India–European Union relations
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|Delegation of the European Union to India, New Delhi||Indian Mission to the European Union, Brussels|
|Ambassador Tomasz Kozlowsk||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 strategic partnerships with France, the United Kingdom 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 EU-India cooperation
- 2 Trade and investment
- 3 Paradigm of emerging markets and global geopolitical reconfiguration
- 4 Bilateral ties with European sovereign nation-states
- 5 EU28-India institutional relationship
- 6 Background & context
- 6.1 Current state of affairs
- 6.2 India
- 6.3 European Union
- 6.4 Public perceptions
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
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. 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 in South Asia.
Erasmus Mundus Action 2 project of the European Commission has 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 Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai on 1 November 2014. The third edition was held on 30 October 2015 at the Alliance française in Bangalore. The 2016 edition will take place on 18 November 2016 in Hyderabad.
Computer-aided taxonomic identification system of mangrove species of South-East India and Sri Lanka at French Institute of Pondicherry received assistance from the ASI@IT&C programme of the European Commission.
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 (IRNSS). 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 relies on Arianespace for the launch of I-3K-class satellites to geosynchronous transfer orbits.
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.
|Metropolitan area||Population (Mn)||Comparable demographics|
|Delhi||42.0||Spain or Poland|
|Mumbai||20.7||Scandinavian countries ( Denmark + Sweden + Norway)|
|Ahmedabad||7.2||Baltic states ( Estonia + Latvia + Lithuania)|
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, waste management, 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.
India ranks amongst the fastest growing healthcare, education, insurance, ICT, logistics, hospitality, transport and public infrastructure markets in the world.
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), Namasté France (France 2016).
Europe is popular with Indian tourists. Indian movies filmed in outdoor locations have popularized European  destinations : the Alps, French Riviera and cities like Paris, London, Lyon, Prague, Budapest, Dublin, Rome and Venice. 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.
Efforts by Indian multinational companies, operating in industrial engineering and ICT domains, to cover European markets via quality-price competition and by providing innovative goods & services substitutes has seen mixed results due to structural shortcomings and regulatory difficulties.
Europe in India
Iconic brands from companies headquartered in the European Union and which enjoy universal recognition in India include Airbus, Alstom, Axa, BNP Paribas, Dassault, Bic, Michelin, Saint-Gobain, Sodexo, Hermès, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, L'Oréal, Chanel, Dior, Decathlon, Lacoste, Montblanc, Renault, Volvo, Philips, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Bosch, Marks & Spencer, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Nokia, Capgemini, Piaggio, Ferrari, Fiat and Gucci.
Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Pune host a steadily growing base of European economic migrants 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 maximize seed money. Some European actors have focused their acting careers on Bollywood movies and by modelling in advertisements for the Indian market. Examples of the more prominent European actress-models in Bollywood are Elli Avram, Suzanne Bernert, Claudia Ciesla, Hazel Crowney, Amy Jackson, Kalki Koechlin, Alice Patten.
Trade and investment
In 2015, the Indian economy grew at 7.5%. The performance of the Indian economy made it the fastest growing large economy on the planet (China registered 6.9% growth).
IMF economic forecasts for India predict 7.3% GDP growth for India in 2015-16 and 7.5%in 2016-17.
The European Union (EU28) 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).
Whilst EU-India trade has continued to progress in absolute terms for the past several decades (aided in part through the inclusion of trade data of new member States in successive waves of Enlargement of the European Union), the past couple of years have shown a decrease in trade: bilateral trade declined to €76 billion in 2012 and further still to around €73 billion in 2013.
2014-15 EU28-India trade data for goods demonstrate that about 16.9% of all Indian exports went into the EU and about 11% of all Indian imports were from the EU.
The European Union's commercial presence in India has been dropping at an alarming rate: market-share in India for goods and services from the European Union has fallen by more than 50% over the past decade. EU-India trade in goods as a percentage of India's total trade has continuously declined going from 26.5% in 1996-97 (EU15) to 13.9% in 2011-12, 13.2% in 2013-14 (EU27) before a slight upturn to 13.3% in 2014-15 (EU28).
France, Germany and UK collectively represent the major part of EU-India trade. Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Spain and Poland are the other more prominent European Union countries who trade with India.
Fiscal incentives in offshore financial centres and low-tax jurisdictions favour the British Crown dependencies, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland as tax-optimizing routes for channelling equity and capital investments into India. Widespread use of favourable double-taxation bilateral treaties and Special purpose entity structures (Structured investment vehicle held Off-balance-sheet) substantially distorts statistical data on business relations between India and individual member States of the EU28.
EuroStat data shows that European FDI to India grew from €1.56 billion in 2004 to a peak of €13.83 billion in 2011 before dropping sharply to €5.48 billion in 2012  and €4.3 billion in 2013. (Note: As a measure of comparison, Remittances to India by the Indian diaspora worldwide was US$72bn for the 2014-2015 fiscal period and US$71bn for 2013-14).
Indian investments into the EU28 were €1.1 billion in 2014-15 and EU28 investments into India was €5.3billion in 2014-15.
Jaguar Land Rover, the iconic British multinational car manufacturer was purchased in 2008 by the Indian conglomerate Tata Group who is the largest private-sector industrial employer in the United Kingdom. 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), France (Bharat Forge), Czech Republic (Infosys), United Kingdom (Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Tata Motors), Sweden (Tech Mahindra), Germany (Biocon), Italy (Mahindra & Mahindra), Romania (Wipro).
Paradigm of emerging markets and global geopolitical reconfiguration
India views the ongoing global power shift  from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean as an opportunity to lift millions of persons out of extreme poverty and a March to Modernity. Indians, observing the Chinese geopolitical ascension, have concluded 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.
India, just as other Indo-Pacific regional powers (Japan, Vietnam & Indonesia), are no longer content with peripheral influence in global discussions. Several countries in the Indo-Pacific region seek a radical reordering of the post-WWII global hierarchy of power. Minor powers have grown enough in self-confidence to form new partnerships in order to further national interests and political goals. 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 power politics 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, clandestine WMD (nuclear weapons & ballistic missiles) developed by Israel & North Korea, stalled Israeli–Palestinian peace process, forceful assertion on maritime claims by China).
The rising political significance of Latino-Hispanic American, African American and Asian American electorates has changed the traditional dynamics of electoral politics in the USA. The US political spectrum has mutated out of its Eurocentric mould and become truly global: influential Asian, African and Hispanic voices have been nominated to senior government and corporate offices; resulting in a reordering of ideas, priorities and strategies.
The European Union - still reeling from the combined effects of the global economic slowdown, European sovereign debt crisis, a re-assertive Russia, European migration crisis and several high-profile corporate scandals - appears rudderless in trying to find solutions to reverse the surge of Euroscepticism, anti-establishment and anti-globalization movements. Uncertainties in Brussels over the future state of the European Union are directly reflected in EU-India relations. India's publicly stated positions on security cooperation with the USA, Russia, Vietnam & Japan, and trade prioritization efforts aimed at ASEAN, Japan and the USA have clearly been at the expense of the European Union. In October 2015, Hans Kundnani a senior fellow of the German Marshall Fund (GMF) observed that Europeans were increasingly "out of sync" with India. Washington's pivot to Asia has exposed intrinsic weaknesses in the Europe Union's foreign (CFSP) and defence (CDSP) policies. US-India strategic entente has moved India closer to the transatlantic perspective of the European Union coming out of Washington. The European Union leadership at Brussels, far from fostering an atmosphere of trust and cooperation, has succumbed to political interference from bilateral relations and allowed lobbyists to drive the EU-India dialogue into irrelevance. In Asia, the effectiveness of Europe's discourse and self-portrayal as a global political norm-setter in doubtful. Acceptance of the European Union as a normative power in a multi-polar world is challenged by emerging powers. Apart from trade, developmental aid, maritime escort duties against pirates and symbolic military exercises; European countries have little else to show in the Indo-Pacific region due to budgetary and geopolitical constraints. Niche high quality-price exports from Europe are steadily being squeezed out of traditional market segments. In India, product substitution of manufactured goods from domestic and regional suppliers, has seen the European Union's market-share drop by more than 50% over the past decade.
|Rank||Country||Total Trade bn US$||Trade Share %|
|3||United Arab Emirates (UAE)||45.4||8.0|
On 7 October 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande made a rare joint address at the European Parliament to recognise the seriousness of the ongoing socio-political turmoil within Europe and warned that the European Union was on the verge of breakdown. Francois Hollande cautioned European member-states to show solidarity in jointly solving common problems both within Europe and in its immediate neighbourhood, failing which "end of Europe" and "total war" could become inevitable. It had been 26 years since the leaders of France and Germany jointly addressed the European Parliament: Francois Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl made a joint appeal for solidarity towards East Germans just weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Controversial actions on migrants, sovereign debt and diesel engine exhaust gas control  by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and Volkswagen respectively have boomeranged out of control and severely compromised Germany's arduous 70-year long image makeover. Europe-wide acceptance of Germany's leadership role of the European Union hangs in the balance after widespread dismay at the rigid political stance adopted by the German government and perceptions that the harsh conditions which Germany sought to impose upon Greece during the Greek sovereign debt crisis were overbearingly punitive. Portrayal of Germany as a normative model of honesty, efficiency and ethics (incessantly repeated by German officials, mass media and private citizens during the Greek sovereign debt crisis) came undone following revelations of fraud at a global level on an industrial scale by Volkswagen. Time Magazine termed the actions of Volkswagen as "superbly engineered deception, with 11 million VW diesel cars fitted with special software that enabled them to cheat on emissions tests.(...) German industry was supposed to be above this sort of thing–or at least too smart to get caught." A reality-check of the geopolitical power of individual members of the G4 nations at the 2015 UN General Assembly and practical aspects of Asian geopolitical compulsions have influenced India's choice to refocus on strategic bilateral engagements with France and UK who are UNSC P5 member States. The inevitability of a security reordering in Eurasia, impending transformation of the political landscape within the European Union due to the unchecked rise of Euroscepticism, fast deteriorating security situation on the Eastern and Southern periphery of the European Union, assertive manoeuvring by Russia & China in their traditional areas of influence, eventuality of alliances to counterbalance and prevent German dominance of Western Europe, and the improbability of Germany acceding to the UNSC have already been factored in by Indian strategic planners.
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. Colour revolutions and the Arab Spring have destabilized the Caucasus and Western Asia respectively setting-off unintended repercussions right across the Eurasian continent: revival of historic rivalries between Turkey (Ottoman Empire) & Iran (Persia), emergence of the Daesh and a proxy war involving regional and global powers. India has been reluctant to get involved in the Middle-Eastern turmoil due to ethnic Persianate roots and historic cultural influence of India's 172 million Muslim population (14.2% of the country's population according to the 2011 census). The Government of India has prohibited Indian nationals from traveling to Syria & Iraq and issued directives allowing police to detain persons suspected of having served as mercenaries.
Dr.Manmohan Singh, India's former Prime Minister, observed that the concurrent geopolitical re-emergence of China and India has initiated a period of "cooperation and competition" in the Indo-Pacific region: "it is an era of transition and consolidation. Inclusive economic growth remains the bedrock of our country's future. Infrastructure, education, development of skills, universal access to healthcare must be at the core of our national policies. Being a strong and diversified economy will provide the basis for India playing a more important global role. Hence the primary focus of India's foreign policy has to remain in the realm of economic diplomacy,". Commenting on the ongoing turmoils in Ukraine, West Asia and North Africa, Dr. Singh observed: "Competing and conflicting interests among Western and regional powers have led these countries to support rebel groups in countries like Iraq and Syria. These rebel groups have joined hands with extremist Jihadist groups to create the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Chaos and civil war have been the bitter harvest of the flawed policies of regime change in Arab countries, leading to unprecedented violence and human suffering, forcing Arab and Afghan refugees to flee in hundreds of thousands to Europe. The impact of these developments on a weak European economy will only add to the doubts about sustained economic recovery in the EU,".
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 having not forgotten their colonial past and bitter lessons learnt from the 1997 Asian financial crisis, are unwilling to negotiate with external powers on matters affecting state sovereignty. 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 across the Indo-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), build strategic petroleum reserves, and renew civilizational ties with regional countries. India has prioritized the strengthening of strategic partnerships - with Russia, Vietnam, Japan, Singapore, Oman & 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 and extend influence in countries which are key to China's One Road, One Belt with special focus on Oman, Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Vietnam. India has increased security dialogues and military exercises with Vietnam, Japan, Australia and USA while concurrently undertaking confidence building measures with China with the aim of maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
The scale and speed of economic development in the Indo-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. US sub-prime credit default related to student debt and auto loans stands unresolved and has been flagged as a significant bubble risk.
The merging of an "economic Asia" - wherein corporations are easily wooed with the pan-Asian win-win logic of cooperation and integration - and a "security Asia" structured upon delicately balanced zero-sum reasoning of competition and disintegration; has presented unique scenario for the future according to Evan Feigenbaum and Robert Manningan: "economic Asia" could become "an engine of global growth", while "security Asia" could, in the worst-case scenario, lead to great power war. 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. Asian countries increasingly view the US primarily as a market for manufactured goods and as a highly capable provider of security infrastructure.
Geopolitical 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. Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, had a word of caution regarding strategic hedging in the regional power-play and pointed to Singapore's proximity to India and China: "Singapore knows it's place in the world".
Asia's emerging economies have enthusiastically embraced clever, innovative, frugal and shrewd market-access strategies to face-up to global competition. 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. Bangladesh and Myanmar, both fast emerging as nodal road and rail connectivity transit routes, have received special attention in India's foreign and trade development policies.
Inadequate representation in global security and governance architectures and the tendency of the G7 to pre-emptively set the agenda for the G20 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), Mekong–Ganga Cooperation (MGC) 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 centres), 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. Proximity to Dubai and Singapore - both immensely popular business and tourism destinations besides hosting huge Indian diaspora - has influenced the imagination of Indians in terms of possibilities for wealth creation through trade & infrastructure development.
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." Western think-tanks have morphed into place-holders for politicians and bureaucrats employing armies of lobbyists instead of analysts who are researchers or academics.
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.
American capacity to shape global outcomes (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine) has been ineffectual. Recent US 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 acquiesce to an American-led construct of geopolitical frameworks, rules-based trade and mobility mechanisms which do not adequately address the interests of Asian countries. Singapore's Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen observed: "By virtue of its economic and military heft, China's leadership role in international affairs is a given. We cannot pretend that China is just like any other major economy. By its actions or lack thereof, China de facto sets norms and even rules for the global system." Stressing the importance of encouraging the acceptance or continuation of universal principles Dr.Ng emphasised: "And it is in everyone's interest to maintain a balance of powers, so that dominant powers would take into account the interests of small and large states.
The rise of authoritarian capitalism has dealt a blow to assumptions that political systems, in the post-Cold War era, will converge as liberal democracies and be shaped along Western values. 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 (Examples: Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia & Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore), showing preference for stable socio-economic development, progressive reduction of wealth-gap and continuation of nuclear family structures over principled stands on human-rights and democracy promotion. Philosophical and religious beliefs play an important role in the acceptance by Asian populations of slow-paced economic growth spanning over several generations at a time when the lives of their Western contemporaries are driven by quarterly financial results and speculative financial markets.
Social engineering of Asian societies along western values of liberalism and individualism has seen mixed results across Asia. In Asia, many aspects of the 'American way of life' and the 'European social model' have been adopted as economic benchmarks concurrent to demands for stricter statutory controls on indecent exposure, public nudity, pornography, etc. "A permanent feature of American opinion and action in foreign policy is the wish, the hope, that other nations might turn from the 'error of their ways' and become democracies," says historian Jacques Barzun and spelt out limitations to democracy promotion: "it cannot be fashioned out of whatever people happen to be around in a given region; it cannot be promoted from outside by strangers; and it may still be impossible when attempted from inside by determined natives." Former US deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns, who heads the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace opined: "Our own preachiness and lecturing tendencies sometimes get in the way, but there is a core to more open democratic systems that has an enduring appeal," (...) "respect for law and pluralism creates more flexible societies, because otherwise it's hard to hold together multi-ethnic, multi-religious societies." India's former finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram identified the fundamental error in US foreign policy: "Believing that there is a U.S.-imposed solution to every problem."
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. Asia's future is powerfully shaped by "History and nationalism, not ideology," according to Nayan Chanda.
Paucity of senior-most bureaucrats from India, China and Russia within Western think-tanks has left Western nations struggling to identify the ever-evolving dynamics of decision-making and fully comprehend Asian perspectives on geopolitical issues; determinants which are fundamental to assessing key trends and anticipating policy shifts. The Government of India through its Official Secrets Act places strict constrains on practitioners of foreign policy and proscribes unauthorised biographies and unvetted publications by serving and retired senior civil servants and defence personnel. The United States diplomatic cables leak damaged careers and reputations and has instilled a sense of reticence within the political and diplomatic establishment to express divergent ideas and opinions or share privileged information.
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.
Bilateral ties with European sovereign nation-states
Policy determinants and comparative assessment criteria
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 maintain control over former colonies and 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 sub-prime mortgage market meltdown, derailed the academically theorized narrative about European identity, regional stability, political unity, inclusive growth and shared development.
A succession of controversial political appointments to the highest offices of the Institutions of the European Union - who have failed to garner favourable public opinion for their vision of the European project and demonstrate leadership required to steer the European project - has resulted in successful electoral challenges to prevent any further devolution of sovereignty from the national parliaments to the Institutions of the European Union in Brussels. European electorates have become deeply suspicious of the democratic deficit, corporate lobbying activities and opacity of political arrangements brokered in Brussels. The transition from authoritarian rule to libertarian democracy has not been fully completed by Eastern European countries and is affecting the elimination of corruption & nepotism, religious & ethnic tolerance, humanitarian solidarity, respect of human rights, etc.
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. Any political solution to the European refugee crisis needs accommodation by Russia and the normalisation of relations between Brussels and Moscow. European public-opinion is against the engagement of armed-forces in combat operations in external conflict zones  and against military involvement to aid any other NATO member state who is under attack.
A disorderly Brexit by the UK from the European Union could have consequences far beyond the European Union.
Referring to ongoing global geopolitical rebalancing and how China and India perceive the European Union, André Sapir opined that the European Union leadership needed to understand its place in the world: "Brussels is not Washington".
"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". Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd opined: "In geopolitical terms Europe is now irrelevant".
With less than a 1000 career diplomats, staffing is the weak spot of Indian diplomacy. In a fast-changing geopolitical context, India's bilateral relations with influential EU countries (where clear and fast political leadership can be expected) are prioritized over multilateral EU-28 discussions (which besides being lengthy, quite often end in unsatisfying compromises).
The future demographics of Europe is most favourable to France where the fertility rate is 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. Northern and Eastern European countries resist immigration and have adopted onerous residency permit requirements to dissuade migrants. Protection of ethnic composition of communities and cultural identity have entered the political discourse.
India is faced with huge challenges to manage its vast population reserve and correctly transition from the burden of overpopulation to empowering Indians to drive domestic growth.  The process 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. Corporate India is increasingly using the public-private partnership model to cater to India's vast public infrastructure requirements.
Cultural affinity for education - with emphasis on sciences & the arts - within the increasingly affluent Indian middle-class and the vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem have enabled sustainable improvements on socioeconomic indicators. Local companies continually leverage India's vast demographic reserve through apprenticeship-based employment and thereby contribute to the expansion of the skilled workforce.
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. Globalisation has demonstrated the dangers of Chinese-style copycatting, exposed the limits of quick-fix jugaad and highlighted the need for indigenous path-breaking innovations. Emerging economies are multiplying innovation launch-pads through the development of specialized centres of excellence for knowledge addition.
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 drive domestic growth.
France and Germany, colloquially referred to as the 'Franco-German couple', are the principal driving force behind the European project. France, Germany, UK & Italy form the EU-4 with each controlling a 8.4% share of votes within the Council of the European Union. The EU-4 with the addition of Spain and Poland who have 7.8% share of votes form the EU-G6. On 23 June 2016 electorate in the UK voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has committed to triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by end of March 2017 and completing the Brexit process to leave the EU within a 2-year time-frame.
The United Kingdom and France, both veto wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and nuclear-weapon States (NWS) as permitted under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), are the only two European Union 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  London and Paris. The United Kingdom and France 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. The rapidly ageing German socio-economic fabric is overdependent on export-driven growth whose life-lines are directly linked to the increasingly contested European project. Assertion of German leadership within the European Union faces stiff opposition to Germany's vision for the European Union in southern and eastern European countries, an ominous unease about a dominant Germany, memories of Germany's Nazi-era legacy which remain unforgotten, and currently shifting global power-centres. Restrictions imposed through the 1990 Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany effectively subordinates Germany to the Four Powers (USA, UK, France & Russia). General consensus within the United Nations that Europe is already over-represented within the UN Security Council is a critical obstacle for Germany's bid to become a permanent member of the UNSC. In Asia, Germany is viewed as an established Europe-centric geoeconomic power. Germany is a geopolitically insignificant entity in Asian power politics.
- FRANCE: The Republic of India's most valuable European relationship is with the Republic of France. In 1998, India's first ever strategic partnership was signed with France. The strategic partnership has profited from sustained political investments made at the senior-most levels of decision making. Wide-ranging science & technology cooperation, robust engagement in defence & security matters, deep-rooted cultural ties, and a historically francophile literary & fine-arts community in India has provided solid foundations for the strategic relationship. 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. Although Paris and New Delhi maintain close ties with the US, both have a tendency to perceive Washington's policies as crassly commercial and nakedly imperialist. United Arab Emirates (UAE) is host to the 13th Demi-Brigade of the French Foreign Legion besides offering logistical facilities for the French military at Air base 104 Al Dhafra and Zayed Port. 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. Significant Franco-Indian diaspora in French overseas territories, especially the Réunionnais of Indian origin on the Indian Ocean island of Réunion, 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. French is the second most popular foreign language in India after English. Indian business executives perceive French language skills as a significant business facilitator in many resource-rich strategic markets located in Africa (whose 1.1 billion population in 2013 is expected to double to 2.4 billion by 2050) and South-east Asia. France is a P5 veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC). French President François Hollande travelled India on 24 January 2016 for a 3-day visit to be the chief guest at the 67th. Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi on 26 January 2016. France is the only country to be invited a record setting 5 times to the highly symbolic national ceremonial event. The 2016 Indian Republic Day parade included the first-ever participation of foreign troops in the march-past. 124 French troops forming a detachment of French Army soldiers from the 35th. Infantry Regiment of the 7th. Armoured Brigade based in Belfort and a ceremonial military band-music contingent based in Lyon marched down Rajpath in New Delhi.
- UNITED KINGDOM: India-UK strategic relationship is hugely driven by commerce & trade, shared history and the Indian diaspora in the UK. The 1.5 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. Historians have noted that during the British Empire, "evangelical influence drove British policy down a path that tended to minimize and denigrate the accomplishments of Indian civilization and to position itself as the negation of the earlier British Indomania that was nourished by belief in Indian wisdom." Broken promises by the British government on 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 (India's contribution to the global economy fell from around 20% to less than 4% during the British administration), 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. United Kingdom's influence in Asia was severely diminished after the end of the British Raj. British military presence in the Indian Ocean suffers from the combined effect of reduced 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). France and Germany have eclipsed the influence of the United Kingdom within Europe (and in the USA). The peer-reviewed Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television published a study into BBC's coverage of South Asian geopolitics and economics from 1947 through 2008 which exposed pervasive Indophobic bias.
- GERMANY: Indo-German ties are transactional. The strategic relationship between Germany and India 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 Volkswagen pollution control scandal drew the spotlight to corrupt behaviour in German boardrooms and brought back memories of the HDW bribery scandal surrounding the procurement of Shishumar-class submarines by the Indian Navy. The India-Germany strategic relationship is limited by the insignificance of German geopolitical influence in Asian affairs. Germany has no strategic footprint in Asia. The alignment of policies of the Institutions of the European Union in Brussels, where Germany increasingly controls the corridors of power, with Germany's vision of Europe and the seemingly endless hardships caused by tough German-backed austerity policies has led to large public-protests against the diktat of the ECB-EU-IMF troika  and drawn sharp criticism from prominent economists and political observers. Germany's bid for a permanent seat in a reformed United Nations Security Council (UNSC) faces several daunting obstacles: unforgotten memories from Germany's Nazi-era, Europe-wide unease over the resurgence of far-right political movements in Germany (AfD, NPD, PEGIDA) alongside an increase in violent attacks against foreigners, continuation of the frosty relationship with Russia, heightened concerns regarding the harsh and rigid political stance adopted by the government of Angela Merkel against Greece in the run-up to the 2015 Greek sovereign debt default, and defiant counter-proposals from the European members of the Coffee Club (Italy, Spain and Malta) on concerns of upsetting the post-WWII European balance of power.
- 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 defence deals involving Italy and legal wrangling on matters of court jurisdiction and sovereign immunity after the killing of two Indian fishermen by Italian Navy Marines. Italian actions to politicise the issue has entrenched India's resolve to refuse a political settlement and pursue the case of the Italian marines to a judicial conclusion. Italy has reportedly resorted to opposing India within the European Union and at multilateral forums: from dampening India's efforts in Brussels to going slow on India's bid to join the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). 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. Italy's foreign and defence policies are guided by the internationally binding Treaty of Peace with Italy, 1947.
- 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. Bilateral Trade between India and Spain in 2015 (January to May) stood at around $3 billion; Spain's exports to India during the given period stood at $1.0 billion and India´s exports to Spain stood at $2.2 billion. Spain is India´s 7th largest trading partner in the European Union. Spain is the 12th largest investor in India with $1.8 billion in FDI, mostly in infrastructure (Isolux Corsan, Grupo San Jose), renewable energy (Gamesa), auto components (Gestamp), water desalination (Abengoa) and single brand retail (Inditex – Zara/Mango) A total of around 200 Spanish companies have subsidiaries, joint ventures, projects or liaison offices and purchase offices in India. 6 Kalvari-class submarines (export version of Franco-Hispanic DCN-Navantia Scorpène-class submarine) are under construction in India, in collaboration with DCNS of France.
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.
Speaking at the 2015 Shangri-La Dialogue, 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."
Acknowledging the changing security paradigm in Asia, the Indian Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh, underscored the importance of national preparedness to efficiently accommodate challenges generated in the management of the global commons: "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."
Delivering a lecture on "State Security, State Craft and Conflict of Values", National Security Adviser Ajit Doval declared: "Power is not as good as you have it, but as good as you can exercise it."
Signalling that global alignment in a multi-polar world had replaced India's traditional Cold War-era foreign policy of non-alignment, Minister of State for Coal, New and Renewable Energy, Piyush Goyal stated: "The shift from 'non-alignment' to 'global alignment' was based on long-term vision and helped India gain greater acceptability in the world," and went on to clarify that India could not afford to remain isolated as a balancing power in a globalized world wherein the country was fast emerging as a leading power.
In a thinly veiled warning to anti-national elements, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Col.(Rtd)Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore put them on notice: "India's enemies should not rest in peace. Govt will do whatever it takes to neutralise nation's enemies"
EU28-India institutional relationship
The European Union, after the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, can be characterized as a transnational 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. Institutions of the European Union have no sovereign rights but may enter into treaties (subject to ratification in national parliaments of EU member states) in those fields where competence has been fully delegated to the European Union. Under international law, sovereign legitimacy resides in the national capitals of the member States of the European Union.
India was one of the first countries to develop relations with predecessors of the European Union. In 1963, India initiated a 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 the 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.
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.
India and the European Commission (with a negotiating mandate from the European Council) initiated negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) called the Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) in 2007. Seven rounds of negotiations have been completed without reaching a Free Trade Agreement. Civil society and public interest groups in India, Brazil and EU countries have objected to the proposed India-European Union FTA. Burak Akçapar, Ambassador of Turkey to India opined that social clauses of the EU-India FTA will cost India $6billion in lost exports.
As of November 2015, trade negotiations remained deadlocked after failing to resolve differences related to matters such as intellectual property rights (IPR), 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.
With reference to the EU-India FTA, professor Rajendra Jain of the Centre for European Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University opined: "The reason that there was no headway in the talks was due to a mismatch of the levels of ambitions and expectations. There has to be a give and take, (...) I think the EU has had a tendency of over negotiating at times. There has to be realism in the negotiations when they resume. It is time to stop looking for a perfect deal."
"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 and Rector of the United Nations University (UNU) David Malone, bluntly assessing 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 India's 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.
A report published in October 2015 by members of the European Council for Foreign Research (ECFR) after a field-trip to meet lawmakers, academics and entrepreneurs in India stated: "The North–South divide pits Europe as a giver of lessons against an India that often will not accept them – an India that can say "No". Add this to India's defensive and anti-interventionist international stance and Europe's increasingly centrifugal trends, and India–Europe relations begin to look like a car crash."
Europe's shortcomings on the topics of law & order, human-rights and commercial practices has diminished the European Union discourse on normative behaviour and practices : concerns expressed by the United Nations regarding the treatment of migrants & asylum seekers, shelving of cases of brutality by law & order officers, human trafficking, instances of racial profiling, opacity regarding enquiries at detention centres and of child abuse (Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre, Catholic Church sexual abuse cases, Marc Dutroux Belgian paedophile trafficking 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 ordinary citizens, feeble prosecutions against institutions and individuals responsible for business manipulations and market distortions (price-fixings, ententes, cartels, valuations, ratings, statutory labellings and subsidies misuse by oligopolies), political complaisance towards assets sheltered by HNWI in fiscal-havens and charities (trusts & foundations), aggressive tax avoidance by corporations through profits transfer pricing arrangements, missing trader VAT fraud, money-laundering through European banks using fake-invoice trade-based techniques, continuation of institutionalized discrimination directed at ethnic groups (Rights of the Roma in the European Union and eviction of Chagossians), employment discrimination against minorities, homophobia, nepotism, etc.,
In 2014 the European Parliament consented to the appointment of Udo Voigt, a far-right MEP from Germany who has been convicted for glorifying the Nazi Party's Waffen SS, to the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.
Several high-profile corporate scandals have exposed failures in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) wherein large conglomerates based within the European Union have manipulated and illegally bypassed health, safety, environmental or financial regulations. The 2013 meat adulteration scandal, Libor fixing scandal and 2008 Siemens bribery scandal are examples of recent scandals involving unethical business practices by European multinational corporations which have inveigled unsuspecting customers. In March 2015, Finnwatch a NGO based in Finland accused Finnish multinational engineering company Wärtsilä of suspect labour practices which included paying workers subsistence minimum wage salaries which are barely enough to live on. Human rights groups and the International Labour Organization have been deeply critical of the use of forced labour provided by the military junta in the construction of the Yadana natural gas pipeline by the French oil giant Total S.A. in Myanmar. In September 2015, US investigators revealed that German car-maker Volkswagen had illegally installed "defeat devices" in vehicles with the aim of cheating pollution control lab tests on cars that in reality emitted between 10 and 40 times the US emissions standard. "Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health," said Cynthia Giles, the assistant administrator for enforcement at US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, head of the Center of Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen said: "This disaster is beyond all expectations,". According to US law firm Hagens Berman who has launched a class-action suit against Volkswagen: "While Volkswagen tells consumers that its diesel cars meet emissions standards, vehicle owners are duped into paying for vehicles that do not meet this standard and unknowingly pay more for quality they never receive,".
India perceives certain aspects of European human rights agenda (social clauses) and some statutory labour requirements or precautionary measures in environmental safety as protectionist non-tariff trade barriers. Recurrent trade restrictions on Indian products decided by the European Commission (around 700 generic medicines were black-listed in 2015 which followed an earlier import ban on fruits and vegetables from India 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.
Comparisons of per capita consumption and wastage of food, water and energy, between the European Union and developing countries quickly polarises the discourses on environment protection and climate change. Pollution control 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 with stricter legislation for industrial waste management and improved norms to tackle hazardous pollutants.
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 social decorum and diplomatic 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
Brussels has little to interest New Delhi because the geopolitical and economic aspects of the consultative dialogue with the Institutions of the European Union are pre-adjudicated through bilateral relations with Washington, Beijing, Moscow, Paris, London and Berlin. On global security issues, French and UK foreign and defence clout easily outranks the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).
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.
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 undermining the roles of Brussels-based actors.
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.
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.
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.
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 an independent global security provider or credible 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.
Fredrik Erixon, who has advised the British & Swedish governments as also the World Bank, explains that difficult trade talks are the visible part of a much wider chasm separating European Union (EU) and Asian governments: "the problems are far more about institutions and regulations than about tariffs." Ericson opines that Asia and Europe are by and large politically insulated from each other: "Europe has no real influence on Asia's political direction, being neither an inspiration nor an irritation.(...) It is not much different the other way around either, and Asia or individual Asian governments do not command much influence in Europe." 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.
A study prepared in June 2015 for the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs painted a bleak outlook for the EU-India relationship in the absence of still-elusive course corrections: "An EU-India summit is not likely to happen in the short term. Moreover, extraordinary political solutions are now needed to break the deadlock, restart trade negotiations and develop strategic cooperation in security matters. Strong political and strategic understanding together with cooperation built between India and major EU Member States is not being translated at EU level. (...) Somehow, there is also a perception in India that bilateral ties with large Member States are much more important than EU-India ties and policy makers focus, therefore, on major Member States rather than the EU."
Juxtaposition of the Greek sovereign debt default, mass-exodus migration crisis within the Schengen free-movement area, deft geopolitical manoeuvring by a resurgent Russia, and high-profile cases of corporate fraud have severely dented European Union's standing in the world and raised questions about Europe's ability to manage problems at home.
Spillovers from national agendas onto EU-India dialogue
Historic rivalries, regional alignments during the Cold War era and domestic socio-economic considerations have 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 militias and separatist outfits), 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. While India has consistently endorsed the freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace, it has demanded improvements in the management of legitimate air/sea traffic and stricter monitoring of vessels flying a flag of convenience.
- 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's 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 were sentenced to judicial custody on maritime trespassing, illegal floating armoury, and weapons related charges.
- Purulia arms drop: An unauthorised air-drop of weapons from a 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.
- Judicial leniency for foreign nationals: Resolutions adopted by the European Parliament demanding the adjournment of criminal proceedings against EU citizens are rejected by the Government of India as attempts to subvert the course of judicial process. Foreign nationals who enter or sojourn in India under the OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) scheme are deemed within the purview of the Indian judiciary. In 2012, the Supreme Court of India forestalled an attempt by the Government of Italy to subvert the Indian judiciary using sovereign immunities offered under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
- Support for insurgent groups: 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.
- Country Reports on Rights & Practices: The Indian Home Ministry, through an affidavit submitted to the Delhi High Court on 13 February 2015, claimed that Country Reports on Rights & Practices have become instruments of foreign policy: "The US, UK and EU have clearly mentioned in government documents and pronouncements that these reports are made for the purpose of their being used as instruments of foreign policy." The affidavit also claimed that the reports by US, UK and European Parliament were biased since they "do not provide opportunity to the Government of India or the local embassy/high commission to record their opinion and are heavily biased against the targeted country".
- Manipulation of Indian NGOs by foreign donors: 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. 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. In recent years, India has blacklisted and deported foreign nationals on the grounds of visa violations for involvement in domestic societal issues and conducting unauthorised research on human-rights.
Background & context
Determinants which influence relations between Europe and India.
Current state of affairs
- Ministry of External Affairs: French President Francois Hollande was the chief guest at the 2016 Republic Day parade in New Delhi on 26 January 2016. France became the only country to be invited a record-setting 5 times to the highly symbolic national ceremonial event and only country whose troops have participated in the march-past in India's post-independence era. US President Barack Obama was the chief guest of the 2015 Republic Day parade.
- Commerce and Industry: Talks to revive the stalled EU-India negotiations on a Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), which were expected to be held in New Delhi on 28 August 2015, have been cancelled sine die following a European Commission ban on pharmaceutical products which was formalised in May 2015. India's Ministry of Commerce and Industry in an official communiqué said :"This decision has been taken as the Government of India is disappointed and concerned over the action of the EU in imposing a legally binding ban on the sale of around 700 pharma products clinically tested by GVK Biosciences,". Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman gave India's perspective on the ban decided by the European Commission: "If without giving us a convincing answer a unilateral step can be taken by the EU on a sector which has established quality and is universally accepted for providing life saving drugs at affordable prices, I thought India's USP, India's brand, India's strength is being questioned,".
- 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).
- 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: Import tariffs as high as 31.2 percent were imposed on Indian exporters of ductile cast iron pipes by the European Commission. The measures, termed as anti-dumping tariffs, were decided by Brussels and aim to protect European Union manufacturers against low-cost imports.
- EC & EEAS: In a repetition of no response by the European Commission in Brussels to a message from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office in New Delhi, on the subject of a European Commission ban on around 700 pharmaceutical products, the office of the EU Trade Commissioner stated that the correspondence had not reached it. The absence of a response from the European Commission prompted India to cancel talks with the European Union to restart negotiations on the EU-India FTA. The incident comes on the heels of a similar incident in March 2015 which led to the cancellation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Brussels in April 2015.
- 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).
- EUROPA@INDIA: Vice-President of European Commission for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness Jyrki Katainen held talks in New Delhi to seek the resumption of stalled negotiations on EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA). Katainen lauded anti-corruption efforts targeting untaxed transactions and undisclosed income by the government of Narendra Modi.
- UK@INDIA: On 7 November 2016, UK PM Theresa May departed on her first official visit outside Europe by leading a trade delegation to India in a bid to "forge a new global role for the UK". The visit comes in the context of the Brexit referendum vote and strained ties over travel visas for students and employees undertaking work missions within the UK on intra-company transfers. The Indian government has taken exception to the tightening of UK visas for Indian citizens while the UK has concurrently relaxed visa rules for Chinese citizens. The number of study visas issued to Indian nationals fell from 68,238 in 2010 to 11,864 in 2015.
- FRANCE@INDIA: Pondicherry University and French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) are jointly conducting the 2016 Social Sciences Winter School on the theme of Mobility and Social Dynamics from 28 November to 2 December 2016. The biennial event is attended by academics from France and India who lead multidisciplinary training workshops addressing theoretical and methodological issues in social science research. Campus France India, a student recruitment initiative of the French embassy in India, is showcasing France as an education destination for Indian students. In 2014, France hosted 3,000 Indian students many of whom were provided scholarships. The low costs of high-quality education has made France the third most preferred destination worldwide for international students.
- GERMANY@INDIA: Chancellor Angela Merkel travelled to India on 4 October 2015 for a 3-day visit. Ambassador Martin Ney, who took over from Michael Steiner as Germany's envoy to India on 2 September 2015, said: "With new self-confidence, India engages its neighbourhood, re-energises its relations to the wider world and underlines its claim as a future member of the Security Council of a reformed UN. India will also be a major voice at the climate summit in Paris in December," The visit arrived at a time of falling public support for Angela Merkel in Germany over her management of the Greek sovereign debt default, European Union migration crisis and Volkswagen emissions violations scandal.
- EUROPA@INDIA: European External Action Service (EEAS) designates Ambassador Tomasz KOZLOWSKI as the new Head of the EU Delegation to India and Bhutan. Ambassador KOZLOWSKI is currently serving as Head of the EU Delegation in South Korea and replaces Ambassador João Gomes Cravinho who moves on to Brazil.
- FRANCE@INDIA: French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian's visit to India coincides with 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.
- 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.
- EEAS: UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will not attend an emergency meeting called by the EUHRVP Federica Mogherini to discuss Donald Trump's US election victory. Boris Johnson has called for an end to the "collective whinge-o-rama" in Europe following Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 US presidential election.
- Germany: Right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) registers strong gains in regional elections in Germany while the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel lost support in Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland Palatinate despite distancing itself from the German Chancellor.
- Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel is rumored as a possible candidate to leap-frog into the electoral process to succeed Ban Ki-moon as Secretary-General of the United Nations.
- Hungary: Prime Minister Viktor Orban announces a referendum on migration quotas to challenge an EU decision to relocate 160,000 refugees across Europe through a quota mechanism. Several European member States (including the Visegrád Group) have publicly faulted Angela Merkel for having initiated the massive influx of refugees by unilaterally declaring that Germany will accept them irrespective of where they entered the European Union.
- France: The 2016 Munich Security Conference put the spotlight on severely strained Franco-German relations when Prime Minister Manuel Valls publicly rejected German Chancellor Angela Merkel's permanent quota-based system for the distribution of refugees across Europe as "unsustainable in the long run" and stated: "France has agreed to take in 30,000 refugees. As far as these 30,000 are concerned, our doors remain open. But not more,".
- UK: Prime-Minister David Cameron has announced that the UK's EU referendum (Brexit) will be held on 23 June 2016.
- Netherlands: A Dutch referendum on the EU-Ukraine EU Association Agreement will be held on 6 April 2016.
- EU: The IMF debt default by Greece and political disagreements on the redistribution of refugees fleeing war-torn countries has 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. The massive refugee influx into Europe (who were promised refuge in Germany by Angela Merkel) has crystallized opposition to German-backed resettlement quotas in many European countries (including within Germany) and led to the growing political isolation of German chancellor Angela Merkel.
- 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 amounts to $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.
- Environment: US authorities announce that German vehicle manufacturer Volkswagen had fraudulently installed ECU software designed to circumvent environmental regulations on emissions of NOx. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Volkswagen had for almost a year been denying that it deliberately gamed emissions testing, by suggesting that the discrepancies were caused by "technical" reasons. Questions have been raised about methods and accuracy of emission controls within the European Union and also if other European car-manufacturers had resorted to similar malpractice. Richard Corey, the executive officer of California Air Resources Board, revealed how they detected the scam: "We conducted a series of tests that allowed us to expose the defeat device. There were some testing outfits in Europe that had conducted some tests that got our attention." The scandal has been disastrous for Germany's image in export markets and comes in the run-up to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled to be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015.
- Australia: The Australian Government's top bilateral priority with India is to conclude a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), says Australian Defence Minister Kevin Andrews, adding: "India is the emerging democratic superpower of Asia. It is, therefore, sensible that the relationship between India and Australia be developed and strengthened." (...) "Australia recognises India's critical role in supporting the security, stability and prosperity of the Indian Ocean region and the stability of a wider, rules-based global order."
- Mass Communications: India's state-run TV broadcaster Doordarshan's DD India channel is available in Europe on Eutelsat Hotbird 13B (13 degree East, 11604, Horizontal, SR 27500 and fec 5/6). Doordarshan's international channel is available to European viewers via downlinks on the INSAT-4B and Intelsat 20 satellites.
- Environment: United Nations and INTERPOL release a report highlighting mismanagement in the recycling of used electronic goods and e-waste within Europe. The report says that vast numbers of cellphones, computers and televisions are either illegally traded or dumped and only 35 percent of the continent's e-waste was adequately recycled in 2012. Jaco Huisman of the United Nations University and the scientific coordinator of the project said: "Most of the illegal e-waste trade is taking place next door rather than far away in Africa,(...) "Mismanagement is occurring everywhere," (...) "there is a lot of theft, scavenging ... and quite a significant amount going into the waste bin."
- Civil Aviation: Indian budget airline IndiGo finalized the purchase of 250 Airbus A320neo aircraft in a deal worth $26.5bn (£17bn) at list prices. The deal is the largest ever single order by number of aircraft in Airbus' history. The latest order takes to 430 the number of aircraft that IndiGo currently has on order with Airbus. Union Minister of State for Skill Development Rajiv Pratap Rudy is a type-A rated Airbus A320 pilot who has logged flight hours on IndiGo's aircraft as an honorary pilot.
- 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.
- Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: On 29 June 2015, a group of 57 countries (including India and the following EU countries: Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Defense & Security
- France: India and France have concluded a $8.7bn (7.8bn euros; £6.7bn) G2G agreement regarding the acquisition of Dassault Rafale fighter jets to equip the Indian Air Force. On 23 September 2016, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian signed the contract for the off-the-shelf procurement of 36 Rafales in a deal which includes an option for 18 extra aircraft.
- France: India has reportedly dropped plans for the follow-on purchase of three additional Kalvari-class submarines after revelations regarding a massive leak of technical data pertaining to the operations and capabilities of DCNS Scorpène-class submarines designed for India. DCNS suggested that it had fallen victim to “economic warfare” by “frustrated competitors”.
- NSG: On 25 January 2015, USA and India had agreed to a phased entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group. China undermines Indian accession to the NSG through continued insistence for a consensus on the issue of admissibility of "non-NPT nations"
- Counter-terrorism: Speaking at the 2015 EUISS Annual Conference, EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: "Just think about the phenomenon of foreign fighters: the reality is that our continent exports more than imports terrorism; it is European citizens that go off to wage violent jihad in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere; not the reverse. They have European Union passports."
- SCO: India and Pakistan, both declared Nuclear Weapons States, have started the process towards full membership to Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at the 2015 SCO summit in Ufa. The accession process is expected to be completed before the 2017 SCO summit in Astana. India's SCO membership is expected to reinforce India's influence in energy-rich Central Asia.
- 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.
Statistical SWOT data useful to understanding India.
Total population: 1.271 billion which equates to one-sixth (17.5%) of the world's population
Indian nominal GDP is ranked 7th. ($2.25 trillion/€2.086tn) in the world and PPP GDP is ranked 3rd. ($8.72 trillion/€8.086tn). Sectorial GDP growth in 2015 for Agriculture +17%, Industry +29.7% and Services +45%
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 annually in India 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.
Majority of Indians live outside urban population centres. 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 has often been described as 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.
Public opinion in favour of a strong and united India received a boost following the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The rapidity with which economic and political structures became dysfunctional in breakaway Republics of the Soviet Union alerted Indians to the hazards of secession. 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 credibility of Western nations as guardians of democracy and human rights nose-dived following revelations of torture and prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and black sites.
The Indian economy has sailed through global economic turmoil relatively unscathed due to its low exposure to global markets, maturation of domestic markets and orthodox asset management by domestic financial institutions. India's two largest banks are both headed by women CEOs : Arundhati Bhattacharya at State Bank of India and Chanda Kochhar at ICICI Bank.
Indians take pride in their country's civilizational past, the primacy of democratic structures of governance and the ongoing developmental progress.
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. In August 2015, India publicly reiterated this principle at an ITLOS hearing in Hamburg.
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. Transformation efforts, through infrastructure modernisation and skills capacity-building, are under-way in all branches of the Indian Armed Forces to acquire air-sea-land dominance capabilities necessary to exercise control over the 15,200 km (9,445 mi) land frontier and 7,517 km (4,671 mi) coastline.
Bulk of global maritime trade passes through two sea lines of communication choke-points which are close to India : the Six Degree Channel adjacent to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands dominates the entrance to the Strait of Malacca and the 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 Malabar seaboard of India) and South-East Asia and the Far-East (which stretches out beyond India's eastern Coromandel seaboard).
The 4,056 km (2520 mi) long disputed land border between India and China, called the Line of Actual Control (LAC), remains an important policy determinant in Sino-Indian relations. The Narendra Modi government has been ambivalent in its dealings with China: concurrently pursuing policies to steadily augment bilateral commerce and trade in non-strategic sectors, while standing firm on matters of national security and publicly competing with China for regional influence. India has rejected joining any China containment grouping but has clearly signalled that India will ascertain that its core trade and security interests are not constrained by a Chinese-dominated security configuration in the Indo-Pacific.
History is an important determinant in modern India's political and commercial relations with countries in its neighbourhood. Starting from the Mughal era and through the course of the British Raj several colonies, settlements and protectorates in the Indian Ocean region were at different times administered from India. For a major part of the 20th century the Indian Rupee and Persian Gulf rupee, both minted in India, was the legal tender of many countries in the Indian Ocean region (Aden, Oman, Dubai, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the Trucial States, Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda, the Seychelles and Mauritius).
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. Affirming its responsibility to protect, the Indian government has taken a firm stance on human security by asserting that it will react decisively using all 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 the 1990 Gulf War airlift from Kuwait-Iraq. Guinness World Records lists the 1990 Gulf War air-lift of 170,000 Indians (by India's national air-carrier Air India) as the largest air-evacuation in history.
Regional geopolitics, energy security considerations, absence of United Nations consent for sanctions, and a fundamental divergence of perspectives on root-causes (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. Iran plays a prominent role in India's plans to unlock abundant energy supplies and mineral resources in Central Asia, besides providing a bridgehead to rival the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
In 2010, the President of the United States of America Barack Obama, declared his firm belief that the US-India relationship will be shepherded into "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century."
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 development, inclusive 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.
Long-term economic and labor policy towards sustaining the self-employed livelihoods of millions of small land-owning/land-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.
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, transform the lackadaisical work atmosphere in government offices, 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 visits and study tours by bureaucrats and ministers are to become linked to concrete outcomes.
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.[1,000][1,001] The Indian Supreme Court cleared Narendra Modi of all responsibility for the riots.[1,002]
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 .[1,003] One of the world's leading news magazines TIME, in its edition of 26 March 2012, had Narendra Modi on its cover page with a story titled "Modi Means Business".[1,004]
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.[1,005]
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to "create an India that none could talk down to in the international stage."[1,006]
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, rein in overzealous Ghar Wapsi activities 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 [1,007] 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.[1,008][1,009] 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).[1,010][1,011]
The NDA government is yet to fulfil its pre-electoral promise to fully declassify files related to Subhas Chandra Bose,[1,012] the Indian nationalist who became the leader of Azad Hind, and attempted to secure India's independence by leading the Indian National Army against Britain during WWII. Narendra Modi had pledged that the files would be released so as to settle the controversy regarding the disappearance of the freedom fighter.[1,013]
The biggest challenge to the current BJP-led NDA government comes not from the decimated Indian National Congress party,[1,014][1,015][1,016][1,017] 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).[1,018][1,019]
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 of selfies on social media which borders on spamming, propensity to claim ownership of existing programmes and ideas through re-branding, etc.
In September 2015, an opinion survey conducted by Pew Research Center revealed that support for Narendra Modi in India stood at 87% and was highest among two crucial demographic groups: 18- to 29-year-olds and rural Indians.[1,020][1,021]
Human capital development & Diaspora
The UNDP estimates that India loses $2 billion a year because of the emigration of computer experts to the U.S.[1,025] Indian students going abroad for their higher studies cost India a foreign exchange outflow of $10 billion annually.[1,026]
Overseas Indians file more patents in their country of residence than in India.[1,027] 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.[1,028] 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.[1,029] 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.[1,030] A recent study shows that 23% of Indian business school graduates take a job in United States.[1,031]
Income creation in the USA through knowledge-based employment by Asian Indians has outpaced every other ethnic group according to U.S. Census data.[1,032] Indian American households are the most prosperous in the USA with a median revenue of US$88000, followed by Chinese Americans at US$65000. The average household revenue in the USA is US$50000.[1,033]
While on the 2014 general elections campaign trail, Narendra Modi popularized the slogan of "Maximum Governance, Minimum Government." Investor surveys conducted by Hong Kong-based Political & Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd. had ranked India's paper-pushing Babu bureaucracy as the worst among 12 Asian countries for almost two decades.[1,034]
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.[1,035] 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-centre of the BJP government.[1,036]
Modi reined in corporate access to senior government offices and has declared that he is committed to making public administration more transparent and efficient. Modi issued directives ordering bureaucrats to refrain from social venues while on government duty and attend to government work from their offices.[1,037][1,038]
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. Senior officials who became involved in controversies have either been fired or demoted to less prestigious postings as was the case with Home Secretary Anil Goswami and the former Indian Deputy Consul-General in New York Devyani Khobragade.[1,039]
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[1,040] in the lifestyle of government officials against their known and declared sources of income.[1,041][1,042][1,043] Emphasis was laid on the creation of value-addition and employment opportunities at the level of Micro and Small Scale Enterprises in India.[1,044] The Indian budget for 2015-2016 is built upon the assumption that the country can sustain a growth rate of 7% to 8%.[1,045]
Narendra Modi, known for thinking out of the box on foreign policy issues,[1,046][1,047] 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."[1,048]
Modi set into motion a process to renew [1,049][1,050] and rebalance foreign relations depending upon India's national interests and 21st century realities.[1,051][1,052] The recalibration of relations is based upon emerging opportunities for cooperation in a multi-polar world where India has better representation [1,053] and also in the ability of individual countries to participate in the Post-2015 Development Agenda through delivering economic growth in India.[1,054]
The PMO of Narendra Modi overhauled[1,055] the MEA in order to transform Indian diplomacy from a reactive bureaucracy to a proactive & entrepreneurial mind-set along the models of JETRO (Japan), KOTRA (South Korea) and TAITRA (Taiwan).[1,056] 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.[1,057]
This article is part of a series on the
Socio-political challenges to the European project
Poor economic growth across the European Union has led to mounting Euroscepticism,[1,065] the rise of Xenophobia,[1,066][1,067] and successful electoral challenges to the devolution of power from sovereign Member states of the European Union to Institutions of the European Union.[1,068][1,069][1,070][1,071][1,072][1,073][1,074] France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Greece have signaled that they will not permit the transfer of any more sovereign powers to the Institutions of the European Union[1,075][1,076][1,077] with the UK going as far as scheduling a referendum on 23 June 2016 to decide on whether to stay or leave the European Union.
- Faltering narrative: Free movement of all EU citizens within the Schengen Area and the assurance of peace and stability were the two calling cards which endeared the European Union vision with electorates till the early 2000s. The European Union project was supposed to provide improvements in quality of life for citizens in all member States.[1,078] 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.[1,079][1,080][1,081][1,082] Mounting public perception that strategic decisions taken in Brussels by both the EU institutions and NATO (Enlargement of the European Union & NATO[1,083][1,084][1,085] into the Russian sphere of influence) are responsible for the many crisis that face Europe.[1,086][1,087][1,088][1,089] European citizens cite the lack of leadership from top-level European politicians, widening inequalities, 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. Unemployed youth and disenfranchised middle-income working-class populations are reshaping the European political spectrum through the ballot-box.
- Occluded vision: 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 European Union administration staffed by over-paid politicians and arrogant civil-servants who have lost touch with ground realities and societal aspirations of citizens.[1,090][1,091] 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.[1,092][1,093][1,094] 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. Current European Union figure-head politicians (Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk & Martin Schulz) themselves played central roles in political decision-making bodies which were instrumental in creating the ongoing political and economic mess. In November 2014, the European Union executive leadership (Donald Tusk,[1,095] Jean-Claude Juncker,[1,096] Frans Timmermans and Federica Mogherini [1,097][1,098]) announced a last-chance effort to save the European Union from disintegration: A new START for EUROPE.[1,099][1,100][1,101]
- EU as a security provider: 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.[1,102] European Union's collective response on matters ranging from the management of the exodus of refugees[1,103][1,104][1,105] from war-torn Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan,[1,106][1,107] 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. The paucity of strategic vision within the European Council, nationality-quota based allotment of senior bureaucratic positions within the Institutions of the European Union, and the capacity of minor European countries to unduly influence policy choices of the European Union is problematic.[1,108] 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.[1,109] The Ukrainian crisis exposed the shortcomings of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)[1,110] and outlined the limits of German military clout.[1,111] 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.[1,112] 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)[1,113][1,114][1,115][1,116][1,117] besides being largely ignored by European multinationals (German and Italian companies have most investment exposure in Russia) who bypass the sanctions regime by trading with Russia via third-countries (Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Israel).[1,118][1,119][1,120][1,121][1,122][1,123] 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.[1,124]
- Political unity & solidarity: Future of the European Union is increasingly reliant on the unity of the Franco-German political leadership couple and the willingness of the EU-3 to undertake radical structural reforms.[1,125][1,126][1,127][1,128] 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. While the EU-3 continue to be gridlocked over their competing and increasingly divergent visions for Europe,[1,129][1,130] the bureaucracy in Brussels has lurched from one crisis to the next without purposeful direction.[1,131]
- Rise of anti-German sentiment: Citizen-level resistance to Germany's economic vision for Europe is strong in many EU member states [1,132][1,133][1,134] including Germany,[1,135][1,136][1,137] and has considerably tarnished Germany's and Angela Merkel's image abroad.[1,138][1,139][1,140][1,141][1,142] The 2003 labour-market deregulation in Germany cut jobless rates from 12% to 6% by forcing unemployed middle-class workers to accept precarious low-wage employment and forgo social-security and retirement benefits.[1,143] 1.3 million Germans, 20% of the working population, are obliged to receive wage top-ups (denounced as hidden subsidies given to employers) to raise their earnings to the welfare minimum.[1,144] Strong-arm tactics used by Germany and the EU-ECB-IMF troika have driven Greek & Cypriot governments to openly court Russia in defiance of Brussels.[1,145][1,146][1,147] Italy, Spain and Malta have expressed opposition to Germany's quest for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
- Refugee management: European Union is presently facing the humanitarian consequences of NATO-led 'democracy' promotion agenda which severely destabilized Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan.[1,148] Abject living conditions and unsafe security situation has driven civilians to vote with their feet, resulting in mass exodus from Europe's periphery.[1,149] The massive inflow of migrants fleeing civil wars has exposed fundamentally discordant perspectives on an unified EU approach and course of action to manage the crisis.[1,150][1,151][1,152][1,153] Eastern and Northern European countries show no urgency to increase their intake of refugees to alleviate the burden on crisis response services in southern EU member states (especially Italy & Greece) who are overburdened with the relentless arrival of refugees.[1,154][1,155][1,156] The United Nations demanded that European Union countries live up to their responsibilities to accept migrant outflows.[1,157] NGOs have expressed shock at the treatment of refugees in Europe.[1,158][1,159][1,160][1,161][1,162][1,163] Northern European[1,164] and former Communist EU member states like Poland, Slovakia and Hungary whose populations are less multi-ethnic than most Western European countries are reluctant to accept migrants. Radical steps were taken to secure internal borders against migrants : Hungary and Bulgaria opted for razor-wire fences [1,165] while Austria deployed its army. Far-right political parties and neo-fascist movements (Austria, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany,[1,166] Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland and Sweden) have opposed the arrival and resettlement of refugees.[1,167][1,168][1,169][1,170] Poland's Janusz Korwin-Mikke, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), claimed that EU migrants were: "people coming to Poland and the whole Europe just to live off handouts. People willing to work are valuable, but they are being sent back to their countries and we take in those unwilling to work. This is a ridiculous policy that results in Europe being flooded with human garbage. Let's state this clear: human garbage that doesn't want to work". Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country hosts the most number of refugees fleeing Syria was scathing in his assessment of the European Union's management of refugees and migrants: "European countries, which turned the Mediterranean Sea -- the cradle of ancient civilisations -- into a migrant cemetery are party to the crime that takes place when each refugee loses their life,".[1,171] UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that he was "shocked" that tear gas and water cannons were used by Hungarian police to force migrants away from its border and declared that such treatment of asylum seekers was "unacceptable".[1,172] The mass exodus, provoked by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's unilateral announcement that Germany will accept Syrian refugees irrespective of where they entered the European Union, and the subsequent slamming shut of Germany's borders to refugees, left many to wonder if the crisis was a political stunt to shift global media attention away from the adverse publicity to the German Chancellor following the debt default by Greece.[1,173] By March 2016, a significant number of EU countries flatly rejected Germany's plans for a quota based EU-wide refugee redistribution and resettlement scheme besides refusing to bear the consequences of Angela Merkel's unilateral actions. Eastern European countries shoved-away the refugee crisis as Germany's problem and threatened to defy Germany through legal and electoral challenges. The refugee crisis has left Angela Merkel politically isolated in Europe.[1,174][1,175]
- Institutional reform: Institutional reforms and downsizing of European Union bureaucracy, European sovereign debt crisis management,[1,176][1,177] uncertainties linked to the future of UK membership within the European Union, questions regarding the long-term viability of the EURO currency,[1,178] an increasing resistance to Schengen Agreement related migratory movements within EU, growing discontent with German-led austerity measures,[1,179][1,180][1,181][1,182] rise of anti-EU political movements in key member-States with large populations (UK, France, Spain & Italy), negative public perception with the Brussels Elite [1,183] and virulent exasperation on golden parachutes (Herman Van Rompuy,[1,184][1,185] Tony Blair,[1,186] Catherine Ashton)[1,187] are among the more pressing issues for the current European Union leadership. European public opinion surveys have demonstrated that citizens increasingly perceive Brussels as a lucrative destination for end-of-career bureaucrats and embattled politicians. In September 2016, it was revealed that the former European Commission president José Manuel Barroso had become a non-executive chairman of Goldman Sachs [1,188][1,189] and that the former European commissioner for competition and digital policy Neelie Kroes had taken on roles at Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and car-hailing service Uber. The release of company ownership documents by anonymous whistle-blowers also revealed that Neelie Kroes had failed to disclose her directorship of an offshore firm in the Bahamas while she was the EU’s commissioner for competition policy from 2004 until 2010.[1,190][1,191][1,192]
Economic setbacks and deficiencies
Several EU member-states are in economic decline in both relative and absolute terms leading to a de facto Multi-speed Europe.[1,194][1,195][1,196][1,197] Persistence of low economic growth and increased cost of living have affected the level of disposable incomes and domestic debt-to-savings ratios.[1,198] Globalization has brought increased competition in both internal and export markets for companies based within the European Union.[1,199] European Union growth stimulus policies - artificially created monetary expansion to combat deflationary pressures through credit & fiscal easing - is only postponing absolute economic decline and burdening future generations with humongous debt repayments in the absence of innovation-led growth.
Unbalanced demographics and lopsided Employment-to-population ratio has resulted in extension of the retirement age, applied budgetary pressure on social security & welfare service systems (medicare, pensions), and accelerated rural depopulation. Increasing skill-erosion of the employable workforce due to technology evolutions is impacting all segments of value-addition.[1,200] 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.[1,201]
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.[1,202][1,203] Differing taxation regimes[1,204] within the European Union have led to aggressive tax optimization and avoidance by conglomerates and small and medium-sized enterprises.[1,205] Favourable commercial tax credit agreements[1,206][1,207][1,208][1,209] and the rampant misuse of special purpose entity (SPE)[1,210] based in certain EU28 member States (UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Luxemburg & Belgium)[1,211][1,212][1,213] have allowed large corporations to avoid,[1,214] minimise or indefinitely defer tax dues.[1,215][1,216] Populist movements all over the European Union have campaigned for policies which target loopholes allowing tax avoidance by transnational corporations and scrutinize incentives and subsidies given to factories where automation of manufacturing processes has improved productivity and enriched share-holders but diminished job prospects for non-specialized workers.[1,217][1,218][1,219][1,220] Governments have been slow to move away from neoliberal policies and adopt measures which advance the public good of local communities through public-private initiatives which nurture grass-roots innovation, promote social partnering entrepreneurship and sustain job creation in self-employing SMEs.
- 2009 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;[1,221] in particular from Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain.[1,222][1,223] Greece received $18bn worth of Chinese investments in 2014 (China already has a 70% stake in the Piraeus cargo seaport, the third-busiest in Greece).[1,224]
- 2015 Greek sovereign debt default: The publicly acrimonious discussions between Greece and EU-ECB-IMF troika culminated in the 2015 Greek referendum which massively rejected the terms for accepting bail-out money [1,226][1,227] and led to a surge in public support for populist political parties in Southern European countries.[1,228][1,229][1,230] The suggestion of a temporary 'time-out' from the EuroZone for Greece by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and a German Finance Ministry suggestion that Greece move titles to Greek assets - including heritage sites and islands to an "external fund" based in Luxembourg to serve as collateral in exchange for bail-out money from the EU-ECB-IMF troika;[1,231] infuriated many policy-makers who perceived Germany's demands as humiliating punishment and refreshed memories to post-WWII reparations owed by the German government which were never fully repaid due to extensive debt-relief accorded to Germany.[1,232] Pablo Iglesias, a prominent anti-austerity leader in Spain, hailed the Greek rejection of the bailout plan and expressed solidarity with Greece: "We don’t want to be a German colony". In Italy, Beppe Grillo mocked Germany and the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the IMF troika of lenders saying "Now Merkel and bankers will have food for thought.".[1,233] Jacob Soll, professor of history and accounting at the University of Southern California, summarized the sentiment amongst academics in Germany: "Germans were honest dupes and the Greeks corrupt, unreliable and incompetent.".[1,234] Expressing dismay about the far-reaching geopolitical implications of Greece leaving the Eurozone, Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European studies at Oxford University, termed the German-inspired policy prescriptions as deeply flawed and possibly unachievable by Greece "even with the best political will in the world." and 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." [1,235][1,236] Leading academics and analysts highlighted that EuroZone anti-deficit policies forced upon Greece by the German-backed troika to curb public spending had brought about deflationary pressure, weakened demand and led to widespread unemployment in several EuroZone countries.[1,237][1,238] 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".[1,239][1,240] Wharton finance professor Bulent Gultekin opined: "The endless austerity measures have made it worse for the country. It's been the wrong remedy for the wrong patient at the wrong time". John Cochrane, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University pointed to the source of the current crisis : "Europe should not have bailed out German and French banks and allowed Greece to default in the first instance. In a currency union, sovereign debt is like corporate debt. Corporations default — or they should — without bailouts, and don’t leave a currency zone when they do so. Europe should not have allowed and encouraged national banks to load up on national debts." Francesco Caselli, professor of economics at the London School of Economics, opined that Greece should "focus on structural reforms rather than austerity. Greece should have gotten meaningful debt relief and much more time to balance the deficit." Olivier Chatain, strategy and business policy professor at HEC business school in Paris opined: "There's a big chasm between what's asked of Greece and what they can do." Mauro Guillén, Wharton management professor and director of The Lauder Institute urged an effort from the creditor nations: "Wages in Germany should rise and government demand for goods and services should increase,(...) Surplus economies, like Germany and the Netherlands, who can spend more should do so". Patrick Minford, professor of economics at Cardiff University in Wales pointedly observed the destructive nature of German economic policies which result in massive trade surpluses for Germany while pauperising weaker EuroZone countries: "unhealthy for Germany to run very large trade surpluses. They’re sabotaging the rest of Europe." Richard Koo, chief economist at Nomura Research Institute assessed the current situation saying: "Greece's debt cannot be paid back under any circumstances, (..) They need to undergo bankruptcy proceedings. We cannot move forward until the Germans and Dutch begin to realize this money will never get paid back and [austerity measures] are pushing the Greek economy further into depression."[1,241]
Digital Agenda for Europe
Highlighting the social implications of the global competition for intellectual capital, rapid improvements in education & technology assimilation, the dominance of Asian countries in Lights out semiconductor foundries and ICT sectors and the massive demographic advantage which countries like India & China have leveraged as they move up the technology ladder[1,242] 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."[1,243]
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.[1,244] 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.[1,245]
Latest OECD rankings of proficiency in arithmetic and sciences has seen European 15-year-old school students trail their Asian counterparts: the top 5 spots being taken by Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan & Taiwan.[1,246][1,247]
Schools are refocusing education curricula around STEM sciences and emerging technologies to meet the skills requirements of Industry 4.0. Schools in the UK are introducing software 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 and telecommunications with materials and manufacturing technologies.
Nick Gibb, England's Schools minister says: "We want all schools to consider the needs of their pupils to determine how technology can complement the foundations of good teaching and a rigorous curriculum, so that every pupil is able to achieve their potential." Tom Bennett, the UK government's expert on pupil behaviour, said teachers had been "dazzled" by school computers. Andreas Schleicher, education director at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, urged schools to ensure that children gain a good grasp of reading, writing and mathematics, opining that school technology had raised "too many false hopes (...) If you look at the best-performing education systems, such as those in East Asia, they've been very cautious about using technology in their classrooms," (...) Those students who use tablets and computers very often tend to do worse than those who use them moderately.". In September 2015, a survey conducted by the OECD into the impact of heavy investments in digital technology within the classroom, showed that Pisa test results for reading, mathematics or science showed "no noticeable improvement".[1,249] In October 2015, a study by researchers at the University of Washington, Stanford University and the Mathematica policy research group discovered that on-line pupils fell far behind counterparts who studied within the classroom. The National Study of Online Charter Schools found "significantly weaker academic performance" in maths and reading in 'virtual schools' when compared with the conventional school system.[1,250]
Open-source microcontroller (Arduino) and single-board computer (Raspberry Pi) platforms have kick-started public interest in hackerspaces and initiated a maker culture all over the world. Social transformations are expected as collaborative innovation through cost-effective manufacturing facilities using 3D printing, laser cutting and CNC machining which are already helping home-based entrepreneurs to rapidly prototype crowdsourced products and measure product attractivity through crowdfunding mechanisms.[1,251][1,252]
In Asia, the positive public perception of Europe is highest in India.
The tendency of Western social academics to over emphasise the importance of the caste system for all matters pertaining to India has made Europeans prone to explaining away India via the caste system.
The morbid fascination of European tourists with Hindu cremation rituals is perceived as lack of sensitivity besides being a gross invasion of privacy. Hoards of tourists flock to cremation grounds on the banks of the Ganges, especially in Varanasi (Bénarès), to photograph funeral pyres.
Asian countries are often the object of populist rants against cheap imported goods using exploited labour who live in miserable poverty. Low-cost imports from Asian countries artificially augment the purchasing power capacity of European consumers while concurrently allowing multinational companies and corporate traders to make disproportionately large profits. In 2013, the Wall Street Journal exposed the exploitative operating margins of Western branded-apparel retailers - who sourced garments from Asia - as being between 5 and 20 times the price paid to the manufacturer.[1,257]
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- Mutual Perceptions of Asia and Europe in a Changing Global Environment (Asia-Europe Foundation) 2011
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