Modi’s economy faces the voters
The Modi government in India enters the last year of its term with mixed economic results. The prime minister has moderated inflation and carried out important reforms, but growth remains slow and many Indians are pessimistic about their financial situation. With elections coming next April and several external threats on the horizon, a second term for Narendra Modi is in doubt.
Sino-Indian relations after the Wuhan summit
In late April, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an “informal summit” during which they reached a tacit understanding to turn down the heat on their countries’ contentious relationship. Both leaders have many more urgent issues on their plates, and need room to maneuver. But without any concrete steps taken to solve the Asian giants’ big disagreements, renewed confrontation is only a matter of time.
India’s growing influence in the Middle East
India has recently elevated its relationships with the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Iran, increasing its influence in the Middle East. But New Delhi has always preferred keeping the explosive region at arm’s length by dealing with only a few bilateral relationships. The Middle East’s shifting dynamics may make that strategy very difficult to maintain.
Can India bank on its banks?
As the ratio of nonperforming assets in India’s banking sector rises, there have been loud calls for reform. The condition of loan portfolios at state-controlled banks is now so parlous that it is choking off the availability of new credit and forcing the government into ever more ambitious recapitalization schemes. But for all the smoke and noise, substantive change has been elusive.
A free and open Indo-Pacific: Regional and global implications
One of the techniques devised for managing China’s ascent and its destabilizing impact is the concept of a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” This idea, embraced by the governments of Japan, India and the United States, includes military, economic, political, legal and diplomatic dimensions. Some argue it is a smoke screen to mask U.S. disengagement, while others maintain it is a Japanese-inspired effort to enlist American help.
India’s stake in the Afghanistan conflict
India is happy that the United States has recommitted to fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Keeping them out of power will limit the influence of India’s longtime rival, Pakistan. But the U.S. commitment is tenuous, and President Donald Trump is a known skeptic of the war. Russian and Iranian support for the Taliban complicate the issue. India will therefore continue to support the government in Kabul through aid and diplomacy, without getting militarily involved.
India and the Middle East: energy at the heart of new strategic partnerships
Over the past 15 years, India has elevated many of its relationships with countries in the Middle East to “strategic partnerships.” But how much substance is there to that moniker? Energy is the driving force behind the phenomenon: Indian demand for fossil fuels is rising sharply, while Middle Eastern countries want to shore up their positions in a crucial market. Beyond that, there is little that is “strategic” about these ties, and the interests of energy buyers and sellers are not necessarily aligned.
As Indian agriculture expands, farmers and reform prospects suffer
India’s food output has nearly quadrupled over the past 50 years, but farm households – more than half the country’s population – are in some ways worse off. Rural distress is weighing on the country’s politics and eroding the government’s political base. If India wants to follow the path of the Asian tigers, it should start where they did: agricultural reform.