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September 1, 2009

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Climate change duality: External vs Domestic strategies

Nandan Nilekani argues that India’s future depends on addressing climate change today. In a YaleGlobal article “India Should Combine Tough Climate Stand With Green Policy” he calls for India to fashion a long-term domestic strategy for climate change focused on a green economy while engaging actively in global debates on climate change and at Co-penhagen in December.  At the same time, he pro-poses rejection of any binding cuts imposed on emissions that would limit India’s economic development goals.

Asia’s not there yet

Minxin Pei, senior associate in the China Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace investigates the recent phraseology around the inexorable rise of Asia led by China and India and cautions that there is indeed a wide gap between America and the Asian states in reality that would not be bridged anytime soon. In an article in Foreign Policy “Think Again: Asia’s Rise”, he states that China and India’s international standing should not be overstated because both face serious economic and social constraints that will limit their growth.

Flat but tilted

Soner Cagaptay & Ata Akiner of the Turkish Research program at the The Washington Institute state that although globalisation had created a flat world, government control of the national media and new communication tools tilted the politics in favour of existing governments, in both authoritarian regimes such as Russia, China, and Iran as well as democracies such as Italy and Turkey.

In a paper “The World is Tilted”, they caution that the ICT revolution empowered authoritarian regimes as well as allowed undemocratic trends to sink roots in democracies and state that free press would be the best hope for a flatter, more democratic world.

A meme change—Rising China vs Transformed China

Charles Horner, senior fellow at Hudson Institute analyses the Xinjiang unrest in the context of a rapidly transforming China.In an article for Asia Chronicle, “Rising China as Transformed China: A Problem for Strategic Analysis” he provides a historical perspective of China’s transformations in the past that in his words resulted in an incident having intricate international ramifications today while it would have been regarded as nothing more than a drunken brawl, a generation ago.

He laments the strategic community’s current lack of understanding of the constraints that would influence the PRC’s future behaviour and calls for greater focus on the constraints that would shape the strategic choices of a China that will be a Transformed China, rather than the Rising China we know today.

Chi-merica: A chimera

Christopher M Clarke, a former China analyst at the US State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research argues that an economically “symbiotic relationship” between the U.S. and China may in fact be a desperate embrace for fear of “going over the cliff with the other”. In a YaleGlobal article “US-China Duopoly Is a Pipedream”, he states that the political divide between the two surfaced in divergent strategic interests, and the US refusal to let China buy dual-use high technology items is proof that a Chi-merica is not in the offing.

A new approach around the Durand Line

Analysts at the Center for a New American Security recommend an ‘ink-blot’ strategy on both sides of the Durand Line for the US and its allies, securing carefully chosen areas and building from positions of strength.

In “Triage: The Next Twelve Months in Afghanistan and Pakistan”, a June CNAS policy paper, they favour a counterinsurgency strategy that emphasises protection of the population over killing of the Taliban insurgents and propose ‘soft’ metrics such as surrenders of insurgents, defused IEDs and number of tip-offs to gauge progress in their proposed strategy.

Tensions in the South China Sea

Sandeep Anand, Research Assistant at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi highlights the escalating tensions between China and the South-east Asian states, and a potential arms race in the South China Sea. In a paper “China’s Maritime Intent in South China Sea vis-a-vis ASEAN”, he cites the recent order for six-Kilo class diesel submarines by Vietnam as evidence of a nascent arms race and favours a strategy of collective bargaining by ASEAN with China.

Direct taxes & retire-ment

Mukul G Asher and Amarendu Nandy discuss the implications of India’s new direct tax code on retirement savings in a Daily News & Analysis (19th August) essay titled “Move towards EET is good, but handle retirement savings”. They welcome the move towards exempt-exempt-taxation treat-ment of savings, noting that this is consistent with international practice in middle- and high-income countries. However, one implication is that the pre-retirement withdrawals from provident schemes will also be subject to personal income tax.  They analyse the implication of the new code and propose refine-ments ahead its implementation.


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