India’s middle class will count a few rupees, bank depositors will get a little security, privatisation enthusiasts will chew on a new player in the market. But other than high-sounding grandiose statements, India’s Budget 2020 has delivered no expectations. This was preordained, of course.
India’s economic slowdown is visible. With a lag of two quarters, so are attempts to reverse it through policy fixes. And the markets that had fallen in the prelude to policy actions or in reaction to anti-entrepreneur economic stances have more than made up in an equal and opposite direction, almost as if Newton’s third law is overseeing India’s capital markets.
Since the trans-Atlantic financial crisis, there has been a consistent focus on giving more voice and vote to emerging powers such as China and India, as well as to developing countries.
The concerted effort of the G20 has therefore resulted in a reform of the International Monetary Fund which has led to a distinct shift in voting powers, especially to China.
Dreaming big doesn’t necessarily mean acting big. Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s maiden Budget speech captures New Delhi’s $5 trillion aspiration by 2025 (that’s one year’s postponement) and delivers some of the minute needed to get there. If you’re looking for ‘big bang reforms’, don’t look for it in Budget 2019.
“India wins yet again!” Narendra Modi announced in May 2019, just after securing a second term as Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy in a landslide general elections victory. When Modi was elected for a first term five years ago, he promised that India would win back its place at the high table of leading world powers. Indeed, after decades of sustained growth, India today is at a tipping point in terms of socio-economic prospects for its 1.35 billion citizens.
India is gripped by an election fever. All elections carry elements of unpredictability but in India’s seventy year history, the 2019 elections are critical. Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 and is seeking another term. The opposition parties are concerned about Modi’s polarising influence and are determined to prevent a BJP victory though they have been unable to put up a united front on account of internal differences.
The pledge to have a “partnership for peace” has fast emerged as a key threshold in India-Japan security relations in recent years. Under the rubric of promoting a “free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific” region, a new assurance of engagement seems to be unfolding with frequent bilateral naval exercises, including dialogues and training between the Coast Guards of the two sides.
The Asia-Pacific has become the Indo-Pacific region as the US, Japan, Australia and India have decided to join forces and scale-up their political, economic and security cooperation. The message coming from Washington, Tokyo, Canberra and New Delhi is clear: China’s Belt and Road Initiative is no longer the only game in town and Beijing’s policymakers better get ready for fierce competition.
Despite the several conflicts that were taking place in and around India, Tamil Nadu in South India has been distantly associated with the threat of jihadism and the global threat of terrorism emanating from contemporary jihadist groups. This has changed over the last twenty-four months or so. The attraction that the on-going civil war in Syria holds for foreign fighters has altered this landscape of relative peace.
In 2011 a now infamous policy paper by the same author labelled the EU-India relationship as “A Loveless Arranged Marriage”. Seven years later, the EU-India strategic partnership has turned into one of the well most functioning of the EU’s strategic partnerships, even far ahead of the faltering EU-US strategic partnership under US President Trump.