India and China – a simple comparison

The Indian economy is expected to grow by 7.3% in the current fiscal year, which ends in March.

China is expected to grow by 2%.

Population of China is 1.4 billion (approx), ageing and declining.

Population of India is 1.4 billion (approx), young and growing.

Indian economy is driven by supplying local demand as the youthful population and middle class growth increase demand.

Chinese economic growth has largely been driven by making and exporting.

India as a domestic demand-driven economy – is less sensitive to global downturns.

China is an export driven economy – highly sensitive to global downturns.

And we have not even got onto world’s largest democracy, innovative driven, attracting and welcoming western investment and more…

Compare the two – what do you think?

Putin, Xi and Modi likely meeting at the SCO starting today – is it a challenge to the QUAD?

India has always been skilled at dealing with both sides of diplomatic arguments – and it has an inclination towards “multilateral” and even “multi-bilateral” arrangements while western friends prefer “bilateral”.

So, it will be interesting to see what role Indian PM Modi will play at the 22nd leaders’ summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, to be held on 15–16 September – the first in-person gathering of the central Asian grouping since 2019.

While it might not make page one news, politicians and diplomats around the world will be closely watching this summit to be held in the ancient Uzbek Silk Road city Samarkand. Not only is it providing Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin their first face-to-face meeting since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and declaration last year of a “forever partnership” – but it also comes after an interval where Indian PM Modi became closer and more impactful at the QUAD.

The members of SCO are China, India, Tajikistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan. Four Observer States were involved in granting full membership (Belarus, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mongolia) and six “Dialogue Partners” (Nepal, Armenia, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, and Turkey).

The QUAD nations are India, USA, Japan and Australia.

If he attends, Modi is expected to have meetings with Putin and Xi, giving a further glimpse as to how India is likely to map out its relationship with Eurasia’s great powers.

Modi has previously stood up to pressure from QUAD countries to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, so as a leader he has a track record of combining non-confrontation with firm commitment to his own position.

Can Australia balance its Pacific Ocean strategy (USA) with an Indian Ocean strategy (India)? Seems it can.

The four leaders of the QUAD – a new closeness transforming this region

There’s a big change happening and it is spearheaded by the new dynamic of the Australia-India trade and security relationship – this is growing to provide a balance for Australia’s historic close alliance with the USA.

INTO INDIA has long felt that Australia has “looked north east” for too long and now is looking more “north west”.

For a while our diplomats and politicians talked about “the Indo-Pacific” as a way to introduce the change. But it is not a sustainable concept and there is no such region.

Australia has a Pacific Ocean strategy (USA) and is now building an Indian Ocean strategy (India). These relationship shifts affect our defence and security, as well as our trade and investment.

Matching that change, it is more than symbolic that an organisation such as the Australia India Chamber of Commerce is focussing on the key industry areas of greatest potential under the deal – and moving away from the old “federal” and state based approaches. Great! Under the old structures, outcomes were often lost in rivalries and politics.

The AICC model has one national organisation – supported by National Industry Groups. This frees up resources to make a difference.

So far the NIG’s include Education, Power and Renewables, Critical Minerals, Defence and Security, and Technology and Innovation. Small steps, but steps they are!

One step at a time, one change at a time, at so many levels, Australia is looking “north west” and taking a role in the Indian Ocean region by a close relationship with the new regional and global power, India.

The new strength of the QUAD (India, Japan, USA and Australia) is also part of the change and the new world of moving alliances.

If the move keeps going, Australia will have strength in two main regions and close relations with two major powers – India and the USA.

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?

3 flights X 3 meetings strategy to engage with India

Engaging with India means building relationships – and although this is a bit quick, you can build relationships after 3 flights and 3 visits. Anything less places you at risk of misunderstanding both the opportunity and the pathway.

Here are 4 ways to make your 3 flights X 3 meetings introduction work well:

Adopt a patient long term view

One way to improve our cultural dexterity would be to take a long term view and apply lots of patience. Businesses should not start out on market entry unless they are prepared to commit at least five years to making it work.

Focus on relationships

India is not a short term transaction opportunity – to succeed there needs a longer term focus on building relationships. The first trade meeting in India can be exciting and positive, but from the India side this is just seen as an introduction and they will wait to see if the relationship grows.

Remember in Indian culture “no” is rarely said

Indians are among the most courteous and generous hosts on the planet. On top of this, their culture demands that they never provide an outright rejection or “no” statement, even when this is clearly the only answer. To succeed, our businesses and governments need to dig deeper and find the reality beyond the politeness. 

Adapt to indirect communications

Like most of Asia, Indians are indirect communicators. Problems are rarely addressed directly and unless you have an ear for indirectness, you will miss the warning signs. You can learn how indirect communication works.

INTO INDIA recommends you go to India asap – it could be the time of your life! (business and personal)

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.

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

More good news! Consider Bangladesh – which for many symbolises everything wrong with the world – take another look

Literacy in Bangladesh jumped from 35% to 74%

Bangladesh, home to 160 million people, for many people in the west is a symbol of everything wrong with the unequal world.

But take another look.

It celebrated a ‘development miracle’ in 2021, its 50th year of independence. In the last three decades, GDP per capita has increased seven fold, 24 million people have been lifted out of poverty, life expectancy has risen to 73 years, infant and maternal mortality rates have fallen by a factor of five, the literacy rate has increased from 35% to 74%, and more than 97% of the population now has access to electricity, up from 62% in 2014.

Worth going over that again – it is genuine good news.