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  • India's approach to Asia Pacific

    India's approach to Asia Pacific

    This policy brief discusses some of the key trends in the Asia Pacific and sets out a long-term approach for India so as to maximise its security and developmental opportunities.

    September 19, 2013

    President Obama's New National Security Team

    United States President Barack Obama's new national security team for his second term in office was finally put in place at the end of February. It is an impressive team of men who share Obama's worldview and seem likely to accept the White House lead preferred by this president. The one woman, Susan Rice, added to the team as National Security Adviser in May reinforces the public image of foreign policy shaped by Obama.

    July 2013

    Ajinkya asked: What is the ‘New Silk Road’ initiative taken by the United States? What are the benefits for India in this?

    Rajorshi Roy replies: The ‘New Silk Road’ initiative was introduced by the former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2011. This US strategy primarily aims at the economic development of Afghanistan by utilising its potential as a land-bridge between the ‘East’ and the ‘West’ and connecting Central with South Asia. It has been reasoned that economic incentives will encourage political integration in order to build long-term stability in the region. This is an ambitious though a visionary plan which will require a lot of deft political and economic manoeuvring.

    The initiative aims to create new infrastructure like highways, railroads, electricity networks and energy pipelines along with reduced legal barriers to trade. Some specific projects which have been mentioned include the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project, U.S. sponsored project to transmit electricity from hydropower plants in Central Asia to Afghanistan and a plausible Afghanistan-Pakistan free trade agreement. The transit potential of Afghanistan can help sustain its economy over the long run and at the same time help build political, economic and energy ties across the region.

    In the Ancient Silk Road, wherein Afghanistan was centrally located due to its geographical location, goods were transported from Beijing to Bactria and then towards Turkey and the commercial ports of Europe. The ‘New Silk Road’ broadly highlights the present day geopolitical realities. To an extent, the new US policy can also be seen as an attempt to reduce Russia’s influence in Central Asia, a region often referred to as Russia’s ‘Near Abroad’.

    India has backed this multinational initiative aimed at linking the resource-rich Central Asia with South Asian economies. The mutual benefits are enormous. India will gain a direct access to both Afghan and Central Asian markets and from there on to Russian and European markets. This is a much more economically viable route. The energy potential of Central Asian countries can also be tapped into. Moreover, it has been envisioned that the new initiative will help in bringing lasting stability and prosperity to Afghanistan, a goal long strived for by India.

    For more details on the New Silk Road Initiative, please refer to the following US department of state web-link:

    The Obama-Xi Summit

    Just as Mao had made the historic declaration that the Chinese people have ‘stood up,’ Xi now wants the world to acknowledge that China as a great power has ‘arrived.’

    June 18, 2013

    Ricin-laced Letter to Obama; Recurring threat calls for long term solutions

    The recent incident in which ricin laced letters were sent to President Obama highlights the ease with which ricin can be produced, obtained and used.


    S. Thiagarajan asked: How the United States will continue its war against terrorism after 2014? Is it through air power (via drones, fixed wing fighter jets)?

    Vishal Chandra replies: There can be no clear cut reply to this query at the moment, as the nature and level of the US engagement in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region post-2014 remain somewhat vague. The bilateral security or the status-of-force agreement, which is supposed to provide a legal framework and lay down terms and conditions for the American presence beyond 2014, is still being negotiated. Serious differences have emerged between Kabul and Washington over the issue of operational role, authority and legal immunity of the American troops to be stationed in Afghanistan after 2014. A long-term security agreement with the US is bound to have implications for politics both within Afghanistan and at the wider regional level. It remains to be seen whether Washington would enter into a security agreement with the current government or wait for the elections in April next year and the new leadership to take over.

    However, it is clear that the US and certain NATO member-states would be maintaining some military presence in different parts of the country in support of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), which will remain critically dependent on Western assistance for several years to come. The NATO too is mulling over the broad contours of its post-ISAF mission. Kabul is likely to enter into a separate agreement with NATO after the security agreement with the US comes through.

    How important the Afghan mission will be for the US after 2014-15, is the key issue here. At the wider Asian level, Washington is engaged in re-aligning its political and military strategies to deal with long-term challenges posed by developments taking place in both West and East Asia. Though it is too early to be commenting on its likely implications for the US’ post-2014 mission in Afghanistan, it is clear that the US foreign policy and response strategies are in for a major transformation.

    There is definitely a big question mark on the effectiveness of the US role and presence in managing the Afghan situation after 2014 and particularly in dealing with Pakistan’s continued support to forces inimical to political stability and American presence in Afghanistan. The ongoing effort for political reconciliation with the Pakistan-based Afghan Taliban leadership too is unlikely to yield any concrete and sustainable results in the near future. Though the democratically-elected new civilian government in Islamabad has made some positive statements, one would still have to wait and see to what extent the civilian leadership would be able to prevail upon the powerful military establishment of the country.

    In the current scenario, the US is expected to continue with drone strikes against militant groups inside Pakistan’s tribal areas, and special operations along with Afghan forces against militant strongholds inside Afghanistan. Apart from training and equipping the ANSF, the US and its NATO allies will have to retain strong counter-terrorism capabilities to be able to sustain its presence in the country. There is already a debate going on within the US establishment in this regard.

    Much would also depend on the outcome of the Afghan presidential and parliamentary elections, particularly the conduct of elections, and the credibility of the next leadership in Kabul. Ultimately, it is the strength of the Afghan institutions, and, more importantly, the will of the Afghan people to protect and further build on the positive achievements of the last one decade that would determine the destiny of post-2014 Afghanistan.

    The Korean Imbroglio

    North Korea’s uranium enrichment programme has made the US jittery and is not totally confident of reopening the six-party talks. Washington needs assurances regarding North Korea’s future nuclear programmes and the key to finding a solution to the present stalemate lies with Beijing.

    April 25, 2013

    America’s Asia Strategy in Obama’s Second Term

    Indian planners would be cautious about an open US embrace as India does not want to be drawn into a US containment policy, which is how China perceives US rebalancing.

    March 21, 2013

    Trends in Green House Gas Emissions of the USA

    The current decline in US emissions should not make us forget about climate change; a renewed push is necessary to discuss actions and policies that mitigate the complex issue of climate change.

    February 22, 2013

    Defence Acquisition: International Best Practices

    Defence Acquisition: International Best Practices
    • Publisher: Pentagon Press

    This book is a compendium of papers presented and circulated in the International Seminar on Defence acquisition organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses on July 12-14, 2011. Written by the practitioners, industry leaders and subject experts, the book brings out the best international practices in defence acquisition.

    • ISBN ISBN 978-81-8274-711-1,
    • Price: ₹. 1295/-
    • E-copy available