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September 1, 2010

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Pushback in the South China Sea
YURIKO KOIKE, the former national security advisor of Japan speculates that Hillary Clinton’s recent trip to Asia had the potential of triggering a diplomatic revolution similar to the 1971 Kissinger visit to Mao’s China. In an opinion piece in the Taipei Times, US takes a stand against a shifting geopolitical landscape, she states that the United States not only reaffirmed its commitment to security in Asia and the eastern Pacific but also exposed the dichotomy in China’s policies of hegemonic behavior versus its mantra of ‘peaceful rise.’ Washington is unwilling to accept China’s push for regional hegemony in the hydrocarbon-rich waters of the South China Sea. It has given pause to Chinese leadership that their country’s overall international role was being tested primarily in Asia.

South Asian Security and economics
MICHAEL O’ HANLON of Brookings Organization proposes a policy of complementing the hard power aspects of US policy in South Asia with a big push in soft power, particularly within the arena of economics. In an opinion piece for Politico, Economics of Security in South Asia, he outlines a four-point economics and security initiative plan with tripling of annual economic aid to Pakistan, free-trade for Pakistan’s tribal areas, encouragement of India-Pakistan trade and fuel pipelines from Central to South Asia through Afghanistan as the four key components.

The land-inflation linkage
ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN, fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics reviews the high inflation figures for India and suggests that the combination of serious micro-economic distortions afflicting the land market coupled with macroeconomic factors such as surging capital inflows into real estate could be raising cost of production in the Indian economy as a whole. It is causing cost-push inflation and making the goal of double-digit growth elusive.

In an op-ed in the Business Standard, India’s Inflation Puzzle, he states that inflation in India could be far more dependent on services and land as an input and India would need to address micro-economic distortions through structural reforms of the land market and address macroeconomic drivers of inflation through dampening of foreign capital flows into real estate and housing and higher provisioning for real-estate lending.

Nation States, RIP
PARAG KHANNA, of the New America Foundation heralds the beginning of the urban age predicting that globalisation would result in the emergence of global hub cities attracting talent and capital, and Third World world megacities that would together drive governance, economics, innovation and diplomacy, pulling away from their home states while simultaneously competing for global influence among themselves and alongside states.

In a commentary for Foreign Policy, Beyond City Limits, he states that cities and the urban economies, like the Hanseatic league of yore, would serve as the centers of gravity for nations, being at the core of issues such as security, governance, climate change, inequality and poverty while making national borders and international organisations irrelevant.

Sino-Pak nuclear collaboration
ASHLEY TELLIS of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace recommends that Washington should lead forcefully in urging China to rethink its plans to sell civilian nuclear reactors to Pakistan. He points out that Beijing had a lot at stake if it chose to renege on its NSG obligations. In an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, Stop the Sino-Pak Nuclear Pact, he states that China’s plans had raised alarms in foreign capitals given Pakistan’s fragile leadership, and an implicit threat to withhold the forms of co-operation that China desire would convince Beijing to reconsider its decision.

Indian Philanthropy
ARPAN SHETH of Bain & Company analyses the state of Indian philanthropy in comparison with other countries arguing that there existed potential for greater philanthropy among wealthier Indians whose relatively recent wealth accumulation, blurring between personal and corporate donations and underdeveloped donation support networks led to lower individual philanthropy. In a lecture, An Overview of Philanthropy in India, at the Indian Philanthropy Forum, he recommends modifications to the legal and taxation framework that hindered growth and operation of non-profits in India and calls upon non-profits to increase transparency, professionalism and effectiveness.

Scenarios for The Seven Sisters
NAMRATA GOSWAMI of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, examines the key factors determining the future of India’s insurgency-ridden North East and identifies four possible future scenarios: a tourism-anchored “Destination Northeast”; an insular “Island Northeast” based on xenophobia and violence; a democratic “Multi-cultural Northeast”; and “Global Northeast” on the back of a successful Look East policy. In an IDSA Occasional Paper, India’s NorthEast 2020: Four Alternative Futures, she recommends a policy focus based on developing human capital, fostering inter-state competition and rewarding progress to ensure the development of an open, multi-cultural, globalised and democratic North East.


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