International

India and the US Pivot to the East

THE success of President Barack Obama’s decision to rebalance the power equation in East Asia with the “pivot to the East” policy depends a lot on cooperation from major powers in the region, notably India. India under both the NDA and UPA has been portraying itself as the “natural partner” of the USA. The leaderships of the two countries revel in describing themselves as the two largest democracies in the world that also share core values. Since the signing of the defense partnership agreement between the two countries ten years ago, strategic and military relations have indeed deepened.

Charlie Hebdo Attack and its Aftermath

THE terror attack on the offices of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo on January 7 that claimed the lives of 12 journalists, has sent shock waves around the world. On the following day, a hyper market was targeted by a lone terrorist. Four people were killed in that attack. Two policemen were also killed in the three days in January. Paris had become a city virtually under siege.

Baiting North Korea

ANOTHER war of words has erupted between Pyongyang and Washington. This time the statements emanating from both sides are more bellicose than usual. The latest round of verbal hostilities started after the hacking attack on Sony Pictures. North Korea has been vehemently criticising the Japanese owned company which has its headquarters in the United States, for producing the movie “The Interview”. The movie, purportedly a comedy, shows the assassination of the current head of state of North Korea, Kim Jong- un.

Cuba: End of the US Blockade!

THE simultaneous announcements by Barack Obama and Raul Castro on December 17 that relations between the United States and Cuba would be “normalised”, has been one of the positive developments of 2014. Even within the United States, only a minority of right wing politicians have criticised the move by Obama to restore diplomatic relations after a gap of more than 50 years with an immediate neighbour. Within the Cuban-American community in the United States, the move by the American president has been widely welcomed.

Pakistan: Roots of Terror

THE Peshawar massacre of the innocents could be a turning point in Pakistan. At least for the moment all the important stakeholders seem united in their determination to confront the scourge of terrorism which has been mercilessly stalking the country for more than a decade now. At this juncture there is a consensus in the country that the time has come to crush the militant groups which have been running amok since the overthrow of the Taliban government and American occupation of Afghanistan in 2001.

Mexico: Fear and Loathing

THE tragic disappearance of 43 students in late September while they were proceeding to a protest meeting has triggered a national outcry in Mexico threatening the stability of government of President Enrique Pena Nieto. After riding high in the opinion polls and being toasted in the financial capitals of the world, his popularity has now taken a beating. He now is being dubbed as the most unpopular Mexican president in recent history. Pena Nieto had won the elections two years ago with a comfortable margin.

Putin in India

THE Russian President, Vladimir Putin was in Delhi in the second week of December to participate in the annual India-Russia summit that has become an annual event since 2000. President Putin and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had signed the historic Declaration on Strategic Partnership that year. Though the Russian president was in the Indian capital for only a day, the 2014 summit has yielded a raft of substantive agreements.

India-Vietnam: Growing Strategic Ties

THE two day official visit of the Vietnamese prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung to India in the last week of October came within weeks after president Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Hanoi. Before the Indian president’s visit, the Indian external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, was also in Hanoi. In fact, for the last couple of years, there have been frequent exchanges of high level exchange of visits. The Indian president’s visit to Vietnam in mid September coincided with Chinese president, Xi Jinping’s trip to India.

SAARC: Not on Track

THE recently concluded Kathmandu SAARC summit has not been a very good advertisement for regional unity or cohesion. The 18th SAARC summit was held in the backdrop of renewed tensions between the two most powerful members of the regional grouping, India and Pakistan. The coming to power of the BJP in India and that too with a massive majority has put India’s role in the region under renewed scrutiny. Only one important agreement, relating to energy connectivity was signed and that too at the eleventh hour.

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