Why has India banned wheat exports?

India – one of the world’s leading wheat producers – has placed an immediate ban on wheat exports.

Why?

As reported in this analysis by SOUTH ASIAN TIMES, the ban serves three main purposes: It maintains the food security for the country, it helps others who are in distress, and maintains India’s reliability as a supplier.

See full report here:

Some straight talking on climate change and public policy

Patrick Suckling presents the clearest short paper on climate change and what we urgently need to do

Patrick Suckling is a non-resident Senior Fellow of Asia Society Policy Institute and former Australian Ambassador for the Environment – and former Australian High Commissioner to India.

He has written one of the clearest – and briefest – papers on the importance of climate change and how we need to respond.

Highly recommended reading –

Does India have a different world view?

A selfie at the Raisina Dialogue for Tharoor and Jaishankar – endorsing “multi-alignment”

From the west we often hear business leaders say “India wants to be more western” – but does it? Or is there a different world view in India?

Three points stand out for me:

FIRST, PM Narendra Modi recently stated that, while many countries have strayed from spirituality and towards consumerism, India should not do so.

SECOND, laying the foundation for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) in Jamnagar, Gujarat, PM Modi stated that countries all over the world are focusing on traditional herbal systems to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and that Yoga has helped people all around the world establish mental balance by reducing stress.

THIRD, in an increasingly divided world with an “us vs them” view, India is an exception. Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday thanked External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar for publicly giving him credit for the term “multi-alignment” and posted a selfie of them together at the ongoing Raisina Dialogue. There is a very conscious policy of engaging all the major powers simultaneously in a world. Who else is doing this?

What do you think?

Wow! India Australia trade deal much bigger than we thought

These two Ministers are transforming the Australia-India relationship

Wow! The Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement signed yesterday is a whopper.

Get on the plane now if you are in business or education! The trade and investment doors are open for you.

The two trade ministers, Australian Dan Tehan and Indian Piyush Goyal, are transforming the economic relationship and created a platform for decades of growth for India and Australia. Well done.

READ MORE DETAIL HERE:

https://www.trademinister.gov.au/minister/dan-tehan/media-release/historic-trade-deal-india

Well done on Modi deals, Scott Morrison – he “gets” India

Australian PM Scott Morrison at the virtual talks yesterday with Indian PM Modi.

In a meeting yesterday with Indian PM Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, cemented ties with India in a series of deals worth almost A$190 million. He gets (understands) India.

PM Modi is an “investment magnet”, but is also strongly wary of “multilateral” groupings and has a preference to do deals country by country.

So, PM Morrison did a country by country deal. He used some of the western rhetoric over Russia, Ukraine and China, but then got stuck into business.

What is there to “get” about India that matters in our region?

First, it wants investment.

Second, it stays away from promoting democracy as the ONLY future, instead seeing all countries as different and many having different forms of government – all accepted by India.

Third, it now buys most of its defence hardware from Russia and has a long standing close relationship with them.

Fourth, it wants to be in the QUAD (Australia, Japan, USA and India) but will only play on its own terms – that is, not condemning others and not championing democracy as the only solution.

Fifth, Modi is riding high, and he has numbers to back it up – India is the world’s fastest growing economy in 2020. You have to “get” his confidence levels, which are high.

Sixth, India is keen for more Indians to have access to Australia and to work here – PM Morrison “gets” this, and it was significant that the Monday night talks also included a taskforce to see if both countries could recognise the same education qualifications.

Seventh, India has a proud culture and history, feels rightly that much has been plundered by the west – so it was highly important that the National Gallery of Australia formalised the return of artefacts to India.

Future challenges?

There are plenty. The CECA (free trade deal) will soon announce “early harvest” deals and then plans to complete a full CECA some time this year. Good luck with that – especially as our own Aussie negotiators have always been averse to cherry picking. I think PM Morrison gets the need for flexibility and hope he is challenging his bureaucrats to do the same.

Relying more on our High Commission staff in Delhi would be a good step as we have outstanding people there.

But by and large, finally, it seems Australia is “getting” India.

Understanding India’s neutrality on Russia and Ukraine

Russia’s Putin meets with India’s Modi in 2018 – Russia has consistently supported India over Pakistan and China

India has taken a lot of criticism for not joining in global criticism of Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

In the drama of conflict, few take time to think – but India perhaps deserves you taking a moment to reflect on why it has taken a neutral stance.

At the very centre of India’s position is that in face of border challenges with China, it needs its defence partnership with Russia to continue.

Interesting that almost all western leaders recognise this strategic dilemma.

India is an important part of the move to balance China in the Indo-Pacific, so it is vital to understand their position.

Few are aware that for all of its democratic and independent life, India has been very close to Russia. It is a long standing relationship.

India is now the only Quad country to have not called Russia out by its name let alone by imposing economic sanctions.

But the other three nations in the Quad know that India’s defence relationship with Russia could be described as its “most valued partnership”, as a recent Lowy Institute paper put it.

How important is Russia to India?  A whopping 86% of Indian military hardware is of Russian origin – and this hardware is central to India’s ability to stand up to China over longstanding territorial disputes.

In 2018, India signed a US$5 billion deal with Russia to buy the S-400 missile defence system. Trump warned India that it might impose sanctions – so far, no sanctions have arisen.

And don’t forget Russia has been the only country to support India over decades of problems with Pakistan. In 1971 when India and Pakistan fought for 13 days, Russia was the only country to help India – no western country provided support. The USA ignored Delhi’s please for help over East Pakistan as it then was.

You could see this as an “over reliance” on Russia, but don’t forget it has been close to Russia since the first Prime Minister Nehru took office – and it is only recently that it has become involved closely with countries like the USA, Japan and Australia.

India’s position on Russia and problems with China were somewhat challenged by the recent Russia-China joint statement, pledging that “there are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation”. India is no doubt seeking to understand what this means – and in such a fast changing environment, is even more unlikely to call our Russia over Ukraine.

With the brutality and horror of the war on Ukraine now clearly visible, whether India will change its neutrality stance remains to be seen.

But hopefully the above information has helped you understand India’s position.

India imports of Australian wine up 81%

Ricky Ponting has teamed up with Mr Riggs for the India wine market

Sam Freeman is Trade and Investment Commissioner at Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) in India and is working with the Aussie wine industry to boost sales in India.

Now he is supporting Ricky Ponting (Ponting Wines) and Ben Riggs (Mr Riggs) in entering the India market.

He says: “Australia has witnessed a dramatic rise in the volume and value of wine being imported into India. The last 12 months have seen 81% growth in Australian exports to India and 10 new brands entering the market.

“Austrade is working with a number of wineries across Australia, to assist in their access to this small but emerging market. It was great to see coverage of one of our clients in Glam Adelaide, expressing their interest in the market and the potential it holds.

“It’s been a pleasure working with Ricky, David & Ben to help them build a strategy and channel for Ponting Wines to enter India. We look forward to seeing their labels on shelves soon.”

Can Indian Ocean nations move towards OPTIMISM and away from fear and negativity?

Could the nations of the Indian Ocean region combine to put their focus on OPTIMISM as a replacement for rampant negativity, fear politics and division?

What a contrast this would be to the so-called “Indo-Pacific Region” which seems to have one negative driver – containment of China.

Debate has started in Australia which “needs a new narrative and new thinking from the top,” according to the Centre for Optimism which has released a six-point plan for government and industry to adopt to boost their capabilities with a positive, uplifting mindset and optimistic leadership focused on collaboration, participation, and transparency.

What is wrong with the current narrative?

The Centre’s founder Victor Perton said the current national narrative is framed in old behaviours – state-federal squabbling over policy and service responsibility, hand-outs addressing market failures, institutional inertia, and short-run responses to crises.

I would add that our politicians are disconnected, use fear and manipulate the electorate through division and hostility.

The World Economic Forum recently warned its members, including Australia, that the contemporary “lack of optimism could create a vicious cycle of disillusionment and social unrest.”

Mr. Perton said that with Australia coming out of COVID lockdowns, people’s lives have changed, and people expect their governments to learn the lessons too. “They want positivity, not an aggressive fear-driven narrative,” he said.

Victor Perton was a Victorian MP for 18 years, a former Victorian Government’s Commissioner to the Americas, and the Federal Government’s Senior Engagement Adviser for the Brisbane G20 Leaders’ Summit of Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors.

The six (6) point-plan proposed to government and political leaders is:

Collaboration – as a primary goal – Federal Cabinet should create a National Collaboration Commission to exist alongside the ACCC and National Competition Council.

Vision focus – Government Agencies should establish teams in each Department whose core purpose is to develop a vision, a long-run view of the future.

Active community engagement – through the establishment of citizen juries, in which citizens can assess policies, or plans that are either prospective, or already in place.

Reframe measurement (evaluation) – Replace the preoccupation with GDP and introduce a new Optimism indicator…increasing attention on (a) volunteerism, (b) community engagement, (c) non-market work, (d) care for disadvantaged segments, (e) satisfaction with life, and (f) confident and optimistic outlooks.

Reframe economic development – Move from a focus on size of Government to broader based policies. This to include policies on care and health sectors, innovation, education, green capabilities, and supporting them through “needs clusters”. This would involve the establishment of more public-private partnerships and socially responsible funds, including social impact funding.

Broader institutional change – The inclusion of Opposition party members in the National Cabinet to promote bipartisanship and a collective long-term view on national issues which have been clearly delineated, such as those covering climate change and immigration. The Cabinet would have pre-determined flexibility to add issues or remove them from the agenda.

Is this the optimism lens we need?

I think so, and am keen to hear your views and ideas.

https://www.centreforoptimism.com/AustraliaPositiveNarrative/

Are QUAD cracks showing? My article in India’s News18

India at the QUAD was being squeezed more than a little by the USA wanting the QUAD to condemn Russia over Ukraine. Russia is a long-standing friend of India (since 1947 independence).

And behind the scenes there are questions about the commitment of the USA to the region and specifically to South East Asia and the Indian Ocean.

The four QUAD countries (India, Australia, Japan and USA) are closer than ever before and doing positive things in supply chains, emergency relief and vaccines for poor countries.

But, are the cracks beginning to show?

My article in India’s biggest media group, Network 18 News:

https://www.news18.com/news/opinion/cracks-in-quad-are-showing-from-doubts-over-us-pledge-to-indo-pacific-to-differences-over-ukraine-4763273.html

Happy 26 January – national days for Australia and India

Among the many shared interests of India and Australia, on 26 January both countries celebrate national days.

For Australia, 26 January is AUSTRALIA DAY and the date was chosen for the 1788 arrival of the first fleet and the raising of the British flag.

The Commonwealth of Australia was born in 1901 with Britain controlling Australia’s foreign policy. Independence was offered in 1931 and taken up in late 1942. From federation until World War 2, foreign policy was controlled by Britain, and Australia was expected to fight alongside Britain (as it did so in both world wars). 

For India, 26 January is REPUBLIC DAY, the date of the adoption of the India constitution. Each year, India celebrates three national festivals : Republic Day on 26 January, Independence Day on 15 August and Gandhi Jayanti on 2 October.

As the two nations – Australia and India – come closer together, this day provides part of the shared heritage.

Wishing much happiness to both countries today!