India–European Union relations
|Delegation of the European Union to India, New Delhi||Mission to the European Union, Brussels|
|Ambassador João Gomes Cravinho||Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri|
The Republic of India maintains an ongoing dialogue with the supranational Institutions of the European Union which is separate from the bilateral relations with sovereign member States of the European Union.
In Asia, the positive public perception of Europe is highest in India.
India, the world's most populous democracy, has strong and effective strategic partnerships with France, UK and Germany.
The foremost areas of programmed India-EU-28 cooperation are in the domains of education & cultural exchanges, joint-research in science & technologies and law-enforcement.
- 1 Bilateral ties with European sovereign nation-States
- 2 EU28-India institutional relationship
- 3 EU-India cooperation
- 4 Trade & Investment
- 5 Background & Context
- 5.1 Current state of affairs
- 5.2 India
- 5.2.1 Country Profile
- 5.2.2 Transformative reemergence
- 5.2.3 Strategic relationships
- 5.2.4 Asian pivot to Asia
- 5.2.5 2014 Indian General Elections
- 5.2.6 BJP-led NDA government
- 5.3 Europe
- 5.4 Public Perceptions
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Bilateral ties with European sovereign nation-States
Policy determinants & Qualitative comparative analysis criterion
Two World Wars (WW1 & WW2) followed by the United Nations-mandated decolonization process dramatically reduced the sphere of influence of European colonial powers in the Asia-Pacific region. The Cold War fixated the attention of Europeans to the North Atlantic region, with occasional forays into sub-Saharan Africa undertaken essentially to protect commercial rights over raw-materials.
The turn of the century stock-market collapse (2000 Dot-com bubble) and military engagements (2001 Afghan expedition & 2003 Iraq invasion) initiated a downward trend for the European Union's socio-political project. The 2008 Russo-Georgian War and the 2009 European sovereign debt crisis, following the 2007 US subprime mortgage market meltdown, derailed the academically theorized narrative about European identity, regional stability, political unity, inclusive growth and shared development.
The 2013 Ukrainian crisis and the 2014 Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation unsettled the Baltic states and revived Cold War-era fears in former Warsaw Pact countries. European public-opinion is against the engagement of armed-forces in external conflict zones  and against military involvement to aid any other NATO member state who is under attack.
The capacity of geopolitically insignificant European countries to unduly influence policy choices of the European Union is problematic. Countries with small foreign-affairs bureaucracies are obliged to prioritize bilateral relations with the EU-3 countries (where clear and fast political leadership can be expected) so as not loose time over multilateral EU-28 discussions (which are lengthy and often end in unsatisfying compromises) in a rapidly transforming world. With less than a 1000 career diplomats, staffing is a weak spot of Indian diplomacy.
"The EU is not and never will be a superpower" because the EU lacks "the substance of superpowers" due to shortcomings in the EU foreign & military policy according to David Miliband, the former UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, who explained the requirements: "reach [and] possess the capacity to arrive quickly anywhere with troops that can impose their government's will".
The future demographics of Europe is most favourable to France and UK where the fertility rate are closest to the replacement level. The econometrics of an aging Europe point to serious socio-economic issues for Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland in the years ahead. Initiatives to offset population shrinkage through selective immigration schemes has faced hostile public and political sentiment.
The processes of technology transition & human capital capacity-building initiated in India during the 1960s started bearing its fruits in the mid-1990 and dove-tailed neatly with the adoption of economic reforms rendered inevitable after the end of the Cold War. Reduced venture capital facilities forced educated entrepreneurs to leverage intra-familial/neighbourhood angel investors to create technology start-ups right from the beginning of the digital Revolution, many of which have matured into niche/sectoral leaders (Biocon, Reddy Labs, Sun-Ranbaxy, Dishman, Wipro, Infosys, Larsen & Toubro, Welspun, Suzlon, Vedanta, Reliance). Prudent opening-up of the Indian economy has allowed long established domestic business conglomerates (Tata, Mahindra, Birla, Bajaj, Kirloskar, Godrej, TVS, Essar) to select optimums in production–possibilities in preparation for competition in the domestic markets from global heavy-weights. Trend analysis of key economic indices and benchmarks (Purchasing power parity, Gross national income, Gross domestic product, Debt-to-GDP ratio, Foreign-exchange reserves, Balance of payments, Balance of trade, Inflation, Knowledge Economic Index, International Innovation Index) correlates to the shrinking knowledge, technology and digital divide which separates heavily populated emerging countries from advanced economies. India has already bridged critical technologies, made advances in frontier technologies, built-up strategic assets and achieved the critical mass of skilled human capital necessary for its knowledge economy and information society to drive domestic growth and ensure strategic autonomy in all domains. An increasingly wealthy and skilled Indian middle-class is emerging from the vast demographic reserve which coupled with a cultural affinity for education in science and the arts assure the expansion of intellectual, economic and geopolitical assets.
The EU-3, is the troika of countries who wield the most influence within the European Union: France, UK & Germany.
France and Britain, both veto wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council and nuclear-armed members of NATO, are the only European countries with built-up capacity to influence global security issues. External relations of the European Union on geopolitical matters are subject to foreign policies adopted in Paris and London. France and UK are established global geopolitical powers and recognized as such in Asia.
Germany, which has the largest economy in Europe, is the biggest contributor to the budget of the European Union thereby allowing Berlin an important say in the day-to-day working of the Institutions of the European Union. German socioeconomic fabric is overdependent on export-driven growth whose life-lines are linked to the increasingly fragile European project and currently shifting global power-centers. Germany is an established Europe-centric economic player and viewed as an European geoeconomic power in Asia.
- FRANCE: The Republic of India's first ever strategic partnership was signed in 1998 with France. The strategic partnership has profited from sustained political investments made at the senior-most levels of decision making. Science & technology cooperation, deep-rooted cultural ties, and a historically francophile literary & fine-arts community in India has provided solid foundations for the strategic relationship. Indian business executives perceive French language as a significant business-facilitating factor in many strategic markets located in Africa (1.1 billion population in 2013 is expected to double to 2.4 billion by 2050) and South-east Asia. The global reach and complete autonomy of the compact French Force de dissuasion resonates well within Indian strategic circles. Voting patterns of France & Russia in the UN Security Council (UNSC) on matters of core interest to India has endeared both countries as all-weather friends of India. The only two civilian populated remote regions of the European Union geographically located in the Indian Ocean region are the French overseas departments of Réunion and Mayotte. Huge Franco-Indian diaspora on the island of Réunion and the island's location in the Indian Ocean has positioned France in an advantageous situation to leverage the Neighbourhood first policy and Indian Ocean outreach priorities which were announced by the government of Narendra Modi. France is a P5 veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC).
- UNITED KINGDOM: India-UK strategic relationship is hugely driven by commerce & trade, shared history and the Indian diaspora in the UK. The 1.3 million British Indian diaspora, representing 1.8% of the UK population, ensures representation of Indian interests in UK politics. Continuity in India-UK relations is compelled by business imperatives and British nostalgia for a bygone era where the sun never sets. Both India and the UK are influential members of the Commonwealth of Nations. India now has more people who speak or understand English language than any other country in the world. The legacy and dynamics of a colonial past, the British Raj, acts like a double-edged sword serving both as an asset and an inconvenient reminder in bilateral relations. Broken promises by the British government of Indian independence after World War One, the creation of contentious international borders which divided peoples (Partition of Bengal) and contiguous geographies (Partition of Punjab) and the exploitative nature of British colonial policies (Indian contribution to the global economy fell from 20% to 2% during the British rule), are the most conspicuous legacy of British imperial rule. India maintains that the Koh-i-Noor diamond was taken away illegally from India and that artefacts which were removed during colonial times should be returned. British presence in the Indian Ocean suffers from the combined effect of diminished blue-water capabilities of the Royal Navy and contested sovereignty over British territories in the Indian Ocean. The Chagos Archipelago sovereignty dispute with Mauritius, revelations of deceit and ongoing investigations into human rights violations caused by the forced eviction of Chagossians from the British Indian Ocean Territory by the United Kingdom, allegations of US Government extraordinary rendition and Black Sites on Diego Garcia and historic support among Asian countries for the decolonization process; render the islands unsuitable as a commercial launch-pad into Indian Ocean trade. United Kingdom is a P5 veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) albeit constrained by strategic subservience to the USA via the UK-US 'special relationship' and restrained by domestic politics (On 29 August 2013 a motion for military intervention in the Syrian civil war was defeated 285-272 in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom).
- GERMANY: Indo-German ties are transactional. The strategic relationship with Germany suffers from sustained anti-Asian sentiment, institutionalized discrimination against minority groups, and xenophobic incidents against Indians in Germany. The 2007 Mügeln mob attack on Indians and the 2015 Leipzig University internship controversy has clouded the predominantly commercial-oriented relationship between the two countries. Stiff competition between foreign manufactured goods within the Indian market has seen machine-tools, automotive parts and medical supplies from German Mittelstand ceding ground to high-technology imports manufactured by companies located in ASEAN & BRICS countries. The India-Germany strategic relationship is limited by the insignificance of German geopolitical influence in Asian affairs. Germany has no strategic footprint in Asia. Euroscepticism regarding the migration of national sovereignty to Institutions of the European Union in Brussels, where Germany increasingly controls the corridors of power, and the seemingly endless hardships caused by tough German-backed austerity measures has led to large public-protests in against 'diktat' of the ECB-EU-IMF troika. Germany's bid for a seat in a reformed United Nations Security Council faces several daunting obstacles: unforgotten memories from Germany's Nazi-era, Europe-wide unease over the resurgence of far-right movements in Germany (PEGIDA), frosty relationship with Russia, and defiant counter-proposals from the European members of the Coffee Club on concerns of European balance of power.
The EU-3 when joined by Italy form the EU-4 who with the addition of Poland and Spain form the EU Group of Six. The EU-4 each have a 8.4% share of votes within the Council of the European Union (Poland and Spain have 7.8% share of votes).
- ITALY: Indo-Italian relations although historically cordial have gone into a steep downward trend to the point of becoming publicly contentious. In recent times, the state of India-Italy bilateral relations have mirrored the political fortunes of Sonia Maino-Gandhi, the Italian born leader of the Indian National Congress and who was the de facto leader of the UPA government of Manmohan Singh. The relationship continues to be polluted by investigations for impropriety in defense deals involving Italy and legal wranglings after the killing of two Indian fishermen by Italian Navy Marines where-in Italy has sought international arbitration on jurisdiction and immunity. The fragile state of the Italian economy (severely shaken by the European sovereign-debt crisis when PIGS economies needed Bailout support) has significantly eroded Italy's influence in the Mediterranean Basin.
- POLAND: India had cordial relations with Poland both before and after the end of the Cold War. Strong economic growth has led to the rise of Polish political and economic influence within Europe. Poland is one of the principal destinations for FDI in Europe by Indian countries. Indo-Polish trade and technological cooperation are driving factors of the bilateral relationship.
- SPAIN: Bilateral relations between India and Spain is mostly focused towards trade. Spain is a joint-venture partner with France in building 6 Kalvari-class submarines (export version of Franco-Hispanic DCN-Navantia Scorpène-class submarine) in India.
On 23 February 2015, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) published a paper  summarizing the current status of engagement with the European Union, listing India's national priorities, stating its core interests and outlining the direction and contours for the future EU-India relationship:
- Safeguarding India’s territorial integrity, its economic & trade interests, nurturing its civilisational heritage and enhancing its strategic space;
- Creating conditions in our immediate neighbourhood so as to facilitate channelizing a large part of our resources to health, education, environment and other vital social areas;
- Developing our international political relationships to extend our interests in ever widening concentric circles, thus enabling the full harnessing of our political, economic and technical resources.
In May 2015, the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Gen.(Rtd)V.K.Singh, opined : “It’s been an interesting year for the MEA. The increased emphasis on our immediate neighbourhood was long overdue. Most importantly, I think the one message that has gone out to our own people is that Indian lives, wherever they may be, are of paramount importance. I also like to believe our missions and embassies across the globe are far more accessible to our own people than they were before. We live in a changing world where the challenges are endless. MEA is the face of this new India for the rest of the world. We have excellent people fully committed to looking after our interests in every corner of the world. The message to all Indians should be loud and clear – we are always there to look after their interests. The foreign policy has been tweaked to further the interests of India.”
Underscoring the importance of challenges faced by India, Rao Inderjit Singh, the Indian Minister of State for Defence explained: "New concepts like food security, energy security, water security, information security and security of navigation have emerged in strategic discourse. We have also come to look upon natural disasters and mass epidemics as security threats, as they can often disrupt our lives and societies much more dramatically than even military threats. These new and holistic conceptions of security have led to new forms of security cooperation between nations. Earlier, countries used to secure themselves from traditional military threats by adopting forms of neutrality or by aligning themselves in mutual defence arrangements with other countries. In our age, we have evolved a new form of security cooperation, one that is based on regular, structured dialogue between different nations rather than on formal alliances."
EU28-India institutional relationship
The supranational Institutions of the European Union, in the post-Lisbon Treaty era, are an intergovernmental sui generis political and legal entity. The Institutions of the European Union derive their authority based upon sovereign rights delegated by member states to Brussels. Under international law, sovereign legitimacy resides in the national capitals of the member States of the European Union. The Institutions of the European Union have no sovereign rights to independently conclude international treaties and agreements.
India was one of the first countries to develop relations with supranational Institutions of the European Union. In 1963, India initiated a process of diplomatic dialogue with the European Economic Community (EEC). The Joint Political Statement of 1993 and the 1994 Co-operation Agreement were the foundational agreements for the bilateral partnership. In 2004, India and European Union initiated a “Strategic Dialogue”. A Joint Action Plan was agreed upon in 2005 and updated in 2008. India-EU Joint Statements was published in 2009 and 2012 following the India-European Union Summits.
India and the European Commission initiated negotiations on a Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) in 2007. Seven rounds of negotiations have been completed without reaching a Free Trade Agreement. As of March 2015, negotiations remained deadlocked after failing to resolve differences related to matters such as the levels of permissible FDI, market access, domestic-sourcing obligations in multi-brand retail, manufacture of generic medicines, anti-dumping safeguards, greenhouse gas emissions, civil nuclear energy generation legislation, farming subsidies, replacement of traditional cash-crops with sterile genetically-engineered and patented variants, regulation & safeguards for the financial and insurance sectors, cooperation on tax evasion & money laundering, overseas financing and monitoring of NGOs in India, work visa restrictions, technology transfer restrictions, cooperation on embargoes (Russia & Iran), etc.
In 2014, the European Commission initiated the process of development aid 'graduation' to divert assistance away from India and other emerging and growth-leading economies in order to focus resources on least developed countries.
The heads of State or Government of EU member states have become increasingly assertive in dealing with critical global issues and frequently bypass EU foreign policy structures on matters of national interest, thereby seriously undermining the roles of Brussels-based actors.
The historically low number of top-level visits to India by the principle figure-heads of the European Union (President of the European Council, President of the European Commission and President of the European Parliament) is an indicator of where New Delhi stands within the European Union's priorities.
Ideologically principled statements from the Institutions of the European Union and electorally motivated European Parliament resolutions on inadequacies in minority rights & religious freedom in India, allegations of human-rights violations and differing views on bilateral trade & market access disputes, have collectively led to a frosty relationship between Brussels and New Delhi.
Comparisons of per capita consumption and wastage of food, water and energy, between the European Union and developing countries quickly polarises the discourses on climate change. Air pollution is a topic where citizens within emerging economies (India, China, Indonesia) are themselves demanding that their governments act decisively on issues of air, water & soil quality through industrial pollution control & waste management.
European diplomats and officials find it increasingly difficult to engage in meaningful discussions on the topics of law & order, human-rights and commercial practices due to Europe's shortcomings in the very same areas : concerns regarding the treatment of migrants & asylum seekers, shelving of cases of brutality by law & order officers, human trafficking, opacity regarding enquiries at detention centres and of child abuse (Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre, Catholic Church sexual abuse cases, Marc Dutroux network, Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal), money laundering activities by criminal gangs, half-hearted investigations into participation by several EU-28 countries in the CIA extraordinary rendition programme, inconclusive inquiries into the illegal use of torture by or in the presence of European special forces and intelligence operatives at 'black sites', revelations of mass surveillance programmes which indiscriminately target the private lives of citizens, feeble prosecutions against institutions and individuals responsible for business manipulations and market distortions (price-fixings, ententes, cartels, ratings, statutory labellings and subsidies misuse by oligopolies), unpunished tax avoidance and illegal money laundering activities by European banks, continuation of institutionalized discrimination directed at ethnic groups (Rights of the Roma in the European Union and eviction of Chagossians), employment discriminations against minorities, homophobia, nepotism, etc.,
The import ban of fruits and vegetables from India decided by the European Commission in 2014  and the European Parliament resolution in 2015 on alleged human rights violations by India are examples of recent actions which were unhelpful impediments to the improvement of European Union-India relations. An Indian Intelligence Bureau report  published in 2014 pointed to money-laundering in Europe by terrorist groups and the involvement of European funded NGOs in instigating activism on issues which are of core developmental interest to India.
New Delhi has very limited bandwidth for officials from Brussels - all of whom have important sounding titles but with often dissimilar perspectives on overlapping mandates - asserted the former Canadian diplomat David Malone who bluntly assessed the qualitative effectiveness of elaborately crafted EU-India Joint Action Plans as : "these measures lead mainly to dialogue, commitments to further dialogue, and exploratory committees and working groups, rather than to significant policy measures or economic breakthroughs.". Former French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine echoed the sentiment saying "EU spends too much time issuing well meaning statements rather than dealing with the hard realities of a rough world. The former British High Commissioner to New Delhi, Sir Michael Arthur, warned that the relation with the European Union was already in a state of regress because India very much sees the world in terms of Nation states; a view shared by Shashi Tharoor, presently the Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, who opined that the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the Institutions of the European Union has little added-value to offer India over and above what it can already obtain through bilateral relations with strategic partners in Europe (France and UK continue to be influential geopolitical players as UNSC P5 members and who when joined by Germany form the EU-3 troika which accounts for the bulk of EU-India trade). "The danger is that New Delhi will write Europe off as a charming but irrelevant continent, ideal for a summer holiday but not for serious business." said Tharoor and observed that India-EU relations lack substance and strategic weight on matters of core interest to India. While Europeans complain that India is obsessed with the United States of America, Indians find it difficult to suppress frustration that Europe pays far more attention to authoritarian China than a democratic India.
In Asia, European diplomats are perceived as pretentious and patronizing. European interlocutors are said to appear stuck in the past, oblivious to 21st century Asian geopolitical realities and seemingly ill-trained to understanding Asia. European officials are known to persist with clichéd narratives and complaints that India is under-resourced. Both sides stand accused of arrogance.
Visiting politicians and senior bureaucrats from South Asian countries are known to lack basic sense of finesse while on official representation. Lack of preparation in diplomatic protocol, cultural norms, culinary skills and restroom etiquette makes them prone to committing faux-pas to the embarrassment of their hosts, muted helplessness of embassy staff and amusement of the press-corps. Chinese officials are known to pay attention to their outward appearance and practice their roles/actions which are carefully choreographed before-hand to the minutest detail. In June 2015, an Indian Parliamentary delegation invited to the European Parliament in Brussels included a delegate who wore sports shoes to a meeting with the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz.
EU-India Strategic Dialogue
Contentious trade negotiations between the European Commission and New Delhi, repetitive haranguing on Human Rights issues by the European Parliament, the inability of the European Union to be a credible global security provider or broker, and the impotence of the Institutions of the European Union in shaping geopolitical outcomes are oft cited reasons which have prevented the Strategic Dialogue from maturing to its full potential as a Strategic relationship.
Indian dialogue with Institutions of the European Union is conditioned through the lenses of bilateral strategic relationships with EU-3 countries, state of France–Germany relations, the overall European balance of power, and specific trade opportunities with sovereign member States of the European Union.
Indian Prime-Minister Narendra Modi travelled on official visits to France and Germany in April 2015 for strategic bilateral discussions with French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Earlier plans to meet the new leadership of the Institutions of the European Union in Brussels were cancelled.
Spillovers from national agendas onto EU-India dialogue
Regional power-play during the Cold War era and domestic socio-economic considerations has instilled a sense of paranoia in most Asian countries when it comes to border issues. Fishermen operating in historic fishing grounds frequently have their boats and equipment impounded by maritime agencies from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh for fishing in disputed coastal waters. The smuggling of contraband items (especially arms & ammunition by the banned terrorist organisation LTTE), the 2008 Mumbai attacks by sea-borne terrorists, the appearance of privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) and loosely regulated floating armouries in the Indian Ocean region has made India adopt a rigid stance on matters of maritime security and transport of weapons. Increased militarisation of the Indian Ocean has seen the Government of India reassert jurisdictional control over maritime boundaries and review the operational management of sea-lanes and maritime zones.
- Homicide case against Italian VPD marines: Italy had threatened to leverage its influence within the Institutions of the European Union to impact relations with India over the ongoing legal wranglings regarding the case of two Italian Navy Marines who India holds responsible for shootings which lead to the deaths of two Indian fishermen. Federica Mogherini, who was the Italian foreign minister prior to becoming the EUHRVP and head of the European External Affairs Service (EEAS) told the European Parliament in January 2015 that "it's good for everyone to be fully aware of how much of an impact the unresolved dispute of the two Italian Navy officials can have on relations between the EU and India. It is putting them to the test". Italian MEPs led debates in the European Parliament and obtained a resolution condemning India for alleged human-rights violations of the two Italian Navy marines. The legal squibblings over the fate of the two Italian marines compounded already tense bilateral relations following earlier investigations in Italy which revealed that Finmeccanica had made illegal payments in the procurement of a fleet of 12 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters by the Indian Air Force. The European External Affairs Service (EEAS) decided not respond to repeated Indian queries on dates for the Indian Prime-Minister to visit Brussels. Cesare Onestini, the Political Chargé d'Affaires of the Delegation of the European Union to India said: "No date has been formally proposed to the Indian side."  The European Parliament's Chair for the delegation on relations with India, Geoffrey Van Orden, said: "This (Italian Marines issue) should not be a matter which affects relationship between the EU and India. This (the EU-India relationship) is something far larger and wider platform to unite. That is why we have expressed disappointment that the summit has been postponed,". Van Orden added: “We attach importance to imprisonment of citizens of our member states. (...) We do respect the Indian legal process, but think the case has taken too long and would like to see it expedited. Even so, the European parliament would be very concerned if it had any evidence that the EU-India summit delay had anything to do with the case of the marines.” Vice Chair, Nina Gill cautioned: “I think it would be very regrettable if that (Italian Marines) issue played any part in it,”. Italy's bid to prevent the case coming to trial in India (by involving the Catholic church, proposing blood money to the victims, and actively stalling legal proceedings) appears to have hardened India stance.
- MV Seaman Guard Ohio case: In October 2013, the Indian Coast Guard detained MV Seaman Guard Ohio, a privately-owned maritime security vessel onboard which several former Estonian (and British) military personnel were employed as privately armed marine guards by AdvanFort. Estonian MEPs offered support to Italy on the case of the Italian Navy Marines as a mark of European solidarity and also to raise awareness about 14 Estonian citizens who are yet to be fully cleared of maritime trespassing, illegal floating armory, and weapons related charges.
- Aid to insurgent groups and NGOs: India has repeatedly criticized the European Union for failing to curb political and financial activities of militant groups which figure on the lists of banned organisations of the United Nations and Government of India. Lobbying activities by NGOs at the European Parliament and public statements from MEPs partial to the cause of militant movements (Kashmir insurgency, Naxalite–Maoist insurgency, Insurgency in Northeast India) is a recurrent cause of concern to Indian authorities. The UPA government of Manmohan Singh initiated a clampdown on aid agencies and human-rights groups to curtail financial support for civil disobedience activities which are detrimental to the development agenda of India. The NDA government of Narendra Modi enforced strict oversight into the disbursement of overseas financing received by domestic NGOs. WikiLeaks revelations that Western intelligence agencies have used foreign aid workers and staff at NGOs as non-official cover prompted the Government of India to step-up the monitoring of satellite phones and movement of personnel working for humanitarian relief organisations and development aid agencies in the vicinity of sensitive locations. India deported a foreign national of ethnic Indian origin on the grounds of OCI-PIO visa violations for conducting unauthorised research on the issue of human-rights abuses.
- Purulia arms drop: An unauthorised air-drop of weapons from an Ukrainian registered Antonov An-26 aircraft in the state of West Bengal on 17 December 1995, which involved a Yorkshire based arms trading company, resulted in the Government of India pressing charges against European citizens from Denmark, Latvia and the UK. The Purulia arms drop incident strained relations between India and Denmark.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is contributing towards augmenting ESA Galileo satellite navigation system and GPS service in northern Europe by sharing data from the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. ISRO Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle has launched Miniaturized satellites of several European universities and opened payload capacity on Indian CubeSats to European scientific experiments. India has relied on Arianespace for the launch of I-3K-class satellites.
Physicists from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) have participated in experiments at CERN since the 1970s. Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) provided superconducting dipole and quadrupole magnets for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN Meyrin site. The world’s largest magnet, weighing about 50,000 tons, is being designed at BARC and will be part of the CERN Iron Calorimetric (ICAL) detector for trapping atmospheric neutrinos produced by cosmic rays in Earth’s atmosphere.
India is participating in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project by providing one-tenth of the components for gigantesque nuclear facility at Cadarache in France. ITER-India, a specially empowered group within the Institute for Plasma Research is overseeing the in-kind commitments from India to ITER.
Erasmus Mundus Action 2 project of the European Commission organized a partnership between prominent universities in Europe and India.
The inaugural EURAXESS Science slam in India was organized in partnership with the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune on 29 September 2013. The second edition was in partnership with Tata Institute of Fundalental Research (TIFR), Mumbai on 1st Novermeber 2014.
Computer-aided taxonomic identification system of mangrove species of South-East India and Sri Lanka at French Institute of Pondicherry through the ASI@IT&C programme of the European Commission.
The Asia Urbs programme, an initiative of the European Commission, has actively assisted INTACH in heritage conservation activities in Pondicherry.
The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) has a long history of assistance as a donor of relief supplies & financing, project planning & coordination, and the in-field deployment of speciality skill-sets. India and the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) maintain an ongoing dialogue for the delivery of humanitarian relief supplies and assistance during natural disasters (floods, cyclones and earthquakes) and man-made crisis.
European multinational companies are global technology leaders in several niche high-value-creation domains within industry verticals like aviation & aerospace, civil nuclear power, rail transportation, military hardware, life-sciences & medicare, leisure & tourism, textiles & apparels, etc.
Several European universities have vibrant student-exchange and research partnerships with Indian educational institutions. European Commission support for joint research and heritage conservation projects have enjoyed widespread acclaim in India.
The demographics of several Indian cities has led to infrastructure requirements comparable to mid-sized European countries : Kolkata (14.1M) almost the size of the Netherlands, Mumbai (12.6M) to Belgium, Delhi (11M) to Czech Republic, Chennai (8.6M) to Austria and Bengaluru (8.4M) to Switzerland.
India in Europe
Europe is an important destination for Indian students seeking to pursue under-graduate and post-graduate education overseas. United Kingdom is the prime destination for Indian students within the European Union.
Indian fine arts and culture is well received in Europe. India has regularly held cultural events in Europe : L'Année de l'Inde (France 1985), Bombaysers de Lille (France 2006), Europalia India (Belgium 2014).
Europe is popular with Indian tourists. Indian movies filmed in outdoor locations have popularised European  destinations : the Alps, French Riviera and cities like Paris, London, Lyon, Prague, Budapest and Dublin. Indian movies are regular entrants in film festivals in Europe. Bollywood is increasingly represented at the annual Cannes Film Festival. Picturesque European locations have hosted lavish weddings for Indian billionaires.
Indian multinational companies operating in industrial engineering and ICT domains are spreading their markets to cover Europe via both quality-price competition and innovative substitutes.
Europe in India
Iconic brands from companies headquartered in the European Union and which enjoy universal recognition in India include Airbus, Dassault, Bic, Michelin, Saint-Gobain, Sodexo, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, L'Oréal, Decathlon, Montblanc, Renault, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Bosch, Marks & Spencer, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Nokia.
Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Pune have a steadily growing base of European expatriates who have created niche high-value-addition Small and medium-sized enterprises in engineering, biotechnology and ICT sectors as joint ventures with Indian partners. European start-up ventures in ICT technology increasingly use Indian back-offices and development centres during their kick-off phase to maximise seed money. Some European actors have focussed their acting careers on Bollywood movies and by modelling in advertisements for the Indian market. Examples of the more prominent European actess-models in Bollywood are Amy Jackson, Elli Avram, Suzanne Bernert, Claudia Ciesla, Kalki Koechlin, Hazel Crowney, Alice Patten.
Trade & Investment
The Indian economy grew at more than 5% in the last quarter of 2014. IMF economic forecasts for India predicts 6.5 percent growth in the year through March 2017 compared with China’s 6.3 percent in the 12 months through December 2016.
According to the Government of India, trade between India and the EU was $57.25 billion between April and October 2014 and stood at $101.5 billion for the fiscal period of 2014-2015.
The European Union is India's second largest trading bloc, accounting for around 20% of Indian trade (Gulf Cooperation Council is the largest trading bloc with almost $160 billion in total trade). India was the European Unions 8th largest trading partner in 2010. EU-India trade grew from €28.6 billion in 2003 to €72.7 billion in 2013.
France, Germany and UK collectively represent the major part of EU-India trade. Annual trade in commercial services tripled from €5.2billion in 2002 to €17.9 billion in 2010. Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands are the other more prominent European Union countries who trade with India.
Annual EU investment in India more than tripled between 2003 and 2010: going from €759million in 2003 to €3 billion in 2010. (Note: Remittances to India by the Indian diaspora world-wide was US$70 billion in 2013-14).
Jaguar Land Rover, the iconic British multinational car manufacturer was purchased in 2008 by the Indian conglomerate Tata Group. Several Indian-owned companies have value-creating operations and manufacturing facilities within the European Union : BeNeLux (Crompton Greaves, Binani Industries, Tata Consultancy Services, Jet Airways, Dishman Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals), Poland (Videocon & Zensar Technologies), Czech Republic (Infosys), United Kingdom (Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Tata Motors), Sweden (Tech Mahindra), Germany (Biocon), Italy (Mahindra & Mahindra), Romania (Wipro).
Background & Context
Determinants which influence relations between Europe and India.
Current state of affairs
- Commerce and Industry: Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman declared that EU-India negotiations for a FTA will neither include tariff commitments on auto-parts nor the liberalization of multi-brand retail and legal services. India has adopted an unwavering stance on stated positions pertaining to the free movement of skilled workers, sectoral caps on work visas, status as a 'data-secure nation' and intellectual property rights.
- Atomic Energy Commission of India: Ratan Kumar Sinha, the Secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy and also Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India disclosed that India has applied for associate membership of premier research institute CERN after clearance from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
- Ministry of External Affairs: The Government of India has sent a proposal to Germany conditioning the reinstatement of German-language as an additional subject in Kendriya Vidyalaya public schools in India to reciprocal introduction of Sanskrit or any modern Indian language in schools in Germany. "A response is awaited," said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
- Civil Aviation: Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju says trade and commerce are the major relations between India and Germany in the globalised world: "Trade and commerce are the new parameters through which relations between two countries are now judged. India and Germany share a strong trade and commercial link,"
- PMO: Indian Prime-Minister Narendra Modi visited Paris on 10–11 April 2015 for strategic bilateral discussions with French President François Hollande  and thereafter travelled to Berlin for trade & investment discussions with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Narendra Modi jointly opened Hannover trade fair Hannover Messe 2015 on 12 April 2015 along with Angela Merkel. Indian PM reportedly cancelled plans to meet the new leadership of the Institutions of the European Union in Brussels.
- Lok Sabha: A parliamentary delegation led by Sumitra Mahajan, the speaker of the lower-house of the Indian parliament Lok Sabha, was received by the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, in Brussels. The visit aims to strengthen bilateral parliamentary ties between the European Union and India.
- BTIA: Indian ambassador to the EU, Belgium and Luxembourg Manjeev Singh Puri commented on EU-India FTA negotiations saying :“The Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) has to be a win-win for both sides. Europe has development on their side. We have demography and so it has to be a two-way process,” (...) “The ball is in their court. We have been told that the EU team is busy with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US.”
- EC: Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, admitted that the image and the influence of the EU stands to suffer due to the sovereign debt crisis in Greece. Commenting on the Greek referendum, he said: “In one night, Europe suffered a major blow, and goodwill was flown to the wind.”
- CONSILIUM: European Council president Donald Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker have formally invited Indian Prime-Minister Narendra Modi to attend an India-EU summit in Brussels. The summit is expected to be held in November 2015 either before or after the 2015 G-20 summit which Modi will be attending in Antalya, Turkey on 14&15 November.
- EC & EEAS: Signalling reassertion by France over European diplomacy and security matters, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker appointed Michel Barnier, the former EU Internal Market Commissioner, as his special advisor on defence and security. Juncker stated that Barnier's role will be to advise the European Commission and particularly the EUHRVP Federica Mogherini on important defence and security issues. Barnier's appointment comes on the heels of the nomination of senior French diplomat Alain Le Roy as the new Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS or EAS).
- EUROPARL: European Parliament resolution on alleged human rights violations by India on the issue of European Union citizens detained in India on maritime weapons-related cases (reference made to the Italian Marines shooting incident which caused the deaths of two Indian fishermen in India's Contiguous Zone and the impounding of an unauthorised floating-armoury MV Seaman Guard Ohio within Indian territorial waters).
- FRANCE@INDIA: French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian heads back to India to finalize the sale of 36 Dassault Rafale aircraft. The visit coincides with the second set of Indo-French naval exercises involving a task-force centred around the Landing Platform Dock FNS Dixmude (a Mistral-class helicopter carrier) whose design is a strong contender for the Indian Navy Multi-Role Support Vessel programme. The French Navy thanked the Indian Navy for recently evacuating European citizens from Yemen and hoped that it could participate in International Fleet Review (IFR) 2016 which will be held off the eastern seaboard of India.
- SWEDEN@INDIA: Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist visits New Delhi to offer its next generation Gripen fighter aircraft and Gotland-class submarines to India under the Make in India programme.
- GERMANY@INDIA: German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen attends “India and Europe: Shared Interests” symposium organized by the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation. Speaking after talks with Prime Minister Modi and defence minister Manohar Parrikar, Ursula von der Leyen expressed German interest for the construction of six Project-75I conventional submarines in an Indian shipyard and upgradation of Dornier aircraft used by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard.
- FRANCE@INDIA: The 14th edition of Indo-French naval exercise Varuna is held off the western seaboard of India. France dispatched the FNS Charles de Gaulle aircraft-carrier battle-group to operate alongside an Indian flotilla centred around aircraft-carrier INS Viraat. French and Indian navies undertook cross-deck air operations. INS Kalvari (S50), the first of 6 Scorpene-class submarines which France is constructing in India, will commence the fitting-out phase.
- EUROPA@INDIA: Ambassador of the European Union to India João Gomes Cravinho will end his assignment in the coming months.
- IRELAND@INDIA: Irish Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, James Reilly, says that Ireland is keen for greater investment in India's education and healthcare sectors. "Investment in Ireland by India is quite sizeable with a substantial number of Irish people employed by Indian companies, which is true the other way round as well. I believe we can grow this. It could be far stronger than what it is and it's strange in a way that it hasn't been stronger considering our ties from the days of our national struggles for independence,"
- GERMANY@INDIA: German ambassador in India forced into damage limitation to Germany-India relations after the disclosure of a growing Europe-wide movement to boycott Indian students is revealed through the Annette Beck-Sickinger internship row at University of Leipzig.
- EUROPA@INDIA: Record air-pollution levels in New Delhi obliges the European Union to take precautionary measures and order its diplomats to install air purifiers in their offices and homes.
- Asia: The IMF debt default by Greece put the entire European project on the front pages of print media across the Indo-Pacific region and raised doubts on Europe emerging as a strong political union. The ongoing eurozone crisis has been viewed in terms of investment and acquisition opportunities  but also as a geopolitical nightmare for Europe.
- China: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will head straight to France after he attends the 2015 EU-China Summit in Brussels. France being the only EU-3 country on Li Keqiang's itinerary, raises significant questions regarding the long-term sustainability of Germany as the economic power-house of the European Union, besides laying bare the consequences of military draw-down of the UK in the Asia-Pacific. The visit comes against the backdrop of an increasingly embattled German-piloted European project where opposing political currents has pitched grass-roots populism by the citizenry against the power-groups of yesteryears (bankers, big business and traditional political parties). Even with slower economic growth (7% in Q1_2015), China's foreign exchange reserves of almost $4tn ($3899bn in december 2014) place it in a position to continue to out-finance and out-spend everyone else. China's 6-year average of annual pledged overseas assistance $174bn (U.S. foreign economic assistance in 2012 amounted to $37 billion, including aid for economic development, international narcotics control, international refugees, and children's survival programs).
- UK: Revelations that the former UPA government had negotiated a secret pact with UK authorities to deprive political opponents of travel documents and that the present BJP government intervened to have the decisions reversed creates a media storm in New Delhi.
- RIC-BRICS: Participating legislators from BRICS held their first parliamentary forum in Moscow and agreed to begin exploring the possibility of creating an inter-parliamentary assembly. Speaker of the Russian parliament, Sergey Naryshkin, had earlier called upon the Russia-India-China (RIC) troika for parliamentary cooperation towards "ensuring international and regional stability and security" through the setting up of a BRICS inter-parliamentary forum.
- China: Chinese State Councillor and Special Representative on India-China boundary talks, Yang Jiechi, concludes his visit to India after meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India and China agree to ensure peace and tranquillity on the border as a pre-requisite for improvements in bilateral relations.
- Russia: India-Russia to increase high-level interactions with visits to Russia by President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Apart from traditional consultations on BRICS and SCO matters, the other topics which have been raised in recent times include logistical infrastructure for trade through the North–South Transport Corridor and trade facilitation through Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
- Delhi Elections: The Delhi Legislative Assembly election saw the surprise reversal of political fortunes for the BJP. Key to the electoral rout were the rejection of non-consensual reorganization of state-level political hierarchy and of Kiran Bedi by the local cadres who either abstained or transferred their votes to AAP. The election has been viewed by political observers as proof of rising expectations at the grass-root level of India's urban electorate which in turn lays the foundation for a win at the electoral ballot box. Indian National Congress failed to win a single seat.
- World Bank: Indian GDP crossed $2tn in 2014 and has now reached 2.067tn according to the World Bank.
- Energy: Nigeria displaces Saudi Arabia as the top oil exporter to both India and China.
- Eurozone & EU-28: Greece orders the closure of banks and imposes capital controls. Global markets are buffeted by the Greek government-debt crisis which has focussed renewed attention on the monetary future of the Eurozone, the state of the economies of European countries and a re-assessment of the consequences of continued fragility of political unity within the EU-28 member states.
- AIIB: On 29 June 2015, a group of 57 countries (including India and the EU-3 troika comprising France, UK, and Germany) signed the articles of association which determines the AIIB's initial capital and accepting the distribution of voting shares within the institution. The Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei announced that the AIIB could start functioning before the end of 2015. US and Japan are the most prominent absentees of the AIIB.
- EAEU: Indian Embassy in Russia announces that a free trade pact with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) would be signed at the St.Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF-2015). Vietnam, Iran, Egypt and Israel have ongoing negotiations for free trade agreements with the EAEU.
- China: New freight train increases rail connectivity between China and Western Europe. The Harbin to Hamburg 15-day train journey will add to over-land freight capacity and increase transportation redundancy. China is already moving freight by rail to Europe from Chongqing, Chengdu, Changsha, Hefei, Yiwu and Suzhou. Expectations that deeper economic relationship with Europe will lead to China becoming a responsible stakeholder in global governance is complemented by observations that China is progressively moving sea-based trade with Europe to land-based alternatives.
- USA: US President Barack Obama announces that the process to obtain L-1B work visas for corporate executives will be made easier : "this could benefit hundreds of thousands of non-immigrant workers and their employers, that in turn, will benefit our entire economy and spur additional investment,"
- NDB & CRA: Indian Cabinet ratifies participation in the New Development Bank (NDB) and the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA). NDB is expected to offer credible alternatives to the World Bank and IMF in providing financing for infrastructure development projects in developing countries. The CRA will create a foreign-exchange currency pool which member States can access to offset speculative fluctuations. The five BRICS have a combined population of 3 billion and GDP of $16 trillion which equate to 41% of global population and 20% of the world’s GDP.
- East Africa: New Delhi launches the Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA) project to boost trade and investment between Indian and East African businesses in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda through growth in key sectors under the Duty Free Quota Free programme of the WTO for Least Developed Countries (LDC).
- Tax Avoidance: The Income Tax Department of Government of India has made a whistle-blower reward offer to former HSBC employee Herve Falciani to obtain lists of overseas accounts of Indian assessees in a bid to track black money and crackdown on tax avoidance.
- IMF: Christine Lagarde, chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), speaking in New Delhi says: “Today, the elements are all aligned to make India a global powerhouse. This is India’s moment. (...) In this cloudy global horizon, India is a bright spot.” According to the IMF, India’s GDP is expected to grow 7.2% in 2014-2015 and 7.5% in 2015-16. IMF predicts that India will surpass the combined GDPs of Japan & Germany by 2019.
- OECD: Indian GDP forecast for 2015 increased to 7.7%. China GDP forecast set at 7.0% in 2015. India, according to the OECD, is expected to overtake China as the fastest-growing major economy in 2015-16.
- AIIB: EU three countries (France, United Kingdom & Germany) have joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) of which India is a founding member. A Bank of America Merrill Lynch report says that China could direct part of its foreign-exchange reserves ($3.89tn) and sovereign wealth fund ($1.46tn) on real commercial projects instead of recycling US dollars via US treasuries.
Defense & Security
- NSG: China undermines Indian accession to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) through continued insistence for a consensus on the issue of admissibility of “non-NPT nations”
- MTCR: India is expected to apply for membership to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) with the backing of the USA.
- UK: 21 Indian and 2 British infantry men are injured during joint military exercises at Westdown Camp, in Wiltshire following a collision between three military troop carriers in Salisbury Plain near Stonehenge. Air Ambulance services evacuated 2 in " life-threatening condition" while 8 "seriously-injured casualties" were driven to Salisbury District Hospital.
- India-Myanmar border: India retaliated to the killing of 20 security forces personnel in Chandel district of Manipur state by launching helicopter-borne raids into Myanmar to strike insurgent rebel groups and target infrastructure. Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh clarified that the military operation had the consent of Myanmar authorities and was not a 'hot pursuit'. Signalling a change of policy wherein India will strike back in the event of cross-border infiltrations and terrorist attacks, Information Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore stated: "Attacks on Indians are not acceptable. This is also a message to our neighbours who shelter terrorists,".
- USA: US Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter toured the Indian Navy’s eastern command HQ at Visakhapatnam prior to flying on to New Delhi to sign the renewal of a 10-year defence framework agreement. Commenting on India he said: “India is not only rising economically and militarily, but is also a regional security provider,” before adding that “Jet engines, aircraft carrier technology are big projects that we’re working very hard on to blaze a trail for things to come.”
- Singapore: Speaking at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2015, EUHRVP Federica Mogherini requested Asian countries to view the European Union in different terms than just transactional business relations : "So please, please don't look at us just as a big free trade area: the European Union is also a foreign policy community, a security and defence provider (...) We want to be engaged in Asia; we want to partner with Asia;" The EUHRVP endorsed the Atlanticism suggestion from the German Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen (“We partly gave up national sovereignty but we gained way more political and economic power for that.”) that Asian states follow the European model of common defense and security; even as NATO is facing its toughest challenges yet, the Eurozone primed and poised for a financial fire-storm (burden of sovereign debt repayments in the PIGS countries), and populist support for Eurosceptic political parties on the rise within member States of the European Union.
- YEMEN: India evacuates citizens of 23 countries including USA, France, UK, Germany and Japan from war-torn Yemen.
- SCO: Russia to ensure that India's full membership to Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is expedited at 2015 summit.
Statistical SWOT data useful to understanding India.
Total population: 1.271 billion which equates to one-sixth (17.5%) of the world's population
Median age of the population is 25.1 years. 29.1% are aged less than 15 years  with over 50% aged under 25 years and 65% below the age of 35. 158 million are within the age group of 0–6 years.
13 million new job seekers enter the labour market each year
45,000 doctors graduate in India annually according to Medical Council of India. 360,000 engineers graduate annually from universities and institutes recognised by the All India Council for Technical Education of which about 35 per cent were computer-science engineering students.
The Indian middle class was estimated to be 50 million persons (reckoning vehicle owners only) in 2007, by McKinsey & Company. According to Deutsche Research the estimates are nearly 300 million people for all Middle Class.
Majority of Indians live outside urban population centers. At the 2001 census 72.2% of the population lived in about 638,000 villages and the remaining 27.8% lived in more than 5,100 towns and over 380 urban agglomerations.
Languages: 22 languages are recognized as official languages. In India, there are 216 languages with more than 10,000 native speakers.
India is a noisy democracy with incessant and rumbustious activism. The ever growing availability of internet access, participative social-media journalism, a myriad of radio & television stations and massive print media has led to a culture where political debate has become an integral part of Indian society. Indians, while conscious of their colonial past as subjects of the Mughal Empire and European powers thereafter, are rapidly discarding contemporary ideas about India's place in the world. Indians take pride in their country's past history, the primacy of democratic structures of governance and the ongoing developmental progress.
The shaping of Indian development along traditional societal values was prompted by the persistence of economic turmoil in Western countries which laid bare intellectual fault-lines of uncontrolled capitalism and the destructive nature of unrestricted consumerism.
The Republic of India is an Asian leader in its own right and has been unwilling to subordinate itself to anyone else. While India aspires to achieve geopolitical and commercial parity with China, it has at the same time been unwilling to align its national interests to serve global or regional powers.
India is not part of any military alliance. In 2012, the Attorney-General of India informed the Supreme Court that the Government, following a well-settled principle of State policy, steadfastly refuses to enter into any SOFA-like military treaty or alliance with other countries.
Strategic assets under the purview of the Indian Nuclear Command Authority provide a credible second-strike capability beyond strengthening land borders and securing unrestrained access to air/sea lanes of communications.
Bulk of global maritime trade passes through two sea lines of communication choke-points which are close to India : Six Degree Channel adjacent to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands dominates the entrance to the Strait of Malacca and Nine Degree Channel located between Lakshadweep Islands and the Indian mainland sees the passage of nearly all merchant shipping between Europe, the Middle-East and Western Asia which face the western seaboard of India with South-East Asia and the Far-East which lie to the eastern seaboard.
India has over 30 strategic relationships and include the European Union, ASEAN, Russia, China, Brazil, South Africa, Japan, South Korea, France, United Kingdom, Germany, USA, Iran, Israel, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Nigeria, Mauritius, Seychelles, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Indonesia and Australia.
In November 2011, The Foundation for National Security Research in New Delhi published India’s Strategic Partners: A Comparative Assessment and ranked India’s top strategic partners with a score out of 90 points : Russia (62) comes out on top, followed by the United States of America (58), France (51), UK (41), Germany (37), and Japan (34).
Substantial Indian diaspora in Nepal (14.7% of Nepalis), Myanmar, Malaysia (8.7% of Malaysians), Fiji, Mauritius (68.3% of local population are of Indian origin), United Arab Emirates (30% of the UAE population), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain (19% of Bahrainis) and Oman (17.5% of Omani population) gives India strategic leverage in the Indian Ocean region. Narendra Modi has signalled that he values the Indian diaspora. The BJP government has asserted that it will react decisively, using instruments of foreign policy (diplomacy and military power projection), if the well-being of the citizens or the overseas diaspora is adversely affected.
The Government of India has intervened overseas at times of humanitarian crisis (2015 Operation Maitri in Nepal, 2014 Operation Neer in Maldives) and to assist Indian diaspora and citizens of neighbouring countries in conflict zones (2015 Operation Raahat in Yemen, 2011 Operation Safe Homecoming in Libya, 2006 Operation Sukoon in Lebanon and 1990 evacuation of Indians from Iraq-Kuwait).
The 4,056 km (2520 mi) long disputed land border between India and China, called the Line of Actual Control (LAC), is an important factor in Sino-Indian relations.
Regional geopolitics, energy security considerations, absence of United Nations consent for sanctions and a divergence of perspectives (regarding the Atlanticist-driven expansion of European Union & NATO) have conditioned Indian participation on the sanctions regime against two of India's foremost strategic partners: Russia and Iran.
Asian pivot to Asia
India views the ongoing global power shift  from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean as an opportunity to lift billions of persons out of extreme poverty and a March to Modernity. Indians, observing the Chinese geopolitical ascension, have concluded the their country can only be taken seriously in 21st.century world affairs if it can speak from a position of economic strength. Investors and companies have been encouraged to tap the aspirations of the 1.2 billion strong Indian market for goods & services and profit from Indian Ocean trade through the Make in India initiative launched by the Government of India. The challenge facing India is to successfully leverage the country's youth dividend towards achieving the Indian Century  and to avoid hubris that India's economic growth is inevitable.
Several Indo-Pacific regional powers, no longer content with peripheral influence in global discussions, are seeking a radical reordering of the post-WWII global hierarchy of power. The consensual view in Asia is that America will continue to remain relevant in world affairs for the foreseeable future, but already no longer enjoys uncontested supremacy. Reflecting upon the extent to which the stakes have risen in the contest for a place at the global high table, US President Barack Obama implored Americans to "win the future by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world". Relentless efforts by American think-tanks and government officials to reassure alliance partners about American primacy in global affairs flies in the face of a steady stream of setbacks and challenges from Central Europe right through to the Indo-Pacific region (EU nations joining the AIIB, Russian annexation of Crimea, dismemberment of Ukraine, redrawing of colonial borders by loosely affiliated non-State entities, Iran nuclear negotiations, forceful assertion on maritime claims by China).
The European Union, still reeling from the combined effects of the global economic slowdown, European sovereign debt crisis and a re-assertive Russia is trying to find a solution to reverse the surge of Euroscepticism. Apart from trade, maritime escort duties against pirates and symbolic military exercises, European countries have little else to show in the Indo-Pacific region due to budgetary constraints.
Perpetuation of State borders in the Eurasian continent, which contain several hotly contested demarcation lines which date back from the European Colonial period in Asia (Nine-dotted line, Sykes–Picot Agreement, Durand Line, McMahon Line, Radcliffe Line); appear increasingly elastic in the face of geopolitical, socio-economic and technological transformations.
The primacy of Western-led post-World War II supranational institutions and Bretton Woods system in shaping the outcomes of Asian affairs is no longer a given. Asian countries have not forgotten their colonial past and bitter lessons learnt from the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The BRICS are committed to building a multipolar world order and have agreed to coordination on core interests of individual members. Western sanctions against Russia prompted China to conclude a $400 billion energy accord, effectively neutralizing efforts to drain Russian finances. BRICS are wooing investors with the allure of best potential for economic growth. Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), North–South Transport Corridor, Asian Highway Network, New Eurasian Land Bridge and Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) has received increased attention at Track-2 initiatives of the RIC (Russia, India & China) countries.
Muscle flexing by China on the Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control (LAC) against the backdrop of prominent displays of military might (live test of an ASAT weapon in 2007 by China in response to a 1985 satellite-kill by the USA) and challenges (the Hainan Island incident where the President of the USA was forced to apologise to China to ensure the safe return of the crew of a US Navy intelligence gathering aircraft which was intercepted by PLAN fighter planes) has rekindled an arms race in the Asia-Pacific region.
India has staked a claim to playing a central role in the Asian Century  by embarking upon a programme to modernise and diversify assets of the Strategic Forces Command, raise the profile of the Andamans and Nicobar Command (ANC), and renew civilizational ties with regional countries. India has prioritized the strengthening of strategic partnerships - with Russia, Vietnam, Japan, Singapore & Iran - in order to offset and forestall an irrecoverable shift in strategic balance of power in Asia emanating from a resurgent China seeking to advance its One Belt, One Road initiative. Agreements to install ocean surveillance capabilities in Madagascar, Fiji, Seychelles (Assumption Island), Mauritius (Agaléga) & Maldives seeks to shelter India's strategic interests and diaspora. India's national security planners have sought to consolidate India's presence in countries which are key to China's One Road, One Belt with special focus on Oman, Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The tendency of Indians to get carried away by lofty rhetoric when it comes to China prompted Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, to advise unwavering attention to the improvement of societal aspirations and caution against over-reach : "it is in India's interest to bide its time, remain calm, not get distracted by geopolitics and instead focus on core strengths. India has the advantage, even on China, because of a young population. Put aside the border for now, engage China, take advantage of their competencies".
The scale and speed of economic development in the Asia-Pacific region, in both absolute and relative terms, has profoundly shaken public self-confidence in Western countries and stunned observers. In 2014, Asia-Pacific (+29%) accumulated wealth faster than Europe (+6.6%) and North America (+5.6%). However, America leads in absolute numbers with $370,000 (including life and pension assets) per household and Europe follows with $220,000.
Recent developments indicate that while India and China are increasingly competing on geopolitical matters, the two countries are simultaneously willing to bridge differences and cooperate on trade.
China-India driven economic growth, fresh opportunities to develop new geographical zones due to improved Sino-Indian relations, observed collateral consequences on local populations & economies caused by recent US-led military interventions in Iraq & Afghanistan, conspicuous absence of the US President at the APEC Indonesia 2013 summit due to the United States federal government shutdown of 2013, budgetary constraints of the US military, improvements in anti-access area denial (A2/AD) capabilities by littoral States to counter maritime power projection assets, limitations in the US air-sea battle doctrine, risks of conflict escalation, historic intra-regional rivalries, the fact that post-WWII American interventions in major conflicts in Asia have not been victorious (stalemate in the Korean peninsula, Vietnam debacle, ineffectual US-led COIN operations in Afghanistan) and the unconvincing US pivot to Asia, dissolved the appetite amongst Asian countries to support a US-led China containment policy. US economic, political and military dominance is in relative decline compared to emerging powers. American capacity to shape global outcomes (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine) has been ineffectual. Re-balancing by regional powers has allowed several Asian microstates and LDCs to extract significant economic advantages and concessions while staying on the sidelines of regional power-play. Asian countries increasingly view the US primarily as a market for manufactured goods and as a highly capable provider of security infrastructure.
The 2015-2016 Indian budget foresees co-development of manufacturing hubs in Southeast Asian countries. In March 2015, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj announced that India's 2015 target for trade with ASEAN is $100 billion and both sides are aiming to double it to $200 billion by 2022. India has accelerated initiatives to resolve insurgency in Northeast India to promote economic development within the Seven Sister States.
The improvement and optimization of inter-Asian trade through future mega infrastructure projects, like the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor and Thai Kra Isthmus Canal, are increasing seen as viable and vital to the continuation of economic integration of regional markets. In May 2014, India announced prioritization of Asian Highway Network regional cross-border connectivity programmes like the Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project with Myanmar and the Trilateral India-Myanmar-Thailand Friendship Highway to Thailand.
Inadequate representation in global security and governance architectures has led India to complement traditional international forums such as the United Nations Security Council, World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization (WTO) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) with special interest groupings such as BRIC/BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), East Asia Summit (EAS), Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), Indian-Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation (BCIM) and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
India aspires to an incontournable role in the Asian pivot to Asia. Between 2004 and 2014 Western think-tanks, especially in the US and UK, failed to pick-up on tell-tale signs of impending transformations to the Indian political scene : swings in electoral voting patterns in rural areas (60% of India's 1.2billion population live outside urban population centers), large-scale nationwide citizen-led protests around specific societal agendas (anti-corruption, right to information), and rapid changes in priorities of the growing middle-class electorate. The association of improvements in basic education, vibrant & unrestricted mass media journalism, penchant for political debate in Indian society, and the huge increase in Indians working and studying abroad has changed how Indians perceive themselves in the global arena in general and Asia in particular.
Academics have raised concerns about the relaxed institutional attitude in the West to rapid metamorphosis in Asia. In 2010, John Doggett of McCombs School of Business, University of Texas issued a wake-up call: "China and India are beating us at our own game". Highlighting the ”inability to keep pace with the transformations” in Asia by Western countries, Michael Kugelman - South and Southeast Asia expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center - advocated a change in mind-set and the necessity for Western countries to make their presence felt in India. Explaining the need for a review of available expertise on India centric matters, Jakob De Roover of University of Ghent in Belgium opined: "India and the West could together look for solutions to the problems that we share. Instead, Western commentators reproduce old colonial stories about India as an immoral culture. This gives them a twisted relationship to the Indian people. On the one hand, they keep turning towards the same class of Indian journalists, activists, and intellectuals for ‘local knowledge’. But these native informants merely talk the talk of the West to the West."
Asian regional powers are unwilling to forfeit any notion of an independent foreign policy and thereby become a tool in the global exercise of power. Speaking at the 2015 Shangri-La Dialogue, the Indian Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh postulated that Asian countries will increasingly attend to their national security and internal markets through structured dialogue within Asian multilateral structures like ASEAN and SCO rather than be over-reliant on formal alliances with external powers. Recent rebalancing and alliance-building activities in the Indo-Pacific region have demonstrated that Asian states are unwilling to settle for a Western-dominated global order and blindly asquise an American-led construct of geopolitical frameworks, rules-based trade and mobility mechanisms which do not adequately address the interests of Asian countries. The majority of Asian states have had autocratic leaders who curtailed civil liberties and imposed restrictions on democratic institutions within their countries. Asian populations have accommodated authoritarian leaders (Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore being a classic example), showing preference for stable economic development and progressive reduction of wealth-gap, over principled stands on human-rights and the promotion of democracy. The non-Western rational of Asian diplomacy in the post-Colonial era appears to balance nationalist aspirations, developmental opportunities, shared cultural roots and historical legacies.
The appointment in January 2015 of former Indian Ambassador to the US, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, as Foreign Secretary  seeks to reassure Western countries about Indian strategic intentions in Asia. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is the father of Dhruva Jaishankar - a German Marshall Fund (GMF) Transtlantic Fellow in Washington.
2014 Indian General Elections
The 2014 Indian General Elections, a monstrous affair with 815 million registered voters (66,38% turnout); 8230 candidates; 543 electoral constituencies; 11 million election personnel, saw the political emergence of the upwardly mobile 20-something generation (close to half of the 1.25 billion Indian population is aged under 25-years), record numbers of first-time voters, greater participation by women, extensive use of Social media, the fading importance of caste-politics and erosion of hereditary vote-banks.
Whilst sustainable economic growth and fight against corruption were the main topics of concern to the Indian electorate, other concerns which influenced voters were cross-border insurgencies, freedom & rights of minorities and media, access to basic health-care & medicines, education infrastructure & skills development, food security, land-use & ownership, environment management & pollution control, fishing rights & maritime security, fresh-water management, availability and price of fuel & energy security and maritime security. The elections transformed the Indian political landscape by ushering in a Government whose electoral manifesto promised a corruption-free growth-centric economic revival.
India Against Corruption protests led by Anna Hazare in 2011 and 2012, prompted the BJP and AAP to adopt good governance as the basis for their election campaign and prepared the platform for investigations into allegations of corruption, hoarding of black money and tax avoidance by multinational corporations or high-net-worth individuals (HNWI). Netizens orchestrated a name and shame campaign of corrupt officials within government departments using internet based tools such as the popular whistle-blower anti-graft website IPaidABribe.com.
A series of ghastly sexual crimes (including the highly publicised Nirbhaya case) affected collective conscience. The failure to prosecute politically connected individuals in criminal cases eroded public trust in the judicial system.
BJP promised to crack down on the notoriously work-shy civil servants, scrutinize links between bureaucrats and business houses & corporations, curb perks of top bureaucrats, punish officials misusing public property & privileges (red beacons on personal vehicles, free-memberships to recreational clubs, free-tickets to commercial events, assigning government staff for private work, etc.), and link careers of government employees to job attendance and performance. Foreign study tours by bureaucrats and ministers is to become linked to concrete outcomes.
Long-term economic and labor policy towards sustaining the self-employed livelihoods of millions of small land-owning/-holding cash crop farmers and small family-run convenience stores against unequal competition and financial subservience to business conglomerates in the FMCG, multi-brand retail and agrochemical sector became a major focus area during the election campaign. Political parties have increasingly become sensitive to civil uprisings in rural electoral constituencies where State and Central government policies have failed to tackle widespread bureaucratic corruption, stem farmers' suicides and lower debt bondage.
Trust in the UPA government nose-dived in the aftermath of the 2010 Wikileaks Cablegate disclosures which exposed the depth of US access and links to senior Indian bureaucrats and politicians (with instances mentioning children and close relatives who live in the USA or work for American companies). The 2013 Edward Snowden whistle-blower campaign laid-bare the extent of US government surveillance assets and capabilities targeting India.
Italian-born Sonia Maino-Gandhi the matriarch of the Nehru–Gandhi family, a polarizing figure-head and the de facto head of the UPA coalition Governments of Manmohan Singh till 2014, is facing a leadership succession crisis within the Indian National Congress (INC) party. Regional and State-level allies of the INC who were UPA coalition partners, sensing the mood of the people, have disassociated themselves from Rahul Gandhi. Entrance into politics by Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra is fraught with uncertainty due to ongoing investigations into business dealings brokered by her husband Robert Vadra. The INC, after dominating Indian politics for most of the post-Indian independence period, faces an uncertain future. The political elimination of dynastic heirs from prominent political families who have dominated Indian politics for decades (Palaniappan Chidambaram, Salman Khurshid, Oscar Fernandes, Sachin Pilot) has resulted in the advent of a new breed of Indian politicians who feel no obligation to stick to traditional approaches and constraints in domestic and foreign relations. Shashi Tharoor is weighed down by an ongoing investigations into the unnatural death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar.
Boycott of Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat between 2001 and till the Bharatiya Janata Party victory in the 2014 Indian General Elections following which he was appointed as the Prime-Minister of India in 2014.
In the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots, Western diplomats in India held Narendra Modi complicit for administrative inaction. European diplomats as well as visiting European Union politicians and officials refused to meet Narendra Modi from 2003 till the 2012 announcement by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that it could find no “prosecutable evidence” against Modi. The Indian Supreme Court cleared Narendra Modi of all responsibility for the riots.
During the 10-year long boycott of Narendra Modi by the European Union and USA, the Chief Minister built-up foreign investment and trade relations with China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Between 2001 and 2014, Gujarat forged ahead on all economic indicators with double-digit industrial growth and saw Narendra Modi re-elected 4 times as Chief Minister of Gujarat . One of the world’s leading news magazines TIME, in its 26 March 2012 edition, had Narendra Modi on its cover page with a story titled "Modi Means Business".
BJP-led NDA government
The BJP-led NDA coalition government has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) but is weak in the Rajya Sabha (upper house of parliament). The BJP government announced a roadmap of improvements to implement electoral promises and make India more attractive to overseas investors and entrepreneurs.
From the time of assuming the leadership of India, Narendra Modi has managed to keep the radical Hindutva fringe of the BJP party under control and forestall any damage to his legacy by as Prime-Minister of India caused due to religious or minority related strife.
Narendra Modi initiated Mann Ki Baat a monthly radio address and revamped the website of the PMO to allow for direct interaction with the Prime Minister  and encourage citizens to participate actively in improving the nation.
In May 2015, the NDA government published a progress report of its first year in office. While public endorsement for the conduct of foreign relations by NDA government and the raising of India's stature in the world has been widespread, opinions are evenly divided on the scope, pace and results of economic reforms. The weakest areas, where the government has the least to show in terms of improvements, are in the domains of law & order and human rights (log-jammed judicial system, brutality & abuse of detainees by police & security forces, human trafficking & illegal trade of organs, crackdown on sexual & hate crimes, and gender equality).
The biggest challenge to the current BJP-led NDA government comes not from the decimated Indian National Congress party, but instead from the young Indian electorate who expect that the Modi government deliver on his 2014 electoral campaign promise : Achhe din anne wale hain (English: Good days are coming).
On a personal level, Narendra Modi's vanity could lead to his undoing with the domestic electorate and overseas interlocutors and has led to highly visible 'own goals' : the notorious name-bearing Modi suit worn during Obama's visit to India, obsessive use selfies on social media which borders on spamming, propensity to claim ownership of existing programmes and ideas through re-branding, etc.
Human capital development
Narendra Modi reached out to the diaspora to reverse the brain drain of intellectuals and promising students. Overseas Indians file more patents in their country of residence than in India. Thomas Friedman, in his recent book, The World is Flat, explains this trend in terms of brain drain, whereby the best and brightest elements in India emigrate to the U.S. in order to seek better financial opportunities. A joint study by Duke University and UC Berkeley revealed that Indian immigrants to the US have founded more engineering and technology companies from 1995 to 2005 than immigrants from the UK, China, Taiwan and Japan combined. A 1999 study by AnnaLee Saxenian reported that a third of Silicon Valley scientists and engineers were immigrants and that Indians are the second largest group of Asian-born engineers (23%) following the Chinese (51%). Her research showed that in 1998, seven percent of high-technology firms in Silicon Valley were led by Indian CEOs. A recent study shows that 23% of Indian business school graduates take a job in United States. The UNDP estimates that India loses $2 billion a year because of the emigration of computer experts to the U.S. Indian students going abroad for their higher studies cost India a foreign exchange outflow of $10 billion annually.
Immediately after his ascension as Prime Minister of India, Modi told a gathering of the most senior civil service bureaucrats that their careers and advancements are linked to their abilities to demonstrate leadership attributes within their ministries and successfully implement government policies. Narendra Modi consolidated his grip over the Cabinet Secretariat which runs the Indian bureaucratic system by keeping key portfolios within the purview of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and thereby making it the nerve-center of the BJP government.
Expressing unhappiness over the pace and scope of bureaucratic reforms, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) disbanded the Planning Commission, sidelined under-performing officials through bureaucratic reshuffles and unceremoniously curtailed the careers of several senior-most bureaucrats including Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and Director General of DRDO Avinash Chander.
Economic & trade policies
Presenting the Union Budget of India for 2014–2015, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that the government would pass legislation to crack banking secrecy in foreign tax havens and verify discordances in the lifestyle of government officials against their known and declared sources of income. Emphasis was laid on the creation of value-addition and employment opportunities at the level of Micro and Small Scale Enterprises in India.
Narendra Modi, known for thinking out of the box on foreign policy issues, had cultivated relations with the overseas Indian diaspora and engaged the leadership of China when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014. A Neighbourhood first policy which included a significant refocus on Sino-Indian relations with the view of a rapprochement was announced during the Swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi on 26 May 2014. In August 2014, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj unveiled the Act East policy as the continuum to the Look East policy. India aspires to be a “leading power, not just a balancing power” explained Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, reflecting on the importance of bordering States by saying “you cannot be a leading power if your neighbourhood is not with you, you need it to root for you.”
Modi set into motion a process to renew  and rebalance foreign relations depending upon India's national interests and 21st century realities. The recalibration of relations is based upon emerging opportunities for cooperation in a multi-polar world where India has better representation  and also in the ability of individual countries to participate in the Post-2015 Development Agenda through delivering economic growth in India.
The PMO of Narendra Modi overhauled the MEA in order to transform Indian diplomacy from a reactive bureaucracy to a proactive & entrepreneurial mind-set along the models of JETRO (Japan) and KOTRA (South Korea). Officers posted to Indian Missions overseas were ordered to act as force multipliers for the Indian economy by focusing on issues like identifying of market opportunities, foreign trade promotion & facilitation for Indian companies, overseas acquisition of energy supplies, securing raw-materials for domestic manufacturing industries and safeguarding multi-modal air-sea-land trading routes. In June 2015, the government announced that it intends to build capacity at the MEA through recruitment from academic circles and the private sector.
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Challenges to the European project
The European project is in a state of flux with ever increasing risks of political Balkanization. Economic decline has led to growing Euroscepticism, the rise of Xenophobia, and electoral challenges to the devolution of power from sovereign Member states of the European Union to Institutions of the European Union. Greek & Cypriot governments openly court Russia in defiance of Brussels.
Future of the European Union is increasingly reliant on the unity of the Franco-German leadership couple and the willingness of the EU-3 to undertake radical political reforms. Global geopolitical distractions had resulted in UK and France momentarily stepping back and allowing Germany to pilot the European project. Germany resists the idea of sovereign debt mutualisation between Eurozone members. The Ukrainian crisis outlined the limits of German military clout in Europe. The European sovereign debt crisis exposed strong citizen-level resistance in many EU member states to Germany's economic vision for Europe. France, UK, Italy, Spain and Poland are in no mood to transfer any more sovereign powers to the Institutions of the European Union. While the EU-3 continue to be gridlocked over their competing and increasingly divergent visions for Europe, the bureaucracy in Brussels has lurched from one crisis to the next without purposeful direction.
Free movement of citizens within European countries and the assurance of peace and stability were the two calling cards which endeared the European vision till the mid 2000s. European project was supposed to provide improvements in quality of life for European youth. However, the reality of everyday life in the post-enlargement European Union is one where the supranational federalist European project has failed to meet the aspirations of old and new members alike. Mounting public perception that strategic decisions taken in Brussels by both the EU institutions and NATO (Enlargement of the European Union & NATO) into the Russian sphere of influence) are responsible for the many crisis that face Europe.
Management of post Soviet-era security tensions in bordering States (Ukraine, Georgia and Balkan States) has exposed deep-rooted structural weaknesses of European Union institutions. European Union response on matters ranging from exodus of refugees from Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, participation in NATO-led interventions, action against non-State entities (Islamic State & Al-Qaeda), etc. suffers from differing priorities of 28 European Union member States. Decision taking by Brussels-based European stake-holders is cumbersome and severely limited due to intra-EU politics and the obsession with Byzantine Community method consensus-based decision making procedures. Public disenchantment with the political outcomes of recent military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya has emptied political support for accrued European Union involvement in the Syrian and Ukrainian crisis. Further strengthening of European Union sanctions regime against Russia faces internal dissent from several EU member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Finland). A 2015 Pew Research survey indicated that Europeans are by and large not favourable to a military deployment by their country under the terms of NATO Article 5 to protect a fellow member country which comes under attack.
Institutional reform of the European Union, European sovereign debt crisis management, uncertainties linked to the future of UK membership within the European Union, questions regarding the long-term viability of the EURO currency, an increasing resistance to Schengen Agreement related migratory movements within EU, growing discontent with German-led austerity measures, rise of anti-EU political movements in key member-States with large populations (UK, France, Spain & Italy), negative public perception with the Brussels Elite  and virulent exasperation on golden parachutes (Herman Van Rompuy, Tony Blair, Catherine Ashton) are among the more pressing issues for the current European Union leadership.
The multiplication of titular representatives (List of presidents of the institutions of the European Union) for the position of President of the European Union gives rise to perceptions of mission overlap, wastage and redundancy; reinforcing public perceptions that tax-payer money is wasted on an over-blotted and financially opaque organization staffed by over-paid politicians and arrogant civil-servants which has lost touch with ground realities and aspirations of citizens.
Political decisions taken to handle the European sovereign debt crisis has led to the premature end of several European national governments and influenced the outcome of many elections. European citizens cite the lack of leadership from top-level European politicians and the inability of the traditional political parties to renew themselves in terms of both ideas and persons, as reasons driving them towards new political groupings. Current European Union figure-head politicians (Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk & Martin Schultz) themselves played central roles in political decision-making bodies which were instrumental in creating the ongoing political and economic mess.
European elections have provided very public demonstrations of the inability of European politicians and bureaucrats to effectively engage their citizens and communicate their vision of Europe. European leaders appear to be constantly fire-fighting telescoping crisis leading to the perception that the European project will suffer a death by a thousand cuts. In November 2014, the European Union executive leadership (Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker, and Federica Mogherini ) announced a last-chance effort to save the European Union from disintegration: A new START for EUROPE.
Structural economic woes
Several EU member-states are in economic decline in both relative and absolute terms leading to a de facto Multi-speed Europe. Persistence of low economic growth and increased cost of living have affected the level of disposable incomes and domestic debt-to-savings ratios. Globalization has brought increased competition in both internal and export markets for companies based within the European Union. Re-localization of manufacturing infrastructure by multinational corporations (MNCs) to low-cost countries has led to de-industrialisation. The reduction of human intervention through automation of production and logistics processes has reduced employment opportunities. Emerging economies are multiplying innovation launch-pads through the development of specialized centres of excellence for knowledge addition. Differing taxation regimes within the European Union have led to aggressive tax optimization and avoidance by conglomerates and small and medium-sized enterprises. Unbalanced demographics has resulted in extension of the retirement age, pressure on pension systems, and accelerated rural depopulation. Increasing skill-erosion of the employable workforce due to technology evolutions is impacting all segments of value-addition. Stiff competition for market-access and ever-growing difficulties to retain market-shares in the global arena is impacting businesses who are unable to afford the sustained capital investment requirements for continuous product development, quicker time-to-market and superior customer management. Constraints linked to continuous skills-development and latencies in transforming legacy processes, technologies and infrastructure have had a direct impact on employment and market opportunities.
- European sovereign debt crisis: The European sovereign debt crisis left several European countries requiring to be bailed out by institutional lenders. China assisted Europe by buying billions of euros' worth of junk Eurozone bonds; in particular from Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Greece received $18bn worth of Chinese investments in 2014 (China already has a 70% stake in the Piraeus cargo sea-port, the third-busiest in Greece). Expressing dismay about the far-reaching geopolitical implications of Greece leaving the Eurozone, Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European studies at Oxford University, warned how the Grexit («Greece exit») will be perceived elsewhere: “EU can’t get its act together.” adding that it would be a “huge blow for the EU particularly in the eyes of the outside world: China, India, Russia, and the U.S., not to mention closer neighbors. (...) and termed the German-inspired policy prescriptions as deeply flawed and possibly unachievable by Greece “even with the best political will in the world.” Paul Krugman, a Nobel economics winner, stated that he was troubled by the actions of the troika to use economics as a weapon to force a regime change in Greece. Fellow Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz squarely faulted the troika for imposing upon Greece an "unconscionable torture of the present".
Digital Agenda for Europe
Close to a million jobs are expected to lie vacant in Europe by 2020 due to a lack of technological skills, according to the European Commission which warns that Europe is not graduating enough IT specialists to keep up with demand. Flagging the importance of tailoring education in Europe to skills requirements at every point of the value-addition Smiling curve, the European Commission adopted the Europe 2020 programme and initiated the implementation of the Digital Agenda for Europe.
Highlighting the social implications of the global competition for intellectual capital, rapid improvements in technology assimilation, dominance of Asian countries in Lights out semiconductor foundries and ICT sectors and the massive demographic advantage which enables developing countries to move up the technology ladder and bridge existing technology gaps; Thomas Friedman reflected on the changing times in Western societies saying : "my parents used to say to me: Finish your dinner -- people in China are starving. I, by contrast, find myself wanting to say : Finish your homework -- people in China and India are starving for your job."
Schools are refocusing education curricula around STEM sciences and emerging technologies. Schools in the UK are introducing code building right from elementary school (Scratch being the most popular learning tool used to introduce children to software programming). Universities are generalizing the Fab lab concept where continuous project-work in mechatronics amalgamates software coding, electronics, telecommunications and manufacturing technologies. Student interns and junior managers are being encouraged to accumulate experience of living and working in foreign markets to gain a better understanding of inter-cultural differences.
Open-source microcontroller (Arduino) and single-board computer (Raspberry Pi) platforms have kick-started public interest in hackerspaces and initiated a maker culture. Social innovation is expected from cost-effective facilities for 3D printing, laser cutting and CNC machining which are helping home-based entrepreneurs to rapidly prototype crowdsourced products and measure product attractivity through crowdfunding mechanisms.
In Asia, the positive public perception of Europe is highest in India.
- Foreign relations of India
- Foreign relations of the European Union
- France–India relations
- Foreign relations of France
- India–United Kingdom relations
- Foreign relations of the United Kingdom
- Germany–India relations
- Foreign relations of Germany
- India–Russia relations
- India–United States relations
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- List of think tanks in India
- Emerging and growth-leading economies
- G-20 major economies
- G20 developing nations
- BASIC countries
- Potential superpowers
- Non-Aligned Movement
- Indian Armed Forces
- Mutual Perceptions of Asia and Europe in a Changing Global Environment (Asia-Europe Foundation) 2011
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- Indian Ministry for External Affairs
- Indian Mission to the European Union in Brussels
- European Parliament: Delegation for the relations with India
- European External Action Service (EEAS): Delegation to India
- Official newsletter of the European Union Delegation to India