions; (3) demonstrating effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions against all 1267 and 1373 designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf, preventing the raising and moving of funds including in relation to NPOs, identifying and freezing assets (movable and immovable), and prohibiting access to funds and financial services; and (4) demonstrating enforcement against TFS violations, including in relation to NPOs, of administrative and criminal penalties and provincial and federal authorities cooperating on enforcement cases[22].

There was also some progress in a number of areas in its action plan, including: taking action to identify and sanction illegal MVTS, implementing cross-border currency and bearer negotiable instruments controls, improving international cooperation in terrorist financing cases, passing amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act to increase the sanctioning authority, financial institutions implementing targeted financial sanctions and applying sanctions for AML/CFT violations, and controlling facilities and services owned or controlled by designated persons and entities[23].

India being a member of FATF has ensured that Pakistan is rightly put on grey list and should be pushed to the blacklist. FATF, from its own channels, that included field visits, had gathered enough proof to realise the extent of global terror financing that was happening with the connivance of Pakistan-based institutions. FATF should be persuaded not take Pakistan’s anti-terror financing violations lightly and initiate counter measures against it. This will require hard work on the diplomatic front.

As of October 2021 Pakistan continues to remain on the grey list. FATF has mentioned that Pakistan’s continued political commitment has led to significant progress across a comprehensive CFT action plan as Pakistan has completed 26 of the 27 action items in its 2018 action plan. However the FATF has urged Pakistan to continue to make progress to address as soon as possible, the one remaining CFT-related item by continuing to demonstrate that TF investigations and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of UN designated terrorist groups.

A potential blacklisting will lead to Pakistan’s status further demoted, it can be expected that the country will face considerable difficulties and challenges in order to access financial assistance from global economic institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF highlighted that if Pakistan gets demoted to the blacklist, it will have grave implications for capital inflows to the country. Accordingly, after its team-visited Pakistan, the IMF pointed out “A potential blacklisting by FATF can result in a freeze of capital flows and lower investment to Pakistan.” The IMF report has also noted potential risks of FATF blacklisting, which include the freezing of capital flows to Pakistan, slow progress in refinancing or re-profiling loans from major bilateral creditors, and increasing headwinds from a weaker global economic backdrop.

China-Pakistan Nexus

China and Pakistan have continued to maintain close and stable relations even though they lack commonality in terms of ethnicity, religion, culture, language, and societal values. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1951, China-Pakistan ties have steadily strengthened and deepened. In March 1963 Pakistan concluded a border agreement with China under which it ceded to China an area of 5,010 square kilometers of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), an area that remains under Chinese control. The agreement laid a solid foundation for their bilateral relationship. Since the 1990s Beijing has been Pakistan’s top supplier of both military hardware and nuclear technology. However the unholy nexus that started in the military sphere has transcended to other aspects of the relations. The two neighbours are more deeply engaged in non-security-related fields such as economic development, general academic collaboration and cultural exchanges.

Timeline of China Pakistan relations

1950- Pakistan becomes the first majorly Muslim country to recognize the People’s Republic of China

1951- The two countries established formal diplomatic relations

1956- Pakistani Prime Minister H.S. Suhrawardy and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai signed the Treaty of Friendship between China and Pakistan in Beijing

1963- China and Pakistan reach first formal trade agreement.

1963- Pakistan concluded a border agreement with China under which it ceded to China an area of 5,010 square kilometers of PoK, an area that remains under Chinese control.

1965 - In response to war with India, U.S. cuts military support to Pakistan. China soon becomes Pakistan’s principal arms supplier.

1970- Pakistan helps the USA arrange the 1972 Nixon visit to China

1978-The Karakoram highway linking the mountainous Northern Pakistan with western China officially opens

1986- China and Pakistan reach a comprehensive nuclear cooperation agreement

1996 - Chinese President Jiang Zemin pays state visit to Pakistan.

1999 - A 300-megawatt nuclear power plant, built with Chinese help in Punjab province, is completed.

2002 - Chinese Vice Premier Wu Banggu attends ground-breaking ceremony for Pakistan’s Gwadar deep-sea port. China provides $198 million for $248 million joint project.

2006- China Pakistan signed free trade agreement

2008- Pakistan and China agree to build a railway through the Karakoram highway, in order to link China’s rail network to Gwadar port.

2010- Chinese premier Wen Jiabao visits Pakistan

2013- Management of Gwadar Port is handed over to state-run Chinese overseas port holdings

2013- Pakistan and China approved the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that would link Kashgar in Xinjiang to Gwadar in Balochistan

2013- Pakistan and China sign the landmark Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation for the Long-term Plan on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project of Chinese mega initiative in the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).

2014- The governments of Pakistan and China agree on the construction of the 27 km Orange Line metro train project in Punjab.

2015- The two countries celebrate 2015 as the Year of Friendly Exchanges 2015 - Trade between the two countries reaches US $16 billion.

2015- Chinese President Xi Jinping undertakes a landmark visit to Pakistan, both countries signed over 50 documents including the agreement on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) outlining projects worth USD 46 billion. The pledged investment already raised USD 62 billion.

2016- China-Pakistan unveils the Long-term Plan of CPEC, paving the ways for further cooperation and collaboration.

2017- Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif attends the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

2018- Prime Minister Imran Khan pays a historic visit to China and both sides agree to further strengthen the All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership and jointly build Closer China-Pakistan Community of a Shared Future in the New Era

2018- CPEC enters in its Second Phase, focused on social-economic development of Pakistan on a faster pace.

2018- Phase-II of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement was signed, facilitating Pakistani exports.

2019- Prime Minister Imran Khan visits China to attend the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

2019- JWG (Joint Working Group)on International Coordination and Cooperation launched.

2019- CPEC Authority has been set-up to coordinate and monitor progress on CPEC Projects

2020- Extensive bilateral coordination in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic; China is the major contributor who extended the largest amount of assistance to Pakistan in fighting the outbreak.

China Pakistan Economic Corridor

The CPEC, a flagship component of China’s ambitious BRI, was billed as a game changer by the Pakistani elites. Officially launched in April 2015, the economic corridor that would link Kashgar in Xinjiang to Gwadar in Balochistan five years later has entered its second phase. While the first phase was essentially about electricity projects and railway lines the second phase has special emphasis on development of special economic zones, agriculture, industry, trade and science and technology. Some of the projects are the Karakoram Highway (N-35 or National Highway 35), ML-1 railway line, Peshawar-Karachi motorway, Karachi Circular Railway, and Gwadar Port.

India has opposed the BRI for not being transparent in its terms and conditions, for not respecting sovereignty of other states and for creating dependencies and driving recipient countries into debt. CPEC violates India’s sovereignty as it traverses through Pakistan’s illegally occupied part of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh[24].

CPEC is a strategic project that gives China a foothold in the western Indian Ocean with the Gwadar port, located near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, where Chinese warships and a submarine have surfaced. Access here allows China greater potential to control maritime trade in that part of the world—a vulnerable point for India, which sources more than 60% of its oil supplies from the Middle East. What’s more, if CPEC does resolve China’s “Malacca dilemma”—its over-reliance on the Malacca Straits for the transport of its energy resources—this would give Asia’s largest economy greater operational space to pursue unilateral interests in maritime matters to the detriment of freedom of navigation and the trade-energy security of several states in the Indian Ocean region, including India[25].

The Government of India is of the firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms. They must follow principles of openness, transparency and financial responsibility and must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of other nations. Other countries in this regard have also endorsed India’s consistent position[26].

Defense, Nuclear and Missile Cooperation

China-Pakistan relations are moving from an “all-weather strategic cooperative partnership” to one where Beijing is increasingly integrating Pakistan into its military system to fulfill global ambitions.

China-Pakistan defence, nuclear and missile cooperation has strengthened. Pakistan depends mostly on China for its nuclear programme firms arranging critical components for the Pakistani nuclear programme from other countries. The Pakistani nuclear effort received considerable assistance from China. In the late 1970s, Beijing supplied Pakistan with a broad array of missile and nuclear weapons related assistance. This assistance included warhead designs, highly Enriched uranium (HEU), components of various short and intermediate range missile systems, gas centrifuge equipment and technical expertise. The A.Q. Khan network later transferred some of this technology to other countries. In addition to providing technical knowhow China is also financing nuclear reactors either under construction or in design stage[27]. In 1990s, China designed and supplied heavy water Khushab reactor, which plays a key role in Pakistan’s production of plutonium[28].

The legal basis of China’s nuclear trade with Pakistan is questionable. The NPT does not bar civil nuclear commerce with non-NPT countries. Pakistan is not a signatory to the NPT nor a member of the NSG but its benefactor, China, is. Although NSG Guidelines prohibit civil nuclear commerce with Pakistan, China has stated that it signed nuclear agreements with Pakistan prior to joining the NSG in 2004. Since NSG Guidelines exclude such agreements signed prior to 2004, Beijing conveniently uses this grandfather clause in the NSG Guidelines to its benefit.

Pakistan is reportedly expanding its nuclear arsenals and developing new types of nuclear weapons. However, concerns have been raised internationally regarding development of these tactical weapons as Pakistani military commanders could lose the ability to prevent the use of such weapons, which would be more portable and mobile than Islamabad's current nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles. The mix of terrorism and concerns about safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons & material presents challenges, which were voiced by President Obama at the Nuclear Safety Summit in 2016.

China’s military institutions train Pakistani military personnel and carry out joint military and counter-terrorism exercises. China has recently begun helping Pakistan develop aerospace capability. The establishment inside Pakistan of satellite stations linked to China’s BeiDou Satellite Navigation System ensures that the avionics, guidance systems etc., of the Pakistan military will be tied in with Chinese systems[29]. Meanwhile, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been promoting synergy between its personnel deployed in the Xinjiang and Tibet Military Regions—both part of the PLA Western Theatre Command, which exercises operational jurisdiction over China’s borders with Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Support on Kashmir and Pakistan’s Terrorist Activity

China’s support for Pakistan has become more overt since April 2015 with Beijing insisting that India should resume talks with Pakistan and resolve the Kashmir issue. It has also argued that Pakistan is a bigger victim of terrorism. India has firmly rejected China’s interference in the country's internal affairs.

China is giving cover to Pakistani terrorist activity and terrorists like Masood Azhar. China, a veto-wielding member of the UNSC and a close ally of Pakistan, has consistently blocked moves first by India and later by the US, the UK and France to designate Azhar as a global terrorist by the 1267 Committee by putting technical holds, India’s concerns are that Pakistan has increasingly become a pawn in Chinese policy, under an increasing CPEC related debt trap. In future there will be further military dependencies. The collusive China-Pakistan threat, both asymmetric and conventional is likely to magnify[30].


[1]Satish Chandra, India’s relations with its SAARC neighbours, Vivekananda International Foundation, 2019
[3]General VP Malik, A Comprehensive Response Strategy to a Collusive and Collaborative Threat from China and Pakistan, 30th USI National Security Lecture, 2014
[3]Zulfikar Ali Bhutto addressed the UN Security Council on 22nd September 1965. He declared his nation’s intent to “fight for a thousand years” against India. In 1978 Zia-ul-Haq devised a radical strategy to “bleed India through a thousand cuts” giving shape to Bhutto’s pronouncement at UN and initiating terrorism within India through Kashmir.
[4]Kashmir the true story,
[5]Annual Report of Ministry of Home Affairs, 2019-2020.
[6]Christine Fair, Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army's Way of War, 2014, Oxford University Press
[7]Milewski, Terry. “Khalistan- A Project of Pakistan”, Macdonald-Laurier Insititute, September 2020, Available from:
[8]Harsha Kakkar, “Pakistan plan to open Punjab flank”, The Statesman, December 15, 2020
[10]Seshadari Chari, “Kartarpur, Khalistan and Pakistan Army eagerness to open this corridor”, November 8, 2019
[11]Banned Organisations, Ministry of Home Affairs. New Delhi. Available at
[12]Satish.Chandra Indus Waters Treaty Merits Revisit. The Sunday Guardian Live. January 8, 2017.
[13]116th meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission, March 24, 2021,
[14] “India withdraws Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan after Pulwama attack, India Today, February 15, 2019
[15]Tilak Devasher, “Missing factors in India’s policy towards Pakistan”, Vivekananda International Foundation, Occasional Paper, 2017
[16]MEA Bilateral Brief- India Pakistan Relations,
[17]Ministry of Defence, Joint Statement,
[25]Harsh V Pant, “Responding to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Challenge”, Mint , December 1, 2017
[27]Pakistan Nuclear Weapons Program, “Nuclear Threat Intiative”
[28]General VP Malik, A Comprehensive Response Strategy to a Collusive and Collaborative Threat from China and Pakistan, 30th USI National Security Lecture, 2014.
[29]Jayadeva Ranade, “China plans to sell Pak an aircraft carrier and integrate it militarily”, Sunday Guardian Live, February 2, 2019
[30]Dinkar Peri, “Pakistan has become pawn in Chinese Policy- Air Chief”, The Hindu, December 29, 2020

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India-Bhutan Relations


India and Bhutan share decades of close cultural and economic linkages. They share a close relationship not only in terms of geography but also in terms of history, traditions, culture and spirituality. The cordial relations between the two sovereign nations commenced with the Indo-Bhutanese treaty of 1949. Diplomatic relations between India and Bhutan were established in 1968 with the appointment of a resident representative of India in Thimphu. The basic framework of India-Bhutan bilateral relations is the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation signed in 1949, which was revised in February 2007.

Bhutan plays a significant role in two of India’s major foreign policies – the ‘Neighborhood First Policy’ and the ‘Act-East Policy’. The recent high-level exchanges have set the tone for strengthening of the relationship. India’s Prime Minister Modi chose Bhutan for his first international visit after getting elected in 2014. Also, Foreign minister S. Jaishankar visited Bhutan on his first trip abroad after assuming office in June 2019.

India’s soft power in Bhutan is deeply integrated with the overall diplomatic relationship between the two countries.[1]It ranges from economic to cultural partnership. Buddhism has reinforced India’s soft power in Bhutan Government of India has consistently supported the socio-economic developments of Bhutan. The key areas of focus of GOI’s assistance include agriculture and irrigation development, ICT, health, industrial development, road transport, energy, civil aviation, urban development, human resource development, capacity building, scholarship, education and culture. [2]

Economic Cooperation

Mutually beneficial economic ties have been the main pillar of India-Bhutan bilateral relations. India continues to be the largest trading and development partner of Bhutan. Development through Five Year Plans (FYP) in Bhutan started in 1961. The first two five year plans of Bhutan were entirely funded by India.[3] For the 12th Five Year Plan, India’s contribution of Rs. 4500 cr. will constitute 73% of Bhutan’s total external grant component.

Some of the major projects in Bhutan undertaken with Indian assistance in the past include 1020 MW Tala Hydroelectric Project, 336 MW Chukha Hydroelectric Project, 60 MW Kurichhu Hydroelectric Project, Penden Cement Plant, Paro Airport, Bhutan Broadcasting Station, Major Highways, Electricity Transmission and Distribution System, Indo-Bhutan Microwave Link, Exploration of Mineral Resources, and Survey and Mapping[4].

Hydropower Cooperation

Cooperation in hydropower projects is one of the most significant examples of win-win cooperation between India and Bhutan[5]. Bhutan is among the water-rich countries in the world with 30,000 MW hydro potential. India has helped Bhutan harness hydropower energy with new technology and financial assistance. Bhutan understands the dependence of its economy on hydropower and has actively cooperated with India

The ongoing cooperation between India and Bhutan in the hydro-power sector is covered under the 2006 bilateral agreement for cooperation and its Protocol signed in 2009. Four hydro-electric projects (HEPs) totaling 2136 MW are already operational in Bhutan and are supplying electricity to India. The 720 MW Mangdechhu was commissioned in August 2019. Two HEPs namely, 1200 MW Punatsangchhu-I, 1020 MW Punatsangchhu-II in Inter-Governmental mode and Kholongchhu HEP (600 MWs) under the joint venture mode are under various stages of implementation. These projects are a reliable source of inexpensive and clean electricity to India, a major contributor towards Bhutanese GDP and strengthening India-Bhutan economic integration.


India is Bhutan's largest trading partner. In 2018, total bilateral trade between the two countries stood at Rs. 9227.7 crores. Major exports from India to Bhutan are mineral products, machinery and mechanical appliances, electrical equipments, base metals, vehicles, vegetable products, plastics and articles[6].

Total trade between India and Bhutan has nearly doubled in the last five years from 2014-15 to 2018-19. In the year 2014-15, total trade between India-Bhutan stood at 483.8 US$ million and it increased to 1,026.80 US$ million in 2018-19.

COVID-19 and India-Bhutan Cooperation

India-Bhutan relations have been strong during the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders of both India and Bhutan have coordinated responses to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The Government of India has ensured that it delivers all essential commodities such as food, fuel and medicines to Bhutan on time. For this, around 500 trucks reach Bhutan with the daily supplies from India. India provided three consignments of the medical supplies to Bhutan which included Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) [7].

At the regional level, India organised a videoconference on March 15 with leaders of the SAARC countries where Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed a SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund to mitigate the impact of coronavirus in the region.

The crisis led India and Bhutan to jointly work at the regional front. The teamwork showed by the two countries in the challenging time of COVID 19 has further strengthened the special relationship.


[1]Medha Bisht, “What role does the soft power play in the India-Bhutan relations?”, IDSA, April 05, 2019,
[2]MEA Brief, India Bhutan Relations,
[3]Embassy of India, Bhutan.
[5] Nisha Taneja, Samridhi Bimal, Taher Nadeem, Riya Roy, “India Bhutan Economic Relations”, ICRIER, August 2019
[6]Embassy of India, Bhutan.
[7]Sidhant Sibal, "COVID-19 crisis: Ensured essential supplies to Bhutan during lockdown, says Indian envoy Ruchira Kamboj", Wion, May 6, 2020.

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India and Bangladesh

Significance of Bangladesh for India

Bangladesh is India’s immediate neighbour in the eastern frontiers with considerable geostrategic, geo-economics and geopolitical significance.

Currently, India and Bangladesh are enjoying a multi-dimensional and multi-faceted partnership in the region.[1]

The bilateral relationship between both countries were “premised on a cooperative framework enabling a regional platform, which provided opportunities for other neighbours to join the process too”. [2]

India considers Bangladesh a critical partner of her ‘Neighborhood First’ policy and ‘Act East’ policy.

India and Bangladesh “are geographically contiguous and share common ecosystems such as forests and seas”. [3]

The national security of India, the integration and overall development of India’s eastern and north eastern regions are interlinked to the socio-economic and political scenarios of Bangladesh.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic days India and Bangladesh “were the two fastest growing Asian economies” of the world.[4]

Historical Ties

The year 2021 is significant as Indo-Bangladesh is celebrating ‘50 years of the establishment of their ties’ post the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, supported by India.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India states that “the relationship between India and Bangladesh is anchored in history, culture, language and shared values of secularism, democracy, and countless other commonalities between the two countries” and also premised on equality, sovereignty, trust “and win-win partnership that goes far beyond a strategic partnership”.[5]
The language Bengali/Bangla, which is spoken in both India and Bangladesh, is a “strong bond” that glue both the nation-states.[6]

Immediately after the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, India was one of the first nation-states to recognise Bangladesh as an independent country and establish the necessary diplomatic relations with them.[7]
The bilateral relations between both the nation-states have generally been cordial, especially since 2009, when Awami League had come to power in Bangladesh.

Present Engagements

Recent security and defence engagements between India and Bangladesh:-

The “trust quotient” between India and Bangladesh has increased during the period of PM Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina.[8]

An expert points out that “the chemistry between the two leaders is palpable. This arises primarily from India’s unflinching support to the Sheikh Hasina government in the face of domestic opposition and meddling by external actors”. [9] In return, Bangladesh has reciprocated by “demonstrating low tolerance for radicalism and greater sensitivity to India’s security concern”. [10]

India’s security concern pertaining to the anti-India insurgent groups camping in the bordering state of Bangladesh was an issue that has been bothering the country for many years until it was addressed by PM Sheikh Hasina when she returned to power in 2008.

The defence cooperation between India and Bangladesh has strengthened “with India extending a US$ 500 million Defence Line of Credit to Bangladesh in 2019”. [11]

The growing level of military cooperation between the two countries became evident when a “122-member contingent from the Bangladesh Armed Forces” was present at the 2020 Republic Day parade of India. [12]

‘Sampriti’ - a joint counter-terrorism exercise since 2010 between the armies of two nation-states and the joint naval exercises in Bay of Bengal - ‘Bongosagor’ (2019), ‘Ex CORPAT’ (2020) are examples of growing defence
e/military cooperation between India and Bangladesh. [13]
A delegation of Indian army also participated in ‘Shantir Ogroshena 2021 (Front Runner of the Peace)’ - a multinational military exercise held in Dhaka “to mark the birth centenary of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the golden jubilee of the liberation of Bangladesh”. [14]

India-Bangladesh Cross-Border Connectivity

Ever since 2010, India and Bangladesh have been improving connectivity via rail, road and coastal ways.

Some recent agreements between the two countries related to land, cross-border connectivity and transportation are:

  1. ‘The 2015 India-Bangladesh Land Boundary agreement’.
  2. ‘Reviving the Protocol on Inland Water and Trade Transit (PIWTT)’.
  3. ‘The Inauguration of the Maitri-Setu Bridge/India-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge over the Feni river connecting “Sabroom district in south Tripura to Ramgarh in Bangladesh”. [15]
  4. ‘Agreement on the use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports for movement of India’s transit cargo through Bangladesh’.


The two nations share 54 rivers and “a bilateral Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) is working since June 1972 to maintain liaison between the two countries to maximize benefits from common river systems”.[17]

With “the operationalization of the Daukandi (Bangladesh) – Sonamura (Tripura) Inland Waterway Protocol route” in 2020, the cross-border connectivity of India and Bangladesh has achieved another significant milestone.[18]

According to MEA - “the operationalization of this new protocol route, besides further facilitating overall bilateral trade with Bangladesh, will provide an economical, faster, safer and environment friendly mode of transport and will result in substantial economic benefits to local communities on both sides”. [19]

The “opening up of the India-Bangladesh protocol route” could pave way for a “water grid programme” between the two countries; the programme was announced in the 2019 Budget of India.[20]

The plan is to connect 1400-km long National Waterway-1 to 1,600 km long India-Bangladesh protocol route via National Waterway-2; the programme could result in seamless connection between both the countries.[21]

A new border haat is being considered by both countries “at Sonamura subdivision of Sepahijala district, to boost trade and commerce between the two countries”. [22]

Presently, there are four border haats operational along the Indo-Bangladesh border - two in Balat and Kalaichar in Meghalaya; the other two in Kamalasagar and Srinagar in Tripura.

PM Modi and PM Sheikh Hasina have recently launched a 10.5-kilometer-long railway line that “connects Haldibari in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal with Chilahati in Bangladesh”. [23]

The ‘Haldibari-Chilahati rail link’ could increase “the accessibility of the railway network” to the main ports, land borders and dry ports so as “to support the growth in regional trade as well as to encourage the region’s economic and social development”. [24]

In addition to the ‘Haldibari-Chilahati rail link’ , there are 4 other ‘operational links’ between India and Bangladesh. They are - Radhikapur (India)-Birol (Bangladesh), Gede (India)-Darshana (Bangladesh), Petrapole (India)-Benapole (Bangladesh) and Singhabad (India)-Rohanpur (Bangladesh). [25]

Trade and Economic Engagement Between India and Bangladesh

Bangladesh is India’s biggest trading partner in South Asia.

According to MEA, the bilateral trade between the two countries “has grown steadily over the last decade. India’s exports to Bangladesh in FY 2018-19 stood at US$ 9.21 bn and imports from Bangladesh during the same period were US$1.04 bn”. [26]

To promote and advance cooperation in bilateral trade, India and Bangladesh have decided to create “an India-Bangladesh CEO’s Forum to provide policy level inputs in various areas of trade and investment” while also facilitating “exchanges among the business communities of both the countries”. [27]

Power Sector cooperation has become one of the trademarks of India-Bangladesh bilateral relations. Bangladesh is currently importing from India 1160 MW of power.[28]

An Agreement has been reached between India and Bangladesh ‘to export power including building a transmission line from Berhampur in India to Bheramara in Bangladesh’.[29]

India’s ‘Vaccine Maitri’ and Bangladesh

As the new mutant variants of Covid-19 are emerging in different parts of the world, India partners with Bangladesh in her fight against the ongoing pandemic.
Indian government has cooperated with Bangladesh by providing them with protective equipment and necessary medicines to fight the Covid-19 virus.[30]

As on March 4, 2021, Bangladesh became “the highest recipient of the vaccines from India”, after receiving around “9 million doses of the COVISHIELD vaccines from Serum Institute of India (SII)”. [31]

PM Sheikh Hasina has pledged a contribution of USD 1.5 million to ‘the SAARC Corona Emergency Fund’ proposed by PM Modi to combat the Covid-19 pandemic in the region.[32] PM Modi has made an initial offer of USD 10 million for the proposed fund from India’s side.[33]

Bangladesh also extended support to India during the second wave of Coronavirus surge. India received consignments of protective items and medicines from Bangladesh which included 10,000 vials of Remdesivir injection, PPE kits, other Covid-related medicines, hand sanitisers etc.[34]

PM Modi’s Visit to Bangladesh to Celebrate 50 Years of Bangladesh Independence

On 26th March 2021 PM Narendra Modi began his 2-day visit to Bangladesh. The visit by India’s Prime Minister is to “remember ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation of Bangladesh, and celebrate the golden jubilee of the 1971 liberation war”. [35]

With PM Modi selecting Bangladesh for his first foreign visit after the onset of the current pandemic situation, the experts believe that “India’s ties with Bangladesh has gone way beyond symbolism”. [36]

The 2-day visit is considered to be a part of PM Modi’s visionary strategy for developing the eastern and (particularly) the North eastern parts of India with the support of Bangladesh.[37]

India and Bangladesh have signed a total of five Memorandum of Agreements (MoUs) during PM Modi's visit to Bangladesh.[38] The MoUs include areas of sports, commerce, information technology, disaster management, connectivity and more.[39]

During the visit, PM Modi handed over to PM Hasina a ‘representational box’ “as a symbol of India's gift of 1.2 million COVID vaccine doses to Bangladesh”. [40]

After the talks between the leaders of both nation-states, a joint statement has been released reiterating the strong commitment of India and Bangladesh to “eliminating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations”.[41]

The Mitali Express - a new passenger train service to improve ‘people to people connectivity’ was jointly inaugurated by PM Modi and PM Hasina during Indian PM’s two-day visit[42] . The Mitali express is “scheduled to run between Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Jalpaiguri (India, West Bengal)”.[43]

Marking protest against Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Dhaka, hardline Islamist groups unleashed violence across Bangladesh by attacking Hindu temples, train, buses and various government offices in the country. [44] The accusation hurled at PM Modi by the Islamist forces was that he was discriminating minority Muslims against the Hindu-majority in India. [45]

Present Challenges and Way Forward
Issue of Water Sharing

Water has been a problematic dimension of an otherwise ‘warm’ India-Bangladesh relationship, but “to regard water sharing as a contentious issue between India and Bangladesh is too alarmist”, remarks an expert.[46]

Bangladesh has always expressed the desire to “to sign an agreement over the 54 common rivers, which has been resisted by India for long given the different nature of the rivers in question”. [47]

India has also been expected by Bangladesh to share more water particularly from the river Teesta “but New Delhi has so far been unable to strike a deal on the matter, likely due to strong opposition from” her state of West Bengal and its Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.[48]

Bangladesh “being the lower riparian state is in a weaker position on the use of these rivers….If Bangladesh does not get enough water (or if it gets too much when the rivers are full), it will face catastrophe”.[49]

‘Hydrological catastrophe’ in Bangladesh means instability in India`s West Bengal, north eastern region, and even far away states; also, the “severe dislocations in Bangladesh mean refugee and migrant flows into India”. [50]

As no agreement has been reached so far on sharing of waters of the Teesta river with India, the government of Bangladesh “wants to manage the water of its side by building a reservoir so that it could use it in an optimum manner and all through the year. To complete this project, Dhaka in early August 2020 sought financial assistance of nearly $1 billion from Beijing”.[51]

As much as it is a national security concern for India, the settlement of ‘water’ with Bangladesh is also necessary to retain/project India’s role as a responsible and key regional player.[52]

The ‘Indian Opportunity’ in Bangladesh’s Economic Growth

The recent economic growth of Bangladesh can expedite the integration of the regions belonging to the eastern subcontinent.[53]

As pointed out by experts, “Whether one likes it or not, the region’s prospects for a collective economic advance are rather dim. Thanks to Pakistan’s opposition to economic cooperation with India and its support for cross-border terror, the main regional forum for the subcontinent, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), is in a coma”.[54]

Hence, it would be in the best interests of India to use Bangladesh’s economic growth as an opportunity for promoting regional integration amongst India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan and this might help in promotion of the BBIN grouping which has not advanced speedy enough as of now. [55]

Also, the rise of Bangladesh in economic development could augment India’s overall plans to expedite “the development of its eastern and northeastern states”. [56]

Formalisation of The ‘Informal Trade’

Another challenge in the Indo-Bangladesh ties is the need for ‘formalisation of the informal trade’.

It has been reported that the worth of informal trade between the two countries “is equal to, and by some estimates even greater than, formal trade”. [57]

There are studies which “reveal that the goods and commodities engaged are not products of the bordering areas. In the case of ‘informal exports’ from India, a bulk of the material comes from far away states in the western and northern parts of the country”; also, the large portion of goods coming “in via Bangladesh are products of third countries”. [58]

These statistics do not incorporate “trade in contraband items and illegal exports such as livestock”. [59]

The North-Eastern region of India, West Bengal and Bangladesh are a “natural sub-region” - “Without dissolving the artificial boundaries created in the non-sovereign domains, the area will remain forever trapped in a suboptimal equilibrium. Time and circumstances are conducive for breaking that status-quo and both countries must seize the moment”, says an expert. [60]

Other Concerns

The border killings are an area of concern. In the backdrop of “incidents of killings of Bangladesh nationals in 2020” along the Indo-Bangladesh border, EAM Jaishankar stated that though “every death is regrettable….the problem is crime,” also adding that the reported deaths of Bangladeshi nationals are ““are fairly deep inside India”. [61]

Mr. Jaishankar continued by saying that the shared objective of both nation states to address the border killing should be “a no crime-no death border” policy.[62]

Though, over the years India and Bangladesh has made considerable improvement in the cross-border transportation system, this is one area the experts repeatedly suggest India and Bangladesh should increasingly focus upon.

For example, India’s Siliguri (Northern West Bengal) has “a natural advantage for accelerating and epitomising inclusive and sustainable transit transport connectivity for the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) sub-region”, says experts. [63]

As the epicenter of “connectivity as well as transit point between the northeast and the rest of India and with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal”, Siliguri has the capability “to accelerate economic recovery and growth for the people in this sub region”. [64]

Both nations could consider regions like Siliguri to advance cross-border connectivity. The larger idea is to “materialise an inclusive transport-led growth” for the region, particularly for the North-east and eastern parts of India. [65]
According to a recent World Bank report, seamless connectivity in transport between India and Bangladesh has the potential to “to increase national income by as much as 17% in Bangladesh and 8% in India. [66]

The report suggested that by “strengthening the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal motor vehicles agreement (MVA)”, the regional transportation in eastern South Asia could be transformed and thus bring significant economic gains to India and Bangladesh. [67]


[1] Vasisht, Cchavi. “Discussion on India-Bangladesh Relations: Opportunities and Challenges.” Vivekananda International Foundation, 2 Feb. 2021,
[2]Datta, Sreeradha. “Towards a Durable Political Understanding: Fifty Years of Indo-Bangladesh Relations.” Indian Foreign Affairs Journal, 2020, pp. 183–190.,
[3]Vasisht, Cchavi. “Discussion on India-Bangladesh Relations: Opportunities and Challenges.” Vivekananda International Foundation, 2 Feb. 2021,
[4]Datta, Sreeradha. “Towards a Durable Political Understanding: Fifty Years of Indo-Bangladesh Relations.” Indian Foreign Affairs Journal, 2020, pp. 183–190.,
[5]"India-Bangladesh Relations.” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). September 2017,
[6]Ramachandran, Sudha. "India-Bangladesh Relations: Time to Move Beyond Connectivity." – The Diplomat. January 04, 2021.
[7]"India-Bangladesh Relations." Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). September 2017.
[8]Ghose, Sandip. "Modi, Hasina Must Lay Ground for Borderless Economy between India, Bangladesh." ThePrint. March 26, 2021.
[9]Ghose, Sandip. "Modi, Hasina Must Lay Ground for Borderless Economy between India, Bangladesh." ThePrint. March 26, 2021.
[12]Datta, Sreeradha. “Towards a Durable Political Understanding: Fifty Years of Indo-Bangladesh Relations.” Indian Foreign Affairs Journal, 2020, pp. 183–190.,
[14]ANI. “Indian Army Delegation in Bangladesh for Multinational Military Exercise 'Shantir Ogroshena 2021': India News - Times of India.” The Times of India, 4 Apr. 2021,
[15]Gupta, Moushumi Das. "Maitri Setu & Why the India-Bangladesh Bridge Is Being Touted as 'Gateway to Northeast'." ThePrint. March 10, 2021.
[16]PIB. "Union Shipping Minister Flags off First Container Ship from Kolkata Port to Agartala via Chattogram Port." Press Information Bureau. July 16, 2020.
[17]"India-Bangladesh Relations.” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). September 2017.
[18]"Tripura Receives First Ever Inland Shipping Cargo from Bangladesh." Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. September 03, 2020. receives first ever inland shipping cargo from Bangladesh.
[20]Manchanda, Megha. "Water Grid Programme Set to Connect India with Bangladesh Seamlessly." Business Standard. July 06, 2019.
[21] Ibid.
[22]Chakraborty, Tanmoy. “Land for New Border Haat between India and Bangladesh.” Telegraph India, 28 Feb. 2020,
[23] Ramachandran, Sudha. "India-Bangladesh Relations: Time to Move Beyond Connectivity." – The Diplomat. January 04, 2021.
[24]Nag, Devanjana. "Number of Rail Links between India-Bangladesh Rises to Five: Haldibari-Chilahati Railway Line inaugurated." The Financial Express. December 18, 2020.
[25]Parashar, Utpal. "PM Modi, Sheikh Hasina Launch 5th Rail Link Connecting India and Bangladesh." Hindustan Times. December 17, 2020.
[26]MEA. "India-Bangladesh Bilateral Relations." Ministry of External Affairs. January 2020.
[29]Gupta, Shishir. "Delhi-Dhaka Ties Move beyond Symbolism, Seek to Power Growth and Connectivity." Hindustan Times. March 26, 2021.
[30]Vasisht, Cchavi. “Discussion on India-Bangladesh Relations: Opportunities and Challenges.” Vivekananda International Foundation, 2 Feb. 2021,
[31]Siddiqui, Huma. "Vaccine Maitri: Bangladesh Only Country in the World to Receive 9 Mn Vaccine Doses; PM Modi to Visit Dhaka." The Financial Express. March 04, 2021.
[32]PTI. "Bangladesh Pledges USD 1.5 Mn to SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund." March 22, 2020.
[34]"Partnerships of Hope: Bangladesh Contributes to Supporting India to Fight Covid-19." Invest India. May 21, 2021.
[35] Gupta, Shishir. "Delhi-Dhaka Ties Move beyond Symbolism, Seek to Power Growth and Connectivity." Hindustan Times. March 26, 2021.
[37]Gupta, Shishir. "Delhi-Dhaka Ties Move beyond Symbolism, Seek to Power Growth and Connectivity." Hindustan Times. March 26, 2021.
[38]PTI. "Modi Meets Hasina; India, Bangladesh Sign Five MoUs." The Hindu. March 27, 2021.
[39] PTI. "Modi Meets Hasina; India, Bangladesh Sign Five MoUs." The Hindu. March 27, 2021.
[40]PTI. "Modi Meets Hasina; India, Bangladesh Sign Five MoUs." The Hindu. March 27, 2021.
[41]PTI. "Modi Holds 'productive Meeting' with Hasina; India, Bangladesh Sign Five MoUs." Mint. March 27, 2021.
[42]Datta, Sreeradha. “India Bangladesh the Mitali (Friendship) Journey.” Vivekananda International Foundation, 25 Mar. 2021,
[43] Ibid.
[44]Paul, Ruma. "Bangladesh Violence Spreads after Modi's Visit, Attacks on Hindu Temples, Train." Reuters. March 28, 2021.
[46]Datta, Sreeradha. "INDIA-BANGLADESH RELATIONS IN A CHANGING WORLD." UNISCI Journal, January 2019, 191-208.
[47]Datta, Sreeradha. "INDIA-BANGLADESH RELATIONS IN A CHANGING WORLD." UNISCI Journal, January 2019, 191-208.
[49] Bajpai, Kanti. "Why Bangladesh Should Matter to Us - Times of India." The Times of India. September 17, 2011.
[50] Ibid.
[51] Bajpai, Kanti. "Why Bangladesh Should Matter to Us - Times of India." The Times of India. September 17, 2011.
[52] Datta, Sreeradha. "INDIA-BANGLADESH RELATIONS IN A CHANGING WORLD." UNISCI Journal, January 2019, 191-208.
[53] Mohan, C. Raja. "Bangladesh's Rise Is an Opportunity for India, but Is Overshadowed by Negative Domestic Politics." The Indian Express. October 20, 2020.
[54] Mohan, C. Raja. "Bangladesh's Rise Is an Opportunity for India, but Is Overshadowed by Negative Domestic Politics." The Indian Express. October 20, 2020.
[55] Ibid.
[56] Ibid.
[57] Ghose, Sandip. "Modi, Hasina Must Lay Ground for Borderless Economy between India, Bangladesh." ThePrint. March 26, 2021.
[58] Ghose, Sandip. "Modi, Hasina Must Lay Ground for Borderless Economy between India, Bangladesh." ThePrint. March 26, 2021.
[59] Ibid.
[60] Ibid.
[61] Bhattacherjee, Kallol. “Killings along India-Bangladesh Border Because of Crime: Jaishankar.” The Hindu, 4 Mar. 2021,
[62] Ibid.
[63] Chatterjee, Bipul, and Prashant Sharma. "View: Enhancing Siliguri Corridor for Ease of Trade and Transit in South Asia." The Economic Times. February 20, 2021.
[64] Chatterjee, Bipul, and Prashant Sharma. "View: Enhancing Siliguri Corridor for Ease of Trade and Transit in South Asia." The Economic Times. February 20, 2021.
[65] Ibid.
[66] Surojit Gupta / TNN / Mar 9, 2. (2021, March 09). India, Bangladesh to make sharp economic gains with seamless transport connect: World Bank report - Times of India. Retrieved from
[67] Ibid.

[Back to Contents]

India and Nepal


India-Nepal 1,850 km “open and non-regulatory” border provides a basis for resilient socio-cultural and economic relations. The healthy economic ties are reflected in the import-export basket of the two countries, comprising over 60 per cent of trade and commerce. The two countries’ social and cultural relations are established through religious beliefs and pilgrimage, marriages and kinship ties, and similar cultures. Around 8 million Nepalese citizens live and work in India. Nepalese citizens’ involvement in serving the Indian Armed Forces depicts the mutual trust shared between them.

Historical Basis

The India-Nepal relation dates back to ancient times. Nepal was granted a “duty-free” imports and transit facility during British rule. The 1950 India–Nepal Treaty of Friendship, Trade and Commerce laid the foundation for unique cooperation. The treaty ensured the continuation of India’s “special relationship” with Nepal as the importance of ancient cultural ties, including similar social systems, religions, and most importantly, interchanges between citizens through pilgrimage, trade, employment, and marriage. During 1967-68, India emerged as a major aid donor to Nepal, providing approximately 60 per cent as financial aid. Nepal’s trade with India accounted for 98 per cent by 1963-64. The next significant development was the “1996 Trade Treaty” where India provided “duty-free” access to most of Nepal’s manufactures products, except alcohol, perfumes, cosmetics and tobacco products in the Indian market.

However, the India-Nepal relationship has undergone numerous sets of challenges since India’s Independence in 1947 and Nepal’s Revolution in 1950. India’s role in the 1950 Revolution for the democratisation of Nepalese politics was perceived with doubts and anti-Indian sentiments. The use of Indian forces to maintain law and order in Nepalese territory, unequal trade terms, and the language of Indian leaders in the initial years gave an undue and false impression of India’s influence. The next dip in the relationship was during 1988-89. Numerous factors such as negotiations in a trade agreement and Nepal’s import of arms from China harmed the mutual trust between India and Nepal’s national security concerns.

India’s Engagement with Nepal

Indian imports to Nepal outweigh the Nepalese exports to India (Government of India, 2016). [1] In 2015, out of total exports from Nepal, India’s share was 56.7 per cent, whereas India has been a significant supplier of Nepal’s imports with 65 per cent of supplies (WITS 2016). [2] India’s main exports to Nepal are petroleum products, motor vehicles and spare parts, rice and paddy, medicines, electrical and agricultural equipment and parts, and others. Both countries have developed a strong and effective network of informal trade practices at their respective borders.

Indian investments constitute around 30 per cent of Nepal’s total approved Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). About 150 Indian ventures are operating in Nepal in varied sectors such as manufacturing, banking services, power sector, education and telecom services and tourism industries. Some large Indian investors include ITC, Dabur India, Hindustan Unilever, MTNL, State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Life Insurance Corporation of India, Asian Paints, GMR India, Berger Paints, Tata Power, and many others.

The political and diplomatic relations received a boost with the official visit by Indian Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi in 2014, after a gap of 17 years. The emphasis on ‘Neighbour First Policy’ and ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’ has enhanced bilateral relations. There have been regular exchanges of high-level visits and interactions between India and Nepal. Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee visited Nepal in 2016, and Nepal’s President, Mrs Bidya Devi Bhandari, visited India in 2017. India and Nepal also share several bilateral institutional dialogue mechanisms, including the India-Nepal Joint Commission and Nepal-India Parliamentary Friendship Group. Both countries are part of regional organisations, such as SAARC, BIMSTEC and others.

India and Nepal cooperation in the defence sector is unparalleled in the region. The trust is visible with about 32,000 Gorkha Soldiers from Nepal serving in the Indian Army. India is also assisting the Nepal Army in its modernisation by supplying equipment and providing training. Conducting joint military exercises, such as Surya Kiran, and assistance during disasters shows the mutual harmonious relationship between the two armies. In November 2020, Indian Army Chief General, MM Navarane and Indian Foreign Secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla visited Nepal to reset the bilateral ties.

Infrastructure Projects – Varied infrastructure development areas has been recognised, such as health, water resources, education and rural development. In recent years, India has been assisting Nepal in the developing border infrastructure through upgradation of roads, developing cross-border rail links and establishing of Integrated Check Posts at Birgunj, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa, and Nepalgunj. In 2018, the ‘India-Nepal New Partnership in Agriculture’ was launched. Another key area of cooperation is the water resource, as the two countries share numerous small and big rivers. The two countries have a Power Exchange Agreement since 1971 to meet power requirements in border areas. In 2014, PM Modi signed another Power Trade and Development Agreement (PTDA). Successful completion of the cross-border pipeline petroleum products pipeline, connecting Motihari in India to Amlekhgunj in Nepal is the first-of-its-kind in the region. A further boost to connectivity is provided by India as it gave Rs 10,000 crore as a concessional “Line of Credit” to Nepal of develop HIT (Highways, I-ways and Transways). For the financial year 2019-20, the total economic assistance under ‘Aid to Nepal’ was INR 1200 crore.

India promotes people-to-people contacts in the fields of art and culture, academics and media through cultural programmes, scholarships, events organised in partnership with different local bodies of Nepal. Several MoUs/Agreements have been signed between India and Nepal’s cultural organisations, such as MoU between Sahitya Kala Akademi (India) and Nepal Academy, Doordarshan (India) and Nepal TV and many others. Both governments are also cooperating for the twinning of sister cities Kathmandu-Varanasi, Lumbini-Bodhgaya and Janakpur-Ayodhya. To showcase Indian culture, Swami Vivekananda Centre for Indian Culture was set up in Kathmandu in 2007. Way back in 1991, BP. Koirala India-Nepal Foundation was set up to foster educational, cultural, scientific and technical cooperation between India and Nepal. Both nations’ citizens cross the border for work, business opportunities, trading and maintaining their strong kinship bonds.

Current Challenges

Unequal trade relations – The total bilateral trade in 2020-2021 reached USD 7436.26 million. In 2020-2021, while Nepal’s exports to India stood at USD 670.33 million, India’s exports to Nepal were USD 6765.93 million. [3] The overall growth in bilateral stood at -5.53 per cent. [4]

Pending border disputes – In 2020, the two countries faced a border row because of the inauguration of an 80-km long road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand by the Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Nepal protested that the road passed through its territory and later passed Constitutional Amendment endorsing a new map, including the disputed areas – Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiadhura within its territory. Earlier, in 2019 India published maps picturing Kalapani as part of India’s territory. However, the bilateral ties were brought on track with a series of high-level interactions, but still, the dispute remains unresolved.

Revising the 1950 treaty - The imposition of economic blockade by India in 2015 generated a feeling of India’s high handedness among the new generation of Nepalese. The trade embargoes by India are political but have political, economic and social impacts. The 1989 embargo by India resulted in Nepal decision to import arms from China. The embargo has also led to Nepal shifting its dependence on China. Until 2015, India was the only exporter of fuel to Nepal, but during the 2015 blockade, there was an acute shortage of fuel, and Nepal shifted towards China for the supply of fuel. [5]

Open and porous borders have been exploited by the insurgent groups as entry points, safe havens, training and support. For example, the Assam’s Kamptapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) is said to have linkages with the Maoist insurgents of Nepal. There is also a Nepal claims that India treats it with high-handedness. In contrast, India has objected to Nepal’s insensitivities for India’s security concerns.

China’s interference – Nepal shares a 1,414 kilometres border with China on the northern side of Nepal. Therefore, Nepal holds strategic importance for India’s security concerns. In recent years, China has emerged as the largest source of Foreign Direct Investments in Nepal and the second-largest trading partner of Nepal (WITS 2016). Nepal is also cooperating with China under its Belt and Road Initiative. While evaluating China’s increasing closeness with Nepal, it is pertinent to note that China’s economic assertiveness also have strategic and security implications. [6] In 2020, China’s President Xi Jinping ordered a high-level four-member team of communist party officials to travel to Kathmandu to stop the Nepal Communist Party from splitting. In 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping stopped over in Kathmandu and concluded a 14-point joint statement focussing on elevating the Nepal-China relationship to a ‘strategic partnership’. [7]

The Way Forward

Since 2015, the bilateral ties between India and Nepal have been marred by political and border tensions. The anti-India ultra-nationalistic outlook sported by the former Prime Minister KP Oli has deteriorated the relations. However, with the fall of the Communist government in July 2021, the new government under Sher Bahadur Deuba is attempting to ease ties with India. As a result, a number of delegations of the ruling Nepali Congress Party have visited India between August to November 2021. The ruling BJP delegations have equally reciprocated these visits to Nepal. While the two countries hope to resolve the existing tensions, the next general elections in Nepal will be a deciding factor in the bilateral ties. KP Oli led UML is still the largest party in the Parliament. To achieve political victory over UML, the Nepali Congress party will have to fight intense in the forthcoming elections. Meanwhile, India should continue its interaction with Nepal in its best diplomatic efforts and deal with the concerning areas.

Noteworthy, Nepal acts as a buffer state and holds economic and strategic importance for India. There is a need for immediate review of the India-Nepal Friendship Treaty 1950. Nepal wants to appear as an independent country, but the 1950 Treaty does not show such a status as Clause 2 and the letter accompanying the treaty requires the two parties to forge a joint strategy to avoid any threat stemming from a third country. India itself is thinking to revisit its traditional foreign policy objectives and principles to take a pragmatic course for realising its short- and long-term security and other interests. Further, a detailed boundary inspection through sophisticated technology can be one of the solutions to resolve the border dispute. With the help of diplomacy and dialogue, both countries must work together to regain their bilateral relationship strength.


Nepal established its diplomatic with China in 1955. It was a significant step towards King Mahendra’s quest to diversify Nepal’s bilateral ties other than India. The late King Tribhuvan had been wary of Chinese intentions in Nepal, especially after the forced annexation of Tibet by Communist China. King Tribhuvan solely relied on the advice of India for its security and foreign policy. However, his son Mahendra chose to drift away from India. By formalising relations with China, Nepal intended to benefit from China mutually. For instance, China had been looking for international recognition of Tibet as a Chinese territory through its One China Policy (OCP). While other countries had to take a diplomatic stand on OCP, neighbouring Nepal’s endorsement meant that Tibet was historically part of China and countries in a similar geopolitical setup did not receive any threats from China. Secondly, ties with Nepal would challenge India’s regional presence.

On the other hand, Nepal intended to move away from India’s mutual security obligations and use China as a pressure point in case of a dispute with India. To further deepen the ties, Nepal and China signed a Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1960, followed by a border agreement in 1961. In the early years, China contributed to several developmental projects, including Araniko Highway connecting Nepal’s capital City Kathmandu to border town Kodari on the Nepal-China border. However, amidst the 1962 Sino-India War, Nepal chose to stay neutral to avoid confrontations with India and China.

Chinese Concerns over Tibetan refugees in Nepal

Dalai Lama’s refuge in India and outpouring of thousands of Tibetan refugees in Nepal to reach India drove panic in China. Therefore, for a close vigil of the Tibetans crossing the China border to reach India via Nepal, China had reportedly pushed Nepal to pursue its Zone of Peace Policy which would free Nepal from any security obligations towards India. The Zone of Peace Policy could not materialise due to India’s strong objections to it. Also, despite pressure from China, Nepal provided a safe passage to the Tibetan refugees to join the Tibetan Government in Exile logged in Dharamshala, India. It also hosted thousands of refugees who chose to stay in Nepal. In 1989, Nepal had stopped issuing refugee cards to Tibetans, but with the intervention of the United Nations, Nepal agreed upon a Gentleman’s Agreement to protect their rights.

BRI and Strategic Cooperation

In the present context, China continues to focus on its two objectives in dealing with Nepal. First, to secure Nepal’s commitment to OCP and pressure to stop any free-Tibet movements in Nepal; second, challenge India’s presence in Nepal through its deep economic pockets. In one such effort, China had successfully persuaded the Nepalese government to sign its ambitious multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) [formerly known as One Belt One Road] in May 2017. In the follow-up to the BRI agreement in 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Nepal in October 2019. Xi became the first president to visit China after twenty-three years. The last Chinese President to visit Nepal was Jian Zemin in 1996. The bonhomie extended by Prime Minister KP Oli was shown through a mega welcome given to the Chinese President. During the visit, the two countries elevated the bilateral ties from Comprehensive Partnership of Cooperation Featuring Ever-lasting Friendship to Strategic Partnership of Cooperation Featuring Ever-lasting Friendship for Development and Prosperity. Prefixing strategic partnership with Nepal has been a long-standing desire for China which it achieved in 2019.

Since 2017, the Nepalese Army has held bilateral military excises named “Sagarmatha Friendship Exercises” with China’s People’s Liberation Army, and so far, only two excises have taken place. However, the formalisation of Military ties keeps China in an advantageous position. It may allow China to access a potential Nepalese market for its defence products. Two, the Joint Agreement signed during Xi’s visit to Nepal categorically asks Nepal to expedite the process of signing the Extradition Treaty. The treaty was reportedly scheduled to be signed during the visit of Chinese President Xi in 2019. However, due to the reported protests from political parties, international organisations and civil society members, it was replaced with the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. Meanwhile, once the Extradition is signed, it will jeopardise the future of more than 20,000 Tibetan Refugees living in Nepal.

Economic and Political Cooperation

The economic cooperation between Nepal and China has also advanced in the last seven years. In 2014, China had surpassed India, becoming the most prominent Foreign Direct Investor in Nepal. The investment has focused mainly on development projects in Nepal, including building Pokhra International Airport in Nepal. As per the Chinese state media Xinhua, “China has committed the largest share of foreign direct investment (FDI) received by Nepal with investment pledges of 22.5 billion Nepali rupees (188 million US dollars) in the 2020-21 fiscal year that ended in mid-July.” [8] On the political front, Prime Minister KP Oli’s Communist Party of Nepal (UML) have established party level ties with the Communist Party of China (CPC). During the political confrontation between Prime Minister KP Oli and Maoist Chief Prachanda in 2021, the CPC delegation arrived in Nepal to mediate and suggest Oli and Prachanda continue with the Communist alliance. However, despite the best efforts of China, the two broke the coalition, causing frustration in Beijing. Oli led government was friendly and hospitable to Chinese interests.

People to People Ties

At the people-to-people level front, China attempts to explore the ancient Nepal-Tibet ties. The Chinese Ambassador has been an active participant and host during Nepal’s religious and cultural festivals. Also, in recent years, Nepalese students have made China one of the important educational centres. It is estimated that more than 6000 Nepali students are currently registered with the Chinese universities in several academic programmes, especially for medical education. [9] Meanwhile, since the closure of the Chinese borders due to COVID-19, thousands of Nepalese students are stuck at home with no hope of returning. [10] Social media has been abuzz with Nepalese students demanding their return to China to complete their studies.

Perils of Himalayan Quad

Further, amidst an ongoing Quadrilateral Security cooperation between the US, India, Japan and Australia or “Quad”, the concept of “Himalayan Quad” has emerged as a potential China-led block consisting of Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Himalayan Quad is seen as a counter-balance to an existing Quad grouping led by the United States. The term “Himalayan Quad” was incepted in the backdrop of the First Foreign Minister Level meeting between China, Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan for effective coordination in responding to COVID-July 19-21, 2020. Chinese state media has been quick to validate the ‘Himalayan Quad’ and termed it an important cooperative mechanism “to build a community with a shared future for mankind”. However, no further progress was reported in this regard until December 2021.

The Way Ahead

Chinese presence in Nepal is primarily based on its twin objectives - Tibet and India’s traditional presence in Nepal. In addition to these two, the presence of the United States continues to bother China. As a result, through a nexus with the communist forces in Nepal, China has been trying to create a China-friendly space in Nepal. However, advances made by China in the backdrop of Nepal-India border tensions are a matter of great concern for India. China will continue to exploit political instability in Nepal and counter India on several fronts, including assistance, investment and trade. While India and Nepal are resolving their issues diplomatically, the new generation of the young Nepalis still sees 2015 blockade like situations as a challenge to Nepal’s independence and security. Social media is highly popular among the youth, which has/had led to #GoBackIndia and #backoffIndia trends on twitter. Therefore, India needs to focus more on its developmental works in Nepal to safeguard its goodwill in Nepal. Also, a friendly government in Nepal will continue to boost bilateral ties.


[1] Government of India, Exports and Import Data Bank, 2016, Ministry of Commerce, India.
[2]World Bank. 2016. World Integration Trade Strategy.
[3]About India Nepal Relations, Embassy of India, Kathmandu, Nepal
[4]Indian Embassy in Nepal “COMMERCE WING UNCLASSIFIED BRIEF As on 2 July, 2021”
[5]Deepjyoti Chand, “Trade Embargo as a Geopolitical Tool: A case of Nepal-India Trade Relations” Polish Political Science Review, 2018, Vol 6: Issue 1.
[6]Girdhari Dahal, Foreign Relation of Nepal with China and India. Journal of Political Science, 2018, Vol. 18, pp: 46-61.
[7]Joint Statement between Nepal and People’s Republic of China, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kathmandu, Nepal
[8] “China remains largest source of FDI for Nepal for 6 consecutive years” Xinhua, July 21, 2021,
[9] “Over 100 Nepali students to study in China under government scholarship” Xinhua, August 28, 2019.
[10] “China’s Nepali students in limbo” Nepali Times¸ October 04, 2021.

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India-Afghanistan Relations


India and Afghanistan have a strong relationship based on historical and cultural links. The historic linkages are recorded from the Indus Valley Civilisation. During the Mauryan period (post Seleucid-Mauryan war in 305 BCE) in the area south of the Hindu Kush mountain range, Hinduism and Buddhism flourished. Until the arrival of Islam in 07th Century, Afghans had strong influence of Hinduism and Buddhism. Between 10th Century to mid-18th Century, north India was invaded by the Islamic invaders based in Afghanistan, including Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khaljis, Suris, Mughals, and Durranis. During Mughal period in India (1526-1858), several Afghans migrated to India due to political unrest in their respective provinces/regions. [1]

Among other prominent political linkages in modern era, Indian National Congress Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was the leader of Khudia Khidmatgars, an important leader in the Indian Independence Movement. The agreement emphasise on the fundamental and lasting importance of the Treaty of Friendship between the Government of India (GoI) and the Royal Government of Afghanistan of 04 January 1950, and subsequent agreements and joint statements between two nations. In January 1950, India and Afghanistan signed a five-year Treaty of Friendship in New Delhi, India, which provided an establishment of diplomatic posts in each other’s countries. [2]On 19 July 1973, India was one of the first countries to recognise the new Republic of Afghanistan. On 03 September 1975, both countries signed a Trade Agreement. [3] In recent years, India-Afghanistan relations have been further strengthened by the Strategic Partnership Agreement, signed between the two countries on 04 October 2011. [4]

Key Projects and Initiatives of Rebuilding Afghanistan

India’s development portfolio of more than USD 3 billion for Afghanistan is aimed at building capacities and capabilities of Afghan nationals as well as its institutions to improve governance and public service.

India’s participation in Afghanistan’s development process is based on five foundation stones:

  • Large infrastructure projects.
  • Human resource development and capacity building.
  • Humanitarian assistance.
  • High-impact community development projects.
  • Enhancing Trade and Investment through air and land connectivity.

Through its commitment, India has successfully completed large infrastructure projects in Afghanistan, including 218 kms road construction from Delaram to Zaranj (along with international border with Iran) in Nimruz Province in southern Afghanistan. The road provides alternate connectivity for Afghanistan through Iran; India–Afghanistan Friendship Dam (IAFD) aka Salma Dam in 2016; and the Afghan Parliament building inaugurated in 2015, which is a symbol of Afghan democracy.
Since its inauguration in 2017, the India-Afghanistan Air Freight corridor has witnessed close to 1,000 flights, carrying goods valued at over USD 216 million. This has provided a boost to Afghan exports to India and has directly benefitted Afghan farmers, small traders, and exporters.

More than 65,000 Afghan students have studied in India under various scholarship programmes, and 15,000 students are presently studying in India. Three thousand scholarships so far have been granted to young Afghan women to pursue higher studies in India. Going beyond basic education, India also provided vocational training to a large number of women in Afghanistan.

Through Chabahar port in Iran, India provided 75,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan during the coronavirus pandemic. India also sent more than 20 tonnes of “life-saving” medicines and other medical equipment to Afghanistan as an assistance to address the coronavirus challenge.

In 2020, India signed an agreement with Afghanistan for building the Shatoot dam, which would provide clean and safe drinking water to two million residents of Kabul city. It builds on the 202-km Phul-e-Khumri transmission line of 2009. India will also launch Phase-IV of High Impact Community Development (HICD) projects in Afghanistan, which include approximately 150 projects worth USD 80 million.

The most important symbol of India’s assistance in the reconstruction of Afghanistan has been the construction of the multipurpose Afghan India “When Afghanistan becomes a haven of peace and a hub for the flow of ideas,commerce, energy and investments in the region, we will all prosper together.” — Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friendship Dam (AIFD). The project implementation faced several challenges, including logistical and security aspects. The project was inaugurated jointly by the Prime Minister of India with the President of Afghanistan on 4 June 2016. The Dam has an installed capacity of 42 MW and supplies water for irrigating 75,000 hectares of land. Since then, the project has been generating electricity and releasing water for irrigation[5].

The Taliban Takeover and India’s Options in Afghanistan

On 15 August 2021 the Taliban captured Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. It was the culmination of a military offensive that began in May 2021 against the Afghan government. Most of the provincial capitals of Afghanistan had fallen one after the other amid a U.S. troop withdrawal to be completed by 31 August 2021.
There are grass root concerns about the fallout of the situation in Afghanistan on the internal security situation in India, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and the hinterland.

As far the recognition of Taliban led government in Afghanistan is concerned India continues with its wait and watch policy.

India should ramp up its efforts to induce west to impose sanctions on Pakistan. Pakistan has not been just involved in soliciting funding for the terror acts of the Taliban, financing their operations, giving diplomatic networking as the Taliban's indirect representatives overseas. Moreover, it also involved in arranging training for the Taliban, recruiting skilled and unskilled manpower to serve in Taliban armies, planning and directing offensives, providing and facilitating shipments of ammunition and fuel. Both at the diplomatic and the track two levels India should develop a narrative of Pakistan’s role in supporting Taliban. India should also recalibrate its policies by enhancing collaboration and cooperation with regional countries like Iran and Tajikstan. Lastly our policies should be empathetic towards the “people of Afghanistan[6].

The increasing level of violence in Afghanistan remains a matter of grave concern for India. While India supports all efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan,

A unified Afghanistan with sovereign, independent, and functional Afghan government based on the principles underlying the current constitution, including democracy, non-violent political competition, and basic human rights for Afghan people.

An Afghanistan that prevents terrorist groups from using its soil as safe haven and to train and mount attacks both in the region and around the world.
An Afghanistan that serves as a central trade and transit hub connecting South and Central Asia.

India is seeking ways to scale up humanitarian assistance. India also announced that it will deliver urgent humanitarian aid consisting of food grains and medicines to the people of Afghanistan.

India has invested heavily in peace and development in Afghanistan. New Delhi has reiterated the need to preserve the gains of the last two decades, and the interests of Afghan minorities, women and other vulnerable sections must be ensured.


[1]Adamec, Ludwig W. 2012. Historical dictionary of Afghanistan. 4th ed. USA:Scarecrow Press
[2]Government of India-Ministry of External Affairs. “Treaty of Friendship”, 04 January 1950, Available from: Accessed on 09 April 2021.
[3]Government of India-Ministry of External Affairs. “Trade Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of the Republic of Afghanistan”, 03 September 1975, Available from: Accessed on 09 April 2021.
Embassy of India in Afghanistan. “Bilateral Brief”, August 2020, Available from: Accessed on 10 April 2021.“India, Afghanistan sign 5 pacts for developing educational infra in Afghan provinces”, Hindustan Times, 05 July 2020, Available from: . Accessed on 15 April 2021.“India-Afghanistan: A historic and time-tested friendship”. Available from: . Accessed on 03 April 2021.Chaudhury, Dipanjan Roy. “India announces set of development projects for Afghanistan as country prepares for transition”, The Economic Times, 24 November 2020, Available from: . Accessed on 15 April 2021.
[4]Government of India-Ministry of External Affairs. “Text of Agreement on Strategic Partnership between the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan”, 04 October 2011, Available from: . Accessed on 05 April 2021.
[5]Ministry of External Affairs, India and Afghanistan- A Development partnership,

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India-Maldives Bilateral Relations


India and Maldives share close and strong relation of friendship and cooperation through ethnic, linguistic and cultural connections. The relationship has been strengthening with the high-level official visits in recent years.

Except of the period of six years between February 2012 to November 2018, the relationship has been close, cordial, and multi-dimensional. After the Maldives’ independence in 1965, India was among the first nation to recognise and establish diplomatic relations with the Island nation.

During the first few decades of the Maldives’ independence, the bilateral relationship was limited, although the two nations did sign a comprehensive Trade Agreement in 1981. However, bilateral relations took their first major step forward following India’s intervention to quell a coup attempt against then Maldivian government in November 1988. [1]

India’s prompt assistance during the November 1988 Coup attempt and the immediate withdrawal of Indian forces when they were no longer required rejected the notions of any Indian dominance or territorial aspirations[2]; which further led to the long-term trustworthy and friendly bilateral relations between both countries.

The proximity of the Maldives to the West Coast of India—which is barely 70 Nautical Miles away from Minicoy and 300 Nautical Miles away from India’s West Coast[3]; and its situation at the hub of commercial sea-lanes running through the Indian Ocean, highlights Maldives’ significant strategic importance to India.

Maldives, positioned as a “Toll-Gate” between the Western Indian Ocean points of the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Homruz at one side, and Eastern Indian Ocean points of the Strait of Malacca on the other. Therefore, the geo-strategic importance of the Maldives to India has increased hugely.
The one-time claim of Maldives over Minicoy Island was resolved under the Maritime Boundary Treaty of 1976 signed between India and the Maldives, where latter has recognised Minicoy Island as an integral part of India.

Defence & Security Cooperation

Since 1988, defence and security has been a significant area of cooperation between India and the Maldives. Through largest number of training opportunities for Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF), India has been providing assistance in capacity building by meeting Maldives’ requirements of defence training and equipment—approximately 70 per cent. [4]

Since 1991, in addition to other joint defence exercises, India and Maldives have been conducting a series of the Coast Guard maritime joint training exercises— “DOSTI”.

The main objective of “DOSTI” is to strengthening cooperation between the Coast Guards of India and Maldives, with a view to enhance mutual capabilities for search and rescue operations, combating piracy and armed robbery, damage control and casual evacuation at sea for safer seas. [5]

According to the official data of 2019-2020, India has trained over 1250 MNDF personnel and have offered 175 training vacancies over the last decade. Along with military-to-military exercises at various occasions, the Indian Navy has deployed Mobile Training Teams (MTT) of Marine Commandos to Maldives in 2017, 2018 and 2019. India has also processed a proposal to establish relations between Maldives’ MNDF’s College of Defence Studies and Indian Defence Universities, extending the defence cooperation to of Joint Exercises, Maritime Domain Awareness, gifting of hardware, infrastructure development. [6]

In strong defence and security ties, the Indian armed forces have played an essential role through collaboration with the Maldivian armed forces to enhance the overall defence and security capabilities of the Maldives, for peace and stability in the region.

COVID-19 Vaccine Assistance

Among India’s neighbours, Maldives has been highly beneficiary of Government of India (GoI)’s COVID-19 relief.

From 13-21 March 2020, a 14-member Rapid Response Medical Team (RRMT), including Anaesthetist, Pulmonologist, Cardiologist, Public health care specialist, nurses, etcetera, from the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) was deployed in Maldives. The team guided and provided training to the Maldivian authorities and personnel tackling coronavirus threat in the Island nation.

On 14 March 2020, India donated 317 cartons of essential medicines to meet three months requirement of Maldives.

As a part of ‘Operation Sanjeevani’, a special Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft airlifted 6.2 tonnes of essential medical supplies from India to Maldives on 02 April 2020.
On 20 April 2020, the Indian PM had telephonic conversation with President of Maldives on the challenges posed by COVID-19 threat. The Indian PM assured the President of Maldives of continued Indian support for minimising the health and economic impact of COVID-19.

On 20 January 2021, Maldives received 1,00,000 doses of COVISHIELD vaccine under the Vaccine Diplomacy Programme (VDP) from India. Among India’s neighbouring countries, Maldives has been the largest COVID-19 assistance recipient with medicine supply, food supply, medical team, training and financial assistance of USD 250 million.[7]

After a month, on 20 February 2021, India’s Minister of External Affairs—S Jaishankar gifted another 1,00,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine during his two-day visit to the Maldives. The MEA Jaishankar also announced a “standalone new Line of Credit (LoC)” worth USD 40 million from India for sports infrastructure development in Maldives.[8]

Other Key Projects and Assistances

India was the first among nations to provide assistance to the Maldives during the 2004 Tsunami crisis, and water crisis in Male in 2014. Under “Operation NEER”, India supplied bottled drinking water to Male through aircrafts and Navy ships. The assistances from India (in 1988, 2004, 2014) highlighted India’s proximity and capacity to recue Maldives in distress situations, which are widely acknowledged by the people and government of the Maldives.

In recent past, India assisted Maldives with around USD 40 million Line of Credit (LoC) for the housing sector. Following are some of the major infrastructure projects that have been successfully implemented as India’s assistance to Maldives’ development programme.

The Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) was built with Indian Grant Assistance in 1995, with major renovation cost of ₹ 52 crore.

The Maldives Institute of Technical Education (MITE)—currently known as the Maldives Polytechnic project. MITE was completed at a cost of ₹ 12 Crore and handed over to the Government of Maldives in 1996.

The Faculty of Hospitality & Tourism Studies’ Foundation Stone was jointly laid by the former Indian Prime Minister (PM) Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom during former’s visit to the Maldives in September 2002. The faculty was handed over to the Government of Maldives in 2014.
Under the Technology Adoption Programme in Education Sector in Maldives, India funded the ICT training to Maldivian teachers and youth for vocational training. The project was worth USD 5.3 million and was concluded in December 2020.

Under the financial assistance of USD 33 million, India is building a Police Academy of Maldives in Addu as a part of National College for Policing and Law Enforcement (NCPLE).

During a virtual meeting with Maldives’ Foreign Minister—Abdulla Shahid, on 13 August 2020, India’s Minister of External Affairs—S Jaishankar announced the Government of India (GoI)’s decision to support the Government of Maldives (GoM) in implementation of the Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP) through a Line of Credit (LoC) of USD 400 million and a grant of USD 100 million. The GMCP is a crucial project for the proposed Gulhifalhu Port and will act as a major catalyst for the Maldivian economy in the future through jobs and economic activity.

The on-going projects include the Maldives Mapping and National GIS Development Project, Hulhumale’ greening and Hulhumale’ breakwater projects, Strengthening National Planning Capacity Project. [9]
In the important area of Science and Technology, India has been contributing to Maldives’ development through three long-term and short-term programmes—Indian Technical Education Cooperation (ITEC) programme, Aid to Maldives (ATM) programme, and the Commonwealth programme. The long-term development areas include, medicine, social sciences, commerce, information technology, and defence related studies, whereas, computer studies, and other technical & vocational training programmes comes under short-term development areas.

China as an Imminent Player in the Maldives

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1972, the two countries have supported each other, whether it is support for economic development or support at international forums. The Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation was signed in 2004 and the bilateral free trade agreement in 2017. China has increased its economic influence in the country by focussing on building the infrastructure, such as the Sinamale bridge aka China-Maldives friendship bridge. The Maldives is also part of the China’s Maritime Silk Route. However, since 2018, there are voices raised over the Chinese debt trap. As per the recent statistics, Mr Nasheed, Speaker of Parliament stated that the Chinese debt comprises of USD 3.1 billion, including, government-to-government loans as well as the private sector. [10] Despite these concerns, China continues to be an important player in the country. China supplied medical supplies and equipment, helped improve the testing capacity and also provided assistance during the COVID-19 crises. The Maldives also assisted the stranded Chinese tourists and personnel engaged in the projects of the BRI in the Maldives.


[1]Poplin, Cody M. “India-Maldives Brief”, Centre for Policy Research, 02 December 2014, Available from: . Accessed on 31 March 2021
[2]Government of India. “India-Maldives Bilateral Relations”, Ministry of External Affairs (IOR Division), September 2020, Available from: 25 March 2021
[4] Ibid.
[5]Government of Maldives. “Maldives-India Relations”, High Commission of the Republic of Maldives in India, Available from: Accessed on 01 April 2021.
[6]Government of India. “India-Maldives Bilateral Relations”, High Commission of India in Maldives, August 2020, Available from: Accessed on 01 April 2021.
[7]Bagchi, Indrani. “India to supply COVID vaccines to six nations; Maldives, Bhutan to be first recipients”, The Times of India, 19 January 2021, Available from: Accessed on 02 April 2021.
[8] “India gifts another 1 lakh COVID-19 vaccines to Maldives”, The Asian Age, 21 February 2021, Available from: ; Accessed on 02 April 2021.
[9]Government of Maldives. “Maldives-India Relations”, High Commission of the Republic of Maldives in India, Available from: Accessed on 01 April 2021.
[10]Anbarasan Ethirajan, China debt dogs Maldives' 'bridge to prosperity’, BBC, 17 September 2020,

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India and Myanmar

Key Engagements and Way Forward

Since the initiation of political reforms in 2010, Myanmar aimed to increase engagements with other nations, like India, Japan, United States, Russia, South Korea and others; and decrease its dependence on China. Myanmar has transformed itself socially, economically and politically. November 2020 marked a significant event in Myanmar’s journey of democratic transition, with the National Democratic League (NLD) winning a landslide victory. However, on 01 February 2021, the Myanmar military aka Tatmadaw declared a state of emergency for a year and detained the NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other government officials. The brief aims to foresee India’s prospects for increasing engagements with Myanmar in the context of the declaration of emergency in Myanmar and the change in administration in the United States (US).

Historical Ties between India and Myanmar

India and Myanmar signed a Treaty of Friendship in 1951. The visit of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1987 laid the foundations for a stronger relationship between India and Myanmar.

India’s Myanmar policy turned pragmatic by the early 1990s when the Government of India took a conscious decision to improve relations with the Junta government in Myanmar. Operation Golden Bird, conducted along the Indo-Myanmar border in the North-Eastern state of Mizoram in April–May 1995. Former foreign secretary, Late J.N. Dixit stated that since 1992 New Delhi start with a policy of ‘constructive engagement’ with the military regime.

A number of agreements enhancing bilateral cooperation have been signed between the two countries. Institutional mechanisms for facilitating regular dialogue on a range of issues of bilateral interest have also been established.

High-level visits have been a regular feature of India-Myanmar relations for several years. During the talks, the issue of security and stability along the land border shared by the two countries received special attention. Earlier in the 1990s and again in recent years, Myanmar has reassured India that Myanmar's territory will not be used for attacks against India.

India and Myanmar embarked on the journey of market-oriented reforms in the early 1990s. Both countries signed a Bilateral Investment Promotion Agreement (BIPA) and a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) in 2008. India and Myanmar are signatory to the India-ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement. Myanmar is also a beneficiary country under India’s Duty-Free Tariff Preference Scheme for LDCs.

India has accomplished several projects in Myanmar, which were executed by Indian institutions, both government and private. The projects have covered various sectors such as roads, railways, telecommunications, and energy.

The origin of the Indian community in Myanmar is traced back to the mid-19th century with British rule in Burma in 1852. A large number of the Indian community is living in Mynamar.

Indian government is also involved with the restoration and conservation of ancient pagodas in Myanmar that had suffered damage due to severe earthquakes in 2016. India’s cultural and religious roots are shared deeply across the entire region. The performances by Indian cultural troupes in Myanmar have been organised regularly since 1997.

Myanmar’s Importance for India

Myanmar’s geographical location gives it a strategic position in India’s domestic and foreign policy. India shares a 1,643 km land border and maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal with Myanmar.

Myanmar is a crucial partner of India’s strategy to bridge South and South-East Asia through ASEAN, BIMSTEC and Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC). Myanmar is also associated with SAARC as an observer since 2008.

India’s economic engagements with Myanmar; facilitating connectivity, trade and investments. To access Myanmar’s rich resources, such as oil and natural gas, teak, paper, and others.

Stability in North East India and control insurgency. Indian insurgents in the North East have maintained sanctuaries inside Myanmar since the late 1960s. Myanmar being part of the Golden Triangle, drug trafficking is a paramount security concern for both countries.

Historical and Cultural relations, such as the development of “Buddhist Circuit”

India’s Engagement with Myanmar

The first joint visit by the Indian Foreign Secretary and the Army Chief in October 2020. The visit marked a crucial outreach by India to build security and economic ties.[1]

Myanmar has cooperated with India for carrying out Operation Sunrise to curtail the problem of insurgency.[2] Also, the Tatmadaw has been collaborating with the Indian Army to deny the AA escape routes and safe havens in India.
India-Myanmar signed a strategic defence cooperation agreement in 2018. India has also increased military exports to Myanmar, such as anti-submarine torpedo-Tal Shyena. Taking bilateral defence cooperation to new heights, India delivered Russia’s Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine, the INS Sindhuvir to Myanmar Navy. [3] Both countries conducted joint military operations (IMBAX-2017 and IMBEX-2018-19).

With over USD 1.2 billion, Myanmar has the highest Indian investment in any country in South Asia. Recently, India proposed to invest USD 6 billion to set up an oil refinery near Yangon.

India and Myanmar agreed to operationalise the strategic Sittwe port in Rakhine state in the first quarter of 2021 and initiate steps to complete India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highways. [4]

On 27 December, Myanmar signed an agreement with the Serum Institue of India to procure COVID-19 vaccine. [5]

Present Challenges

Delay in Connectivity Projects and security challenges. The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs has stated that the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project is under threat due to “adverse security condition”.

Myanmar’s imports have decreased substantially since 2011; Myanmar exports to India have decreased from 15.5 per cent to 2.9 per cent in 2018. India is the seventh-largest export destination of Myanmar, accounting for 2.9 per cent of Myanmar’s exports in 2018.

Insurgent groups from Kachin, Karen, and other ethnic groups are harbouring militants from northeast India, who receive arms and other support from China. Proximity to the ‘Golden Triangle’ together with a porous and poorly guarded border provides the enabling environment for traffickers to smuggle heroin and psychotropic substances.

The continued influx of Rohingyas refugees to India has remained a threat to internal security.[6] In the past few months, over 100 Rohingya refugees were arrested for illegally crossing the border.

Countering China dominance in Myanmar and the region. There is constant pressure from China to move forward with its BRI infrastructure projects in the country. China is also establishing military facilities in 14 countries, including Myanmar, according to Pentagon annual report “Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China (PRC) 2020”. The Pentagon said that China uses OBOR to support China’s development and deepen its economic integration with nations. [7]

The Way Forward

Supporting Myanmar democratic processes, due to the current emergency, India faces the dilemmas of maintaining a balance between the military forces and civilian government in India. Unlike in the past, India must engage strategically with the country to avoid any further push towards China.

Explore diverse sectors for trading - Indian Foreign Secretary - Harsh Vardhan highlighted the potential of exporting the northeast surplus hydropower to Myanmar.[8] Establish more Border Haats at strategic points and improve the border infrastructure at trading points.

Solving the security issues and Rohingya Crises The Biden administration will be pushing for Rohingyas’ safe return. The Director of the Myanmar Institute for Peace and Security, Dr Min Zaw Oo, urged that the new US administration’s interaction “should be supportive”, as the strict and targeted approach could further damage relations between the US and Myanmar and push Myanmar closer to China.

US support to India as an important player The US foreign policy under new President Joseph Biden is centred on promoting democracy and human rights violations in armed conflict areas of Myanmar. The US has also imposed targeted sanctions on Myanmar military officials involved in the military coup. The US has shown significant importance of India in the India-Pacific region, such as in 2018, the US military renamed its Pacific Command as the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM). The QUAD latest submit in February 2021 brings back the focus on the changing balance of power in the Indo-Pacific. [9] If the US provides support to India as an important player in Myanmar, then it would significantly boost India’s presence in the region.

Myanmar is an important neighbour for India for fulfilling its objectives under ‘Neighbourhood First’ and the ‘Act East’ policies. India must prioritise and decide the key drivers for establishing the relations: Economic interests or Security concerns. With the declaration of state of emergency, the world countries have condemned the situation in Myanmar and demanded the restoration of the country’s democratically elected government. However, world countries must move cautiously and avoid any push towards China as done in the past. It is essential to balance Myanmar relationship with world countries in these times of crises.


[1]MEA, “Visit of Chief of Army Staff and Foreign Secretary to Myanmar”, 05 October 2020, Press Releases,
[2]Manish Shukla, “India Myanmar Army Launches Operation Sunrise 3 to Crackdown insurgent groups at India-Myanmar border”, 26 October 2020, ZeeNews
[3]MEA statement
[4]MEA Statement
[6]Cchavi Vasisht, “Myanmar Round Up: December”, Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi
[7]Press Trust of India, “China eyes military facilities in Pak, Myanmar, 10 other nations: Pentagon”, 03 September 2020, Business Standard
[8]IANS, “North East India gateway to East, SE Asia: Foreign Secretary Shringla”, 16 September 2020, South Aisa Monitor
[9]MEA, “3rd India, Australia, Japan, USA Quad Ministerial Meeting”, 18 February 2021, Press Release,

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India-West Asia Relations

India’s West Asian Connections

The West Asian region is considered as India’s extended neighbourhood. India’s engagement with the region is rooted in history, cultural exchanges and vibrant diaspora. West Asia is crucial for India’s energy needs and economic pursuits. India’s policy is undergoing change as a result of the changing geopolitical dynamics within the region.

India after independence emerged as a strong proponent of de-colonisation and anti-imperialism guiding its foreign policy in the region. It was opposed to western intervention in the region and sided with pan-Arabism and the Palestinian cause. India was close to Baathist and pan-Arab regimes such as Egypt under Abdel Gamal Nasser; Iraq under Saddam Hussein; Syria under Hafiz Al Assad and Bashar Al Assad; Libya under Muammar Gaddafi etc. during the Cold War period.

Pakistan’s use of the Islamic card had hindered India’s engagement with the region including prohibiting participation in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) despite having one of the largest Muslim populations in the world. India was particularly worried about Pakistan’s membership in the pro-western Baghdad Pact along with Turkey and Iran. The pro-western political, military and strategic partnership fostered a special relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia including the stationing of Pakistani troops in Saudi Arabia and the funding of Pakistani arms acquisitions and its emerging nuclear weapons program. As the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan intensified, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also became a particularly strong Pakistan supporter. These same two Arab countries became the staunchest supporters of the Taliban regime.

The 1979 Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan intensified strategic cooperation among the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. It was also during this period that Islamist groups backed by the US, the Gulf States and Pakistan emerged to evict Soviet forces. These radical groups multiplied in subsequent years threatening western states, West Asia and South Asia.

India’s relations with West Asia until the end of the Cold War were primarily shaped by India’s policy responses to evolving geopolitical ground realities internationally and in the region. In the post-Cold War period, India opted for economic and foreign policy changes to adjust to the new global geopolitical realities. India’s foray into liberalisation and globalisation was complimented by national interest oriented pragmatic foreign policy. India ceased viewing the region through Pakistani prism; discontinued the use of strong rhetoric to denounce policies of other states and abandoned defensive, reactive policy approaches. India therefore reached out to all the states in the region without siding with any one bloc. It also opened diplomatic ties with Israel and gradually engagement in the field of arms, technology and agriculture flourished.

Over the years, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have emerged as India’s pre-eminent oil and gas supplier and leading trade partner. Indians are the largest expatriate group in each of the six GCC states. In fact, in 2020, 70 percent of overseas Indians are working in the six GCC states.

India is the largest recipient of remittances globally. In 2021, India received US$ 87 billion, an uptick from US$ 83 billion in 2020. The World Bank has projected an increase up to U$$ 89.6 billion in 2022. The reasons for the steady increase in remittances were family loyalties and stimulus payments in several host states.
The remittances from Gulf States contribute a major chunk in India’s total share. In fact, the UAE (US$ 43 billion) and Saudi Arabia (US$ 34.5 billion) are second and third largest sources for remittance outflow globally in 2020. In 2020, India recorded 17 percent decline in remittances from the UAE due that repatriation of workers that lost employment during COVID 19 pandemic period. Notably, around 1.2 million workers from Kerala returned due to pandemic induced job losses.

India’s engagement with the region has intensified under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Indian Prime Minister visited the UAE on three occasions in August 2015, February 2018 and August 2019. He also visited Saudi Arabia in April 2016 and September 2019. Prime Minister Modi visited Qatar in June 2016; Jordan, Palestine and Oman in February 2018 and Bahrain in August 2019. He had also visited Turkey on G20 summit in Antalya. Modi during his visit to Iran on 24 May 2016 signed the historic deal to develop Chahbahar port. Narendra Modi also became the first Prime Minister to visit Israel in July 2017. India under the current government is actively seeking to expand the nature of engagement from transactional one to full-fledged strategic cooperation. The Indian government as part of the “Act West policy” has enhanced its profile in the areas of investments; counter-terrorism cooperation; maritime cooperation and trade.


The UAE has emerged as the pivot to India’s Act West policy. The UAE was the first West Asian state visited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 16-17 August 2015. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited India in January 2017 and in fact he was the Chief Guest of Republic Day celebrations for that year. It reflects India’s foreign policy priority and the importance it accords to the Gulf state.

In terms of India’s strategic perspective, the UAE occupies a central position due to its geographical location at the intersection of the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. The need to maintain an effective maritime infrastructure with the UAE and securing sea lines of communication. India-UAE trade, valued at US$ 180 million per annum in the 1970s, is currently at US$ 59 billion making UAE, India's third largest trading partner for the year 2019-20 after China and US. The UAE is the second largest export destination of India with an amount of nearly US$ 29 billion for the year 2019-20. For UAE, India is the second largest trading partner for the year 2019 at US$ 41.43 billion in non-oil trade.

Saudi Arabia

With regard to Saudi Arabia, the Delhi Declaration signed during King Abdullah’s visit in 2006 provided a new impetus to ties in light of the US’ War on Terror campaign. Both states identified the importance of cooperation in countering the common threat of terrorism and transnational crimes such as money laundering, drugs and arms smuggling, and concerted efforts were made for setting up International Counter Terrorism Centre agreed during the International Conference on Counter Terrorism held in Riyadh in February 2005.

India considers Saudi Arabia as a reliable source of oil supplies and it largely sides with its petroleum policies. The energy dynamic has transformed from a buyer-seller relationship into a full-fledged energy partnership and the number of cooperative and joint ventures in public and private sectors and investments in oil refining, marketing and storage have exponentially surged. Both states are working to develop knowledge-based economies based on advances in the areas of information technology, space science as well as joint cooperation in research and education, information technology and services, science and technology, and peaceful uses of outer space.

Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trade partner. India imports around 18% of its crude oil requirement and 30 % of its LPG requirement from Saudi Arabia. In FY 2019-20, bilateral trade was valued at US $33.07 billion. During this period, India’s imports from Saudi Arabia reached US $26.84 billion and exports to Saudi Arabia were worth US$ 6.24 billion registering an increase of 12.18% over last year. Total trade with Saudi Arabia accounted for 4.23% of India’s total trade in FY 2019-20.
In light of the COVID-19 crisis, India’s health diplomacy with Saudi Arabia has only increased providing medicines and vaccines.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE will continue to remain strategically important for India as source of remittances, investments and fuel directly impacting the economy. India is keen to gain access to technological innovations in the post-Abraham Accord period.


India’s engagement with Qatar has witnessed steady increase and the relationship has grown over the years. Qatar is an important source of natural gas and remittances for India. Both states have carried out several high level visits including state visit by Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani in March 2015 and visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Doha in June 2016.

During the 2015 visit by Emir, both states agreed to cooperate on several sectors including energy, power, petrochemicals, investments, infrastructure development, project exports, education, culture, health, human resource, media and IT. Both states also signed agreements on investments, finance, skill development and recognition of qualifications, heath, custom matters, tourism, sports, technical cooperation in cyber space, combating cybercrime, ports management etc. Maritime security and naval cooperation is a crucial dimension in India-Qatar relations and Indian naval ships have regularly visited Qatar.

During the second wave of COVID-19 in India, Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) sent medical relief material. Qatar Airways also carried medical aid to India from different states free of charge. Qatar Petroleum (QP) filled Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) in cryogenic tankers which were shipped to India.

There are over 700,000 Indian nationals in Qatar. India is highly invested about the welfare of the Indian diaspora. India expressed concern about the possible impact of Saudi Arabia and the UAE led boycott of Qatar in 2017. Indian government welcomed the GCC Al-Ula summit in January 2021 that facilitated rapprochement and restoration of full ties between Saudi Arabia/ UAE/ Bahrain/ Egypt and Qatar. India hoped that such positive developments would further promote peace, progress and stability in the region.


Kuwait is one of the crucial allies for India in the Gulf region. India’s key interests in Kuwait are energy, diaspora and remittances. India is hoping to encourage investments and secure defence partnership with Kuwait. In 2019-2020, Kuwait was the 10th largest oil supplier to India providing 3.8 percent of India’s energy needs. In terms of trade, Kuwait is one of the largest trading partners in the Gulf region.

In terms of high level visits, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Dr. Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah visited India in March 2021 and met with Indian External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar. The major visits have been on energy and external affairs ministers’ level. Kuwaiti Prime Minister, Sheikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Hamad Al Sabah’s last official visit was in 2013. It is likely that Indian Prime Minister would visit the Gulf state in early 2022 to forge defence partnership, encourage investments and expand trade relations.


Bahrain and India enjoy cordial relations based on history, cultural exchanges etc. Bahraini King, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in his first ever visit to India in 2014 met with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Pranab Mukherjee and other Indian leaders.

Narendra Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Bahrain in August 2019. The Indian Prime Minister was bestowed Bahrain Order-First Class on His Excellency for strengthening bilateral relations. Both leaders emphasised on the importance of promoting high level political exchanges, defence and higher education cooperation, energy, trade and economic relations, people to people linkages, maritime security, regional connectivity projects, UN reforms etc.
India and Bahrain have signed MOUs on cultural exchanges, space tech., launching RuPay card etc. Indian energy firms have been seeking to pursue opportunities for exploring and developing the newly discovered oil and gas reserves. Both states have conducted Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) since 2011.


Oman is India’s strategic partner since 2008. Oman has placed itself as the interlocutor at GCC, Arab League and Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). Oman supports India’s candidature for permanent seat in the UN.

Oman’s long time Sultan Qaboos maintained warm ties with the Indian leadership. Indian government after his death announced one day of mourning and awarded the late Sultan with Gandhi Peace Prize in March 2021.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February 2018 visited Muscat and met with Omani leaders and business community. Both sides discussed about strengthening cooperation in trade, investment, energy, defence and security, space cooperation, food security, mining and regional issues. The Indian Prime Minister stressed on attracting investments and assured that his government is changing the style of misgovernance.

India and Oman have agreed to work together in nine areas of cooperation i.e., agriculture, health, infrastructure, tourism, chemicals and fertilisers, education, oil and gas, power and mining. India and Oman maintain regular coordination through joint working groups in manpower, agriculture, health and science and tech. Both sides have signed number of bilateral agreements in health, tourism, military cooperation, peaceful uses of outer space, extradition, agriculture, civil aviation, maritime issues etc. In terms of trade, India is the third largest source of imports for Oman after UAE and China.

India is particularly interested in forging maritime security partnership with Oman due to its geostrategic location and Indian naval ships regularly visit Omani ports to further naval cooperation.


During British rule over India, the Indian experience in terms of the administrative model and political language was applied in the Arab world including Yemen. Aden became a part of Bombay Presidency in 1839 along with Khuriya Muriya islands in present-day Oman in 1954. Aden Protectorate served as the westernmost frontier of the British Indian Empire from 1839 until 1937. India was one of the first states to recognize North Yemen in 1962 and South Yemen in 1967. Yemen has supported India’s permanent seat in the UN Security Council (UNSC).

In the post Arab Spring period, India supported the GCC transition plan and recognised the government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. India has maintained regular diplomatic communication with the transitional government. India in the post-Arab spring period is keen to participate in Yemen’s political, economic and social recovery.

The Saudi air attacks since 2015 and the worsening civil war endangered the lives of the Indian expatriate community living in Yemen. Indian Navy’s INS Tarkash and INS Sumitra in coordination with Indian Air Force launched Operation Raahat between 31 March and 8 April 2015 to extradite the Indian and the international diaspora. The Indian expedition succeeded to evacuate around 4640 Indians and 960 individuals from 41 nationalities.

India is ardently in favour of a negotiated solution to achieve peace in Yemen and staunchly opposes the use of violence. It has expressed support for President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi government. India sees the civil war in Yemen as an intra-Arab conflict and the tension between Hadi and Southern Movement is seen through the prism of divergent priorities between Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

India’s relations are highly cordial with both Saudi Arabia and the UAE and therefore it has adopted a policy of non-interference in Yemeni affairs. At the same time, India wants to broaden the scope of engagement in Yemen’s reconstruction and nourish cooperation in developing political institutions, energy, education, health and pharmaceuticals, technology and humanitarian assistance.


India was a close friend of Iraq under Saddam Hussein. India after 2003 US invasion of Iraq has been supporting free, democratic, pluralistic, federal and united Iraq. India committed US$ 20 million in assistance in 2003 and it has promptly provided relief and contributed in economic reconstruction directly as well through the UN.
In terms of high-level visits, Indian Minister of State, V Muraleedharan visited Iraq in September 2019. The Indian Minister met with Iraqi President, Prime Minster, Foreign Minister as well as the President and Prime Minister of the Kurdish Regional government. Most visits have been on external affairs, health and education ministers’ level.

Iraq has been one of the largest suppliers of crude oil to India. In fact, in 2017-2018, Iraq was the largest supplier of crude oil. Indian oil companies have deep interests in the Iraqi oil sector. India’s trade relations with Iraq have also increased.

India has provided assistance in capacity-building to Iraq under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) to train Iraqi officials. In 2020-2021, 200 slots were allotted under ITEC programme.


India has historically maintained cordial ties with the Bashar Al Assad regime and supports Syria’s claim over the Golan Heights occupied by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israel war. Syria has reciprocated by supporting India’s position on the Kashmir conflict.

India has continuously expressed its scepticism against the policy of regime change in the region. India rejected the unilateral actions by regional and western powers since 2011 that topple President Bashar Al Assad that contributed to instability and escalated the crisis rather than resolving it. India voted for the UNSC resolution proposed by the Arab League calling for the settlement through Syrian led inclusive political process on 4 February 2012. Subsequently, it abstained from voting on UN General Assembly resolution in August 2012 that called for severing diplomatic ties with the Syrian regime and resignation of President Assad.

India maintained its support for the Assad regime and continued regular diplomatic engagement during the course of the civil war while expanding ties with the Persian Gulf states that were actively plotting to remove Assad. India hosted the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in August 2011. The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held discussion with Syrian Prime Minister Wael Al Halki during the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Tehran in August 2012.
In January 2016, Syrian Foreign minister Walid Al Moualem met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, then Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval and discussed about the security situation in the region including the Islamic State (IS), peace talks, trade and energy prospects and humanitarian aid. The Indian government offered medicines worth US$ 1 million during the visit. In August 2016, Minister of State for External Affairs M. J. Akbar visited Syria to promote security and economic cooperation.

The Syrian Minister of Higher Education Atef Naddaf visited India in April 2018 to enhance cooperation in the field of education. Indian government during the visit also offered 1000 scholarships to Syrian students under ‘Study in India’ scheme. Moreover, India is also keen to engage in intelligence cooperation to counter common threat arising from the IS.

India is interested to participate in the post-war reconstruction process and offered line of credit especially in the power and steel sector. India’s reconstruction capacity in Syria has been however, affected by the economic consequence of the COVID-19 crisis. India has provided hydroxychloroquine tablets to Syria during the ongoing pandemic.


India shares excellent ties with Lebanon since establishment of diplomatic relations in 1954. In 2020, there were 8000 to 9000 Indian nationals in Lebanon working in industrial firms and agricultural sector. Most of them are however living illegally.

India-Lebanon bilateral trade is relatively modest with total trade worth US$ 234.91 million in 2019-2020. India’s exports to Lebanon include machinery, textile articles, plastics; precious stones etc.

In terms of high level visits, Lebanese Agriculture minister Akram Chehayeb visited India in 2015 and Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, M J Akbar visited Beirut in 2019. Besides, ministerial level visits, there have been number of secretary level visits. Both states have signed number of MOUs in cultural and educational exchange; agricultural and allied sectors; tourism; setting up of Yoga Chair; Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection (BIPPA); Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA); Mutual and Legal Assistance and Judicial Cooperation; Extradition and transfer of sentenced persons; Labour & Manpower; skill upgradation etc. The Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation [ITEC] programme initiated in 1964 has offered 75 civilian slots and 25 defence slots to Lebanon in 2019-2020.

An Indian battalion (INDBATT) has been deployed in UNIFIL since November 1998. The battalion currently consists of 860 defence personnel including 4 doctors and 1 nursing staff officer, who are deployed in the eastern-most sector of Lebanon’s southern border with Israel at the tri-junction with Syria. Additionally, 16 Indian defence personnel including the Deputy Force Commander are based in UNIFIL Headquarters, Naqoura, together with a 21-member medical team.

India in 2014 provided US$ 500,000 and US$ 500,000 in 2016 to Lebanon as part of its commitment to financially support the state hosting around 1.7 million Syrian refugees. The Indian government after 4 August 2020 port blast flew 58 metric tons of food and other relief material. India also provided medicines considering the COVID-19 crisis.


India and Egypt as founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement maintained close ties and both states signed Friendship Treaty in 1955. India maintained high level exchanges with Egypt after 2011 Arab Spring protest and hosted then President Mohamed Morsi in March 2013.

The incumbent President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi that came to power after removing Morsi in Jun 2014 visited India in September 2016. Earlier in September 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then President Pranab Mukherjee met with President Al Sisi on the sideline of UN General Assembly in New York.

India and Egypt have outlined political-security cooperation, economic engagement and scientific collaboration and cultural and people to people ties as the basis of partnership in the new era. India and Egypt maintain close coordination on bilateral, regional and global issues.

India and Egypt have jointly set up several mechanisms of bilateral institutional dialogue at different levels including Foreign Office Consultations, Working Group on Cyber issues; space; science & tech; defence; counter-terrorism; agriculture; biotechnology; nanotechnology, renewable energy etc. India considers Egypt as central for the stability of West Asia and North Africa. Political, economic and security engagement is likely to further grow in the coming years.


Jordan is integral to India’s Look West Policy due to its geostrategic location and diplomatic relevance. Jordan is also pivot to India’s approach to Israeli-Palestinian conflict. India is deeply invested in Jordan’s stability and any adverse political and security complications could affect India’s ability to engage with Palestine and provide economic assistance.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Amman on 9 and 10 February 2018 during his visit to Palestine. Jordanian King Abdullah visited India on 28 February-1 March 2018 in which 12 MOUs were signed. Jordan is also one of the most inclusive and tolerant society in the region. Both leaders emphasised on the relevance of Islamic heritage and thinking to tackle today’s problems during the conference on “Islamic Heritage: Promoting Understanding & Moderation held on 1 March 2018.

Both states maintain close coordination on global and regional issues through regular Foreign Office Consultations. India is keen to improve capacity building efforts within Jordan. Jordan has assured its full support for India’s permanent seat in the UN Security Council.


India had officially recognised Israel in September 1950 and allowed to establish an immigration office which was later converted into a trade office. India between 1947 and 1992 saw the Jewish state for pan-Arab and pan-Islamic lens and relations remained low-key. Eventually, India normalised relations with Israel in 1992. In the initial period, defence and agriculture were two main pillars of bilateral engagement. Over the years, the relationship has diversified into several sectors including pharmaceuticals, IT, telecom, and homeland security. The volume of trade has also surged from US$ 200 million in 1992 to US$ 5.65 million.

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee visited Israel in October 2015 and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited India in November 2016.

Narendra Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel in July 2017. Both sides upgraded the relationship to strategic level and signed seven MOUs encompassing R&D, innovation, water, agriculture, space. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to India signed agreements on cyber security, oil and gas cooperation, film co-production and air transport.


India’s ties with Iran continued to grow after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. After a period of regional turmoil caused by the Iran-Iraq war and 1991 Gulf war, Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao visited Iran in 1993 and President Hashemi Rafsanjani visited India in 1995. India’s current Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi visited Iran on 22-23 May 2016 and President Hasan Rouhani visited India on 15-17 February 2018. Both states are seeking to increase cooperation in terms of scientific exchanges; cultural exchanges; interaction between think tanks; health; development and operations at Chahbahar Port and rejuvenation of civilizational connect. India and Iran are working together to rejuvenate the civilizational connect between the two states. Iran at the same time is strategically crucial for India to nurture inroads into Afghanistan and Central Asia.

India in compliance with US sanctions stopped the supply of Iranian gas in May 2019. The diplomatic communication however remained strong and Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar participated in the 19th Joint Commission Meeting on 22-23 December 2019. The two countries have in place several Bilateral Consultative Mechanisms at various levels which meet regularly. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif participated in the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi from 14-17 January 2020 in the background of General Soleimani’s death. India is highly concerned about the regional tensions caused by the US and Israeli actions inside Iran as well as Iran’s provocations in the Strait of Hormuz and supply of military equipment including drones to its allies. India is opposed to the prospect of nuclear proliferation in the region and strongly favours the use of nuclear energy by Iran only for peaceful purposes.

India supports the US return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and renewal of dialogue that may lead to comprehensive peace. Moreover, reconciliation between Iran and the Gulf states is economically and strategically beneficial for India. In this light, India has welcomed Saudi Arabia’s rapprochement with the Gulf States.

India has managed to effectively balance its relationship with Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iran. India has refrained from interfering in the region and avoided taking sides. India continues to be a huge market for energy exports from the Gulf states and Iran. At the same time, Israel is one of the largest defence suppliers for India. In the coming years, Iran would continue to remain strategically significant for India.

India in May 2016 signed bilateral agreement with Iran on Chahbahar Port development project. Iran was granted a 10-year lease to refurbish one of the berths at Shahid Beheshti terminal, operate two terminals and five berths, and reconstruct a 600 meter long container handling facility and access to the Chahbahar free trade zone. India has maintained close cooperation with Iran with regard to the Chahbahar Port. India envisioned Chahbahar Port as a strategic counterweight to the Gwadar port funded by China and allows access to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan. The trade zone at Chahbahar could serve as an important weigh station for India’s energy imports, food and material exports for Kandla and Mundra ports. India has utilised the port to send 75000 MT of wheat as humanitarian food assistance to Afghanistan in 2020. The associated rail project connecting Chahbahar and Zahedan could permit India an independent corridor to Afghanistan, Central Asia and possibly Russia.

Despite hiccups over the railway line project due to delays in initiating and funding by India, the port development project has continued. Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar speaking at parliament on 10 December 2021 updated about India Ports Global Limited (IPGL)’s operational duties since taking over on 24 December 2018. The port has handled 160 vessels, 14420 twenty foot Equivalent Units and 3.2 million tons of cargo. The terminal has handled shipments from Oman, Kuwait, the UAE, Bangladesh, Thailand, Russia, Uzbekistan, Brazil, Germany, Ukraine and Romania. India has committed total grant assistance of US$ 85 million and credit facility of US$ 150 million for development of Shahid Behesti Terminal, Chahbahar Port. India has provided 6 Mobile Harbour Cranes and other equipment’s worth US$ 25 million.


India’s relationship with Turkey has experienced sporadic tension largely due to Turkey’s pro-Pakistan position on the Kashmir issue. Earlier during the Cold War period, Turkey was part of the NATO while India maintained a non-aligned posture. The relationship witnessed an uptick after then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Turkey in 2003 and mutual concern towards terrorism provided impetus for setting up Joint Working Group on Terrorism.
During then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit, both states signed free trade agreement 2008. In 2009, Turkey's first Nano satellite was sent to space on a PSLV C-14 rocket by the Indian Space Research Organisation. President Erdogan during his 2017 visit was accompanied by a 100-member business delegation. The Turkish delegation expressed interest in India’s ‘smart cities’ initiative, hoping to capitalize on the expertise of Turkish firms in construction and in the infrastructure sector.

Despite the economic gains, political differences have impeded the relationship. The Turkish government has requested India to shut down Gulen Schools which has been denied by the Indian authorities. Indian officials are concerned about Turkish efforts to penetrate the country’s populous Muslim minority and use the Indian Muslim network for Pakistan’s benefit.

Turkey under Pakistan’s influence has been highly vocal about India’s decision to abrogate Article 370. India has countered Turkey’s criticism calling it as an internal affair. India is also worried about Turkey’s growing regional aspirations. India to stymie Turkey’s postures has increased dialogue with Cyprus, Greece, and Armenia.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cancelled trip to Turkey in October 2019 as well as halt in US$ 2.3 billion naval deal with a Turkish defence company should be seen in this light. In view of the burgeoning defence ties between Turkey and Pakistan, India cut its defence exports to Turkey while signing a $40 million defence deal with Armenia. India also condemned Turkey’s military operation to Northern Syria in October 2019.

Abraham Accords

India has wholeheartedly welcomed the decision by the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco to establish diplomatic ties with Israel. India is hopeful that the normalisation process would encourage Israel to renew dialogue with the Palestinians to establish an independent state based on mutual recognition. India is keen to benefit from its strategic alliance with Israel and the UAE to increase investments, nurture science research and cooperate in COVID-19 vaccine production and distribution globally.

Abraham Accords has paved the way for India to join the Quadrilateral Initiative along with the UAE, Israel and the US. The new forum is premised on economic cooperation in transportation, technology, trade, water, agriculture, health.

The forum has offered opportunity for India to frame a regional policy. India’s engagement has traditionally been on bilateral lines. India through the new formulation is seeking to maximise its economic interests in the region. India should identify the areas of cooperation that could be mutually beneficial for all four states.

There is a serious risk in transforming the new group into a strategic forum due to the diverse political and economic interests of its constituent members.
The UAE and Israel enjoy huge economic ties with China. It is not likely to shape into an anti-China bloc. Israel’s push to formulate an anti-Iran posture is likely to be blocked by India. The forum without getting drawn into strategic issues could serve as an effective forum to share concerns of member states.

Civil Wars

India is ardently in favour of a negotiated solution to achieve peace in Yemen. It has expressed support for President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi government. India sees the civil war in Yemen as an intra-Arab conflict and the tension between Hadi and Southern Movement is seen through the prism of divergent priorities between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. India’s relations are highly cordial with both states and therefore it has adopted a policy of non-interference in Yemeni affairs. At the same time, India wants to broaden the scope of engagement in Yemen’s reconstruction and nourish cooperation in developing political institutions, energy, education, health and pharmaceuticals, technology, and humanitarian assistance.

In Syria, India has historically maintained cordial ties with the Bashar Al Assad regime and supports Syria’s claim over the Golan Heights. India favours restoration of state order under Bashar Al Assad and largely abstained from the UN Security Council resolutions criticising the regime that has been used to justify external intervention.

There is a need for addressing the genuine grievances of the political opposition groups. The UN, according to the Indian perspective, should assist the Syrian parties and oversee the democratic process. India supports Assad regime and has maintained regular diplomatic engagement during the civil war while expanding ties with the Persian Gulf states.

India’s policy on the Libyan civil war is driven by national interest and suspicion about the use of force by western actors in internal conflicts, especially in the West Asian region. India recognised the interim NTC government on 16 November 2011 and offered financial support and medicines to Libya and number of diplomatic exchanges were carried out.

India’s diplomatic outreach towards Libya was affected after Khalifa Haftar took control of eastern Libya. India was therefore, forced to evacuate its embassy to D’jerba in Tunisia in August 2014 and later to Malta.

India supports the internationally recognised government based in Tripoli under Fayez al-Sarraj. India favours genuine international efforts to resolve the crisis in Libya. India is hopeful that Berlin Conclusions could positively contribute to stabilising the state leading to fair elections and formation of credible and democratic government.

India received over $83 billion in remittances in 2020. In 2019, India had received $83.3 billion in remittances. The report said India’s remittances fell by just 0.2 percent in 2020, with much of the decline due to a 17 percent drop in remittances from the United Arab Emirates.

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India-Central Asia Relations


Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Central Asia has emerged as a critical geopolitical space. At the crossroads of East and West and South, Central and West Asia, its strategic location has often resulted in the spillover of challenges beyond the region’s immediate periphery. Central Asian Republics, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan share around 2,500 kilometers long porous border with Afghanistan, and the region remains particularly vulnerable to the unfolding situation in Kabul. The core security issues concerning terrorism, extremism and smuggling of drugs and weapons from Afghanistan affect India and Central Asia. This, therefore, demands a greater focus on regional security. India shares similar concerns about Afghanistan, and Kabul is also crucial for India’s connectivity to Central Asia. Central Asia also stands significant for India’s energy security and is a promising market for Indian businesses. Other areas of convergence of interests are tourism, IT, education, etc.

India’s interest in Central Asia is multifold. With the disintegration of the USSR, New Delhi aspired to play a constructive role in Eurasian political, economic, and security settings. However, due to a lack of political will and the absence of direct land connectivity, India’s efforts in this direction were thwarted. In 2015, with PM Modi’s visit to the five Central Asian countries, India-Central Asia relations gained momentum. It was the first-ever visit of any Indian prime minister to the region on one go. In 2017, India became a permanent member of the China-dominated Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). This has further amplified New Delhi’s outreach to its extended neighbourhood.

India-Central Asia: Historical Connection

India shares a long history with Central Asia. In the ancient and medieval periods, there existed a great process of mutual cultural enrichment between India and Central Asia.

The finding of Harappa excavations has found direct testimony of this mutual relation.

Besides the civilizational and geo-cultural connections, the role of various empires such as the Graeco-Indian Kingdom accentuated the historical linkages.
The Central Asian region was at the crossroad between Greeks and Indians, which had infused the cultural interactions between the two regions. The Saka rulers (Indo-Scythians), who belonged to Central Asia, have also influenced the western part of India.

Buddhism was the largest source of interaction between India and Central Asia, which Mauryan kings spread. During Asoka’s reign, Buddhist missionaries expanded the network of Buddhist monastic institutions throughout the Mauryan Empire and in Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Gandhara, and the Swat Valley.

Archaeological remains of stupas and monasteries established during the Mauryan period show that Buddhist centers in these regions functioned as bases for the transmission of Buddhism to Southeast Asia and Central Asia.

Kushana kingdom had settled their monarchy in India and Central Asia and enjoyed common social interactions. Kushana period had the most substantial impacts on Indian technology, military, art & culture, pottery, religion, economy, etc.

In medieval times, the Mughal connection between the two regions proved another milestone of cultural amalgamation.

In the Colonial period, the bilateral engagement suffered; however, the relations were revived in the Soviet period.

Bilateral Relations

Kazakhstan considers India one of its key political, trade, economic, and investment partners.
Kazakhstan has linguistic and historical similarities with India.

Indian imports from Kazakhstan are oil, uranium, radioactive chemical elements, silver in powder form, asbestos, hydrogen, inert gases and other non-metals, ferroalloys, titanium & its products, and others. In 2020-21, the bilateral trade was 1032.92 million USD.

Indian exports to Kazakhstan are medicines, tea, cement, medical equipment, raw materials for Tobacco, and refractory ceramic products. The export-import basket is limited between the two countries.

Defense cooperation between both countries has also witnessed new developments in the recent past. It includes military-technical cooperation, military education and training, joint military exercises, bilateral visits, and cadet youth exchange programs.

Both countries are also engaged in cadet youth exchange programs. India has provided training to hundreds of Kazakh soldiers. India-Kazakhstan Joint Peacekeeping Classroom was inaugurated on November 27, 2020, in Almaty.[1]
Both countries have successfully conducted a company-level joint military exercise named ‘PRABAL DOSTYK’ in 2016 in Kazakhstan. ‘PRABAL DOSTYK’ 2017 Bakloh in Himachal Pradesh in November 2017.

The joint military exercise was renamed ‘KAZIND 2018’ in southern Kazakhstan. [2] ‘KAZIND 2019’ between India and Kazakhstan army took place in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh. This was the fourth edition of the annual military exercise.
Over 200 Kazakh defence personnel have undergone military training in India till date.

The tourism sector is also growing between India and Kazakhstan. There are regular flights -- twice a day -- between India and Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan provides 72 hours transit visas to Indian travelers.

Since 1992, more than 1000 specialists have undergone training under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme. A total of 64 ITEC slots were utilized in 2018-19. At the request of the Ministry of Education & Science, a special six-week Teacher Training Course in English for 25 teachers of Kazakhstan was organized under the ITEC Programme at English & Foreign Language University, Hyderabad, from June 25 to August 03 2018. A similar programme was organized for 2019-20.


Since establishing diplomatic relations in 1992, the two countries have signed several framework agreements, including on Culture, Trade and Economic Cooperation, Civil Aviation, Investment Promotion and Protection, Avoidance of Double Taxation, Consular Convention, etc.

Mutual trust and common values hold India and the Kyrgyz Republic together.

The trade between the two countries has been 43.87 million in 2020-21. Apparel and clothing, leather goods, drugs & pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, and tea are important items of India’s export basket to Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz exports to India consist of raw hides, metalliferous ores and metal scrap etc.

The India-Kyrgyzstan Business Forum was launched in June 2019, during the official visit of Prime Minister Modi to Bishkek. The Prime Minister announced a Line of Credit of USD 200 million for supporting developmental projects in Kyrgyzstan.

India and Kyrgyzstan have also given final shape to the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) and the bilateral investment treaty, which would help in creating a proper atmosphere for bilateral trade.


Since diplomatic relations on August 28, 1992, regular high-level visits between the two countries have further cemented the bilateral ties.

During the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Tajikistan in July 2015, both countries decided to step up cooperation in the spheres of defense, connectivity, and the fight against terrorism.

Under the USD 20 million grant announced during the State Visit of the President of India to Tajikistan in October 2018, India has undertaken the construction of phase-I of an 8-lane highway from Chortut village to Ayni roundabout in Dushanbe at the cost of approximately USD 17.54 million.

Bilateral trade between India and Tajikistan remains at around 54.51 million USD in 2020-21.

The main reason behind these negligible figures is the lack of direct access between both countries. The same scenario is visible in investments; India’s business and investment projects in Tajikistan are a negligible two percent.

To overcome the lack of connectivity and to enhance trade between India and Tajikistan, Tajikistan fully supports the Chabahar Project, which provides adequate access to a seaport and makes it possible to enhance the economic and transit potential of Tajikistan.

Regional security and stability is important component of India-Tajikistan relations. Afghanistan serves as a crucial transit corridor between India and Central Asia; peace and security can significantly improve trade relations.

India and Tajikistan share a rich cultural heritage; therefore, tourism development can complement the bilateral developmental partnership. India has a developed tourism sector to contribute to the development of the tourism sector of Tajikistan. In the coming years, Tajikistan will also be able to use the credit line provided by India for the development of multiple sectors.

After the State visit of President Shri Ramnath Kovind to Tajikistan in October 2018, the number of ITEC slots for Tajikistan was enhanced from 150 to 200. Every year about 25 Indian Council of Cultural Research (ICCR) scholarships is offered to Tajik citizens.


Historical and cultural linkages have brought India and Turkmenistan closer. After the independence of the Central Asian Republics in the early 1990s, India started to pay special attention to the region. Today, each of the Central Asian countries has had a positive experience of working with India in multiple spheres.

India and Turkmenistan have traditionally had friendly relations. Bilateral political relations function through different mechanisms such as political consultations between the foreign ministries of both countries and Inter-Governmental Commissions, which suggest new ways to enhance bilateral relations.

India and Turkmenistan share a cordial political understanding of key regional and international issues. Security is one of the key areas where both countries have fruitful cooperation. Combating terrorism and extremism is a priority area for security cooperation between India and Turkmenistan.

The trade between the two countries was 60.64 million USD in 2020-21.

Bilateral trade is below potential. However, efforts to bridge the connectivity gap will certainly enhance prospects of developing trade between both countries. In recent years, Turkmenistan has increased the production of petrochemicals, which India and Turkmenistan consider one of the key areas for cooperation. Turkmenistan has a growing industrial sector especially, agriculture, mining, textile, refinery, fertilisers, and chemical industries. It considers India as one of the biggest markets in the world.

To overcome the barriers of connectivity, both India and Turkmenistan have joined multi-modal connectivity projects such as the Ashgabat Agreement. Turkmenistan also fully supports INSTC. There are regular flights between India and Turkmenistan.


India-Uzbekistan relations have deepened in recent times. Prime Minister Modi paid an official visit to Uzbekistan in 2015. President Shawkat Mirziyoyev paid a state visit to India in October 2018 and again in January 2019 as an chief guest at the ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ Summit.

Foreign Office Consultations (FOCs) are held at regular intervals. The 13th round of FOCs was held in March 2017 in New Delhi. A Joint Working Group (JWG) on Counter-Terrorism was set up in 2003. The l8th meeting of the JWG was held in July 2019 in New Delhi.

Defense cooperation between both countries has seen a remarkable increase since the visit of Uzbekistan’s former Defence Minister Maj. Gen. Abdusalam Azizov to India from 4-7 September 2018. The first annual JWG on Defence was held on 27-28 February 2019 in New Delhi. Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh visited Uzbekistan on 1-3 November 2019 to attend the Council of SCO Heads of Government meeting in Tashkent. He inaugurated the first-ever joint military exercise between India and Uzbekistan from 4-14 November 2019.

The trade between the two countries was 295.01 million USD in 2020-21. Pharmaceutical is a major area of both trade and investment for India. Medical tourism to India has increased sharply in the recent past. There should be joint efforts to eradicate barriers to bilateral trade.

India’s Multilateral Engagement with Central Asian Republics
India-Central Asia Dialogue

The first-ever India-Central Asia Dialogue at the foreign ministers level was held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in January 2019. Afghanistan also participated in this dialogue. Several initiatives were taken during the Samarkand Dialogue to enhance G2G cooperation. The setting up of an ‘India-Central Asia Developmental Group’ was announced. This group is expected to come up with concrete proposals. It was also decided to develop an India-Central Asia Business Council to enhance trade and commerce between the two regions.

On October 28, 2020, the Second meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue was held in a virtual format under the chairmanship of the External Affairs Minister (EAM) of India, Dr. S. Jaishankar.

In the second dialogue, the focus was on enhancing cooperation in fighting pandemic like COVID-19, India’s developmental assistance to CARs, eradicating connectivity barriers, developing trade and business, and promoting cultural heritage, tourism, and people to people contact. Joint efforts for the development and reconstruction of Afghanistan were also a focus area in this dialogue.

The Third India-Central Asia Dialogue held in Delhi on December 19, 2021, The Indian EAM S. Jaishankar met with the Foreign Ministers of Central Asian countries jointly as well as bilaterally and emphasised the need to focus on the four Cs: commerce, capacity building, connectivity, and contact. These aspects are crucial to strengthen India’s footprint in Central Asia further.

India and central Asian countries exalted their consensus on Afghanistan and have expressed their willingness to provide humanitarian aid to the country. They also highlighted that Afghan land should not be used for harbouring radicalism and extremist elements.

India-Central Asia Business Council

The India-Central Asian Business Council was launched in New Delhi on February 06, 2020 which provides a platform for business representatives from India and the Central Asian countries to explore cooperation and further deepen trade, economic and investment ties between India and Central Asia. FICCI from India and the nominated national chambers of commerce from each of the five Central Asian countries are part of the India-Central Asia Business Council on October 28, 2020, the 2nd meeting of the India Central Asia Business Council was organised virtually by FICCI with the representation of the Heads of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Central Asia and India, Indian Ambassadors in Central Asia and Central Asian Ambassadors in India.

The Joint Declaration of the India Central Asia Business Council has been mutually agreed upon by the six Chambers including (FICCI from India and five Central Asian countries). The Council has agreed to constitute four ‘Joint Working Groups’ (JWGs) in sectors like Energy (Oil and Gas & Renewable Energy), Agro, Food-Processing and Textiles, Tourism, Air Corridors, Pharmaceutical, Life-sciences and Healthcare.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization

India’s full SCO membership is considered a forward movement in her engagement with Central Asia. This has enhanced India’s strategic ‘presence’ in the Eurasian region.

While being a part of the SCO, India has put forward many concrete proposals for regional cooperation in different areas. However, India needs be proactive while figuring out its priorities within the SCO.

India has been able to enhance cooperation with SCO member-states to combat extremism and terrorism through the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) mechanism at Tashkent by sharing information. In the SCO, discussions are also underway to use the local currency in trade and economic transactions instead of dollars.

Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan

India convened the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan in New Delhi on November 10, 2021.

The National Security Advisers (NSAs)/Secretaries of Security Councils of Central Asian republics, Russia, and Iran participated in this Dialogue.
This was a significant achievement of India’s active diplomacy in Afghanistan. Upon conclusion of this security Dialogue, the ‘Delhi Declaration’ was adopted.
All the participants have come to a consensus on ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan along with countering terrorism and illicit drug trafficking with collective efforts. Also, the NSAs of the participating countries collectively agreed to have an inclusive government in Kabul and reiterated that Afghan land should not be used against any other country.

India-Central Asia Connectivity: Role of Chabahar and INSTC

During the visit of the Prime Minister to Iran in May 2016, a Trilateral Agreement to establish International Transport and Transit Corridor was signed by India, Iran and Afghanistan. India is participating in developing the first phase of the Shahid Behesti Port in Chabahar in cooperation with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

An Indian company, India Ports Global Limited, took over port operations of Shahid Behesti Port in Chabahar in December 2018 and has since handled 12 lakhs tons of bulk cargo and about 8200 containers.

In the recent past, there has been a rise in transit cargo for Afghanistan through Chabahar. India’s assistance of 75,000 tons of wheat to Afghanistan, of which eight consignments have already been shipped, is being supplied via Chabahar. The port has handled over 53,000 tons of India’s wheat bound for Afghanistan since the beginning of the current fiscal year (2020).

Afghanistan’s exports to India are also routed via Chabahar Port. It has sent its first consignment to India through Chabahar Port in February 2019. Subsequently, it has sent four more consignments to India through Chabahar Port.

As part of the Agreement, India is committed to extend grant assistance of nearly USD 85 million and a credit facility of USD 150 million for Chabahar Port development.

The Chabahar-Zahedan Railway project, a joint collaboration between India and Iran, provides faster connectivity from the Chabahar Port in Iran to Afghanistan and further to Central Asia. It will bolster the connectivity by road from the Chabahar port to Afghanistan.

India and Iran remain engaged on the modalities of implementing the Chabahar-Zahedan Railway Project and other developmental projects in Iran.

India’s other connectivity initiatives in the region consist of the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) Agreement signed by India, Iran, and Russia in September 2000 to facilitate the movement of goods between these three countries and adjoining countries the CIS region and Central Asia.

India has also been admitted to the ‘Ashgabat Agreement’ in 2018, which aims at the establishment of an International Transport and Transit Corridor between Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

India has also welcomed Uzbekistan and Afghanistan which are interested in joining INSTC.

India’s accession to TIR Convention and Ashgabat Agreement was welcomed as additional steps at enhancing regional connectivity and linking regional centers of economic growth.

Uzbek President Mirziyoyev visited India in 2018 where Prime Minister Modi had made a request to him for joining the INSTC. As a result, in December 2020, during the first India-Uzbekistan virtual Summit, President Mirziyoyev gave his in principle concurrence to joining INSTC.

With the recent developments in Afghanistan, the connectivity through Afghanistan remains questionable until the situation settles. However, the existing routes through Iran can be explored and promoted to get connected with Central Asian countries.

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[2]‘India, Kazakhstan agree to ramp up military ties’, The Economic Times, 4 October 2018.

[Back to Contents]

India’s Africa Policy


India is among the African continent’s oldest and most consistent development partners. Unlike many Western countries, India doesn’t carry the baggage of colonialism. Neither it follows debt-trap diplomacy, as practiced by China. Due to India’s benign approach and respect for local needs, India enjoys tremendous goodwill in the continent. India’s engagement with Africa is multifaceted: historical, political, economic and cultural.

Historical Connection

India’s historical relations with Africa date back to ancient civilisations. Long before the European dominance over the sea, Indians had the knowledge of monsoon winds. As a matter of fact, the people of Indus Valley Civilisation were already using seasonal monsoon winds also known as trade winds and currents for maritime trade and navigation with eastern coast of Africa since 2500 BC or even before Hippalus, the Greek mariner, famous for discovering the monsoon wind[1]. It is of no surprise that the evidence of Indian presence in East Africa is found in the 'Periplus of the Erythraean Sea' or Guidebook of the Red Sea by an ancient Greek author written in 60 A.D. [2].

During the 17th century, many Indian merchants and business owners suffered heavy losses due to aggressive Arabs. But the arrival of Sayyid Said in Eastern Africa mitigated the Arab hostility towards Indians[3]. Subsequently, many Indians travelled to East coast of Africa during his reign and their successors can still be found there. Later, a shared history of colonialism saw large inflows of Indian labourers and migrants as indentured labour to several African countries, particularly to East and Southern Africa as well as the island states of Mauritius and Madagascar.

Indian diaspora populations in the African continent, were greatly increased as a result of forced indentured servitude, especially in South Africa. There are more than three million Indian Diaspora in Africa today, spread across the continent. Among them, the largest concentrations of the Indian diaspora in Africa are found in South Africa (1.5 million), Mauritius (855,000), Reunion (220,000), Kenya (100,000), Tanzania (100,000), and Uganda (90,000)[4].

Political Connection

India’s political connection with Africa has its origin in its common struggle for liberation, freedom from colonialism and racial prejudice and the rights of every man and woman. India’s diplomatic relations with Nigeria, Ghana and Madagascar precedes even their independence. Immediately after the second world war and its own independence, India took the lead in the non-align movement along with other countries such as Brazil, Yugoslavia and Indonesia. India also played a large role in convening the historic Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung in 1955 which set the foundation of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and subsequent south-south cooperation. India’s engagement with Africa for next few decades was guided by the principles of NAM.

In those years of post-World war, India’s engagement with Africa distinguished itself from others through blends of activities and project with a critical outlook towards international system. India not only distanced itself from the established rules and world order in the cold war era; in security matters, it actually took an anti-hegemonic stand. Instead of taking side with either of the superpower, Indian diplomacy in Africa reflected a heavy concentration of mediation and conciliation. However, due to its domestic politics, among other reasons, by the 1970s the fervour of its global leadership role waned and it retracted from the Africa.

Post-liberalisation in the 1990s, India’s emergence in the world political map was reflected in its growing assertive foreign policies. With the increased nuclear capabilities, economic growth and self-perceived strong sense of cultural greatness, India seemed to be poised to look beyond the confines of its immediate neighbourhood and play a more active role in Africa. However, it is only the new Government under PM Narendra Modi that has displayed an unprecedented assertiveness in deepening its age-old relationship with African continent. In last seven years, Africa emerged as a key geographical area that merited Indian expansion and attention. This was clearly evident when Modi undertook a three-country tour of Africa in July 2018, including the first visit by an Indian prime minister to Rwanda[5].

In last seven years of Modi government, India’s engagement with African continent has intensified as never before which is reflected with more than thirty-five outgoing visits to different African countries at the level of President, Vice President and Prime Minister. During this period, each and every country of Africa has been visited by at least one Union Minister. Similarly, India hosted more than 100 African leaders during the same period, which includes 41 leaders for the India-Africa Forum Summit in 2015.

Reiterating the commitment to expand India’s diplomatic presence in Africa, Indian government in July 2019 announced the opening of 18 new missions in Africa over the four-year period of 2018-21[6]. This would take the number of Indian missions in Africa from 29 to 47 out of 54 countries[7]. By February 2020, nine of the 18 new missions were already functional[8].

Since the independence of India and the African countries, India has provided Africa with its unwavering and constant support towards the democratic development and solidarity against colonialism and apartheid. As a matter of fact, Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation, started his political career from South Africa. In 1894, he established Indian Natal Congress to fight against the discriminations faced by Indian traders in Natal. As a matter of fact, Mahatma Gandhi first employed his non-violent civil disobedience movement in South Africa for civil rights of the resident Indian community, which later became an important component of India’s freedom struggle.

Of late, political bonding between India and Africa got stronger based on the principles of south-south cooperation, people to people linkages and common developmental challenges. India has participated in United Nations peacekeeping missions in Congo, Somalia, Liberia, Burundi and Sudan. India also provided support for African Union initiatives to bring peace to Somalia and Mali, among others.

Defence and Security Connection

On 6th February 2020, in the side lines of the biennial defence exhibition DEFEXPO INDIA 2020 at Lucknow, India organised the first ever India Africa Defence Ministers’ Conclave. During the conclave, the Defence Minister of India Shri Rajnath Singh along with over 154 delegates from Africa which included 14 Defence Ministers and Member of Parliament, 19 Defence and Service Chiefs and 8 Permanent Secretaries from 38 African countries together adopted the ‘Lucknow Declaration’[9]. In addition to acknowledging India’s contribution to defence and security in Africa through various modes including setting up of various Defence Academies in countries like Tanzania, Nigeria and Ethiopia and deployment of training teams in several African nations including Uganda, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia, Seychelles, Mauritius and Tanzania; the leaders also recalled India’s provision of defence equipment and ammunitions and other measures including conducting Defence Training Programs[10].

One major highlight of the declaration was the appreciation for the initiation of Africa India Field Training Exercises in the form of the first-ever AFINDEX, held in March 2019. Both parties unanimously agreed to the need for further strengthening of cooperation in defence preparedness and security. Further cooperation in defence industry including investment and joint ventures in defence equipment software, research & development, provision of defence equipment and their maintenance were also discussed.

There are various common security challenges such as terrorism and extremism, organised crime including human trafficking, piracy, transnational crime, drug trafficking and weapon smuggling which require concerted efforts from all the stakeholders. The declaration emphasised the need to combat against these challenges together. Finally, recognising the importance of the oceans to the livelihood of their people and consequently maritime security, both parties agreed to cooperate in preventing maritime crimes, disaster, piracy, unregulated fishing and securing sea lines of communication through regular information exchange and surveillance.

Economic Connection

The Indian and African economies represent two of the world’s most dynamic economic growth stories. Many of the world’s fastest growing economies are in Africa and the combined GDP of the continent is US $ 2.4 trillion. By 2030 Africa will represent almost a quarter of the world’s workforce and consumers. India-Africa trade in 2019, before covid was valued at $69 billion, a 12% annual increase from 2018[11]. India has established itself as Africa’s third largest trading partner, though much behind China and USA. India’s trade with Africa represents 6.4 percent of African total trade, which is worth $62.6 billion in 2017-18.

The Duty-Free Tariff Preference (DFTP) Scheme announced by India has been extended to African nations to avail duty free access to 98.2 per cent of India’s total tariff lines and 38 African countries benefit from the DFTP Scheme[12]. with cumulative investments of US$ 54 billion, India has become the 5th largest investor in Africa. However, Indian investment accounts for only one-third of Chinese investment. Indeed Covid-19 has negatively impacted Indian and African economies. Post-covid recovery, this represents an area where India can improve.

India’s top five export destination in Africa today are South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya and Togo. African countries from where India imports the most are South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Angola and Guinea. India’s top three exports to Africa consists of mineral fuels and oils (processed petroleum products), pharmaceutical products and vehicles. Similarly, mineral fuels and oils (essentially crude oil) and pearls, precious or semi-precious are the top two imported item, constituting 77% of Indian imports from Africa. The traded elements between India and Africa remained same over the past two decades and need some relook in order to diversify.

Cultural Connection

While the historical and political relations and more recently economic engagements get all the traction, the often ignore cultural aspects also holds a very strong position in India Africa relationship. Indeed, the ever-growing economic and strategic relationship between India and Africa is inspiring. However, in the root of all relations between India and Africa lies at the sense of deep-rooted empathy, solidarity and people-to-people contacts. From that perspective, the key to bolstering India Africa relationship will lie in nurturing this strong popular and cultural bond.

India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS)

In 2008, India’s relationship with Africa marked an important milestone when both parties decided to advance their interaction at the top level using consultative and responsive mechanisms. Under the rubric of India-Africa Forum Summit, India and Africa began the process of summit meetings on the basis of the Banjul formula[13]. India and African nations had adopted declarations during the 1st India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi in April 2008, 2nd India-Africa Forum Summit in Addis Ababa in May 2011 and 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit, held in Delhi in October 2015 and the India-Africa Framework for Strategic Cooperation. The Summit of 2015 was a remarkable event that saw participation from all 54 countries of the African continent. In this summit, India offered $600 million in grant assistance as well as concessional loans worth $10 billion for various development projects in Africa[14].

Development Cooperation

During the last few years, India’s development partnership initiatives vis-à-vis Africa have expanded both in geographical reach and sectoral coverage and now include Lines of Credit and grants, technical consultancy, educational scholarships and a range of capacity-building programmes. In terms of India's development cooperation, over two-thirds of its LOCs (lines of credit) in the past decade have been offered to African nations. Currently 189 projects in 42 African countries, valued at $11.4 billion, are being implemented under Indian LoCs[15]. These projects range from drinking water schemes to irrigation, solar electrification, power plants, transmission lines, cement plants, technology parks, and railway infrastructure. Some of the key projects supported through these LoCs are: power projects and dams in Sudan and Rwanda; water treatment in Tanzania; sugar factories in Ethiopia; and technology parks in Mozambique and Swaziland. India also actively takes part in construction of state-of-the-art building for democratic institutions in Africa such as presidential palace in Ghana, the National Assembly building in the Gambia, and very recently the Mahatma Gandhi International Convention Centre in Niger.

Cooperation on Global Issues

On several occasions, India and Africa have taken similar positions in global platforms such as World Trade Organisation and and World Intellectual Property Organisation in order to protect the interests of developing countries. Doha Development Round of WTO negotiation or negotiations on fisheries subsidies at WTO are a few examples. In fact, India and South Africa are advocating for the suspension of intellectual property (IP) rights with regards to Covid-19 treatment and vaccines so that all the developing countries get equal access to all the treatments necessary to control the pandemic [16]. The waiver is expected to create a platform for collaboration between medically and technologically advanced countries with the backward ones and ensure smooth transfer of technology that can create scalability in the developing countries.

International Solar Alliance

In addition to trade and intellectual property related issues, India and Africa have also stood together in different climate negotiations at United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In 2015, in the side lines of Paris Climate summit, India along with France launched International Solar Alliance (ISA). It became a legal entity on 6 December 2017, making it the first treaty-based international government organisation to be based in India[17]. Nearly half of its member countries are from Africa. The principal aim of ISA is to contribute towards the successful implementation of the Paris Climate Accord through rapid and massive deployment of clean energy. Through ISA India will bring together countries and develop some collective responses towards the obstacles hindering the mass deployment of solar energy, in terms of technology, finance and capacity. During the founding conference of ISA in 2018, India has pledged US$ 2 billion worth of LoC for Africa over five years for the implementation of off-grid solar energy projects[18]. Under that scheme, the ISA Secretariat is already setting up largescale solar projects of 500 MW each in several African countries. It is also working to build solar water pumping systems in at least nine African countries and establish Solar Training Application and Research centres (STAR-c) in six countries[19].

Capacity Building

Over the years, much of India’s Africa policy hinged on “capacity building”. In 1964, India launched the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme to provide technical assistance through human resource development to other developing countries, with African countries the greatest beneficiaries of it and the Special Commonwealth African Assistance Programme (SCAAP) [20]. At the India-Africa Forum Summit in 2015, India announced a doubling of the number of scholarships to 50,000 over a period of five years, including by adding new schemes exclusively for African students and scholars[21]. Finally, in 2005, India became the first Asian country to become the full-member of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and pledged $1 million towards sustainable development initiatives of ACBF[22]. Another $130 million was pledged towards building a Pan-African E-Network that can help in bridging the digital divide in Africa[23].

Indian Army’s training courses are universally recognised for its professional content and apolitical nature and true to that India has trained army personnel from the Central African Republic and several other African nations. Hydrographic surveys to improve navigability of coastal waters and provision of maritime equipment is undergoing for Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique. Agreements on White Shipping have been signed with Kenya and Nigeria. DRDO is continuously exploring co-operation in Defence R&D with African nations and in that respect, an MoU was recently signed with Nigeria.

In addition, India has extended 181 lines of credit to 41 countries totalling $11 billion[24]. Considering the staggering health and education sector, in 2019, India introduced eVidya Bharati and eAarogya Bharati (e-VBAB) Network Project, aiming to provide tele-education and tele-medicine[25]. The programme is fully funded by the Indian government and is web-based, so any Indian university qualified to offer online education can do so for African students. During and post covid pandemic, e-VBAB can play a major role by assisting the African nations in combatting the deadly covid virus. Earlier in 2015 India had hosted the first India-Africa Health Sciences Meet and subsequently many Indian Pharma companies established their units in different African countries including Ethiopia, Uganda, DRC, Zambia, and Ghana.

Maritime Cooperation

The maritime element of India’s cooperation with countries of Africa, especially in the East & Southern African region, is also expanding. In 2018, Indian Navy participated in Exercise IBSAMAR-VI in South Africa with South African and Brazilian navies. During the Exercise, Indian ships visited Mombasa (Kenya), Maputo (Mozambique), Simon’s Town (South Africa) and Toamasina (Madagascar). Indian ships were also deployed in Southern Indian Ocean Region countries of Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar and Comoros. During the deployment, Indian navy also participated in Phase III of EX-VARUNA, at/ off Reunion Island. INS Satavahana has undertaken a full-fledged basic submarine course for South Africa[26].

In March 2019, India hosted inaugural multination exercise for African nations at Pune where 17 African nations participated in exercise with troops and three African nations deputed observers[27]. Recently India has deployed a tri-service training team in Tanzania, an Indian Coast Guard team in Mozambique and Indian defence training teams in Uganda and Namibia. In addition, a Navy training team will soon be sent to Madagascar. Indian Navy also conducts Milan Exercise biennially. Milan 2020, which is postponed due to corona, would draw participants from 41 nations and several African countries such as Mozambique, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Egypt, Tanzania, Comoros, Mauritius, South Africa, Madagascar, Djibouti, Eritrea and Seychelles would participate.

Indian Navy has also projected its soft power by engaging in an ever-broader array of nonmilitary missions. Human approach and proficiency of Indian navy during different humanitarian crisis in Africa receives great appreciation from Government and the local people as well as the international agencies. On March 15, 2019, in the aftermath of Cyclone IDAI, Indian Navy was the first responder in the evolving humanitarian crises in Mozambique, for evacuation of people in coordination with local authorities and for dropping of food & water packets in cyclone affected areas[28]. India also provided relief material to the other countries hit by the cyclone: Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Malawi. While this will definitely increase India’s clout and agency among these African nations, as well as at a regional and continental level, India needs to adopt a multidimensional approach by unpacking at the most micro levels taking into consideration local contexts.

Fight against Covid-19

Even in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis that began in March 2020, India took several new measures to assist Africa through prompt despatch of essential medicinal supplies such as hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and paracetamol. In total, 25 African countries received 150 tonnes of medical assistance from India. Finally, under the "Vaccine Maitri” initiative, India has supplied 24.7 million doses of Made in India COVID vaccines as grants, and commercial and COVAX supplies to 42 countries in Africa[29]. In April 2021, due to large number of domestic cases, India had to temporarily suspend its vaccine export in Africa, causing disruption to the continent’s vaccination drive. However, with improved condition and increased capacity, India is set to resume its vaccine export to African countries. Amid the food crisis in Horn of Africa due to pandemic, India also sent 270 metric tonnes of food items comprising 155 MT of wheat flour, 65 MT of rice and 50 MT of sugar to Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea[30] .

Also, India offered an e-ITEC course on ‘‘COVID-19 Pandemic: Prevention and Management Guidelines for Healthcare Professionals’ to healthcare workers in Africa.

African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA)

When due to rising waves of protectionism and nationalism, multilateralism is facing challenges around the world, in July 2019, Africa countries launched Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). As per some estimates, African market size is expected to reach 1.7 billion people by 2030, with a combined and cumulative consumer and business spending of US$6.66 trillion[31]. AfCFTA is an attempt by the African governments to unlock this tremendous potential abd deliver prosperity to all Africans. When fully functional, AfCFTA will be the biggest free trade agreement in the World since the World Trade Organization and it would raise intra-Africa trade levels by 52.3 percent[32]. If implemented properly, the AfCFTA could reduce this gap by increasing growth in the manufacturing sector and its value-added products. Indian companies can play a significant role in rolling out of AfCFTA especially during the period of post-pandemic recovery.

Way Forward

Africa has always been foreign policy priority for India. However, Unlike China and the West, India does not have substantial resources to assist Africa. Therefore, it is important that India identifies a few key areas for closer cooperation such as food and health security, climate change adaptation and gender equality and work on those specific sectors based on a focused Africa strategy for the next decade. India’s current initiatives related to capacity building has been in synchronisation with the needs of African youth and therefore it has largely been effective and successful. The current focus on capacity building must be continued with more vigorous efforts, responding to the emerging needs of the market.

Another challenge for India and Africa would be to work together to bring about reformed multilateralism, whether in the UN and the UNSC or in other international organisations, to change global order. In his address to Ugandan Parliament, PM Modi outlined 10 guiding principles of Indian engagement in Africa. These principles are multidimensional, and favour working multilaterally with individual African countries. However, Africa is a continent made up of 54 nations, each has its own, sometimes competing, “priorities.” A pan-African focus would need to be unbundled to the most micro level that can take local contexts into consideration.

The fourth India Africa Forum Summit, pending since 2020, should take place at the earliest, even if in virtual format. Given the past grants and concessional loans are already exhausted, it is important to allocate fresh resources, particularly during their recovery period. This would not only help India earn good-will in those countries, but for some countries it can also help to effectively counter China’s debt-diplomacy. Finally, India is yet to harness the immense potential lies with Indian Diaspora and must explore new avenues to involve them in mutually beneficial projects.


[1]D’Souza Blanche Rocha (2008). Harnessing the Trade Winds: The Story of the Centuries-Old Indian Trade with East Africa, Using the Monsoon Winds by, (First published in Kenya in 2008 by Zand Graphics Ltd, Reprinted in India 2021 by Pentagon Press LLP.) Pp. 204. IN
[2]CASSON, L. (1984). Egypt, Africa, Arabia, and India: Patterns of seaborne trade in the first century A.D. The Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists, 21(1/4), 39–47.
[3]Srinivasan, P. (2000). Indian traders in Zanzibar with special reference to Jairam Shewji (19th century). Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 61, 1142–1148.
[4]Jaldi A. (2021). The Indian Diaspora in Africa: An instrument of New Delhi’ Soft Power in the Continent. Policy Centre for the New South
[5]Hindustan Times, July 23, 2018. PM Modi to kick off 3-nation tour to strengthen ties with Africa today
[6]Hindustan Times, July 6, 2019. India to open 18 new missions in Africa, including four this fiscal year.
[7]Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, January 19, 2019.
[8]Times of India, February 13, 2020. India opens 9 more embassies in Africa
[9]Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, February 6, 2020.
[11]Confederation of Indian Industries, September 18, 2020. India and Africa: Partners in Development
[12] ibid
[13]Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, February 3, 2014.
[14]Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, September 12, 2019.
[15] Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, January 19, 2019.
[16] The Lancet, December 5, 2020. South Africa and India push for COVID-19 patents ban.
[17]Press Information Bureau, Government of India, March 26, 2018.
[18]Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, March 12 2018.
[19] International Solar Alliance, Projects
[20] Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, About ITEC
[21]Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, September 12, 2019.
[22]Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, January 25, 2006
[23]Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, March 2012. Pan African e-Network Project for Tele-education and Tele-medicine.
[24]Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. QUESTION NO.2120 Special initiatives for closer relationship with Africa, March 12, 2020.
[25]Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, October 9, 2019.
[26]Ministry of Defence annual report
[27]Press Information Bureau, Government of India, March 18, 2019. Opening ceremony: Africa-India Field Training Exercise-2019.
[28]Indian Navy, Government of India, Indian Navy - First Responder to Cyclone 'IDAI' in Mozambique 19 March 2019
[29]Outlook India, May 19, 2021India stood in solidarity with Africa in fight against COVID-19: MoS MEA.
[30]Outlook India, October 26, 2020. India sending food items to Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea: MEA.
[31]Brookings, January 11, 2019. Spotlighting opportunities for business in Africa and strategies to succeed in the world’s next big growth market.
[32] The Print, June 21, 2021. India-African continental free trade area launched on the India-Africa trade Council Platform.

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India-Afghanistan Relations


India and Afghanistan have a strong relationship based on historical and cultural links. The historic linkages are recorded from the Indus Valley Civilisation. During the Mauryan period (post Seleucid-Mauryan war in 305 BCE) in the area south of the Hindu Kush mountain range, Hinduism and Buddhism flourished. Until the arrival of Islam in 07th Century, Afghans had strong influence of Hinduism and Buddhism. Between 10th Century to mid-18th Century, north India was invaded by the Islamic invaders based in Afghanistan, including Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khaljis, Suris, Mughals, and Durranis. During Mughal period in India (1526-1858), several Afghans migrated to India due to political unrest in their respective provinces/regions. [1]

Among other prominent political linkages in modern era, Indian National Congress Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was the leader of Khudia Khidmatgars, an important leader in the Indian Independence Movement. The agreement emphasise on the fundamental and lasting importance of the Treaty of Friendship between the Government of India (GoI) and the Royal Government of Afghanistan of 04 January 1950, and subsequent agreements and joint statements between two nations. In January 1950, India and Afghanistan signed a five-year Treaty of Friendship in New Delhi, India, which provided an establishment of diplomatic posts in each other’s countries. [2] On 19 July 1973, India was one of the first countries to recognise the new Republic of Afghanistan. On 03 September 1975, both countries signed a Trade Agreement. [3] In recent years, India-Afghanistan relations have been further strengthened by the Strategic Partnership Agreement, signed between the two countries on 04 October 2011[4].

Key Projects and Initiatives of Rebuilding Afghanistan

India’s development portfolio of more than USD 3 billion for Afghanistan is aimed at building capacities and capabilities of Afghan nationals as well as its institutions to improve governance and public service.
India’s participation in Afghanistan’s development process is based on five foundation stones:

  1. Large infrastructure projects.
  2. Human resource development and capacity building.
  3. Humanitarian assistance.
  4. High-impact community development projects.
  5. Enhancing Trade and Investment through air and land connectivity.

Through its commitment, India has successfully completed large infrastructure projects in Afghanistan, including 218 kms road construction from Delaram to Zaranj (along with international border with Iran) in Nimruz Province in southern Afghanistan. The road provides alternate connectivity for Afghanistan through Iran; India–Afghanistan Friendship Dam (IAFD) aka Salma Dam in 2016; and the Afghan Parliament building inaugurated in 2015, which is a symbol of Afghan democracy.

Since its inauguration in 2017, the India-Afghanistan Air Freight corridor has witnessed close to 1,000 flights, carrying goods valued at over USD 216 million. This has provided a boost to Afghan exports to India and has directly benefitted Afghan farmers, small traders, and exporters.

More than 65,000 Afghan students have studied in India under various scholarship programmes, and 15,000 students are presently studying in India. Three thousand scholarships so far have been granted to young Afghan women to pursue higher studies in India. Going beyond basic education, India also provided vocational training to a large number of women in Afghanistan.

Through Chabahar port in Iran, India provided 75,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan during the coronavirus pandemic. India also sent more than 20 tonnes of “life-saving” medicines and other medical equipment to Afghanistan as an assistance to address the coronavirus challenge.

In 2020, India signed an agreement with Afghanistan for building the Shatoot dam, which would provide clean and safe drinking water to two million residents of Kabul city. It builds on the 202-km Phul-e-Khumri transmission line of 2009. India will also launch Phase-IV of High Impact Community Development (HICD) projects in Afghanistan, which include approximately 150 projects worth USD 80 million.

The most important symbol of India’s assistance in the reconstruction of Afghanistan has been the construction of the multipurpose Afghan India “When Afghanistan becomes a haven of peace and a hub for the flow of ideas,commerce, energy and investments in the region, we will all prosper together.” — Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friendship Dam (AIFD). The project implementation faced several challenges, including logistical and security aspects. The project was inaugurated jointly by the Prime Minister of India with the President of Afghanistan on 4 June 2016. The Dam has an installed capacity of 42 MW and supplies water for irrigating 75,000 hectares of land. Since then, the project has been generating electricity and releasing water for irrigation[5].

The Taliban Takeover and India’s Options in Afghanistan

On 15 August 2021 the Taliban captured Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. It was the culmination of a military offensive that began in May 2021 against the Afghan government. Most of the provincial capitals of Afghanistan had fallen one after the other amid a U.S. troop withdrawal to be completed by 31 August 2021.

There are grass root concerns about the fallout of the situation in Afghanistan on the internal security situation in India, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and the hinterland.

As far the recognition of Taliban led government in Afghanistan is concerned India continues with its wait and watch policy.

India should ramp up its efforts to induce west to impose sanctions on Pakistan. Pakistan has not been just involved in soliciting funding for the terror acts of the Taliban, financing their operations, giving diplomatic networking as the Taliban's indirect representatives overseas. Moreover, it also involved in arranging training for the Taliban, recruiting skilled and unskilled manpower to serve in Taliban armies, planning and directing offensives, providing and facilitating shipments of ammunition and fuel. Both at the diplomatic and the track two levels India should develop a narrative of Pakistan’s role in supporting Taliban. India should also recalibrate its policies by enhancing collaboration and cooperation with regional countries like Iran and Tajikstan. Lastly our policies should be empathetic towards the “people of Afghanistan[6].

The increasing level of violence in Afghanistan remains a matter of grave concern for India. While India supports all efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

A unified Afghanistan with sovereign, independent, and functional Afghan government based on the principles underlying the current constitution, including democracy, non-violent political competition, and basic human rights for Afghan people.

An Afghanistan that prevents terrorist groups from using its soil as safe haven and to train and mount attacks both in the region and around the world.

An Afghanistan that serves as a central trade and transit hub connecting South and Central Asia.

India is seeking ways to scale up humanitarian assistance. India also announced that it will deliver urgent humanitarian aid consisting of food grains and medicines to the people of Afghanistan.

India has invested heavily in peace and development in Afghanistan. New Delhi has reiterated the need to preserve the gains of the last two decades, and the interests of Afghan minorities, women and other vulnerable sections must be ensured.


[1] Adamec, Ludwig W. 2012. Historical dictionary of Afghanistan. 4th ed. USA:Scarecrow Press
[2]Government of India-Ministry of External Affairs. “Treaty of Friendship”, 04 January 1950, Available from: Accessed on 09 April 2021.
[3]Government of India-Ministry of External Affairs. “Trade Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of the Republic of Afghanistan”, 03 September 1975, Available from: Accessed on 09 April 2021.
Embassy of India in Afghanistan. “Bilateral Brief”, August 2020, Available from: Accessed on 10 April 2021.“India, Afghanistan sign 5 pacts for developing educational infra in Afghan provinces”, Hindustan Times, 05 July 2020, Available from: . Accessed on 15 April 2021.“India-Afghanistan: A historic and time-tested friendship”. Available from: . Accessed on 03 April 2021.Chaudhury, Dipanjan Roy. “India announces set of development projects for Afghanistan as country prepares for transition”, The Economic Times, 24 November 2020, Available from: . Accessed on 15 April 2021.
[4]Government of India-Ministry of External Affairs. “Text of Agreement on Strategic Partnership between the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan”, 04 October 2011, Available from: . Accessed on 05 April 2021.
[5]Ministry of External Affairs, India and Afghanistan- A Development partnership,

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India- Australia Relations

India and Australia have seen a steady development in their relationship from 2006 onwards. Interactions at leaders’ level have been regular since 2009 and post 2014 there is a new momentum. There have been several high-level exchanges in the recent times.

The relationship is comprehensive strategic partnership and covers trade, security, cyber security, environment, science and technology, agriculture, tourism, people-to people interaction and circular economy. India looks to Australia for critical minerals like lithium, cobalt, vanadium and rare earths. India also seeks Australia to harness technology in urbanisation and digitisation and in its quest for e-mobility. Australia is also an avenue for India’s service sector. Indian students are the second largest community of international students in Australian universities. Cricket, shared colonial history and the common geographical space of the Indian Ocean are some more areas that both countries share.

Both countries have come closer under the Indo-Pacific framework, and are parts of the Quad. Both are democracies, and with the challenge from China, their security concerns have begun to see convergence in the past few years. Both uphold ASEAN centrality, and have been engaged in Southeast Asia. Since both the countries are democracies, both share common values like freedom, rule of law, transparency and political systems.

As maritime nations, there is further convergence in security interests. Both countries have dialogues on blue economy and on India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI). The Covid-19 pandemic has been another avenue for cooperation. Both countries, under the aegis of the Quad have been involved in vaccine cooperation where India-manufactured vaccines will harness Australia’s logistical prowess to distribute vaccines in the Indo-Pacific. During the pandemic, India and Australia, along with Japan, initiated the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, with the aim of creating alternative to China-dominated global supply chains. Australia has also participated in the Malabar Exercise, signifying the depth of defence ties between the two countries. Australia and India also work under India’s IPOI and the collaboration is an outcome of the leaders’ summit in 2020.

For India, Australia is a source of valuable raw materials, particularly coal. As India’s energy needs intensify in tune with its growing economy, its energy needs also increase. Australian coal is high quality and also diversifies India’s energy sources. India is Australia’s sixth-largest trading partner in 2020. [1] Coal imports and international education are India’s two major economic activities in Australia. Gold and copper ore are also part of India’s imports from Australia.

Indian investment in Australia has been growing with notable presence of conglomerates like Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative (IFFCO), Reliance, Aaditya Birla Group, Adani and many others. Nearly all major Indian IT companies have presence in Australia. [2] In April 2022, the India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) was signed. The bilateral trade is projected to cross USD 27 billion in 2022. India hopes that its relations with Australia are beneficial in the domestic push for entrepreneurship/start-up. The leadership has spoken about exploring avenues in climate-change cooperation, in collaborating in 4th Industrial Revolution and in cutting-edge technology.

Maritime cooperation is very important in the Indo-Pacific. Both have similar interests in the Indo-Pacific - upholding safety, security and prosperity in the region. Both call for a free, open, inclusive Indo-Pacific region. Bilateral concerns in the Indo-Pacific are the strategic and environmental activities that violate international laws. Both should work closely under the IPOI under an action plan towards these specifics.


[1] DFAT Australia
[2] MEA,

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India-Japan Relations

During the Annual Summit Meeting in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minster Shinzo Abe upgraded the relationship to a ‘Special Strategic and Global Partnership’. An Annual Defence Ministerial Meeting is in place since 2006. The first 2+2 ministerial meeting was held in Nov 2019 in New Delhi. The Agreement Concerning Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services between the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the Indian Armed Forces (called ‘Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement’, or ACSA) was signed in September 2020. In March 2021, Japan issued its first official development assistance to India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

While the assistance is for the installation of a battery energy storage system and not related to Japan having a presence on the islands, analysts said that the collaboration between the two countries was significant and symbolic of the deepening ties as Japan hasn’t shied away from investing in China’s periphery. Japan has also been conducting road-connectivity projects in Northeast India, in states such as Meghalaya, Mizoram, Assam and Tripura that border Bangladesh and Myanmar.

New themes involving technological cooperation and skills development are now becoming mainstream agendas in the bilateral partnership. A new agreement on the Information technology (IT) sector that seeks to increase cooperation in 5G, Artificial intelligence (AI), and submarine cable network was signed between Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Japan's Minister for Internal Affairs Takeda Ryota on January 16, 2021. On January 18, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla and Japanese Ambassador Satoshi Suzuki signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on a Basic Framework for Partnership for Proper Operation of the System Pertaining to "Specified Skilled Worker”.

Two Track 2 dialogues - India-Japan-Russia and India-Japan-France initiated recently hold tremendous potential.

India’s earliest documented direct contact with Japan was with the Todaiji Temple in Nara, where the consecration of the towering statue of Lord Buddha was performed by an Indian monk, Bodhisena, in 752 AD. In contemporary times, among prominent Indians associated with Japan were Swami Vivekananda, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, JRD Tata, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Judge Radha Binod Pal. The Japan-India Association was set up in 1903 and is today the oldest international friendship body in Japan. The official publication “Monthly Journal India" has been issued without interruption for over 100 years to contribute to introducing India to Japanese audience.

Ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1952, India and Japan have enjoyed cordial relations. In the post-World War II period, India's iron ore helped a great deal in Japan's recovery from the devastation. Following Japanese Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi's visit to India in 1957, Japan started providing yen loans to India in 1958, as the first yen loan aid extended by Japanese government. India has been the largest recipient of Japanese ODA Loan for the past decades. Delhi Metro is one of the most successful examples of Japanese cooperation through the utilization of ODA.

Japan continues to cooperate in supporting strategic connectivity linking South Asia to Southeast Asia through the synergy between ''Act East'' policy and ''Partnership for Quality Infrastructure.'' An Act East Forum established in 2017 has served as a driving force to advance India-Japan cooperation in India’s North-East. Prime Minister Modi’s 10 guiding principles for India’s sustained and regular engagement with African countries, with Japan’s TICAD VI Nairobi declaration has led both countries to promote tangible cooperation on development of connectivity and other infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific especially Africa.

India decided to introduce the Shinkansen system in December 2015, when Prime Minister Abe visited India. Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and ATLA signed the Project Arrangement Concerning the Cooperative Research on the Visual SLAM Based GNSS Augmentation Technology for UGV/Robotics in July 2018.

In recent years, economic relationship between Japan and India have steadily expanded and deepened. The volume of trade between the two countries has been increased. India was the 21st largest trading partner for Japan, and Japan was the 12th largest trading partner for India in 2019, Also, direct investment from Japan to India has been increased, and Japan was the 4th largest investor for India in FY2019. Japanese private-sector's interest in India is rising, and, currently, about 1,454 Japanese companies have branches in India.

At recent summit meetings, two leaders reconfirmed commitment to synergising India’s demographic dividend and Japan’s capital and technology to realise the true potential of the Japan-India economic partnership for a prosperous future. In this regard, two leaders welcomed the agreement to conclude a Bilateral Swap Arrangement of USD 75 billion, the launching of a comprehensive Japan-India Digital Partnership, and other cooperation and initiatives.

The total number of Japanese companies registered in India, as of October 2020, is 1,455, as compared to 1,454 in 2019. The total number of Japanese business establishments in India, as of October 2020, is 4,948. It has decreased by 74 (1.5% decline) as compared to 5,022 in 2019. While West Bengal, Haryana and Maharashtra exhibited slight increases in the numbers of Japanese companies, Delhi exhibited a slight decrease. While there was an increase in the number of companies in such sectors as information and communications as well as manufacturing, lodging industry and restaurant sectors exhibited decreases. Manufacturing sector accounts for half of the total Japanese companies and more than a third of the Japanese business establishments in India. The number of establishments decreased due to the closure of office, corporate restructuring, change of ownership, etc.

Six new projects such as cyber defence exercises or telecom network security testing were adopted during the 4th session of India-Japan ICT Comprehensive Cooperation Framework that took place in July 2017. India’s major strength lies in its large pool of IT professionals, where Japan is facing a shortage of trained cybersecurity experts. For Japan, its strength lies in its public-private partnership –which is essential to maximise the country’s cyber defences – but is actually one of India’s weaknesses. Indo-Japanese relations took another step by agreeing in May 2018 to bolster cooperation in the field of cyber security and exchange IT professionals.

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Maritime Security

India’s Maritime Interests

Maritime power is the ability of a nation to use the seas to safeguard and progress its national interests. As such, it is a pillar of national security policy and is a key enabler in the formulation and implementation of viable national and military strategies (IMD, 2015). The maritime realm is the legally used medium for power projection. The ability of a nation state to ensure free and full use of the seas, for trade, transportation and to meet resource needs, is critical to her robust economic growth. The maritime environment, accordingly, offers power and dominance to those who are strong at sea (IMD, 2015:48).

The importance of the seas and dynamics of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) maritime environment point to the need for maintaining stability, security and safety at sea, particularly in the IOR. This would enable use of the seas to progress economic development and provide the appropriate maritime environment for unfettered pursuit of national interests. The absence of requisite level of safety and security adversely affects the maritime environment and all activities therein, including maritime trade, shipping, fishing, natural and energy resource extraction, security of our seaborne, off-shore and coastal assets, etc. More than 90 percent of our trade by volume and 70 percent by value is transported over the seas. For a growing economy seeking new markets worldwide, these trade figures will only spiral upwards in the years to come.

India’s Primary Areas of Maritime Interests:

India’s coastal areas and maritime zones, including coastline, islands, internal sea waters, territorial waters, contiguous zone, EEZ, and continental shelf. The Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, Andaman Sea, and their littoral regions.

The Persian Gulf and its littoral, which is the source of majority of our oil supplies and gas imports, and is home to an estimated seven million expatriate Indians.

The choke points leading to, from and across the Indian Ocean, including the Six-degree Channel, Eight/ Nine-degree Channels, Straits of Hormuz, Bab-el- Mandeb, Malacca, Singapore, Sunda and Lombok, the MozambiqueSouth-West Indian Ocean, including IOR island nations therein and East.

Coast of Africa littoral regions.

Channel, and Cape of Good Hope and their littoral regions.

The Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, and their littoral regions.

India’s Secondary Areas of Maritime Interest include the following:

South-East Indian Ocean, including sea routes to the Pacific Ocean and littoral regions in vicinity.

  1. South and East China Seas, Western Pacific Ocean, and their littoral regions.
  2. Southern Indian Ocean Region, including Antarctica.
  3. Mediterranean Sea, West Coast of Africa, and their littoral regions.
  4. Other areas of national interest based on considerations of Indian diaspora, overseas investments and political relations.

India is one of the leading maritime security providers in its oceanic neighbourhood. We are active in anti-piracy operations. We also work with several friends and partners in enhancing our maritime domain awareness and maritime information systems capacities. India has maritime dialogues with an increasing number of countries and is actively cooperating on sharing information and perceptions on regional maritime perspectives. India has agreements with Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia on coordinated maritime patrolling.

India is active in combating maritime pollution and sent a team to combat an oil spill in Mauritius recently. We have participated and continue to participate in maritime search and rescue operations and promote SOPs and interoperability in that area. (EAM, February 2021)

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Indo-Pacific and QUAD

Ancient and Medieval Indian Maritime Tradition

“Robust connectivity with countries of the region, near or far, is deep rooted in Indian civilizational history. Indian culture has been enriched by ancient linkages with the rest of the world, just as the light of Indian culture has shone in lands connected across land and seas by emissaries and merchants” (Foreign Secretary, March 2021).

Harappa/Saraswati civilization was a riverine civilization wherein evidences of flourishing ports exist in Lothal, Gujrat. Ancient Hindu empires of Sri Vijaya in the Malacca and the Chola Empire were naval powers. Hindu temples, archeological evidences and cultural influence are seen most prominently in modern Thailand and Indonesia, in Viet Nam and even as far as Japan. Indian seafarers had explored the whole of Indian Ocean much before the advent of the Europeans. Trading relations between Arabs and Hindus existed in the medieval era. Indian merchants had knowledge of Mozambique cost as evident from the fact that Vasco Da Gama used an Indian navigator to sail further from Mozambique channel to Calicut. The Gujrati community had been trading with today’s West Asia and Eastern Africa during medieval times.

The Maratha Empire and the Kingdom of Calicut were the prominent naval powers during the medieval era. These empires defended against the Portuguese navy for more than 100 years without losing a single battle (Ref: works of K.M.Panikkar).

India and the Indo-Pacific

The first articulation of India’s Indo-Pacific Policy was made by Prime Minister Modi at the Shangri-La dialogue in Singapore in June 2018. However, India’s policy and projects in its maritime neighborhood were already underway as evinced by the attention towards the Indian Ocean small-island states. India’s policy towards the Indo-Pacific is based on the principles of openness and security, connectivity amongst countries, rule of law, regional stability and prosperity, wherein all countries are free to exercise their choice.

India’s Indo-Pacific outlook is an extension of its ancient ties and cultural significance of the East, its longstanding ties with Southeast Asia, its rising trade and strategic footprint, and its willingness to act in the contemporary geo-political changes. The ancient Indian tradition, the Vedas, mention India as an oceanic entity (उत्तरों यत समुद्रस्य meaning, the land which lies to the north of the seas) and the Indo-Pacific is a way to reclaim that legacy. India’s Indo-Pacific extends from Eastern Africa to the Western Pacific. “We are inheritors of Vedanta philosophy that believes in essential oneness of all, and celebrates unity in diversity एकम सत्यम, विप्राः बहुदावदंति (Truth is one, the learned speak of it in many ways). That is the foundation of our civilizational ethos – of pluralism, co-existence, open-ness and dialogue. The ideals of democracy that define us as a nation also shape the way we engage the world (Prime Minister, 2018).”

India’s policy of SAGAR, its ties with ASEAN states, its participation in multilateral for a like the BIMSTC, MGC, with Japan, Korea, and also in the Pacific Island States, its ties with Russia and China, its strategic partnerships – all reflect India’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific. The Indo-Pacific for India is a zone of regional cooperation and inclusive. India has Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with several nations and the Indian Navy has been conducting various bilateral and multilateral exercises in the Indo-Pacific region. As Indian economy grows and also as the world begins to integrate further, India’s priority is to build a region based on peace. The Indo-Pacific is a natural region, and presents great opportunities to cooperate and collaborate.

The Indo-Pacific is free, open and inclusive to the resident countries as well as those with stakes in the region. New Delhi envisions the region as the one with peace and prosperity. ASEAN is central to India’s Indo-Pacific policy. India believes that everyone should have equal access to region’s resources, the trade regimes should be open, rules-based and in tune with international law to strike a balance between trade and services. Connectivity is crucial for physical as well as people-to-people connectivity. However, these projects should be transparent, viable, sustainable and based on trust in order to empower nations and not put them under debt. India will promote democracy and rules-based international order. India is committed to multilateralism. “India believes in the vision of an open, free, rules-based Indo-Pacific region supported by inclusive global and regional institutions that promote prosperous, stable and sovereign states on the basis of shared interests“ (EAM, February 2021).
India also works with several European nations for mutual interests in the Indo-Pacific. There are several multilaterals and trilateral engagements in the region. In tune with its emphasis on connectivity, a Chennai-Vladivostok corridor is proposed. For India, Indo-Pacific security is comprehensive to include management of digital and information domains, cyber-security, space security and climate change. In nutshell, India’s Indo-Pacific policy can be encapsulated as follows:-

  1. Samman (respect)
  2. Samvad (dialogue)
  3. Sahyog (cooperation)

  4. Shanti (peace)
  5. Samruddhi (prosperity).
The Quad

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or the Quad is one of India’s significant multilateral engagements in the Indo-Pacific. The four countries, United States, India, Japan and Australia, have converging interests in the Indo-Pacific. These range from interest in keeping sea lanes of communication free and open, unhindered movement of trade, goods and people, a peaceful and stable environment and respect for rule of law. The grouping has revived in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are four areas on which the Quad cooperation is based[1]:-

  1. Maritime Security (naval exercises, maritime domain awareness, information sharing).
  2. Covid-19 vaccines- manufacturing and distribution.
  3. Climate Change (de-carbonisation of ports and shipping operations, clean hydrogen technology).
  4. Cyber security.
  5. Critical and emerging technologies. (Quad Principles on Technology Design, Development, Governance, and Use).
  6. Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. (Joint-assistance to Tonga, sharing satellite data.
  7. Counter-terrorism.
  8. Capacity-building of regional states (Defensive capabilities, Quad Infrastructure Coordination Group).

The Quad consultations have focused on cooperation in areas such as connectivity, sustainable development, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation and maritime and cyber security, with a view to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in an increasingly inter-connected Indo-Pacific region that the four countries share with each other and with other partners. [2] The Quad is a constructive agenda for the global good.

Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI)

On November 04, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Indo- Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI) at the East Asia Summit held in Bangkok, Thailand. As an open global initiative, the IPOI draws on existing regional cooperation architecture and mechanisms to focus on seven central pillars conceived around Maritime Security; Maritime Ecology; Maritime Resources; Capacity Building and Resource Sharing; Disaster Risk Reduction and Management; Science, Technology and Academic Cooperation; and Trade Connectivity and Maritime Transport. Blue economy is a key focus under the IPOI.

ASEAN centrality is India’s policy. The IPOI will not seek to create new institution, and would work through ASEAN-led mechanisms though it will necessarily not be restricted to it. The IPOI is a cohesive Indian approach to its existing partnerships in ASEAN, Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, Asia-Europe Meeting and East Asia Summit within the framework of India’s Indo-Pacific policy, that was outlined during the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2018. The Indo-Pacific agenda in general runs the risk of neglecting non-traditional security issues for greater focus on traditional maritime security issues. The IPOI hence aims to widen the maritime agenda to not just non-traditional issues but also cover larger issues in the maritime domain.

The IPOI is not against China, rather it is about creating a peaceful and sustainable order[3] (Mishra, 2021). Maritime security cooperation is the principal theme. Multilateral focus on maritime safety, and maritime security. PM Modi in his speech on 11 February 2022 stated that marine resource as a key pillar of the IPOI. Speaking at the ‘One Ocean Summit’, the prime minister spoke that India is committed to end the use of single-use plastic. India recently undertook an awareness campaign to clean plastic and other waste from coastal areas.

After the promulgation of IPOI, India had sent invitations to Australia, Vietnam, and Indonesia to join the IPOI. Australia and India joint partnership on IPOI (AIIPOI) was launched in 2020 and both countries have begun work on marine ecology. India and Japan have agreed to collaborate on the connectivity leg on the IPOI in third countries. France has joined the IPOI marine resource pillar. The UK and India would also explore opportunities under the IPOI. All ASEAN members have also been invited to join the IPOI.

Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS)

The IONS is a voluntary and inclusive initiative that brings together navies of Indian Ocean Region littoral states to increase maritime co-operation and enhance regional security. A co-operative forum for discussion on regional maritime issues, it also serves to develop an effective response mechanism against natural disasters. Instituted in 2008, the IONS initiative has grown significantly and presently enjoys wide acceptance across the Indian Ocean Region.

The IONS aims to achieve greater flow of information amongst the naval professionals to arrive at a uniform understanding and a common response to regional maritime issues. The IONS initiative endeavours to generate a flow of information among naval professionals so as to enable a common understanding of regional maritime issues and in turn facilitate generation of mutually-beneficial maritime security outcomes. IONS has working groups on Maritime Security, HADR and Information Sharing and Inter-operability. 36 navies of the Indian Ocean region are part of the IONS - this includes countries from South Asia, West Asia, East Africa, Southeast Asia and Australia.

Security and Growth for All (SAGAR)

Prime Minister Modi promulgated SAGAR as India’s vision for the Indian Ocean region in 2015. He said at Mauritius, “India is becoming more integrated globally. We will be more dependent than before on the ocean and the surrounding regions. We must also assume our responsibility to shape its future.” So, Indian Ocean Region is at the top of our policy priorities. Our vision for Indian Ocean Region is rooted in advancing cooperation in our region and to use our capabilities for the benefit of all in our common maritime home, he added.

India’s Indo-Pacific strategy was enunciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a speech in Singapore in 2018 as the ‘SAGAR Doctrine’. In Sanskrit, among other Indian languages, the word ‘Sagar’ means ocean. The Prime Minister used it as an acronym for ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’. This aspiration depends on securing end-to-end supply chains in the region, no disproportionate dependence on a single country and ensuring prosperity for all stakeholder nations.

The SAGAR vision includes safeguarding Indian mainland and islands, ensuring a safe, stable and secure Indian Ocean region for regional prosperity, response to regional HARD and rescue incidents, deepening economic and security cooperation with the littorals of the Indian Ocean rim (IOR), and capacity building and economic development of the IOR littorals. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – the concept of whole world as a family – is perhaps most vividly witnessed on oceans, said PM Modi at the International Fleet Review at Vishakhapatnam in 2016. Indian Navy conducted a seminar on Building Collective Maritime Competence towards Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) on 04 February, 2021, during the Aero India 2021. SAGAR denotes a whole of government approach to the Indian Ocean, said the Defence Secretary in 2021.

In 2017, the External Affairs Minister had stated, “The principles enshrined in SAGAR provide us with a coherent framework to address some of the challenges relating to economic revival, connectivity, security, culture and identity, and India’s own evolving approach to these issues. The challenge before us is to ensure intra-ocean trade and investment, and the sustainable harnessing of the wealth of the seas, including food, medicines and clean energy.“ In January 2021, he said, “An Indo-Pacific guided by norms and governed by rules, with freedom of navigation, open connectivity, and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states, is an article of faith for India.” In March 2021, the Foreign Secretary added, “Connectivity forms an important Pillar of India’s Act East Policy and its doctrine of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).

Blue Economy

India’s blue economy comprises of entire ocean resources, and manmade economic infrastructure in marine, maritime and offshore coastal activities within the country’s legal jurisdiction. India has a coastline of 7500 kms and nine out of its 29 states are coastal states. India has 1382 islands, 199 ports and the 12 major ports handling approximately 1400 million tonnes of cargo each year. India enjoys an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 2 million square kilometres. [4]

In February 2021 the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, came up with a policy draft on Blue Economy which envisages its potential as a multiplier for national growth. The policy is centred around sustainability and socio-economic wellbeing of its people. The draft has the following focus areas:-

  1. National accounting framework for blue economy and ocean governance.
  2. Coastal marine spatial planning and tourism.
  3. Marine fisheries, fish processing and aquaculture.
  4. Manufacturing, emerging industries, trade, technology, trade, skill development.
  5. Logistics, infrastructure and shipping including trans-shipment.
  6. Coastal and deep-sea mining and offshore energy.
  7. Security, strategic dimensions and international engagement.

The policy is in tune with the Substantiable Development Goal No.14 and with a Blue Economy policy, India has become one of the few maritime nations to have a dedicated ocean policy. [5] The Blue Economy policy envisages optimum utilisation of all sectors of the maritime domain (living, non-living, tourism, ocean energy, security etc.). Marine economic activities at present comprise of 4.1 per cent of the GDP. [6] The Blue Economy drives 90 per cent of India’s trade by volume. [7] The Blue Economy is hailed as the 6th dimension of the Government’s New India Vision 2030. In this context INR 150 crores have been sanctioned for Deep Ocean Mission for the year 2021-22. [8]

Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS)

India has a fully-functional Tsunami warning system. The INCOIS tsunami warnings are issued within 10 minutes of an under-water earthquake. INCOIS data is kept up to date and is disseminated to various agencies, and the information is available to citizens (fishermen) in multiple languages through the website and SMS service. It also collaborates with international partners like IORA and also functions in the cyber domain. The INCOIS also maintains a coral-bleaching alert service and provides end-to-end solutions in offshore industry. The INCOIS activities and research are aimed at making sea-activities cheaper, efficient and safer. [9]


Sagarmala is India’s policy for port development and port-led development. It is a policy of the Ministry of Shipping.

Sagarmala is an ambitious national initiative aimed at bringing about a step change in India’s logistics sector performance, by unlocking the full potential of India’s coastline and waterways. The vision of Sagarmala is to reduce logistics cost for both domestic and EXIM cargo with optimized infrastructure investment. Sagarmala aspires to reduce logistics costs for EXIM and domestic cargo leading to overall cost savings of INR 35,000 to 40,000 cr. per annum. Some of this will be direct cost savings, while others are savings from inventory-handling costs resulting from time (and reduced variability) in transportation of goods, particularly containers.

Vision of the Sagarmala Programme is to reduce logistics cost for EXIM and domestic trade with minimal infrastructure investment. This includes:-

  1. Reducing cost of transporting domestic cargo through optimizing modal mix,
  2. Lowering logistics cost of bulk commodities by locating future industrial capacities near the coast,
  3. Improving export competitiveness by developing port proximate discrete manufacturing clusters,
  4. Optimizing time/cost of EXIM container movement,

Components of Sagarmala are as follows:-

  1. Port Modernization & New Port Development,
  2. Port Modernization & New Port Development,
  3. Port-linked Industrialization,
  4. Coastal Community Development,
  5. Coastal Shipping & Inland Waterways Transport.

The Sagarmala is expected to increase savings by INR 40,000 crores and add two percent to the GDP. Improve efficiency in and of the ports has improved cargo handling capacity by 80 million metric tonnes per year. Since 2014, the cargo handling capacity has gone up by 42 percent. So far, 172 projects out of the planned 802 have been completed, and as of end of 2021, 235 projects are underway. [10] The total outlay for these 802 project is INR 5.53 lakh crores. By bringing in the Port Community System, doing away with redundant duplication of documents, setting up a solitary digital platform for all interactions and paving the way for easy access to data with revamped version of communications system, the Government is working towards a comprehensively to establish smart ports in India.

With the Sagarmala programme, the digitization of various systems under one common platform has increased efficiency and output as well. There has been an increase of more than 80 million metric tonnes per annum capacity in cargo handling in addition to greater connectivity between ports. [11] Some of the major initiatives and benefits under digitization include the introduction of smart ports in India, transparency and clarity of work, streamlined communication by a web-based system and a paperless regime. The Port Community System is one stop digital platform that has strengthened communication, reduced cost and time, provided uninterrupted communication, eliminated duplication of documents. The introduction of biometric system has eased data access. [12]

Andaman and Nicobar Initiatives

For a self-reliant India, Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands has a major role in the security and prosperity of a new India. The islands are poised to emerge as a hub of Blue Economy, port, maritime and start-ups in the coming years.

These islands had remained neglected for several decades. The A&N are a biodiverse zone, and home to the Jarawa tribe, which is one of the few ancient/indigenous tribes still untouched by modern lifestyle. Some parts of these island group are still inaccessible where the indigenous tribal communities inhabit. The islands bear historical significance as well; several Indian freedom fighters were sent on life imprisonment to the Cellular Jail in Andaman during the British colonial rule. Prior to British control, other European colonisers form the time of Vasco Da Gama had tried to capture the Island to proselytize. In 1942, the Japanese had occupied the islands for three years until 1945. Soon after Independence, the Government was keen to protect the interests of the islanders and did not allow outside traders to exploit the people. The regulation for the Protection of Aboriginal Tribes came into force in 1956 under which entry to the Nicobar Islands was strictly restricted. However, in the late sixties, the Administration started settlement of non-tribals in this group of islands, like the Andamans. 330 ex-defence personnel were settled in some de-reserved areas of the Great Nicobar Island, where Panchayat System exists at present. Some plantation Tamils were also brought in mid 1970s to engage in rubber plantation works in the Katchal Island. Owing to increase in population, 165 Car Nicobar families were resettled at the Little Andaman Island in 1973-74. On 1st August, 1974, Nicobar group of islands was declared a separate district with its headquarter at Car Nicobar, where half of its population live. Except three Panchayats and one Panchayat Samiti in Great Nicobar, rest of the District is having its own local traditional Tribal Councils. [13]

Efforts are underway to improve connectivity with the rest of the country, particularly the air and digital connectivity. Intra-island connectivity projects are also undertaken. 12 islands of Andaman and Nicobar have been selected for high-impact projects, with an emphasis on boosting trade of sea-based, organic and coconut-based products of the region. [14] In 2017, Island Development Authority was constituted keeping in view the importance of Andaman and Nicobar for India’s Atmanirbhar Bharat policy. In the context of Blue Economy, the A&N islands are strategically located. Ports in Southern India, West Bengal, and ports of neighbouring countries like Myanmar, Thailand and Bangladesh are conveniently located. Plans are under consideration to establish connectivity between A&N and Aceh and Sabang in Indonesia.

The Government plans to turn A&N as the hub of Blue Economy. The Islands play a critical role in India’s Act East Policy and India’s relations with other maritime countries. In 2019-20, the total merchandise exports from A&N stood at US$ 1.30 million, while during 2020-21 (till January 2021) it stood at US$ 1.58 million. [15] The Government also plans to turn the islands into a major tourist attraction on the lines of Maldives and Mauritius. In 2020, the Radhanagar Beach received the ‘Blue Flag Eco Label’ certified by the Foundation for Environment Education, Denmark.

A&N also hosts India’s tri-service command.

Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)

In 2011 India was the chair of the IORA, when a major revitalisation was undertaken in the light of emerging geo-strategic challenges in the Indian Ocean. A reformulation of priority areas was done as under:-

  1. Maritime safety and security.
  2. Trade and investment facilitation.
  3. Fisheries management.
  4. Disaster risk management.
  5. Academic, scientific, technology.
  6. Tourism and cultural exchange.

The Prime Minister in 2015 noted how the IORA has the potential to be the instrument to realise India’s vision for a sustainable and prosperous future. India’s SAGAR vision is also applicable to the Indian Ocean Region. In 2015, ten proposals were identified viz:-

  1. Working with Mauritius and other IORA partners to set up a virtual IORA university (currently on hold).
  2. India to offer capacity building workshops to IORA scientists at INCOIS, Hyderabad (broad areas: remote sensing and potential fishing zones, ocean data and application, ocean climate modelling, SOP for tsunami warming and emergency response).
  3. Offer special training for IORA diplomats at the Foreign Service Institute, New Delhi. Five seats are being offered to IORA member states for the special training course since 2016.
  4. Organised workshops on women empowerment and skill development for the youth.
  5. Strengthening the IORA secretariat by continuing representation; providing material support in the form of laptops, speakers, photocopying machines, etc; and deploying IT experts to organise e-office and Mahatma Gandhi library at the IORA secretariat.
  6. Institutionalisation of the Blue Economy Dialogue.
  7. India has hosted experts meeting on maritime safety and security in tune with IORA’s focus areas.
  8. Allocation of USD 100,000 to the IORA Special Fund, making it the highest contribution to the fund. The fund will sustain three areas: Women empowerment & skill development workshop with FICCI; Innovation exposition in collaboration with FICCI; and water security and sustainability issues with the CII.
  9. It was India’s initiative to launch the Indian Ocean Dialogue in 2015 in Kochi as a Track 1.5 dialogue.

India has set up an IOR division in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in order to take up a leading role as desired by some IORA member states. The second Blue Economy Dialogue in New Delhi in 2016 aimed to engage participants more strongly. Several academic conferences on the Indian Ocean have been organised. Ministerial meetings of renewable energy departments, meetings of media personnel, workshops for parliamentarians, workshops on women empowerment, workshops on water sustainability, and innovation exposition for IORA members have been organised. [16] India organized this Capacity Building Workshop in pursuance of its commitments to IORA Member States under the ‘IORA Working Group on Maritime Safety and Security’ and the ‘Sixth Indian Ocean Dialogue’ hosted by India in New Delhi in 2019. The Workshop, which highlights synergies between IORA’s priority areas and the central pillars of India’s Indo-Pacific Ocean’s Initiative, witnessed more than 200 participants from many IORA Member countries. It focused on four major areas - 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea; Dispute Resolution and Freedom of Navigation; Issues of Freedom of Navigation; Sustainable Fisheries Development and Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) Fishing; and Protection of the Marine Environment and Issues of Marine Scientific Research (MSR) (MEA, 2021). A capacity-building workshop on UNCLOS was organized for IORA member states in January 2021.

India views IORA as a unique platform for promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific through greater inter-regional partnerships (MEA, 2020). During the 20th meeting of the IORA council of ministers, the Minster of State (MoS) in his remarks, highlighted IORA’s importance as a platform for regional cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region and the wider Indo-Pacific. India has strengthened IORA though regular meetings, creation of new structures, strengthening the Secretariat, enhancing greater cooperation with Dialogue Partners, and taking concrete initiatives in various IORA priority and cross-cutting areas (MoS, November 2020).

India aims to widen the stakeholders from policymakers and academicians to involve businesses and other stakeholders in order to find finding practical ways and means in promoting intra-regional trade and investment within IORA. It would also bring in more equity in our efforts to promote prosperity in the region. India desires a focus and institutionalised approach from all IORA partner countries in order to have more scientific work to understand the threats in the IOR, such as threats from oil spill, pollution, plastic waste, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (MoS, November 2020).


[1]Ministry of External Affairs, GOI.
[2]Question no 2411, Parliament of India.
[3]Mishra, Rahul, Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative:
Providing Institutional Framework to the Indo-Pacific Region, RIS, August 2021.
[4]P.Manoj, All about India’s Blue Economy, The Hindu Business Line, 23 February 2022.
[5]Press Information Bureau, 17 February 2021.
[6]Lok Sabha unstarred question no 4113, Government of India.
[7]INCOIS, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.
[8]PIB, 3 February 2021.
[9]INCOIS, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.
[10]Devanjana Nag, ‘Smart ports, digitization & more! Sagarmala programme to boost India’s coastal economy’, Financial Express, 29 December 2021.
[11]Sagarmala: Cargo Handling Up By 42 Per Cent, Smart Ports, Revamp Of Communications System Amongst Major Achievements, Swarajya, 31 December 2021.
[12] Ibid.
[13]History, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Govt of India.
[14] ‘Andaman & Nicobar to play important role in self-reliant India scheme: PM’, Business Standard, 9 August 2020.
[15]Andaman and Nicobar State Report, India Brand Equity Foundation, September 2021.
[16]MEA, ‘Indian Ocean Rim Association and India’s Role’,

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Counter-Terrorism Cooperation

India has been suffering terrorist attacks and continues to be the target of proxy-terrorism originated from and supported by Pakistan. India strongly condemned any use of terrorist proxies and cross-border terrorism in all its manifestations. India continues to appeal for the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks to be brought to justice.

Post-2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, there has been significant progress in counter-terrorism cooperation with international counter-terrorism agencies. At various international platforms, India called for joint efforts against all terrorist groups, including those proscribed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) 1267 Sanctions Committee, such as al-Qa’ida, Islamic State/ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

Since 2019, India has been an essential partner with the United States (US) on intelligence-sharing, information exchange, and operational cooperation. India and the US have engaged in a separate CT cooperation—Joint Working Group (JWG), since January 2000; and the Homeland Security Dialogue (HSD) since November 2010.

In HSD meetings, May 2011 and May 2013, India and the US reviewed engagements in—i) megacities policing, ii) Countering illicit finance & counterfeiting, iii) Cyber Security & Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) protection, iv) Science & Technology Cooperation, and v) capacity building.

During the 17th meeting (virtual) of the JWG and the third session of the India-US Designations Dialogue, held on 09-10 September 2020, both countries denounced the terrorist proxies and condemned cross-border terrorism in all its manifestations.

On 26-27 October 2021, the 18th meeting of India-US JWG on Counter-Terrorism and the 4th session of the India-US Designations Dialogue were held in Washington DC. Both countries reaffirmed CT cooperation as an important pillar under the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership during the meeting. India and the US pledged to expand existing cooperation on law enforcement, information sharing, best practices exchanges, and increasing strategic convergence on CT challenges in modern times.

In December 2021, Russia’s President Vladimir V. Putin visited India at the 21st India-Russia Annual Summit. During the Summit, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir V. Putin decided to continue close consultation and coordination between India and Russia on the security situation in Afghanistan. It was made clear that Afghanistan territory should not be used for sheltering, training or planning, and financing any acts of terrorism.

Having counter-terrorism as a common interest, India and Russia discussed collective measures to deal with terrorist organisations, such as al-Qa’ida, Islamic State, LeT, and other terror groups operating in India’s neighbourhood.

With the positive response to India’s bold step on the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in the JWG meeting, other countries, including the US, shared information about procedures for pursuing sanctions and designations against terrorist networks, including al-Qaeda, Islamic State (IS), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and Hizb ul-Mujahideen (HM).

Supporting India’s stand against terrorism, the US discussed the urgent need for Pakistan to take action against perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and Pathankot attacks, in the JWG meeting (virtual) held in September 2020.

With its appointment as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), it is a golden opportunity for India to work with other countries on joint commitment to strengthen CT cooperation and impose international travel sanctions and other essential provisions on terrorist groups and individuals, outlined in the UNSC resolution 2396.

Former US President—Donald Trump considered India an “incredibly important, valuable, and close CT partner of the US.”

On 20 February 2021, India and the US armies carried out the 16th edition of the India-US joint exercise in the Thar desert in Rajasthan, India. The drill also included CT exercises to exchange skills and improve cooperation between two forces. The CT drills should include elite CT forces—India's National Security Guard (NSG) and the US Navy SEALs.

In February 2021, India has issued a Mutual Legal Assistance Request (MLAR) to the US to investigate the whereabouts and anti-India activities of “Sikhs For Justice” (SFJ), including SFJ’s “Referendum 2020”. To date, the US administration has taken no legal or decisive action against the SFJ.

Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), established in 2007, is a New York-based pro-Khalistan group. The SFJ seek and support a separate homeland for Sikhs named “Khalistan” in Punjab, India. SFJ is a proscribed organisation/unlawful association under India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act [UA(P)A].

Through the UNSC, India and the US should move together countering China’s moves of protecting Pakistan’s interests, including India’s move to ban Pakistan-sponsored terrorist groups and individuals.

With its non-permanent membership in the UNSC and support from the US, India can push forward for the adoption of the proposed “Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism” (CCIT) treaty, which is currently in a state of “deadlock”.

  1. “Requested US to probe Sikhs for Justice’s ‘Referendum 2020’: India”, Times of India, 04 February 2021, Available from: Accessed on 04 March 2021.
  2. PTI. “Future very bright for US-India counter-terrorism cooperation: Trump administration”, The Economic Times, 01 March 2018, Available from: Accessed on 28 February 2021.
  3. US Embassy in India. “Joint Statement on the 15th Meeting of the India-US Working Group on Counterterrorism”, 27 March 2018, Available from: .Accessed on 26 February 2021.
  4. US Department of State. “Foreign Terrorist Organisations”, Available from: . Accessed on 27 February 2021.
  5. India. “Joint Statement on India-US Counter-Terrorism Joint Working Group and Designations Dialogue”, Ministry of External Affairs, 28 October 2021, Available from: . Accessed on 10 December 2021.
  6. India. “Transcript of Special Media briefing by Foreign Secretary on 21st India-Russia Annual Summit (06 December 2021), Ministry of External Affairs, 07 December 2021, Available from: Accessed on 13 December 2021.
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Insurgency in North East: Countering through Cooperative Efforts


There have been various revolutionary movements in India’s eight Northeast states. The geneses of these movements are the British policies towards the Hills, which gave rise to numerous territorial challenges and insurgent disputes in the region. Post-independence, the insurgent movements intensified due to their geography, history and other socio-economic factors. The region has 98 per cent of its land boundary with Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Nepal, and Bhutan. The conflicts in the region can be classified as - National Conflicts, Ethnic Conflicts and Sub-Regional Conflicts.[1]The following table briefly outlines the timeline of these conflicts and efforts taken by the government.

The movements mentioned above are some of the major movements of the Northeast. There have been numerous factions within these groups leading to the further rise of insurgent groups in the Northeast. There were minor indigenous movements in Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura, but they were resolved with government efforts.

Various scholars and national and international reports have reported neighbouring countries’ role in providing support to insurgent groups in the Northeast. Bertil Linter elaborated on the foreign players’ role in supporting the insurgent groups through training, supplying of weapons and providing sanctuaries. Nevertheless, few countries have proactively supported the Indian government and the army to contain and counter-insurgency in the Northeast. The following section elaborates on the role of foreign countries to promote insurgency and efforts to counter the same.


The role of Bangladesh in providing sanctuaries to insurgents is widely known. The United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) launched several income-generating projects in Bangladesh. It had set up several firms in Dhaka, including media consultancies and soft drink manufacturing units. It has a so called government-in-exile in Bangladesh, where it has set up many bases in the Sylhet district. When Bangladesh Nationalist Party was in power, the ULFA continued its operations in Bangladesh and later started sending its cadres to Myanmar in the late 1980s.

Political environment in Bangladesh became unfavourable with the Sheikh Hasina government’s coming to power in 2009, which took significant steps to improve bilateral relations with India. It arrested Sashadhar Choudhury and Chitraban Hazarika on 1 November 2009, two top leaders of ULFA. Bangladesh also handed over Ranjan Daimary, the president of the outlawed NDFB.


The ULFA sought shelter in the Indo-Bhutan border area from the early 1990s and established several camps. Over the years, it reportedly developed linkages with several officers and personnel of the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) and Police to ensure logistical support, aid and contacts for money laundering.

‘Operation All Clear’ was conducted by the Bhutanese military from 15 December 2003 to January 2004 to clear the presence of Indian insurgents in Bhutan. After this crackdown, ULFA in Assam received a major backlash and revived its past strength since then.


In 1967, Thinoselie Muivah and a contingent of Naga rebels reached Yunan (China) and marked the beginning of China’s involvement in the ethnic rebel movement in Northeast India. In 1975, UNLF leader N. Bisheswar Singh and 16 other Meitei rebels proceeded to Lhasa to seek Chinese assistance. In the early 1980s, ULFA’s training modules and supply of weapons were depended on Myanmar’s Kachin Independence Army (KIA). Research by Bertil Lintner revealed that China used the KIA in Myanmar to train ULFA’s armed cadres (so called People’s Liberation Army, or PLA) in batches. Following a pact with India’s external intelligence wing, the Research & The Analysis Wing (R&AW), KIA did commit to cutting off all ties with the PLA. However, China has not initiated any process or operation with the Indian government to control insurgency in the Northeast.


The Free Movement Regime (FMR), a unique arrangement on the India–Myanmar border, has been used by the insurgents for crossing to Myanmar to receive training, supply of arms, and establish safe-havens. The drug trade further strengthened their activities. In 1986, ULFA first established contacts with the then unified National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) and the KIA of Myanmar for training and arms. The UNLF has training camps in Myanmar.

In the 1990s, India established close links with Myanmar military generals and expanded India’s strategic interest by conducting ‘Operation Golden Bird’. In recent years, ‘Operation Sunrise’ is a collaborative effort of Indian and Myanmar militaries to wipe out the insurgent groups from the latter’s territory. As a result, many top leaders and insurgent groups have surrendered. In December 2020, the ex-leader of NSCN Khaplang-Yung Aung (K-YA), Starson Lamkang and 52 other cadres surrendered. More than 50 militants of the NSCN (Khaplang faction), including its top leader Niki Sumi, were forced to abandon their base in Myanmar in January 2021. In addition, to further strengthen defence diplomacy, India has been an active provider of training, military support like combat gears and troop’s uniforms to the Myanmar Army. In 2020, India gifted Myanmar a diesel-electric submarine.


India-Nepal open borders have also been exploited by the insurgent groups as a safe entry point, especially by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) is also said to have linkages with the Maoist insurgents of Nepal. An August 2001-report indicated that a meeting of National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB), KLO, ULFA and the Maoists was held at Birganj, near the Indo-Nepal border, to discuss a joint strategy to carry out activities against India.


Earlier, Pakistan (East Pakistan, now Bangladesh) provided sanctuaries to the ethnic insurgents in the Northeast, which continued until 2008. For example, the Manipur Independent Peasant Republic and its armed organization Red Guards gained support earlier from East Pakistan and later by China and Myanmar’s Kachin and Wa rebels. The United National Liberation Front (UNLF) leaders established a political relationship with the then East Pakistan authority and underwent military training in that country in 1969. The ULFA established contacts with Pakistan's ISI and the Afghan Mujahideen. The PLA is also reported to have contacts with Pakistan’s ISI.

India’s Efforts to Deal with Insurgency in the North East

Effective decentralisation and bringing tribal areas under the Sixth Schedule and successful land reforms led to a decline in conflicts in Tripura.

The Indian Home Ministry is exercising its powers under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, to treat several organisations as terrorist organisations. For example, in 2014, KLO and all its formation and front organisations were declared as terrorist organisations.

Under the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) 1958, the government declared several affected areas as ‘disturbed areas’.

Effective Management of Borders - The geographical terrain of the Northeast is tough and needs constant surveillance. India needs to relook at the Free Regime Movement with Myanmar and Open Borders with Nepal. There is a need for effective law enforcement, increased scrutiny and intelligence networks at the borders.

Meaningfully engaged with neighbouring countries’ leaders and military - Joint operations have been successful with Bhutan and Myanmar. India has also made a significant transition in diplomacy, with the military involved in foreign policy initiatives. The visit of the Indian Army Chief General M.M. Naravane and Foreign Secretary H.V. Shringla to Myanmar in October 2020 was a landmark initiative. The Indian Army Chief has actively pursued defence diplomacy with visits to Nepal, South Korea, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.

Surveillance at maritime boundaries - Apart from protecting land boundaries, it is essential to ensure surveillance in maritime boundaries. In recent years, insurgent groups are exploiting maritime routes to cross borders and supply arms and ammunitions.

These efforts have reaped benefits as the number of incidents has declined significantly in the past five years. The table below illustrates the success of the initiatives above-mentioned, as recorded in the Ministry of Home Affairs ‘Annual Report-2020’.

On 15 May 2020, the Indian Foreign Secretary, in his address, stated that coordination between Defence and Foreign Policy has traditionally been in existence and continues to date. He stated, “Foreign and security policies are now facets of a many-sided polygon. Definitions of security tend to have a positive aspect and emphasise the presence of wellbeing rather than the absence of danger. This considerably complicates and expands our responsibilities.”[2] With the help of diplomacy, India achieved success in suppressing few movements in Northeast India.

It is essential to further enhance engagements with neighbours to ensure the security of the region. India needs to set up joint task forces to share information and investigate cross-border activities in cooperation with neighbouring countries. India could also strengthen regional organisations, such as BIMSTEC. SAARC has failed to protect the region from insurgent groups. The geographical unity of SAARC could have instead worked effectively to control the movement of insurgents and arms. Now, BIMSTEC holds the potential to counter insurgency and build peace and stability in the region.


[1]ARC, Conflicts in North East, Seventh Report, Chapter 12, pp: 143
[2]Indian Foreign Secretary address to National Defence College on “India’s Foreign Policy Options in the Emerging World Order”

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The Rohingya Crises


Due to the recent political crises in Myanmar, international attention is again set on Rohingya refugees’ problem and stagnant repatriation process. The year 2020 marked three years of Rohingya exodus:

The Rohingya crises’ genesis is traced to the 1982 Citizenship law, which denied entitlements to individuals who do not belong to certain ‘National’ ethnic groups (a list of 135 groups, which excluded Rohingyas). Later, Rohingyas were provided with the National Verification Cards, which characterised them as foreigners.

They were disenfranchised from the political process as per Section 10 of the Election Law (amended in 2014). The law states that only full citizens to join a political party. However, Rohingyas were able to participate in 2010 and 2012. But in 2015, the temporary verification certificates were revoked. Furthermore, in the 2020 general elections, Rohingya candidates applications were rejected.

The Myanmar military attacked Gu Dar Pyin Village (Rakhine) on 27 and 28 August 2017. The attack was described as a response to the 25 August 2017 incident, in which Muslim insurgents of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked 30 police posts and an army base in the north of Rakhine State. This was followed by forced migration, sexual crimes and mass killings since 2017.

However, the story is incomplete without mentioning the Amnesty International brief released on 22 May, which confirmed that ARSA had committed serious human rights abuses against Hindus in Rakhine state. Therefore, it is important to address all cases of human rights violations to end human rights abuses.

International Responses

Since the year 2017, international responses have been sharp and reactionary:
A UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission urged the investigation for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

On 21 December 2017, the United States imposed sanctions on 13 “serious human rights abusers and corrupt actors”.

Gambia bought a case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in November 2019. Additionally, in September 2020, Gambia filed a more than 500-page Memorial.

A donor conference was co-hosted by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on 22 September 2020 and announced new pledges of around USD 600 million in humanitarian funding. [1]

At the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations, a 25-point draft resolution, titled “The Situation of Human Rights of Rohingya Muslims and other Minorities in Myanmar”, was adopted. 132 countries voted against Myanmar, while 32 countries, including India, Japan, and Sri Lanka abstained from voting. China and Russia, among nine others, voted in Myanmar's favour. [2]
However, international responses have been patchy and have failed to bring justice and accountability.

No formal session has been conducted in UNHRC since February 2019, even though only nine votes were needed to do so.

UN commissioned report led by Gert Rosenthal to study the involvement of the UN in Myanmar 2010-2018 stated the absence of support from the UNSC members and polarisation of opinions among UNSC members. China restrained any initiative at the Council to meet or issue joint statements on Myanmar and instead insisted that it is an internal issue.

Since December 2020, Bangladesh government is sending Rohingyas in groups to an island Bhasan Char, an island specifically developed to accommodate Rohingyas who have fled from Myanmar. Though largely reported as a voluntary activity, the relocations have been criticised by human rights groups, who say many refugees are being forced to move against their will.

The Myanmar Government formed the Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE) in 2018, which confirmed “mass killings” during military clearance operations. Though the findings also suggested that the military’s security operations against Rohingya insurgents had no genocide intent. Based on the ICOE report, the military convened court-martials, and on 30 June 2020, convicted three army personnel, including two officers and a soldier. [3]

The earlier two attempts to repatriate Rohingyas in November 2018 and August 2019 did not succeed. In January 2021, China mediated a virtual tripartite meeting between Bangladesh and Myanmar, and Myanmar agreed to start the repatriation of Rohingya in the second quarter of 2021. To date, Bangladesh has given details of nearly 840,000 Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, but Myanmar authorities verified only 42,000.

India’s Stand

The Rohingyas arrived in India many years before the genocide, and as per the UNHCR data, around 40,000 Rohingya have taken refugee in India. While UNHCR has provided refugees card to half the refugees from Myanmar, India does not recognise their cards since it is not a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees: [4]

India earlier launched Operation Insaniyat in 2017 to formally provide relief assistance to the Rohingya. Similarly, non-governmental organisations like the Rohingya Human Rights Initiative, The Red Crescent Society of India and others are working for the cause of Rohingya in India.

The Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Vikram Kumar Doraiswami, said there is no difference between India and Bangladesh views on Rohingya repatriation. [5]

The Rohingyas are accused of being involved in criminal activities, such as illegal crossings and drug trafficking. Recently increase in the number of illegal crossings was reported from the border. The graph below details the number of cases registered against Rohingyas in Bangladesh from 2017 to 2020.

In the Cox Bazar, crimes like murder, abduction, extortion and narcotics smuggling have increased. According to the database, around 67 Rohingyas were killed in gunfights with law enforcers in the last two years for their alleged involvement in narcotics smuggling and robbery. From 01 January to mid of August 2020, the 34 BGB battalion has recovered around 14.20 lakh yaba tablets and detained some 21 Rohingyas. [6]

Siegfried O Wolf, an analyst at the South Asia Democratic Forum, confirmed ISI involvement in the training of 40 Rohingya by Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) in an interview with German news agency DW. Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Shahriar Alam also told DW that there were attempts to spread extremism in the camps, however, did not turn out to be a major success. [7]

Future Actions Needed

Any harsh actions or sanctions could further push Myanmar towards China, which has relentlessly supported Myanmar on the issue and saved the country from any condemnation, saying it is an internal issue.

With the Biden administration in the US, there will be further pushing for democratic reforms and therefore, Mynamar needs to engage holistically with Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries to speed up repatriation. The Biden administration has launched an interagency review to determine whether Myanmar's persecution of its Rohingya minority amounts to genocide.

Due to internal security threats, India needs to engage with Myanmar government and Tatmadaw to ensure Rohingyas’ speedier repatriation. Such an initiative will be in the interest of India’s security.

Because of the military coup in February 2021, it is essential to establish democratic forces in the country. There is a need to address the root cause of their vulnerability, i.e. to end institutionalised exclusion and disenfranchisement of the community; it is responsible to ensure that the general elections are fair and inclusive. The Rakhine state’s clashes must be bought to a ceasefire to ensure that Rohingya can return safely.

The longer the Rohingya genocide continues, the more problems it will create for Myanmar’s peace and the South Asian region’s security. The Rohingya community demands recognition of what happened to them as genocide and repatriation with security. And the region demands peace and stability for all.


[1]Rohingya Conference pledges to ‘remain steadfast’ in finding solutions to crises, 22 October 2020, UN News
[2]Humayun Kabir Bhuyan, UN adopts resolution for urgent solution to Rohingya Crises, 19 November 2020, DhakaTribune
[3] RFA, Myanmar army says it has convicted three troops for 2017 massacre of Rohingya, 30 June 2020, RadioFreeAsia
[4]Prakash K Dutta, How Rohingyas reached India and why government is not ready to let them stay, 07 September 2017, India Today
[5]Shahidul Hasan Khokon, India wants quick, sustainable Rohingya repatriation, says Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka, 21 December 2020, IndiaToday
[6]Mohammad Jamil Khan, Refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar: Rohingyas tangled up in crimes, 27 August 2020, The Daily Star
[7] ANI, Pakistan’s spy body ISI active in Myanmar, helps JMB in training Rohingyas: Expert, 15 August 2020, NewIndianExpress,

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Cyber and Information Security Cooperation

To address the growing number of cyber-crime related incidents in the country, the Cyber and Information Security (CIS) division under the Ministry of Home Affairs was established in October 2017.

The division supervise matters related to the effective implementation of the National Information Security Policy and Guidelines (NISPG), scheme on prevention of cyber-crimes against women and children, Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (IC4) scheme, regular information security audits, international conventions on cyber security and cyber-crimes, lawful interception and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID).

On international cooperation, India and the United States (US) had reviewed their engagements in several key issues, including Cyber Security and protection of the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), under the banner of Homeland Security Dialogue (HSD).

Through mutual understanding and global best practices of cyber milieu, India is keen to promote Cyber Diplomacy. Since 1990s, India has developed a strategic edge in cyberspace through building most competitive Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industries and becoming the frontrunner in using ICT for e-governance and public service delivery.

Rise in cyber-attacks during coronavirus pandemic during 2019-2020 highlighted a dire need to enhance cyber resilience in Critical National Infrastructure (CNI). Through the committed partnership between/among private and government stakeholders on cyber-crime and cyber-security, both countries understand the importance of bilateral and international cooperation for combating cyber threats, especially matters relating to national security.

India, along with other friendly nations, share an equal commitment in capacity building and Research and Development (R&D) to promote closer cooperation and exchange among federal law-enforcement agencies, such as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the US, to combat cyber-crime.

Following the commitment to promote, protect, and respect Human Rights online, India is committed to cooperate on containing the hatred content disseminated online by the extremist groups, such as the US-based Sikh For Justice (SFJ)— a pro-Khalistan group, and Islamic fundamentalist groups based in the US and Europe.

As part of bilateral cooperation between India and the US, both countries committed to work upon a robust framework of information/knowledge sharing, coordination, and implementing cyber-security best practices between their respective Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT)—CERT-In and US-CERT (US-Computer Emergency Readiness Team).

Both countries—India and the US, committed to developing joint mechanisms to alleviate cyber threats to protect the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure, Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), with their respective responsibilities under domestic and international law.

To strengthen the cyber security cooperation, both countries—India and the US, should jointly organise “Hackathons” between/among private and government partners.

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Anti-State Terrorism


India’s internal security is challenged by its immediate neighbour Pakistan. Pakistan is one of the nations whose unstable and skewed domestic policies are having direct impact on Indian Territory in the form of Terrorism. The Government of India has continued to apply sustained pressure to detect, disrupt, and degrade terrorist activities within its borders. Prime Minister Modi and other senior Indian leaders have made numerous statements to condemn domestic terrorist attacks and bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorism, in cooperation with the United States and other like-minded countries.

India at the United Nation General Assembly

On several occasions and platforms India has addressed the challenges emanating from Pakistani land. Pakistan has now become ‘terroristan’, India told the United Nations in 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York in November 2017. The statement referred to Hafiz Saeed, the man regarded the architect of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. “Its current state can be gauged from the fact that Hafiz Mohammed, a leader of the UN designated terrorist organization Lashkar-i-Taiba, is now sought to be legitimized as a leader of a political party.”

During the 75th UN General Assembly (UNGA) session in September 2020, during the live broadcast of the Prime Minister of India’s speech, India’s agenda was to push for the global action against terrorism. [1] India has showed seriousness about batting for listing and de-listing of the terror groups and individuals as per the UN Sanction Committee. Being among one of the largest troops contributing to the UN missions, India is also expected to seek intensive engagement in finalising mandates for UN Peacekeeping Missions.

India’s Domestic Policies on Terrorism

The Ministry of Home Affairs, Counter Terrorism and Counter Radicalization Division, has proscribed around forty-two groups for their radical and extremist acts, which includes both domestic and international groups. Some of the prominent groups included in the list are, Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and all its sister organisations, Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen (JuM), Dukhtaran-E-Millat (DEM), Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JUMB) and its sister organisation, Al Badr, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), Khalistan Commando Force, Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front (JKLF), Al-Umar-Mujahideen, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its sister organisations. These are some of the groups which have been proving to threaten India’s internal peace and security. [2]

At the home front, India’s State Governments are efficiently taking care of the law and order. At the central level, National Investigation Agency (NIA) is the lead enforcement investigating agency along with the National Security Guard (NSG) which, as the sole federal contingency force, retains the mandate for nationwide response. India has successfully, detected and disrupted transnational and regional terrorist groups, such as ISIS, its local affiliate ISIS-Bangladesh, and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

India has also formulated a Counter Violence Extremism (CVE) plan to ensure prevention of radicalization and terrorist recruitments in the Indian society. It has started implementation of CVE strategies in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, and Telangana. India is constantly working towards disruption of internet-based radicalization through the global social media companies. It has started taking measures like removal of content and temporarily blocking the internet access to avoid false circulation of propaganda in times of crisis.

International and Regional Cooperation

In order to enhance the knowledge and expertise needed to strengthen the capacity of national criminal justice officers to implement the universal legal framework against terrorism, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in collaboration, with the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, Hyderabad, organized a national training of trainers (TOT) workshop for judiciary, prosecution and law enforcement officers. The five-day workshop titled ‘Global legal framework against terrorism and relevant criminal justice response measures’ brought together police officers, judges and prosecutors from across the different states of India. [3]

India is a part of several bilateral and regional working groups and committee which are tirelessly working towards counter-terrorism goals. India-Australia Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism was held virtually on 17th December, 2020. Both sides underlined their commitment to coordinate and collaborate to counter terrorism, as set out in the Joint Statement on a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The discussions were also about the challenges presented to combating terrorism due to COVID-19 pandemic. The two sides also discussed counter-terrorism cooperation in multilateral fora such as the UN, G-20, Global Counter Terrorism Force (GCTF), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF), as well as in the Australia-India-Japan-US consultations, and ways to further enhance this cooperation. [4]

The eighteenth meeting of the U.S.-India Counter Terrorism Joint Working Group and the fourth session of the U.S.-India Designations Dialogue was held in Washington, D.C., on October 26-27, 2021. [5] In December 2021, the United States hosted the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, in which the ministers called for concerted action against all terrorist networks, including Al Qaeda, ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e Mohammad (JeM), Haqqani Network, Hizb-ul Mujahideen (HuM), and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

India is also part of the BRICS Counter Terrorism Working Group, which held its 6th meeting, virtually, on 28-29 July 2021. The meeting was first held under the sub-working groups on 26-27 July 2021on misuse of internet for terrorism purpose, de-radicalization, countering terrorist financing, capacity building and countering foreign terrorist fighters. The BRICS Counter Terrorism Action Plan is one of the key deliverables during India’s Chair-ship of BRICS and will be adopted at the meeting of BRICS National Security Advisors in August 2021. [6]

During the third edition of the India-Central Asia Foreign Ministers Dialogue which coincided with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in December 2021, where the participating countries agreed to uphold UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021) that unequivocally demands that Afghan territory not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing terrorist acts, and decided on full utilisation of Chabahar port in Iran for regional connectivity. In a joint statement, foreign ministers of India, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan reiterated strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan while emphasising respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and non-interference in its internal affairs. [7] In the early week of November 2021, The Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan, or the Third Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan meeting, attended by the national security advisers (NSAs) of India, Russia, Iran and five Central Asian States, committed to preventing Afghanistan from becoming “a safe haven” for the terror outfits in the region.

India and France, in the 15th meeting of their Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism in Paris in November 2021, decided to focus on proscription of terrorists and entities as a tool to counter terror and also underlined the need to ensure that Afghan territory does not become a source of radicalisation and terrorism, regionally or globally. [8] In a meeting between the External Affair Minister S. Jaishankar and Israeli counterparts, India and Israel discussed challenges to their societies from radicalism and terrorism, apart from many other emerging developments on the geopolitical landscape. India and Israel have a Joint Working Group on Counter-terrorism and the two countries also share real time intelligence to deal with the menace. [9] India not only has regular security dialogues with the US or European countries but also has working group with several African countries like Kenya. India and its traditional East African partner Kenya, in June 2021, explored widening partnership to secure the Indo-Pacific region as maritime neighbours and agreed on sharing capabilities to counter-terrorism. [10]

India is a founding member of the GCTF, the ARF and other United Nations forums on counter-terrorism. In 2019, India hosted the first Counter-terrorism Table-top Exercise in the Quad country format (the United States, Australia, India, and Japan). U.S. Special Forces held an annual exercise in Washington State alongside Indian Special Forces, which focused on CT operations in an urban environment, and conducted a Joint Combined Exercise Training with the NSG in Hyderabad. India has signed treaties and pacts with several countries on counter-terrorism cooperation, including the United States of America, United Kingdom, Bangladesh, and other European Nations.

In January 2021, India and Bangladesh, in the first delegation level virtual Police Chief’s dialogue, agreed to establish designated ‘nodal points’ for timely and effective handling and response to existing as well as emerging security and counter-terrorism challenges. [11] India and Bangladesh agreed to enhance their coordination to combat trans-border criminal activities including smuggling of drugs, Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN), arms and ammunition and human trafficking. On the occasion of ‘Maitri Diwas’ on 05 December 2021, leaders of India and Bangladesh reaffirmed their commitment to counter-terrorism and radicalisation. [12] Both countries announced their intent to prevent terrorists from obtaining access to weapons of mass destruction and underscored their respective commitments to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution UNSCR 2396.

India being a member of the Financial Action Task Force and Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG) and being a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), is taking all the necessary action to thwart the terror financing acts. Likewise, there are certain radical groups which are established in the west and have anti-India rhetoric. In the year 2020, scholars and experts of US based think tank Washington Project-Middle East Forum, Islamist Watch-Middle East Forum and Usanas Foundation came together to discuss the functioning of radical Islamic organisations indulging in anti-India activities in the U.S. Clifford Smith Director, Middle East Forum, argued that there are three broad categories of anti-India forces in the US. First, there are groups of Pakistani-sponsored anti-Indian forces. Second are the South Asian Islamist groups like Islamic Centre in North America and Helping Hands – they have an Islamist ideology. Third, there are the Middle Eastern Islamist groups. The Islamist organizations have allies in the Congress. [13]

List of those organisations are:

The US Council of Muslim organisations (USCMO), launched in 2014, is an umbrella group of Islamist organisation across the US. Every year it organises the National Muslim American Advocacy day that attracts young Muslim American activists to lobby policymakers on the Capital Hill. Information Processing and Technology (IPT) investigations have exposed close ties between USCMO and Turkey. Since the abrogation of Article 370, a USCMO delegation met with Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) President Sardar Masood Khan and pledged their support for ‘self-determination in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)’.

Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), launched in 1994, calls itself a Civil Rights Group. The group has its roots in the Muslim Brotherhood in Philadelphia. It hosted a webinar featuring Hafsa Kanjwal, a rising fundamentalist of the Kashmir separatist movement in the U.S. and co-founder of the so called ‘Stand with Kashmir’, a group that defends violent Islamists and terrorists.

The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is a top Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) group in the U.S. It was founded in the 1960s by Jamaatis who had emigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Ghulam Nabi Fai routinely speaks at ICNA events. Two of the most prominent relief groups – ‘Islamic Relief’, set up by the Muslim Brotherhood, and ‘Muslim Aid’, set up by JI - receive thousands of dollars by the Western governments. Sam Westrop, Director, Middle East Forum, stated, “Helping Hands for Relief and Development has also organised events with the LeT. India finds groups like Helping Hands and Muslim Aid not just on the Pakistani side of the line of control, but also within India itself.”

Terrorists’ New Pretexts: Article 370 and and Citizenship Amendment Act 2019

On 5 August 2019, the Government of India (GoI) announced the repeal of Article 370 of the Constitution and reorganisation of the Jammu and Kashmir (J & K) State into two union territories. This sparked an unprecedented, if ill-informed, international response, especially to the region's post-decision limits. Indeed, many countries have acknowledged that the reorganisation is India's internal affair and that the J&K issue must be resolved through dialogue between India and Pakistan.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said the "Jammu and Kashmir Restructuring Bill, introduced by the Government in Parliament on 5 August, calls for the creation of a" Union Territory of Ladakh "is an internal issue for India.” [14] The Government has informed the international community of abolishing the provisions of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and they understand India's position. Foreign Minister V Muraleedharan said, "The government has worked tirelessly to inform members of the international community of the facts concerning Jammu and Kashmir and to share the views and objectives of the 2019 Amendment Acts." [15] In a written response to the question, Foreign Minister V Muraleedharan said that countries had shown a better understanding that these matters are related to Jammu and Kashmir within India and that Pakistan-sponsored terrorism has always posed a severe threat to the lives of Indians.

The interlocutors also understand the Indian position that the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 is an act of consent to address a problem that has long been a marginalized category residing in India. [16] The world must understand that the bill will not in any way affect the status of any Indian citizen or deprive any Indian or any of his or her nationality, says Muraleedharan. [17] "These countries are aware that the practices and institutions of Indian democracy are prepared to deal with potential problems in implementing decisions taken by the Indian Parliament” and that "This law is a way of helping the people and is in line with international human rights obligations in India," Muraleedharan said.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which the Indian Parliament passed in December 2019, has proven to be a controversial step. In short, this legal action, often referred to as the CAA for short, gives citizenship to people who came to India from one of the three neighbouring countries while fleeing religious persecution - Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the CAA as "an internal matter and said, "no foreign party has a negative opinion on matters relating to the Indian democracy".[18] "The Citizenship Amendment Act is an internal matter and deals with the right of the Indian parliament to make laws. We strongly believe that no foreign party has any objections to the India’s internal matters," the Ministry said. [19] It also stated that the CAA will help non-Muslim refugees fleeing religious persecution in neighbouring Muslim-controlled countries, it is "constitutional" and upholds human rights standards. [20]"This reflects our longstanding national commitment to human rights issues arising from the crisis of the Partition of India," the Ministry said.


[1]Business Today, September, 26, 2020, PM Modi’s UNGA speech today; terrorism, India’s COVID-19 fight on agenda’,
[2]Ministry of Home Affairs, ‘Banned Organisation’, Counter Terrorism and Counter Radicalization Division,
[3]United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “India: Building Capacities to Prevent and Counter Terrorism”, UNODOC,
[4]Media Release, (2020), “12th Meeting of the India-Australia Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism”, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government Website, 17 December 2020,
[5] Media Note (2021), “Joint Statement on US-India Counter Terrorism Joint Working Group and Designations Dialogue”, US Department of State, 28 October, 2021,
[6] Media Centre, (2021), “6th Meeting of the BICS Counter Terrorism Working Group”, Ministry of External Affairs Website, Government of India, 30 July 2021,
[7]Dipanjan Roy Chaudhary, (2021), “India, 5 Central Asia Nations to Jointly Combat Afghan Terror”, The Economic Times, 20 December 2021,
[8]Dipanjan Roy Chaudhary, (2021), “India, France to focus on proscription as a counter terror tool against terrorists and entiies”, The Economic Times, 18 November 2021,
[9] Staff Report, (2021), “India, Israel share similar challenges from Radicalism, Terrorism: Jaishankar”, The Economic Times, 18 October 2021,
[10]Dipanjan Roy Chaudhary, (2021), “India-Kenya decide to widen Indo-Pacific; Counter Terror Partnership”, The Economic Times, 14 June 2021,
[11]The New Indian Express, ‘India bangladesh agree to enhance fight against global terrorist groups’,
[12]Staff Report, 92021), “India, Bangladesh Share Strong Commitment to Counter destabalisiang forces abetting terrorism”, The Economic Times, 06 December 2021,
[13]Dipanjana Roy, September 2020, ‘About the growth of radical organisations in the West and their anti-India rhetoric’, Economic Times,
[14]Ministry of External Affair, Press Note, Official Statement on CAA addressing the Permanent Mission in Geneva to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, March 03, 2020,
[15]News18, (2020), ‘Briefed International Community on Kashmir and CAA, Countries Have Shown Understanding: Govt’, News 18,
[17]Yashwant Raj, 2017, ‘Pakistan has become a land of ‘Pure Terror’: India at UNGA’, Hindustan Times,
[19]CAA an internal matter, no foreign party has any locus ....
[20]Dipanjana Roy, September 2020, ‘About the growth of radical organisations in the West and their anti-India rhetoric’, Economic Times,

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India-France Relations

‘Relations between India and France have traditionally been close and friendly. With the establishment of strategic partnership in 1998, there has been a significant progress in all areas of bilateral cooperation through regular high-level exchanges at the Head of State/Head of Government levels and growing cooperation and exchanges including in strategic areas such as defence, counter-terrorism, nuclear energy and space. France was the first country with which India entered into an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation following the waiver given by the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, enabling India to resume full civil nuclear cooperation with the international community. There is also a growing and wide-ranging cooperation in other areas such as trade and investment, culture, science & technology and education. France has consistently supported India’s increasing role in international fora, including India’s permanent membership of the UNSC’ (MEA, August 2013).

France and India have seen regular high visits. Both sides conduct strategic dialogue at the level of NSAs. There are regular consultations at the level of foreign secretaries. There is also Track 1.5 India-France annual dialogue. India and France also have a dialogue on disarmament and non-proliferation.

India and France have institutionalised dialogue on counter-terrorism and cyber-security. A high-level committee on defence cooperation also exists.

India and France had the landmark cooperation in civil nuclear energy on 30 September 2008. Under this framework, the Jaitapur project was announced.

Both sides have had ongoing space cooperation through the ISRO and CNES, its French counterpart, since 1993. SARAL, Megha-Tropics were result of this bilateral cooperation.

India and France have steadfast defence relations. The three branches of the military routinely conduct bilateral exercises. The acquisition of Rafale MMRCA, the Project 75-I are highlights of the depth of defence cooperation.

In November 2021, both sides agreed to deepen security cooperation through ‘enhancing intelligence and information sharing, bolstering mutual capabilities, expanding military drills and pursuing new initiatives in maritime, space and cyber domains’ (India Today, 7 November 2021).

During the bilateral security dialogue, both sides also discussed other issues of global importance such as Afghanistan, Africa, Southeast Asia and West Asia, as well as the threat of terrorism, cyber security and emerging threats in maritime, space and cyber domains (Ibid).

Indian NSA Ajit Doval stated that France is India’s ‘premier global and Indo-Pacific partner. Both sides see complementarities in the Indo-Pacific on the basis of their shared values, commitment to democracy, rule of law and the belief in strategic autonomy.

India and France founded the International Solar Alliance, and would cooperate in clean energy, including in civil-nuclear energy and green hydrogen (Ibid).

RM Rajnath Singh during the bilateral annual defence dialogue in December 2021- “India-France Strategic Partnership is more relevant today than ever,” he stated. “A wide range of bilateral, regional, defence and defence industrial cooperation issues were discussed in the annual meeting” (Business World, 17 December 2021).

France and India have also cooperated in various multilateral for a such as IORA, United Nations. Both sides have particularly had close coordination in the UNSC (MEA, December 2021).

The Ministers acknowledged their convergences on number of strategic and defence issues. They expressed commitment to work together to enhance cooperation in bilateral, regional and multilateral forums. France is the current chair of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium and shall take over the Presidency of European Union from January 01, 2022. The two Ministers decided to work closely on a number of issues during the French Presidency (Ibid).
In 2020, the India-France bilateral trade stood at € 9.04 billion (-21.99%) as compared to the corresponding period the previous year. India’s exports to France were valued at € 4.80 billion, down by 22.9% during this period. Indian imports from France also decreased by 20.95% to € 4.23 billion. (Embassy of inida in France, 2 July 2021). Both sides have been consistent to increase bilateral trade and explore newer economic opportunities. The target for bilateral trade is set at 12 billion Euros.

France is one of the top ten investors in India. 952 technical and financial collaborations are approved between the two countries. About 800 French companies (including JVs and subsidiaries) in India.

Both sides have long-standing cultural and people-to-people relations.

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On 15 September 2021, US, Australia, and the UK signed the trilateral security pact called AUKUS. Under this pact, the three countries would enhance security cooperation amongst themselves, to include sharing of technologies and information, with the aim of bolstering each other’s security and defence capabilities. The AUKUS would lead to deeper integration of security-related defence technologies and science, industrial bases and supply-chains. The first project under the AUKUS involves the US and the UK helping Australia build nuclear-powered submarines. Both the US and the UK have expertise from their own submarine programmes which will be shared with Australia. The first leg of the project is expected to be completed in 18 months from the date of signing of this agreement. [1]

India’s Position

India has clarified that the AUKUS will have no impact on the Quad, and that the Quad and the AUKUS are two different groupings. India has stated that the Quad has a positive and proactive agenda such as climate change, Covid-19 vaccination, science and technology cooperation, infrastructure and maritime security. [2] The then Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on AUKUS, “‘[AUKUS is] neither relevant to the Quad nor will it have any impact on its functioning.” Further, he said, “The Quad is a plurilateral grouping. It is a group of countries that has a shared vision of their attributes and values. They also have a shared vision of the Indo-Pacific region as a free, open, transparent and inclusive region.”

On the question of nuclear proliferation, India has clarified that Australia’s submarines are based on nuclear-propulsion technology and it does not carry nuclear weapons and therefore, does not violate Australia’s international commitments towards nuclear non-proliferation.*

(*[ It is to be noted that the FS has qualified this comment on non-proliferation based on ‘what he has seen’ and ‘not from any other perspective’.)


[1]Joint Leaders Statement on AUKUS, The White House, 15 September 2021.

[2]Transcript of Foreign Secretary's special briefing on Prime Minister's visit to USA, Ministry of External Affairs, 21 September 2021.

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India and Multilateralism

The intersection of cross-national and cross-domain challenges demand multilateral approaches. They require empowered international institutions of governance. Underlying these must be a spirit of internationalism and solidarity, a sense of belonging to a common humanity.

The global community has not been able to come on a single platform or frame a Global Agenda on issues related to Terrorism, Climate Change, cybersecurity etc. Also, due to the lack of any global public health framework, Covid-19 spread into a pandemic.

The challenge is to practise reconciling global good with national interest successfully in a world of greater multipolarity and weaker multilateralism. This does not mean giving up on the latter. On the contrary, it requires a new energy to be poured into reformed multilateralism. The current anachronistic order must be pushed to change, along with its outdated agenda.

India’s engagement with international organisations is an important part of its diplomacy, as they provide a platform to protect and pursue the country’s national and international interests abroad. India’s foreign policy is based on the ethos of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and Good Samaritan.

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has led robust interactions, in particular, with two major international organisations, i.e., the United Nations (UN) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

India has joined the Paris Accord, assumed a major role and exceeded its targets in mitigating climate change. It has initiated the “International Solar Alliance” and the “Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure”. It has joined the “Alliance for Multilateralism”. It is a leading and proactive member of the G-20 major economies. In the Indo-Pacific, India pursues rules-based architecture to strengthen the forces of cooperative multilateralism.
India’s contribution to the UN Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO) has emerged as a way to project itself as a responsible global power that is committed to securing peace, order, and conflict resolution.

India’s contributions to UNPKOs have been underscored by the experience and professionalism of India’s armed forces. Speaking at the September 2015 Leaders’ Summit in New York on UN Peacekeeping, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had said: "The foundations of the United Nations were laid by the brave soldiers on the battlefields of the Second World War. By 1945, they included 2.5 million men of the Indian Army, the largest volunteer force in history.” India today is the largest contributor of troops to UNPKOs. More than 200,000 Indian troops have served in 49 of the 71 UNPKOs deployed so far. We are now the third or the fourth largest contributor.

India’s participation in the initial UNPKOs resulted in a growing pool of Indian military officers seconded to the UN whose professionalism and experience have contributed to UN peacekeeping doctrine. The contribution of Major-General I.J. Rikhye, appointed as the first Military Adviser to the UN Secretary General between 1960-1967, was seminal in this context. 15 Indian Generals have acted as Force Commanders with distinction. A bigger challenge for troop-contributing countries like India is the denial by the permanent members of the Security Council to participate in "decisions of the Security Council” concerning the deployment of her troops, as provided for in Article 44 of the UN Charter.

3802 troops from UN member-states have given their lives defending the UN Charter between 1948-2018. The highest number (164) are from India. India has launched a virtual wall of remembrance for her peacekeepers. The UN General Assembly has approved constructing a Memorial to all fallen UN peacekeepers.

In the post-Cold War era, Indian foreign policy has moved from a policy of non-alignment (policy of being neutral with US and USSR blocs) to the policy of Multi-alignment (India is having friendly relations with almost all great powers and developing world). Multi-alignment is the very essence of India’s foreign policy and the economic policy of India today. This presents an opportunity for India to become a global mediator and help in developing a framework on Global Issues.
India has specified three constraints in implementing Agenda 2030 that required multilateral support. The first was financing for sustainable development. The second constraint was the urgent need for the transfer of technology for development. A third constraint related to monitoring the implementation of national development goals. The availability and integrity of data, especially digital data, needed examination. India emphasized that this was a global problem, as “global technical support is also important in various areas including developing methodologies for data collection as well as monitoring and evaluation.

Since the UN was founded in 1945, India has looked to multilateral structures to maintain international peace and security to support her nation-building activities. The only UN structure where the democratic method of decision making through majority voting is obstructed is the UNSC. Under a provision of “qualified voting” forced into the UN Charter by the five permanent members (referred to as the P5) without negotiation at the San Francisco Conference, any of the P5 can block any substantive decision of the UNSC even if that decision enjoys the majority support of the other UNSC members.

In August 2021, India undertook its tenth tenure as President of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), after a gap of ten years. It focused on four priorities. The first, reformed multilateralism – and in its root the reform of the UNSC itself. The second is to make counterterrorism more effective by including actors outside of the security council. The third priority is more effective peacekeeping—by modernisation and greater inclusion of United Nations Peace Keeping Force (UNPKF). The final priority was to make the UNSC’s decision-making more human-centric, through electoral accountability. Modi also became the first Indian Prime Minister to preside over a UN Security Council Open Debate as he chaired the high-level session on 'Enhancing Maritime Security - A Case for International Cooperation' on August 9, 2021.

Central to “reformed multilateralism” is the urgent need to reform an increasingly ineffective UNSC, which the UN Charter gives the “primary responsibility” to take decisions on peace and security. The Prime Minister was outspoken on the human cost of the UNSC’s ineffectiveness:
“One could say that we have successfully avoided a third world war, but we cannot deny that there have been several wars and many civil wars. Several terrorist attacks shook the world and there have been bloodsheds. The people who lost their lives in these wars and attacks were human beings, like you and me. Thousands of children, who would have otherwise enriched this world, left us prematurely. So many people lost their life savings and became homeless refugees. Were the efforts of the United Nations sufficient during those times or are these efforts adequate even today? The whole world is fighting the global pandemic of Corona for the last 8-9 months. Where is the United Nations in this joint fight against the pandemic? Where is its effective response?”

Despite being a party to the unanimous mandate was given for UNSC reform during the 2005 UN Summit, China is today openly blocking any UNSC reforms through the UNGA. China has vested interests in the three broad areas where linkages between peace, security and development have been highlighted as priorities by India when speaking of “reformed multilateralism”. These relate to UNSC decision-making on cross-border terrorism, on issues impacting on India’s strategic neighbourhood, and on responding to global challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the security and integrity of cyberspace.

India has three pending appeals before the WTO (as of Sept 2020), with the US and Japan; it is also facing new complaints from other countries like Brazil. Out of 56 disputes involving India since 1995, the country has appealed or cross-appealed rulings in 12 Most of India’s appeals—as either complainant or respondent—have been in cases with the US. This underscores the importance of the appellate mechanism for India, reliant as it is on the rules-based trading system for settling intractable disputes with major trading partners.

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The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)


The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organisation comprising seven Member States lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal, constituting a contiguous regional unity. BIMSTEC was formed on June 06, 1997, with the Bangkok Declaration. Initially, BIMSTEC was known as BIST-EC, with Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand aiming towards Economic Cooperation.[1] Meanwhile, with the inclusion of Myanmar and Thailand on December 22, 1997, the organisation was renamed BIMST-EC. Nepal and Bhutan were also included during the 6th Ministerial Meeting in Thailand. The organisation was further renamed as Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in February 2004. The organisation connects the South and South-East Asian Countries. It aims to forge intra-regional cooperation between two regional organisations, namely the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). BIMSTEC is home to 1.5 billion people constituting 22 per cent of the global population. The combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of BIMSTEC countries accounts for USD 2.7 trillion. [2]


The BIMSTEC was founded with the principal objective of exploring and harnessing the economic potential of the group members. The dawn of globalisation in the post-Cold War Era necessitated these regions to interreact to ensure economic growth through mutual cooperation in the areas of common interests. BIMSTEC has grown to become an important multi-sector cooperative platform in its evolution. Initially, six areas- trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism and fisheries were included in the objectives. However, later in 2009, nine more areas were included: agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people to people contact, and climate change.


As per the BIMSTEC, the purpose of the BISTEC is defined as follows:

  1. To create an enabling environment for rapid economic development through identification and implementation of specific cooperation projects in the already agreed areas of cooperation and such other areas that may be agreed upon by the Member States. Member States may periodically review the areas of cooperation.
  2. To accelerate the economic growth and social progress in the Bay of Bengal region through joint endeavours in a spirit of equality and partnership.
  3. To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, technical and scientific fields.
  4. To provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities in the educational, professional and technical spheres.
  5. To cooperate more effectively in joint efforts that are supportive of and complementary to national development plans of the Member States which result in tangible benefits to the people in raising their living standards, including through generating employment and improving transportation and communication infrastructure.
  6. To cooperate in projects that can be dealt with most productively on a regional basis among the BIMSTEC Member States and that make best use of available synergies.
  7. To maintain peace and stability in the Bay of Bengal region through close collaboration in combating international terrorism, transnational organised crimes as well as natural disasters, climate change and communicable diseases.
  8. To maintain close and beneficial cooperation with existing international and regional organisations with similar aims and purposes.
  9. To endeavour to eradicate poverty from the Bay of Bengal region.
  10. To establish multidimensional connectivity, promote synergy among connectivity frameworks in the region, as a key enabler to economic integration for shared prosperity.
  11. To promote trade and investment as a major contributing factor for fostering economic and social development in the region.

With slow progress initially, BIMSTEC has picked up to become a leading regional organisation in recent years. However, BIMSTEC has received momentum with active participation by the member countries in recent years. In this process, during the Third BIMSTC Summit, the Secretariat of the regional organisation was established in Dhaka. In the follow-up to the 2014 Summit, sectors and sub-sectors of the sub-regional grouping were reorganised, and member states were allotted specific sectors and sub-sectors to focus on.

Major Events 2021 Backwords

20 Dec 2021: Tri-services Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief Exercise: PANEX-21 for the BIMSTEC Member States held in Pune, at Pune, India
10 Dec 2021: Introductory visit of the Secretary-General of BIMSTEC to Sri Lanka, At Colombo, Sri Lanka
08 Dec 2021: The Secretary-General of BIMSTEC pays courtesy call on the President of Sri Lanka, At Colombo, Sri Lanka
02 Dec 2021: the Member States share information on countering radicalisation and terrorism; at New Delhi, India
25 Nov 2021: The 9th Meeting of the BIMSTEC Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime, At Thimphu, Bhutan
07 Aug 202: the BIMSTEC Member States Discuss Lessons Learnt and Way Forward on Disaster Risk Governance in the context of COVID-19, At GIDM, India
03 Mar 2021: Secretary-General of BIMSTEC calls on the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh
16 Mar 2020: BIMSTEC Secretariat Joins Bangabandhu’s Centenary Birth Celebration, At BIMSTEC Secretariat, Dhaka
27 Nov 2019: Second BIMSTEC Think Tanks Dialogue on Regional Security, At New Delhi, India
03 Sep 2019: Eleventh Meeting of the BIMSTEC Sub-Group on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism, At Bangkok, Thailand
30 Jul 2019: Second Meeting of the Track 1.5 BIMSTEC Security Dialogue Forum, At Dhaka, Bangladesh
28 Mar 2019: The First Meeting of the BIMSTEC Expert Group on Energy
21 Mar 2019: The Third Meeting of the BIMSTEC National Security Chiefs, At Bangkok, Thailand
19 Nov 2018: Tenth Meeting of the BIMSTEC Sub-Group on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism, At Kathmandu, Nepal
17 Sep 2018: Workshop on BIMSTEC Master Plan on Transport Connectivity, At Bangkok, Thailand
16 Sep 2018: Closing ceremony of the First BIMSTEC Multinational Military Field Training Exercise (BIMSTEC MILEX-18), At Pune, India
03 Sep 2018: Press Briefing on the Fourth BIMSTEC Summit, At BIMSTEC Secretariat, Dhaka
30 Aug 2018: The Fourth BIMSTEC Summit, At Kathmandu, Nepal
29 Aug 2018: The Sixteenth BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting, At Kathmandu, Nepal
28 Mar 2018: The Second Meeting of the BIMSTEC National Security Chiefs, At Dhaka, Bangladesh
20 Mar 2018: BIMSTEC at its 20: Towards a Bay of Bengal Community, At Dhaka, Bangladesh
19 Dec 2017: Third BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting on Poverty Alleviation, At Colombo, Sri Lanka
12 Dec 2017: Sixth Meeting of the BIMSTEC Expert Group on Agricultural Cooperation, At Thailand
01 Nov 2017: The First BIMSTEC Experts Group Meeting on Poverty Alleviation, At Kathmandu, Nepal
24 Oct 2017: The First Meeting of the BIMSTEC Task Force on Traditional Medicine, At New Delhi, India
10 Oct 2017: The First BIMSTEC Annual Disaster Management Exercise, At New Delhi, India
22 Sep2017: First Meeting of BIMSTEC Track 1.5 Security Dialogue Forum, At New Delhi, India
07 Jun 2017: The 20th Anniversary of the Establishment of BIMSTEC, At BIMSTEC Secretariat, Dhaka
22 Mar 2017: Seventh Meeting of the BIMSTEC Sub-Group on Legal and Law Enforcement Issues, At Yangon, Myanmar
07 Feb 2017: The Seventeenth Session of the BIMSTEC Senior Officials’ Meeting, At Kathmandu, Nepal. [3]


[1] “About the Organisation” BIMSTEC, 2021.,constituting%20a%20contiguous%20regional%20unity.
[2] “About the Organisation” BIMSTEC, 2021.,constituting%20a%20contiguous%20regional%20unity.
[3] “Events” BIMSTEC official Website,

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Vaccine Maitri

In healthcare, India has the potential of becoming the pharmacy of the world. As the world suffered from the Covid-19 pandemic, India took upon itself to provide medicines, preventive kits and medical teams across continents to over 150 countries. India in accordance with its “Neighbourhood First Policy “provided large quantities of vaccines to the neighbouring countries mostly as grant to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Maldives. It has also supplied and sold on commercial basis some 17 mn doses to over 25 countries from Myanmar to Morocco and Bahrain to Brazil as well as the small pacific Island nations. Almost 50 more countries are in the pipeline.

External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar has stated that "As Indians we are naturally internationalists". When it came to Africa, we raised the level of cooperation substantially. There was an external beneficial impact, India could manufacture HCQ and other medicines, supplied medicines to 150 countries. We brought back nationals of other countries from Wuhan. Vaccine progamme started in January 2021 and we started helping other countries. The basis of this was PM's address to UN general assembly in 2020." We also enhanced cold storage facility for delivery of vaccines. The international community has great expectation of us. As early as March 15, 2020, PM took the initiative of SAARC nations, the funds helped the region, on February 18 meeting of SAARC health officials, asked for a special visa scheme for doctors and healthcare, sharing technology. Exclusive session was conducted in Bangla by MEA for Bangladesh officials."

The EAM concluded by stating that "Our reputation as pharmacy of the world has been reinforced. Made-in-India vaccines supplied to 72 nations. Our ambassadors feel the warmth of people across the world.


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Climate Change

1.5˚C - A Key Goal of Global Climate Negotiations

1.5˚C reduces the risks and impacts of climate change: At the 21st meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP21) summit in Paris in December 2015, 196 nations adopted the Paris Agreement on climate change. The Agreement is a legally binding international treaty and entered into force on 4 November 2016. It aims to limit global temperature rises to “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to “pursue efforts” to limit warming to 1.5°C.[1] That would, the treaty contended, significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.

It is best to avoid warming beyond 1.5°C: In October 2018, at the behest of the 2015 Paris climate summit, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the global authority on climate science – produced a special report on what 1.5°C would mean. That report found serious damages from 1.5°C of warming, including the inundation of some low-lying areas by sea level rises and storm surges; an increase in extreme weather such as heatwaves, droughts, floods and intensifying storms; an accelerated melting of ice that could rapidly become irreversible; and the die-off of coral reefs. [3]

The window of opportunity is closing fast: The world has already warmed by 1.2°C in 2020. [2] At this rate, the 1.5°C warming limit could be breached between 2030 and 2052. [4]

Current Pledges Not Enough to Limit Warming to 1.5˚C by 2100

Climate Action Tracker (CAT): In its May 2021 global update, CAT, a climate watchdog, warned that the world would warm by 2.9°C by 2100 under currently implemented emission reductions policies. [5]

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): In its Emissions Gap Report 2021, UNEP warned that the world would warm by 2.7°C by 2100 under currently implemented emission reductions policies. [6]

Net-zero Emissions Essential for Limiting Global Warming to 1.5°C by 2100

Net-zero emissions: Net-zero emissions entail first and foremost reducing human-caused emissions (such as those from fossil-fuelled vehicles and factories) as close to zero as possible. Any remaining greenhouse gases should then be balanced with an equivalent amount of CO2 removal, which can happen through actions like restoring forests or using direct air capture and storage technology.

Timeline for achieving net-zero emissions: Cut human-caused CO2 emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and reach net-zero around 2050.

Adoption of net-zero emissions target: As of 3 November 2021, 139 nations have taken up a net-zero emissions target. In other words, 87% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and 89% of its economy are now covered by net-zero targets.

Benefits of net-zero emissions: Some aspects of climate change trends including global warming could reverse within a few years. Other aspects such as permafrost thawing would take decades to reverse. Acidification of the deep ocean and sea level rise would take centuries and millennia to reverse respectively.

Pathways to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050: It included the following:-
A fall in production of coal, oil, and gas by 6 per cent a year between 2020 and 2030. [7]

Also, 90 per cent of coal and 60 per cent of oil and gas reserves must remain unextracted if there was to be even a 50 per cent chance of keeping global warming below 1.5°C. [8]

Furthermore, the International Energy Agency (IEA) presented the following roadmap for the energy sector:

By 2021, no new oil and gas fields approved for development and no new unabated coal plants approved for development.

By 2025, no new sales of fossil fuel boilers.

By 2030, phase out of unabated coal in advanced economies, 60% of global car sales are electric and all new buildings are zero-carbon-ready.

By 2035, overall net-zero emissions in electricity in advanced economies.

By 2040, phase-out of all unabated coal and oil power plants, net-zero emissions electricity globally and 50% of fuels used in aviation are low-emissions.

By 2050, more than 85% of buildings are zero-carbon-ready and almost 70% electricity generation globally from solar PV and wind. [9]

COP26 - Keeping the hope of 1.5˚C alive

COP26 Summit: The 26th meeting of the UNFCCC’s Conference of the Parties, COP26 or Glasgow Climate Change Conference, was held from 31 October to 12 November 2021 in Glasgow, the United Kingdom. The conference was attended by representatives from 194 countries, and 120 world leaders. The overarching goal of the conference has been dubbed “Keeping 1.5˚C Alive” and its outcome could shape how - and whether - the world effectively slows climate change in the years ahead.

Glasgow Climate Pact: COP26 resulted in the Glasgow Climate Pact and kept the world’s 1.5˚C warming limit within reach. It commits countries to revisit and strengthen their 2030 emissions reductions targets and develop mid-century net-zero strategies in 2022. The pact makes progress on adaptation, finance, and loss and damage resulting from the climate crisis. And, for the first time, it commits to a plan to move away from coal power and inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies.

Still not enough: According to Climate Action Tracker’s (CAT) November 2021 update, the world is on track for 2.4˚C of warming by 2100 despite countries' new and updated climate pledges, including those made at the COP26 summit. [10] It observed that global greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 will still be roughly twice as high as what is necessary to limit warming to 1.5C°.

India’s Position on Climate Change

Equitable per capita emissions: India calls for equitable per capita emissions. Although India accounted for 6.83% of global CO2 emissions in 2019, the third highest in the world, it ranks 140 in per capita emissions, even lower than many developing countries. [11] The US on the other hand ranks 14 and China ranks 48. India promised that it will never exceed the per capita emissions of developed countries while reserving the right to increase gross emissions as its economy grows. [12] As such, India is wary of accepting legally binding emission-reduction targets due to concerns that it would harm its development prospects.

Developed countries are historically responsible: India argued that developed countries are historically responsible for the majority of global CO2 emissions. For example, the US accounted for 26% of cumulative historical emissions from 1850 to 2015.[13] The EU accounted for 23%, China for 12%. Russia for 8% and Japan for 4%. India on the other hand accounted for just 3% of cumulative historical emissions. Developed countries therefore have historical obligation to take more responsibility in terms of emission cuts and technological and financial assistance to developing countries.

India’s Institutional and Policy Frameworks for Combating Climate Change

National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC): Formulated in June 2008, NAPCC outlines a national agenda for addressing climate-related challenges through eight national missions:-

National Solar Mission (NSM). Aim: Increase solar energy capacity to 100 GW by 2022. Status: 39 GW of solar energy was installed as of January 31, 2021. [14] A further 36 GW of solar projects are under various stages of implementation and 24 GW are in the tendering process.

National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE). Aim: Enhance energy efficiency in energy intensive industries. Status: Achieved energy savings of 8.67 million tonnes of oil equivalent (MTOE) (30 per cent over the target) and reduction of about 31 million tonnes of CO2 emission as of 2015. [15]

National Mission on Sustainable Habitat (NMSH). Aim: Make cities sustainable through improvements in energy efficiency in buildings, management of solid waste, and shift to public transport. Status: Ongoing.

National Water Mission (NWM). Aim: Conservation of water, minimizing wastage, and ensuring its more equitable distribution both across and within States through integrated water resources development and management. Status: Ongoing.

National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE). Aim: Assess the Himalayan region’s vulnerability to climate change and formulate adequate response measures. Status: Ongoing.

National Mission for a Green India (NMGI). Aim: Increase forest/tree covers on 5 million hectares of forest/non-forest land and improve the quality of forest covers on another 5 million hectares. Status: Of the targeted 5 million hectares of land, only 0.14 million hectares (2.8%) have been planted as of 2020. [16]

National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA). Aim: Promote sustainable agriculture through climate change adaptation measures, enhance agriculture productivity especially in rainfed areas focusing on integrated farming, soil health management, and synergize resource conservation. Status: Behind target.

National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change (NMSKCC). Aim: Build a dynamic and vibrant knowledge system that informs and supports national policy and action for responding effectively to climate change. Status: Ongoing.

State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCC): Following the formulation of NAPCC, the Indian government directed States and UTs in 2009 to prepare SAPCC. SAPCC are required to effectively ensure that national objectives are aligned with regional development priorities and the local environmental context. As of April 2021, 27 States and 6 UTs have submitted their SAPCCs to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. [17]

Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC): India’s INDC, which was submitted to the UNFCCC in 2015, outlined the country’s climate action plans for the period 2021 to 2030. It included the following targets:-

To achieve about 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030. This entail installing total renewable energy capacity of 175 GW by 31 December 2022 - 100 GW from solar power, 60 GW from wind power, 10 GW from biomass power, and 5 GW from small hydro power.

Status: As of 28 February 2021, total installed renewable energy capacity reached 92.97 GW. This is 24.52% of India’s total installed electricity capacity of 379.13 GW. [19] Another 50.15 GW and 27.02 GW renewable energy capacities are under various stages of implementation and bidding respectively. [19] Thus, a total of 170.14 GW renewable energy capacity are either been installed or are under various stages of implementation and bidding. India further promised in 2020 an installed total renewable energy capacity of 450 GW by 2030. [20]

To reduce the emissions intensity of India’s GDP by 33 to 35% by 2030 from 2005 level (Emission intensity is the volume of CO2 emissions per unit of GDP).

Status: India has reduced the emissions intensity of its GDP by 21% as of December 2020. The remaining 12 to 13% is projected to be achieved in the next 10 years. [21]

To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

Status: India is unlikely to meet this target. Of the targeted 5 million hectares of land under the National Mission for a Green India, only 0.14 million hectares (2.8%) have been planted as of 2020. [22]

India’s Commitment to Net-Zero Emissions

Net-zero emissions by 2070: On 2 November 2021, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s long-term commitment of achieving net zero emissions by 2070. This marks the first time the country has put an end date on its contribution to climate change and is in line with what many climate experts have modeled as the most feasible scenario for India to achieve net zero. A report by the New Delhi-based think tank the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) has put forward 2070 to 2080 as India’s most realistic roadmap for achieving net-zero emissions. [23]

Short-term targets: India has also put forward an updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). In doing so, it became the only major emitter to produce a new NDC at COP26. It included the following enhanced targets:

Increase non-fossil fuel energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030.
Meet 50 per cent of energy requirements from renewable sources by 2030.
Reduce the total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tones by 2030.
Reduce the carbon intensity of the economy by less than 45 per cent by 2030.

Pathways to net-zero emissions by 2070: The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) in its 12 October 2021 paper titled’ Implications of a Net-Zero Target for India’s Sectoral Energy Transitions and Climate Policy’ offered the following sectoral pathways for India:-

Power sector: Coal-based power generation must peak by 2040 and reduce by 99 per cent between 2040 and 2060; solar-based electricity generation capacity must increase to 1689 GW by 2050 and to 5,630 GW by 2070; wind-based electricity generation capacity much increase to 557 GW by 2050 and 1792 GW by 2070; nuclear-based electricity generation capacity must increase to 68 GW by 2050 and to 225 GW by 2070.

Transport sector: Share of electric cars in car sales must reach 84 per cent by 2070; share of electric trucks in freight trucks must total 79 per cent by 2070, the rest being fuelled by hydrogen; share of biofuel blend in oil for cars, trucks, and airlines must touch 84 per cent by 2070.

Industrial sector: Coal use in the industrial sector must peak by 2040 and reduce by 97 per cent between 2040 and 2065; hydrogen share in total industrial energy use (heat and feedstock) must increase to 15 per cent by 2050 and 19 per cent by 2070; the industrial energy intensity of total GDP must decline by 54 per cent between 2015 and 2050, and by a further 32 per cent between 2050 and 2070.

Building sector: The intensity of electricity use in the building sector with respect to total GDP must decline by 45 per cent between 2015 and 2050, and by another 2.5 per cent between 2050 and 2070.

Refinery sector: Crude oil consumption in the economy must peak by 2050 and decrease by 90 per cent between 2050 and 2070.

Future Trajectory of India’s Climate Action Plans

Hefty bill: India would need cumulative investments of USD 10.1 trillion to achieve it net-zero emissions target by 2070. [24] This investment pertains to electricity (generation, integration, transmission, and distribution), hydrogen (production), and vehicles (manufacturing). Specifically, USD 8.4 trillion would be needed in the power sector and USD 1.5 trillion in the industrial sector.

International support is essential:Meeting India’s net-zero targets will require international investment support to the tune of USD 1.4 trillion at an average of USD 28 billion per year in the form of concessional finance. In 2009, rich countries agreed that poor countries would receive at least USD 100 billion a year from 2020, from public and private sources, to help them cut emissions and cope with the impacts of climate change. But by 2019, the latest year for which data is available, only USD 80 billion flowed. The Glasgow Climate Conference promises to increase this to USD 500 billion in the next five years. The provision of climate finance could help India in its effort to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070.


[1] United Nations. 2015. “Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”. December 12. T.I.A.S. No. 16-1104.
[2]International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2018. “Summary for Policymakers”. In Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.
[3]World Meteorological Organization (WMO). 2021. “The State of the Global Climate 2020”. WMO-No. 1264. April 20. Geneva.
[4]International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2018. “Summary for Policymakers”. In Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.
[5] Climate Action Tracker (CAT). 2021. “Climate summit momentum: Paris commitments improved warming estimate to 2.4°C”. Warming Projections Global Update. May.
[6]United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). 2021. “Emissions Gap Report 2021”. Report. October 26.
[7] United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). 2021. “Emissions Gap Report 2021”. Report. October 26.
[8]Welsby, Dan, James Price, Steve Pye, and Paul Ekins. “Unextractable fossil fuels in a 1.5 °C world”. Nature. September 8.
[9] International Energy Agency (IEA). 2021. “Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector”. Special Report. July.
[10]Climate Action Tracker (CAT). 2021. “Glasgow’s 2030 credibility gap: net zero’s lip service to climate action Wave of net zero emission goals not matched by action on the ground”. Warming Projections Global Update. November.
[11]Slater, Joanna. “Can India chart a low-carbon future? The world might depend on it”. The Washington Post. June 12, 2020.
[12]Dhar, Aarti. “Developing nations must try to cut emissions, saya Manmohan”. The Hindu. October 22, 2009.
[13]Hickel, Jason. 2020. “Quantifying national responsibility for climate breakdown: an equality-based attribution approach for carbon dioxide emissions in excess of the planetary boundary”. Lancet Planet Health. Volume 4. September.
[14] Kumar, Aditya. 2021. “Action plan for achievement of 175 GW renewable energy target”. Standing Committee Report Summary. PRS Legislative Research. March 26.
[15]Subramanian, V. “India requires energy efficient markets”. The Hindu. January 21, 2021.
[16] “Only 2.8% plantation target achieved under Green India Mission: Economic Survey”. DownToEarth. January 29, 2021.
[17]Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. “State Action Plan on Climate Change”.
[18]Central Electricity Authority (CEA). 2021. “Installed Capacity Category Wise (Feb-2021)”. Government of India.
[19] “170 GW of renewable energy capacity either operational or under development: R K Singh”. The Financial Express. March 25, 2021.
[20] “India exceeding Paris targets; to achieve 450 GW renewable energy by 2030: PM Modi at G20 summit”. Business Today. November 22, 2020.
[21] “India has reduced emission intensity of GDP by 21%: Javadekar”. Business Line. December 11, 2020.
[22] “Only 2.8% plantation target achieved under Green India Mission: Economic Survey”. Down To Earth. January 29, 2021.
[23]Chaturvedi, Vaibhav and Ankur Malyan. 2021. “Implications of a net-zero target for India’s sectoral energy transitions and climate policy”. Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW). New Delhi. October 12.
[24]Pratap Singh, Vaibhav and Gagan Sidhu. 2021. “Investment Sizing India’s 2070 Net-Zero Target”. Issue Brief. Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW). New Delhi. November.

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International Solar Alliance (ISA)

About International Solar Alliance (ISA)

Origin: ISA, the premier global solar agency, is a joint initiative of France and India. It was launched during the 21st meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP) known as COP21 in Paris on 30 November 2015.

Members: As of September 2020, 68 countries have signed and ratified the ISA Framework Agreement, while 19 countries have signed the ISA Framework Agreement. These countries spans the four regions of Asia-Pacific; Africa; Europe and Others; and Latin America and Caribbean.


ISA aims to achieve the following:-

  • To bring about a major decrease in the cost of solar energy so that its deployment can be scaled up;
  • To meet the energy demand of people in developing countries who live with unreliable or expensive power which in turn poses a key barrier to their socio-economic development; and
  • To contribute to the fight against climate change through clean energy.

ISA has had an impressive growth since its inception and is working towards supporting all its member countries in the advancement of their solar power deployment. Going forward, it will continue in its endeavour, making use of its position as an effective global solar platform to promote the widespread adoption of solar power for addressing the looming concerns of climate change and helping in post-COVID-19 green recovery.


ISA’s programmes span diverse areas including agriculture, affordable finance, rooftop systems, mini-grids, energy storage, e-mobility, and even solar parks that are designed to promote the growth of solar power across all its member countries in a wide array. It aimed to mobilize up to USD 1 trillion by 2030 to meet its programmes.

Recent Activities

ISA Cares: In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, ISA launched its ISA CARES initiative in 2020. The initiative aimed to solarise at least one Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) per district per county in each of its Least Developed Countries (LDC) and Small-Island Developing States (SIDS) member countries.
Demand aggregation: As of 2020, ISA has aggregated a demand for more than 270,000 solar pumps across 22 countries, more than 1 GW of solar rooftop across 11 countries, and more than 10 GW of solar mini-grids across nine countries under its respective programmes.

Infopedia: In October 2019, ISA launched a knowledge dissemination platform Infopedia. The ISA Infopedia Solar Information Hub is an online platform dedicated to the dissemination of information, best-practices and knowledge on solar energy. It comprises of online courses catalogue and course hosting platform called Solar Academy that provides free online courses on Solar Energy. In addition, it also acts as self-registration directory Solar Directory for registration of the stakeholders in industry, associations, financing institutions, development organisations, NGOs and research centres.

India’s Engagement with ISA

Leading ISA: ISA is an indication of India’s leadership on the global stage. Not surprisingly, at the third ISA Assembly in October 2020, the country was re-elected as its President and France as its Co-President for a term of two years. And the Secretariat of ISA was located at the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) in Gurugram, India since 2016.

Goal setting: India leads ISA in setting policy agendas.

One Sun, One World, One Grid (OSOWOG): India announced plans for a trans-national electricity grid supplying solar power across the globe in 2018. According to the draft plan prepared by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), OSOWOG will connect 140 countries through a common grid that will be used to transfer solar power.

World Solar Bank: India propose the setting up of a World Solar Bank, a financing agency, in September 2020 to infuse USD 10 billion in solar energy projects in countries which are members of ISA over the coming decade.

Hosting the ISA Secretariat: The Government of India has allotted 5 acres of land to the ISA at the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) campus in Gurugram.

Contribution towards the ISA corpus fund:

  • India contributed Rs 160 crore (around US USD 26 million) in 2016 for the creation of the ISA corpus fund, for building infrastructure, and for meeting the day to day recurring expenditure of the ISA up to the year 2020-2022. During the second Assembly meet of the ISA on 31 October 2019, India pledged to contribute an additional Rs. 15 crore (USD 2.1 million). Besides, various Indian Public Sector Enterprises have also contributed USD 8 million towards the ISA corpus fund.
  • In September 2020, at the first World Solar Technology Summit organized by the ISA, it was announced by India’s Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas that five Public Sector Undertakings of the country under the Ministry will join ISA’s Coalition for Sustainable Climate Action (ISA-CSCA) as Corporate Partners and will be contributing to ISA’s Corpus Fund.

Line of credit (LOC) and grants for Africa and other developing countries:

  • India has set aside USD 2 billion for solar projects in Africa drawn out of its USD 10 Billion concessional LOC for the continent.
  • India also announced the allocation of USD 12 million grants and a concessional LOC of USD 150 million for Pacific Islands Developing States on 24 September 2019 on the side-lines of the 74th UN General Assembly for undertaking solar, renewable energy and climate related projects.

Facilitating engagement with Indian institutions for building domestic capacity of ISA member countries:

  • An MoU was signed between ISA and the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) for capacity-building of ISA member countries.
  • The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Master Trainers Programme at National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), Gurugram provided training to master trainers from ISA countries in the field of solar energy.
  • IIT-Delhi provided M. Tech programme to mid-career professionals from ISA countries.

Investment in and co-operation with other countries:

  • In his speech at the Founding Conference of International Solar Alliance on 11 March 2018, India’s Prime Minister said that the country has either completed or is implementing 13 solar projects worth USD 143 million worldwide. He also announced that India is offering USD 1.4 billion in assistance to 27 other projects in 15 other developing countries.
  • The Union Cabinet on 20 January 2020 approved the signing of an MoU between India and Uzbekistan for cooperation in solar energy including solar photovoltaic and storage technologies.
  • At the first World Solar Technology Summit in September 2020, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and ISA signed an agreement to implement 47 solar power projects in 47 member countries of ISA.
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India’s Cultural Narrative on Environment

It is anachronistic to look for exact equivalents of modern concepts in ancient times. However, it is still possible to find ancient ideas that resonate modern concepts, for human civilization irrespective of place and time is witness to the same attempt of human beings at grappling with more or less similar issues.

“Deep ecology is an environmental philosophy which promotes the inherent worth of all living beings regardless of their instrumental utility to human needs” (Wikipedia). Similarly, in ancient Indian thought, there was a place for everything, a significance of and respect for everything irrespective of instrumental valuation. For example, the ancient Indian idea of Vedanta taught that one divine consciousness permeates the whole of existence, so it is unethical to injure or oppress a lesser being, as it possesses the same divine consciousness as we do as human beings.

This ancient teaching to Vedanta continued in modern times through the teachings of Swami Vivekananda. He once said in a lecture in London: “Some people have been kind enough to start an antivivisection society. I asked a member, "Why do you think, my friend, that it is quite lawful to kill animals for food, and not to kill one or two for scientific experiments?" He replied, "Vivisection is most horrible, but animals have been given to us for food." Oneness includes all animals. If man's life is immortal, so also is the animal's. The difference is only in degree and not in kind. The amoeba and I are the same, the difference is only in degree; and from the standpoint of the highest life, all these differences vanish.” (Practical Vedanta – I, Complete Works, V. 2)

During the early Vedic age, the forces of nature, such as the sun, the moon, rain, water, air, dawn, and so on, were worshipped as devas (literally meaning ‘shining beings’). The sun is worshipped even today as a token of gratitude for the fact that it enables life on earth.

During the later Vedic age, the concept of the panchayajna or five great sacrifices developed. The concept of sacrifice is based on the principle of obligation to the world. We receive from the world around us, hence we have the obligation to give as well. The five great sacrifices are devayajna (sacrifice to the gods for controlling the natural order), pitriyajna (sacrifice to the ancestors for they brought us to the world), brahmayajna (sacrifice to brahman, the ultimate principle; this yajna is performed through the study and teaching of the Vedas and meditation on the sacred hymns and chants), bhutayajna (food offerings to all beings like birds, animals, trees and so on), and nriyajna (offerings to all human beings, especially as guests).

There has been a long-standing tradition of religious environmentalism in India. For example, there was the Svadhyaya movement of Gujarat, founded by Pandurang Shastri Athavale (1920-2003), winner of the Templeton Prize. Among other activities, its members promoted the mass planting of trees. This is basically a religious movement, and they act with an environmental consciousness from a devotional motive. Another example: the tree-hugging incident among the Bishnoi community of Rajasthan. In 1730, Amrita Devi and her family, who were Bishnois, hugged trees in order to save them from being destroyed by the soldiers of the King of Jodhpur. Finally, 363 Bishnois were felled along with the trees in a failed attempt to save trees.

Secular environmentalism has also existed in India. Prominent example: another tree-hugging movement that took place in present-day Uttarakhand in 1973—the Chipko movement, led by Sunderlal Bahuguna.

The modern Indian state has also been pro-active in protecting the environment. For example, the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was the only head of government other than the host prime minister to speak at the first-ever UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in June 1972. Back home, Mrs. Gandhi was responsible for the tiger conservation programme as well as initiatives for the protection of crocodiles, lions, hanguls, cranes, bustards, flamingos, deer and other endangered species. She pushed through the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and the Forest Conservation Act 1980. The Water (prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act 1981 were also passed during her tenure.

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Renewable Energy

India’s Current Energy Status

As of 2020, coal remained the dominant source of energy in India accounting for 54.91 per cent of total installed electricity capacity.

According to a World Bank report titled ‘In the Dark: How Much Do Power Sector Distortions Cost South Asia’ that was published in 2019, power demand in India was expected to triple between now and 2040 and the country is expected to account for 30 per cent of the growth in global energy in that time. Fossil fuel, coal in particular, is poised to see continued growth even as the development of renewable energy gathers momentum.

The Phenomenal Growth of Renewable Energy in India

Even as fossil fuel remained the dominant source of energy in India, the pace of growth of renewable energy over the last few years has been phenomenal with India now becoming one of the world’s leading countries in renewable energy development. With progressively declining costs, improved efficiency, and reliability, renewable energy is now an attractive option for meeting the energy needs across different sectors of the Indian economy. Furthermore, India’s desire for energy independence and concerns about climate change plays a critical role in the country’s renewable energy push.

On the climate change front, India has pledged to reach its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030. It also announced to meet 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030. Speaking at COP26 Summit in Glasgow 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that India is at number four in the world in installed renewable energy capacity. He also added that India’s non-fossil fuel energy has increased by more than 25 percent in the last seven years and now it has reached to 40 percent of its energy mix.

India’s Renewable Energy Status

India’s solar capacity has increased in the last 7 years from around 2.6 GW to more than 42 GW.
India has embarked on a journey of world’s largest renewable energy expansion programme of 175 GW till 2022.
India’s solar power tariff reduced by more than 75% using plug and play model.
There has been highest ever wind capacity addition of 5.5 GW in 2016-2017
Renewable energy has a share of 25.24% in the total installed generation capacity in the country.
Between 2014-19, about 19 times higher solar pumps have been installed.
India’s renewable energy installed capacity increased 226% in the last 5 years.
Solar Park scheme doubled from 20GW to 40 GW.

Major Initiative/Schemes/Programmes for Accelerated Uptake of Renewables

National Solar Mission (NSM): Launched in January 2010, it aimed to establish India as a global leader in solar energy by creating the policy conditions for solar technology diffusion across the country as quickly as possible. Its target of 20 GW solar power by 2022 has been increased to 100 GW in early 2015. Sub-components of NSM includes the following:-

Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM): For providing standalone solar pumps to 20 lakh farmers.

Off-Grid Solar PV Applications Programme Phase III: For providing solar PV-based applications in areas where grid power is either not available or is unreliable. Applications such as solar home lighting systems, solar street lighting systems, solar power plants, solar pumps, solar lanterns, and solar study lamps are covered under the programme.

Atal Jyoti Yojana (AJAY) Phase-II: For the installation of solar street lights in parliamentary constituencies covered under the Scheme with 75 per cent of the cost provided by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and 25 per cent by the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).

Roof Top Solar programme Phase-II: For the accelerated deployment of solar roof top systems with a target of 40 GW installed capacity by 2022.

Solar Parks Scheme: For the setting up of at least 25 Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects with a target of over 40 GW installed capacity by 2022.

Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU) Scheme: For the setting up of 12 GW grid-connected solar PV power projects by PSUs with domestic cells and modules.

Wind Power

Scheme for procurement of blended wind power from 2500 MW inter-state transmission system (ISTS) connected projects: A framework for the procurement of electricity from 2500 MW ISTS grid-connected wind power projects with up to 20 per cent blending with solar PV power through a transparent bidding process. The total capacity fixed to be awarded is 2500 MW, and the individual minimum size of the project allowed is 50 MW at one site and a single bidder cannot bid for less than 50 MW.

Green Energy Corridor (GEC): Aims at synchronizing electricity produced from solar and wind with conventional power stations in the grid. The first component of the scheme, inter-state GEC with target capacity of 3200 circuit kilometer (ckm) transmission lines and 17,000 megavolt amperes (MVA) capacity sub-stations, was completed in March 2020. The second component - intra-state GEC with a target capacity of 9700 ckm transmission lines and 22,600 MVA capacity sub-stations is expected to be completed by May 2021.

India’s Renewable Energy Imports

India’s solar energy sector heavily relies on imports of solar cells and modules from other countries especially China. Chinese firms supply about 80% of solar cells and modules to India.

India imported solar cells and modules worth $1,179.89 million from China in the first nine months – April to December period – of the financial year (2019-20).
In FY17, FY18, and FY19 India’s solar imports from China stood at $2,817.34 million, $3,418.96 million.

The total value of solar photovoltaic cells or solar cells imports whether or not assembled in module or panel stood at $1,525.8 million for the April-December period of FY20.

For the financial years FY17, FY18, and FY19 the total value of the country’s solar imports was $3,196. 5 million, $3,837.6 million, and $2,159.7 respectively.
Following the coronavirus outbreak, renewable energy Minister Mr R K Singh in a written reply to parliament said that India’s solar industry was under no compulsion to import cells or modules and other equipment from China. He also stressed on the fact that the industry was free to meet their requirements either from domestic market or alternative sources.

India’s wind energy sector on the other hand is far more localised than its solar energy sector. Around 80-85% of wind turbine manufacturing takes place in India. However, some vital parts for setting up wind energy sector is mostly imported from China. Post the coronavirus crisis the MNRE has been encouraging for domestic manufacturing of these parts.

In July 2020, India extended its existing safeguard duty on solar equipment which has been in place since 2018 in order to support domestic manufacturers. It was notified by the Ministry of Finance on 29th July 2020 that a duty of 14.9% would be imposed on the imports of solar cells and modules from China till January 29 2021 and this would further be reduced to 14.5% from the concerned date till 29th July 2021.

India has planned to impose new tariffs (Basic Customs Duty) on imports of Solar PV cells and modules/Panels from 1st April 2022 according to a March 9 2021 notification from the MNRE. The government has decided to impose 40% BCD on solar modules and 25% on solar cells. Since India is heavily dependent on imports of these equipment, the idea behind this move is to encourage the development of domestic manufacturing and reduce its dependence on other countries. This would also enable India to export solar cells/modules thus leading it play a larger role in global supply chains.

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Brief on National Education Policy (2020)

The National Education Policy (NEP 2020) is a breakthrough effort by the Indian government to bring revolutionary changes to India's education system in the 21st century[1]. The NEP 2020 has a long term bearing on nation-building and the country's overall development. The policy is rooted in India's civilizational ethos and values; it transforms India into a vibrant knowledge society making it a global knowledge superpower. The policy emphasizes holistic education, integrating STEM, Social Sciences, Arts and Sports, to strengthen various sectors of India's knowledge economy. The NEP 2020 supports India's commitment to advancing the aspirational Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) of the 2030 Agenda adopted by India in 2015. The leaner's welfare is at the centre of the education policy, making her the most visible and vital stakeholder in the education system.

Salient Features of the National Education Policy 2020[2]

The National Education Policy 2020 aims to reconfigure the current education system to suit the needs of a rapidly evolving knowledge landscape involving dramatic scientific and technological advances. The policy envisions the establishment of multidisciplinary universities and colleges across India that produce a well-rounded workforce skilled in mathematics, computer science, and data science in conjunction with interdisciplinary abilities across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

The NEP 2020 recommends reforms for the Indian education system built on the foundation of diverse, rich, ancient and holistic knowledge, cultural and value traditions from India's civilizational past.

The pursuit of knowledge (Jnan), wisdom (pragya) and truth (satya) considered in Indian thought and philosophy as the highest human goal, is one of the foundations of the policy.

The NEP 2020 envisions creating adept global citizens instilled with national pride in thought, developed knowledge, skills, and commitment to shoulder responsibilities to advance human rights and sustainable development globally.

The NEP 2020 significantly contributes to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all[3]. India aims to adopt various steps to ensure quality and equitable education for all. For example, the policy seeks to provide financial support for students from Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups (comprising of female and transgender individuals, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs, students from migrant communities, low-income households, and victims of trafficking) to enforce no discrimination and anti-harassment rules.

The NEP 2020 promotes quality academic research by establishing a National Research Foundation (NRF). The NRF will facilitate world-class academic research in India across disciplines by enabling a rich research culture in Indian universities.

The NEP 2020 seeks to strengthen the local impact of the universities' skill development and knowledge creation. For example, agricultural education institutions will benefit the local community by setting up Agricultural Technology Parks to promote sustainable methodologies for local development.

The policy envisions holistic healthcare for Indian people by emphasizing on integrated healthcare education system. Under the NEP 2020, all allopathic medical students will be encouraged to have a basic understanding of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy (AYUSH), and vice versa
The policy integrates vocational education in schools and higher education institutions and encourages partnerships between educational institutes, NGOs and industry.

The NEP recommends several measures to transform India into a global study destination. The policy facilitates international students' academic, social, and physical mobility in India by introducing transfer credits systems, scholarships, and dedicated centres in Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) to support and welcome students from abroad.

Way Forward

The NEP 2020 is India's significant step towards nation-building and harnessing the potential of its knowledge economy. The successful implementation of the policy will strengthen India's contribution to world peace and human welfare.


[1]Ministry of Education, Government of India, National Education Policy 2020, 20th December 2021/
[2]University Grants Commission, India, Salient Features on NEP 2020: Higher Education, 15th December 2021/
[3]United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Sustainable Development, 19th December 2021/

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The Aatmanirbhar Bharat Program

Post-Covid, India was confronted with simultaneous and interlocking crises of great magnitude. It faced a health crisis, an economic crisis and a national security crisis emanating from China-India military standoff. Prime Mister’s call for Aatmanirbhar Bharat or a self-reliant India on 12 May 2020 was in response to dealing with these crises.

The call to Aatmanirbhar Bharat galvanized the country to think of getting India out of the Covid-19 crisis stronger. It provided the framework for deep-seated reforms which would take India forward on an upward trajectory in an uncertain world. Building a self-reliant India will require internal reforms. A self-reliant India cannot be built unless we have a strong defence, a strong globally competitive economy and strong technological prowess.

The reform process needs to be situated in an intellectual milieu that can anchor the policy discourse in a wide range of areas along with providing more national confidence. The concept of self-reliance is being reinvented to reboot India as major economy and a powerful country.

Covid-19 crisis showed that India had developed unhealthy and unsustainable dependencies on imports, including from China. Even the statues of Indian gods and deities were being imported from China for festivals and celebrations.

Self-reliance is not a throwback to import substitution or autarky. There is a need to disengage the concept from its negative perceptions. Self-reliance is a wide-ranging concept with political, economic, social, cultural, technological, national security and foreign policy dimensions.

Self-reliance will also help build India’s soft power. Ancient Indian wisdom is a repository of ideas which are relevant even today.

When the Prime Minister unfolded his vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat program on 12 May 2020, he identified five pillars namely Economy, Infrastructure, Systems, Demography and Demand. The Prime Minister spoke of making local production globally available. Vocal for Local, an important pillar of Aatmanirbhar programme implies encouragement to local production to become competitive and become visible globally.

By pushing towards becoming self-reliant i.e., Aatmanirbhar Bharat, the program seeks to utilize India’s mammoth workforce and innovative skills in building domestic capacities as well as fully integrate ourselves in the global supply chain. This would provide jobs, boost economy, and at the same time enhance India’s reputation in the World.

In the social sector, the new education policy has been put in place which emphasises holistic learning rooted in culture but at the same time underscores learning of emerging technologies right from the early stages of education. Thus, several practical and concrete and practical steps have been taken by the government to implement the Aatmanirbhar Bharat program.

Foreign policy and diplomacy is an important tool to implement the Aatmanirbhar Bharat program. Building multipurpose partnerships and relationships with a wide range of countries to promote national interest has been the cornerstone of India’s foreign policy. India has taken concrete steps to fill strategic partnerships with the US, Japan, Australia, and several European countries with solid content. India has overcome its traditional hesitations and is now more forthcoming as it takes clear positions on important issues.

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The Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme

Keeping in view India’s vision of becoming ‘Atmanirbhar’ and to enhance India’s Manufacturing Capabilities and Exports, an outlay of INR 1.97 lakh crore has been announced in Union Budget 2021-22 for PLI schemes for 13 key sectors for a period of 5 years starting from fiscal year (FY) 2021- 22. These 13 sectors include already existing 3 sectors named, (i) Mobile Manufacturing and Specified Electronic Components, (ii) Critical Key Starting materials/Drug Intermediaries & Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, and (iii) Manufacturing of Medical Devices and 10 new key sectors which have been approved by the Union Cabinet recently in November 2020. These 10 key sectors are: (i) Automobiles and Auto Components, (ii) Pharmaceuticals Drugs, (iii) Specialty Steel, (iv) Telecom & Networking Products, (v) Electronic/Technology Products, (vi) White Goods (ACs and LEDs), (vii) Food Products, (viii) Textile Products: MMF segment and technical textiles, (ix) High efficiency solar PV modules, and (x) Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Battery.

The PLI is an innovative scheme that provides incentives in terms of cash to various companies for enhancing their domestic manufacturing apart from focusing on reducing import bills and improving the cost competitiveness of local goods. PLI scheme offers incentives on incremental sales for products manufactured in India. The incentive could vary between 4-6 per cent of turnover for most categories and can go up to 10 per cent for some products.

ACC battery manufacturing represents one of the largest economic opportunities of the twenty-first century for several global growth sectors, such as consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and renewable energy. The PLI scheme for ACC battery will incentivize large domestic and international players in establishing a competitive ACC battery set-up in the country.

India is expected to have a USD 1 trillion digital economy by 2025. Additionally, the Government's push for data localization, Internet of Things market in India, projects such as Smart City and Digital India are expected to increase the demand for electronic products. The PLI scheme will boost the production of electronic products in India.

The automotive industry is a major economic contributor in India. The PLI scheme will make the Indian automotive Industry more competitive and will enhance globalization of the Indian automotive sector.

The Indian pharmaceutical industry is the third largest in the world by volume and 14th largest in terms of value. It contributes 3.5% of the total drugs and medicines exported globally. India possesses the complete ecosystem for development and manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and a robust ecosystem of allied industries. The PLI scheme will incentivize the global and domestic players to engage in high value production.

Telecom equipment forms a critical and strategic element of building a secured telecom infrastructure and India aspires to become a major original equipment manufacturer of telecom and networking products. The PLI scheme is expected to attract large investments from global players and help domestic companies seize the emerging opportunities and become big players in the export market.

The Indian textile industry is one of the largest in the world and has a share of ~5% of global exports in textiles and apparel. But India's share in the manmade fibre (MMF) segment is low in contrast to the global consumption pattern, which is majorly in this segment. The PLI scheme will attract large investment in the sector to further boost domestic manufacturing, especially in the MMF segment and technical textiles.

The growth of the processed food industry leads to better price for farmers and reduces high levels of wastage. Specific product lines having high growth potential and capabilities to generate medium- to large-scale employment have been identified for providing support through PLI scheme.

Large imports of solar PV panels pose risks in supply-chain resilience and have strategic security challenges considering the electronic (hackable) nature of the value chain. A focused PLI scheme for solar PV modules will incentivize domestic and global players to build large-scale solar PV capacity in India and help India leapfrog in capturing the global value chains for solar PV manufacturing.

White goods (air conditioners and LEDs) have very high potential of domestic value addition and making these products globally competitive. A PLI scheme for the sector will lead to more domestic manufacturing, generation of jobs and increased exports.

Steel is a strategically important industry and India is the world's second largest steel producer in the world. It is a net exporter of finished steel and has the potential to become a champion in certain grades of steel. A PLI scheme in Specialty Steel will help in enhancing manufacturing capabilities for value added steel leading to increase in total exports.

The PLI Schemes are expected to enable the setting up of a widespread supplier base for the global champions established under the scheme. It will help bring scale and size in key sectors and create and nurture global champions. All the units put together would help India to generate massive primary and secondary employment opportunities.

The Government of India is making continuous efforts under Investment Facilitation for implementation of Make in India action plans to identify potential investors. Support is being provided to Indian Missions abroad and State Governments for organizing events, summits, road-shows and other promotional activities to attract investment in the country under the Make in India banner. Investment Outreach activities are being carried out for enhancing International co-operation for promoting FDI and improve Ease of Doing Business in the country.

Recently, in addition to ongoing schemes, Government has taken various steps to boost investments in India. These include the National Infrastructure Pipeline, reduction in Corporate Tax, easing liquidity problems of NBFCs and Banks, trade policy measures to boost domestic manufacturing. Government of India has also promoted domestic manufacturing of goods through public procurement orders, Phased Manufacturing Programme (PMP), Schemes for Production Linked Incentives of various Ministries.

Further, with a view to support, facilitate and provide investor friendly ecosystem to investors investing in India, the Union Cabinet on 03rd June, 2020 has approved constitution of an Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGoS), and also Project Development Cells (PDCs) in all concerned Ministries/ Departments to fast-track investments in coordination between the Central Government and State Governments, and thereby grow the pipeline of investible projects in India to increase domestic investments and FDI inflow.

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Electric Vehicles
What are Electric Vehicles?

An electric vehicle (EV) is one that operates on an electric motor, instead of an internal-combustion engine that generates power by burning a mix of fuel and gases.

Therefore, such as vehicle is seen as a possible replacement for current-generation automobile, in order to address the issue of rising pollution, global warming, depleting natural resources, etc.

Though the concept of electric vehicles has been around for a long time, it has drawn a considerable amount of interest in the past decade amid a rising carbon footprint and other environmental impacts of fuel-based vehicles.

Government of India’s Plans

To encourage the purchase of electric mobility, the government has permitted the sales of EVs in India without a battery which no other country has allowed so far.

The step is taken with the objective of reducing the cost of electric vehicles, as the battery is the costliest part of any EV.

An automobile that is verified and sold as a combined vehicle and the OEM is accountable for the assurance, charging or swapping of batteries after the EV is sold, needs to be included in the proposal. This accounts for a significant impact on the economy from both industry and customer perspectives.

Over ten states in India have final or draft EV policies that support the national electric mobility policies.

The states with approved EV policies include Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, New Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh. The states with draft policies include Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, and Punjab.

Productivity Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) is extended for Battery Manufacturing.

The US luxury EV maker has been trying to enter the Indian market since 2016, but the efforts fell apart due to lack of infrastructure, policies, and the market for e-mobility in India. Even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown interest in the EV maker as well, whereas Gadkari previously offered it land near the port to import their technology.

In 2020, even Chennai-based automobile manufacturer Ashok Leyland had invited Tesla for a partnership to help the company bring their brand to India.

What are Semiconductors?

Systems on a Chip or SoC can be referred to as one of the protagonists for wireless communications’ technological evolution.

For the past few decades, semiconductors have been playing a key role in the advancement of emerging technologies like AI, Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, 5G, robotics and what not.

Chips for AI acceleration have tremendous implications for applying AI and machine learning techniques to domains under significant constraints such as size, power and more both in embedded applications as well as in data centres.

Government of India’s Plans

The country has been facing a lack of semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem as well as efficient electronic components, which can help the advancements to move at a fast pace compared to other developed countries.

The Government of India released an Expression of Interest (EoI) inviting companies and consortia, who are desirous of setting up or expanding existing Semiconductor wafer as well as device fabrication facilities in India or acquisition of Semiconductor fabrication (fab) facilities outside the country.

India and Semi-Conductors

India imports all semiconductor fabrication units from China right now. About 1-2 percent of the products are also imported from Taiwan, another upcoming location for this industry.

As part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat or self-reliant India mission, it is likely that semiconductor wafer fabrication manufacturing on a large scale for use as white goods’ components could be the first category.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is working with the appliance and electronic goods makers to look at segment-wise information about which component is made where and what will be the requirement to set up production facilities in India.

As part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat or self-reliant India mission, it is likely that semiconductor wafer fabrication (fab) manufacturing on a large scale for use as white goods’ components could be the first category.

Industry estimates suggest that the Indian semiconductor market in India stands at around USD 300 million in India. If semiconductor fabs are added to this, the value could go upto USD 4-5 billion.

India recently started accepting applications for electronics manufacturing schemes to strengthen domestic manufacturing of five global and five Indian mobile phone makers.

The three Schemes, namely, the PLI, Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS) and Modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC 2.0) Scheme, which were notified by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), have a total outlay of Rs 50,000 crore.

US-based memory chip manufacturer Micron Technology said that “India is on a good path” to attract assembly and packaging type of investments from the global semiconductor industry, having developed capabilities in smartphone assembly, which has made it the worlds’ second-largest handset manufacturing country.

The company said that it is “intrigued” by the new schemes announced by the Indian government.

The company has front-end fabs manufacturing facilities in Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, and the US. Its back-end manufacturing facilities are in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and China.

Apple, which only has a 1% market share in the country, started selling iPhone XR phones assembled in India last year. The Cupertino giant also said it was “eager” to open its first retail store in India.

What is 5G?

The 5G technology has been conceived as a foundation for expanding the potential of the Networked Society. A digital transformation brought about through the power of connectivity is taking place in almost every industry.

5G is a revolutionary technology, which can give high bandwidth and speeds of up to 10 GB per second, which are not possible on existing networks.

5G technologies rollout will help in Increasing GDP, Creating Employment, Digitizing the economy.

Benefits for India

For India, 5G provides an opportunity for industry to reach out to global markets, and consumers to gain with the economies of scale. Worldwide countries have launched similar Forums and thus, India has joined the race in 5G technologies.

India and 5G

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has formed eight working groups to create a roadmap for the deployment of fifth-generation or 5G in different sectors such as agriculture, fintech, transportation and education.

5G for India Figures

Currently, India’s digital economy is valued at US$ 200 billion, but India has a roadmap to take it to US$ 1 trillion.

Segments like virtual reality, telemedicine, tele-health, Industry 4.0, Edtech and digital healthcare will get a tremendous boost and many new applications will come through 5G.

India-U.S.-Israel 5G Cooperation

India, Israel, and the United States have begun collaboration in developmental area, and in next generation of emerging technologies, including a transparent, open, reliable and secure 5G communication network.

The branching out of this trilateral initiative in the development and technological arena is a result of the people-to-people collaboration, in particular those by the Indian diaspora in the US and Israel, that was initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his historic visit to Israel three years ago in July 2017, community leaders said.

Artificial Intelligence-Machine Learning
What is Artificial Intelligence-Machine Learning?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) brings with it a promise of genuine human-to-machine interaction. When machines become intelligent, they can understand requests, connect data points and draw conclusions. They can reason, observe and plan.

Simply put, AI’s goal is to make computers/computer programs smart enough to imitate the human mind behaviour.

Machine Learning (ML) automates analytical model building. It uses methods from neural networks, statistics, operations research and physics to find hidden insights in data without being explicitly programmed where to look or what to conclude.

ML is one of the ways we expect to achieve AI. Machine learning relies on working with small to large datasets by examining and comparing the data to find common patterns and explore nuances.

Government of India’s Plans

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are witnessing increasing adoption in the Indian healthcare setting.

With a surge in non-communicable diseases and the increasing number of aging population in the country, the overall burden of disease management has been increasing year-on-year and to manage that, the government, the healthcare professionals and the healthcare institutions are looking for innovative ways.


The Indian educational system is increasingly realising the importance of skill-based learning and the need to educate the future generations with new-age techs such as artificial intelligence, machine and analytics.

Apart from schools, colleges and universities are introducing courses specifically dedicated to these new technologies.

Introducing these skills while imparting academic flexibility will increase the quality of the workforce and unlock the construction of a new nation.

It will not only create a competitive workforce of the 21st century but also establish India as a leader in disruptive technologies.


During the inauguration speech at the 11th edition of DefExpo, PM Modi said that he had set a target of $5 billion worth of military exports in the coming five years and has invited global defence majors to establish manufacturing hubs across India.

Modi further spoke on the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) and said that the nation would develop at least 25 products related to AI in the defence field in the next five years.

According to the PM, the nation with its strength in IT and software development stands poised to bolster the digital transformation trend and to work with world leaders in cutting edge military technologies.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells
What are Hydrogen Fuel Cells?

Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC) technology uses chemical reactions between hydrogen and oxygen (from air) to generate electrical energy, eliminating the use of fossil fuels.

Further, the fuel cell technology emits only water, thus cutting down the emission of harmful greenhouse gases and pollutants.

The technology has been adopted by carmakers such as Toyota in international markets, with others looking to develop hydrogen-powered models.

Government of India’s Initiatives

MNRE has been supporting a broad-based Research Development and Demonstration (R&D) programme on Hydrogen Energy and Fuel.

Projects are supported in industrial, academic and research institutions to address challenges in production of hydrogen from renewable energy sources, its safe and efficient storage, and its utilization for energy and transport applications through combustion or fuel cells.

With respect to transportation, major work has been supported to Banaras Hindu University, IIT Delhi, and Mahindra & Mahindra.

This has resulted in development and demonstration of internal combustion engines, two wheelers, three wheelers, and minibuses that run on hydrogen fuel. Two hydrogen refuelling stations have been established (one each at Indian Oil R&D Centre, Faridabad and National Institute of Solar Energy, Gurugram).

Future Prospects

India is also taking significant steps to improve energy efficiency.

In February of 2020, India’s National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC), invited global expressions of interest to provide 10 hydrogen fuel cell buses and cars in Leh and Delhi.

These projects foresee hydrogen production through renewable energy sources and utilizing it for use in fuel cell vehicles for public transportation.

NTPC will provide renewable energy for hydrogen production, set up hydrogen generation and fuelling stations at locations based on inputs from applicants, and will coordinate with local transport authorities.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and Indian Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Steel Dharmendra Pradhan co-chaired a virtual ministerial meeting of the U.S.-India Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP) to review progress, highlight major accomplishments, and prioritize new areas for cooperation.

Established in April 2018 at the direction of President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recognizing the strategic importance of energy to the U.S.-India bilateral relationship, the SEP builds upon our longstanding energy partnership and sets the stage for meaningful engagements through robust government-to-government cooperation and industry engagement.

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