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?

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.

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

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