Yes, it’s already time to revisit your “new year resolutions”!

We are now a few weeks into 2022 so this is a good time to revisit your “new year resolutions” and perhaps take a different view.

This is from a friend and colleague Debashish Chatterjee who is a Director of Indian Institute of Management in Kozhikode, India:

3 Unusual Insights for 2022

#1. We begin the year with resolutions. They are often a laundry list of personal desires. A desire is an energy formation. When your desires are woven around a web personal pleasures, the energy they receive comes from your ego. This energy is limited. When your desires are for the greater good, the whole universe supports your desires. Enhance the circumference of your desires, you are bound to succeed.

#2. You do not have a busy life. You only have a busy mind. The world out there is nothing but a projection of the mind. Slow down the mind. Your world will transform around you. You will begin to see things that you had overlooked earlier. You will fumble less and create more.

#3. That which has a beginning also has an end. This was Buddha’s insight into the impermanence of life. Begin with the end in mind. Ask where are my actions and thoughts eventually leading me?

From INTO INDIA and Debashish, have a great 2022!

Will 2022 see continued “hard diplomacy” or can we embrace “smart” and “soft” diplomacy?

INTO INDIA wishes you all a peaceful, prosperous, safe and healthy new year for 2022. This is our last post for this year.

The question for next year is how will we all get on better than we did in 2021?

I hope we will see “smart diplomacy” dominate next year – this is the kind of diplomacy that works with cultural and cross border differences. It is not insulting and does not force the other country into an aggressive response. It takes into account major global shared challenges such as climate change, Industry 4 and the continuing pandemic.

It is “smart” to talk to other countries in a way which allows them to make their own positive contribution to the debate – does not corner them into hostility.

Australia has done some “smart” diplomacy things this year – such as using former Prime Minister Abbott as a special envoy, a move well received in Asia.

Hoping countries will all be a lot smarter in 2022.

It would make it a good year for all of us.

Indians are among lots of reasons to love Melbourne

Melbourne’s Federation Square is the focus of the annual Diwali celebrations

Born here, I naturally love Melbourne.

But in my lifetime the city has been transformed via migration and especially by the increase in local Indians and students. It is now an exciting place – for example, in normal non-covid times, the city centre and Federation Square is taken over by Diwali celebrations.

India accounted for around 178,000 visitors to Victoria every year.

More than 67,000 international students were here before the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia – and now we can welcome them back!

We have the largest Indian population in Australia, with more than 209,000 Victorians reporting Indian heritage at the 2016 census. Since 2001 the number of Indian-born migrants in Melbourne has more than tripled.

Indians living in Melbourne love:

  • living in Melbourne’s suburbs with safe, accessible transport
  • local supermarkets, Indian grocery stores and restaurants
  • Melbourne’s festivals, museums and cultural events (including Diwali, Holi and more)
  • Victoria’s world-class education system
  • dining out in Melbourne’s renowned restaurants.

If you’re thinking about migrating to Australia from India, Melbourne could be the perfect home for you.

Melbourne has the 10th largest immigrant population among world metropolitan areas. In Greater Melbourne at the 2016 census, 37% of residents were born outside of Australia.

Qantas’ Melbourne-Delhi service starts will start on December 22 and operate four times a week year-round.

Just another reason we love Melbourne.

8 things we need to know about India

Confident young Indians like these are driving new entrepreneurial spirit

CAUTION – generalisations are just that, and you will almost always encounter those who do not fit in this list. This is offered to assist those visiting India for business, education or tourism.

1. Successful and confident

Economic success has restored Indian confidence. Indian entrepreneurs are now recognized around the world and there is a national expectation that the next Bill Gates will be an Indian. This entrepreneurial spirit permeates the nation (most dream of becoming entrepreneurs) which is now confident.

2. Never forget rural people

Indian business and political leaders may live the urban lifestyles, but they do not forget the small towns and villages at the centre of rural life – and it’s not just the politicians with an eye for votes, with major corporates such as Infosys pouring resources and funding into village developments.

3. Avoid pointing the finger

Indians become instantly passionate when challenged on subjects like their high tariffs, especially if the challenge comes from the west. The message is, point the finger at India and you can expect a robust response.

4. Oceans of patience

Indians have oceans of patience which can drive westerners crazy, but it gives them a special strength in negotiations. This patience is derived from deeply held spiritual views such as impermanence – Indians are constantly reminded of the impermanence of this life, everything changes, and they can wait when often we cannot. Who has the advantage in this situation?

5. Not just an IT miracle

Do not be fooled with the view that the Indian economic miracle is just driven by call centres and IT. Important as these are, look also at insurance, energy, retail, clean technology, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and even agriculture as areas where efficiency is producing startling results.

6. Not especially “Asian”

While India feels great about the success of “Asia”, in many ways it does not feel particularly “Asian”. First and foremost, Indians feel Indian, and to them that is vastly more relevant than being geographically part of Asia.

7. Remember the “Father of the Nation”

Whether dealing with the young or the old, in India never forget the “Father of the Nation”, Mahatma Gandhi.

8. Equity up there with democracy

Partly because of Gandhi, Indian leaders are more concerned with equity than with spreading democracy around the world – and cannot understand the enthusiasm of the USA and its allies to champion democracy in unlikely locations.

India now chasing trade deals – having resisted for decades

Indian PM Narendra Modi meets recently on trade with former Australian PM Tony Abbott

What has changed for India? It seems that having resisted trade deals for years, it now plans by the end of March 2022, to complete multiple quick-fire bilateral trade agreements.

Something has not changed however – the Indian government, distrustful of full scale FTA’s, is prioritizing “early harvest” pacts over comprehensive free trade agreements.

What has changed is the pandemic and the rise of China.

Therefore, the Indian government is focusing on strengthening the trade with G-7 nations with strong Indo-Pacific strategies and those with growing influence in central Asia such as the United Arab Emirates.

Australia, at a key position in the Indo-Pacific, is a high priority. As a fellow member of the QUAD, India and Australia have never been so close strategically and are keen to add trade now.

In large part, this is India’s push to do well as supply chain realignments take place – there is only a narrow window of opportunity to get these deals done.

How big is this? The government is negotiating bilateral trade agreements with 20 countries and expects to complete half a dozen deals, including those with Australia and Britain by this December and March 2022. 

India is ambitious – Mr. Piyush Goyal has set kept a target of US$ 400 billion for annual merchandise exports – almost 38% higher than US$ 290 billion achieved in last year and plans to achieve US$ 2 trillion annual merchandise exports by the end of this decade.

Outcome? Lots of deals that will not be quite world class Free Trade Agreement (FTA) but which will have some wriggle room.

India and the USA have very different world views – the 10 differences

Indian PM Modi meets with US President Biden in the White House recently

There has been a lot of talk recently about India becoming part of some formal military alliance with the US – in response to the rise and actions of China.

But is this likely?

Here are 10 key differences in the world view of India and the USA

New Delhi is wary that any formal alliance with the US could draw it into almost constant military activity such as the Iraq war

India prefers to do its own strategic deals on a country by country basis – rather than manage these through a dominant US strategic alliance. For example, India and Australia have a Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement allowing each to uses each other’s bases

Historically India has never agreed to open-ended commitments that might lead to future military involvement

Of the four countries speculated to be invited to join the Five Eyes security arrangement (the four are Germany, India, South Korea and Japan) – India is the only one of these four to NOT have a treaty alliance with the US

An example of differences between India and the US is Iran and the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) – the US attacks Iran on the nuclear issue, sees the NPT as something to be enforced – but India has not signed the NPT itself and sees it as discriminatory

There are differences on the “threat” from China – the US is most assertive on freedom of navigation in the South China Sea while India has been quite reserved on this issue

India is more concerned about its Himalayan border conflicts with China than the South China Sea

India generally has little or nothing to say about human rights issues in other countries. Whereas the US and its allies such as the UK and Australia are constantly calling out human rights abuses around the world

The US wants “all in” commitment from allies but India has always been non-aligned and refuses to get drawn into “us versus them” views of the world. One current example is India is finalising a logistics deal with the UK while also negotiating a similar deal with Russia

India is content to be “the world’s biggest democracy” but is not evangelical about it, accepting that all countries are different – a sharp contrast to the US wanting to remake countries in its own image and championing democracy for all

Breathing program making Yale students happy coming to Australia in September

Art of Living – quick, simple program for happiness in tough times

A program from India that is being used at Yale University and many other American universities to improve wellbeing of students – is coming to Australia online.

Starting on 30 September, this short Pan Australia Happiness Program will be held in the Presence of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who creating the breathing technique that changes lives. INTO INDIA has been doing this program for many years and loves the energy and simplicity of it.

This is a super simple, quick and unbelievably powerful way to have a good day!

If you are feeling alone.

If covid is dominating your mind.

If your breathing is shallow.

If you feel anxiety and stress.

Step in and join a big and strong group of like-minded people who believe in contributing and creating waves of happiness, sharing, and caring that are so much required right now.   

Registration link: www.artofliving.org/au-en/program/6401

Videos: The videos below showcase how Breathing and Meditation can help us become stress-free

James Nestor, author of Breath, on his research & the power of SKY (Sudarshan Kriya)

Take a breath: What a new study from Yale reveals about stress and mental health

Art of Living Australia Foundation is looking forward to sharing this beautiful program with you and your friends and colleagues.

Contact for further information – Rohit 

Art of Living Happiness Program and Sri Sri Yoga Facilitator

0423 531 787

“Make others comfortable and you will see that Nature will take care of your comfort” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Global “Indo-Pacific” strategies appear to target China

HMS Queen Elizabeth

Global “Indo-Pacific” strategies appear to target China

Here is a selected list of recent initiatives that might be designed to contain China:

  • The British Government is about to announce a foreign and defence policy review with the “new big idea” of a focus on the Indo-Pacific
  • The new UK aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and accompanying fleet will deploy in May on a maiden voyage to the Indian Ocean coordinated with the US
  • On the flight deck will be a squadron of F35 jets from the US Marine Corps, showing UK and US cooperation
  • The UK mission looks very much like a strike force, including two Type 45 destroyers, an Astute Submarine and two Type 43s
  • At the same time the recent QUAD (Japan, India, Australia, USA) meeting was the first attended by all four leaders and was strong on a free and open Indo-Pacific
  • India, Australia and Japan have an active working party examining supply chain security (code for not buying everything from China)
  • Many foreign ministries from France to Germany have recently produced Indo-Pacific strategies
  • Former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer recently said “The single most geopolitical issue in the world today is the rise of China”
  • Downer went much further in his comments: “This is an issue of war and peace.”
  • Meanwhile Australia is in the 10th month of a trade war with Beijing
  • France and Germany are also deploying large warships to the region this year
  • The UK also wants to turn the G7 into an alliance of 10 democracies by inviting South Korea, India and Australia – yet another concern for China

The Indo-Pacific packs some punch – it now accounts for close to half of global economic output and more than half the world’s population: it contains the world’s two most populous nations, China and India; the world’s second and third largest economies, China and Japan; the world’s largest democracy, India.

Add these up – and draw your own conclusions. What do you think?

Blinken as new US Secretary of State to push India UN role and closer ties

Antony Blinken, US President-elect Joe Biden’s closest foreign policy adviser, has been nominated for Secretary of State.

What will be the Biden-Blinken approach to India?

India a “High priority relationship”

On July 9, Blinken spoke at the Hudson Institute, Washington DC. “Strengthening and deepening the relationship with India is going to be a very high priority.”

Biden role

“During the Bush administration, then Senator Biden partnered with that administration to help get the peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement, the 123 agreement through the United States Senate, usually important to solidifying our relationship,” Blinken said.

Defence Cooperation

Blinken talked about the Biden administration making India a “major defence partner”. This is a major new statement on defence.

Paris Climate Change Pact

“Having sort of set that foundation and made the relationship stronger, guess what? We then worked hard to persuade India that it would be more prosperous and more secure if it’s signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement. We succeeded… It was a challenging effort but Vice President Biden was one of the leaders of the effort to convince our partners in India and they did. I think that’s a reflection, again, of the fact that we cannot solve common global challenges without India as part of the deal,” Blinken said. 

Kashmir & CAA

Blinken flagged concerns on the human rights situation in Kashmir and the Citizenship Amendment Act.

India leading role in UN

On August 15, Blinken again participated in a panel discussion on Indo-US ties and flagged the issue of UN reforms. “In a Biden administration, we would be an advocate for India to play a leading role in international institutions and that includes helping India get a seat on a United Nations Security Council,” he said.

China challenge

“We have a common challenge which has to deal with an increasingly assertive China across the board, including its aggression toward India…I think you’d see Joe Biden as president investing in ourselves, renewing our democracy, working with our close partners like India, asserting our values and engaging China from a position of strength. India has to be a key partner in that effort,” he said.

Cross-border terrorism

Blinken also addressed New Delhi’s concern of cross-border terrorism, without naming Pakistan. “We would work together to strengthen India’s defence and also I might add its capabilities as a counterterrorism partner.”

Biden’s vision 2020

Blinken quoted Biden from 2006 — just before he was going to take charge as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2007-2009 — “My dream is that in 2020, the two closest nations in the world will be India and the United States.”

Can China become a likeable, trusted power?

China is living in a hostile external environment – mostly of its own making.

Recent aggressive rhetoric plus trade restrictions on Australia and border battles with India are leading examples of how China is projecting itself and the world is worried.

But China also means to become moderately prosperous by 2035. It will need to overcome global misgivings if this is to be achieved.

Andrew K.P. Leung is an independent China strategist and has written about this for the South China Morning Post.

Here are 10 steps China should take, according to Leung

First, get the message firmly across that China is neither able nor willing to unseat the US as the global superpower. China cannot compete with America, which has a military presence in 80 countries and whose military expenditure is 38 per cent of the global total – more than the next 10 countries’ combined.

Second, cut out the wolf warrior rhetoric, whether in diplomacy or on social media.

Third, work with the US and the World Health Organization to end the global pandemic.

Fourth, actively cooperate with the Biden administration on climate change.

Fifth, conduct regular joint naval patrols with the US forces in wider waters of the South China Sea.

Sixth, set aside territorial disputes and work with neighbouring countries in the South China Sea on the joint management and exploration of natural resources, including fisheries, habitats and deep-sea energy resources.

Seventh, embrace free and fair trade. For starters, seek to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which a Biden presidency may wish to join too.

Eighth, China should help North Korea become a rising economic powerhouse like Vietnam.

Ninth, reform the Belt and Road Initiative. Make it more transparent and include more participants.

Tenth, meet more milestones on the path to reform and opening up, whether or not they have been set in the 14th five-year plan – including issues like market reciprocity, state-owned enterprise subsidies, transparency, rule of law, human rights and goals including technological self-reliance and quality growth.

Leung writes that China has vowed to double the size of its economy and become moderately prosperous by 2035.

China is unlikely to act on Leung’s 10 suggestions – but to move on some would send positive signals to the world.

Andrew K.P. Leung is an independent China strategist. 

 andrewkpleung@gmail.com