100 Days of Modi Sarkar – Day 77
Following the ascent of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India, there have been a whole lot of countries that have been looking for ways to improve their ties with India and New Zealand is the latest to join the bandwagon. Although New Zealand is not one of the global superpowers, one feels it is one country worth having good relations with.
New Zealand looking for better relations with India
Along with Australia, New Zealand is supposed to organize the 2015 Cricket World Cup and it is looking to use that as a platform to improve the relations between the two countries. During the ASEAN Regional Forum talks, organized at Nay Pyi Taw, Murray McCully, the External Affairs Minister of New Zealand, has had a meeting in this regard with Sushma Swaraj.
According to McCully, in future when Indian team visits New Zealand both political and business leaders should also come to the country in order to enhance ties. This looks to be a commendable suggestion given the fact that the common people in both the countries are cricket fans. This also shows the level of excitement being felt by New Zealand in being able to expand its ties with India.
In the same regional meet, Swaraj has also participated in bilateral meetings with the Eternal Affairs Ministers of China, Vietnam, Australia, Indonesia and Canada. During the meeting between Swaraj and Sihasak Phuangketkeow of Thailand, the possibility of a joint commission of the two countries being set up was also discussed. Swaraj also met Yun Byung-se, the Foreign Minister of South Korea, and Fumio Kishida, her Japanese counterpart.
Not many would know but New Zealand is also regarded as one of the most picturesque locations and is thus perhaps one of the tourist destinations to visit in the Asia-Oceania region. Perhaps New Zealand is looking to posit itself as one of the most viable tourist destinations for the rich and affluent section of Indian populace. The country also offers immense scope for private entrepreneurship and it could highly benefit from any investment made by any of the top Indian conglomerates.
The paradox, and if one may add, a pleasant one, of the whole situation is that India is a third world country and New Zealand is a first world one and yet it is assuming a dominant position in the entire exchange.
Hagel hopes defence collaboration is not marred by red-tapism
Over the years, India has taken long strides in terms of progress and development that has led to it being recognized as an emerging superpower of sorts, both in Asia as well as across the world. However, one problem that has always held India back is the issue of red-tapism and the worst aspect of this issue is that even India’s international partners are aware of the same.
Recently, Chuck Hagel, the US Defence Secretary, said that the military relations and cooperation between both the countries should not suffer because of the phenomenon known as red-tapism. Hagel is presently in India in order to ensure that the US is able to sign agreements pertaining to military trade with the newly elected government of India.
In fact, in his discussions with Indian leaders Hagel had touched upon the issue as well. He has stated that both India and the US have agreed on the fact that in the next stage of their partnership both the countries should be focused on achieving positive results and set the tone for the next stage. For that to happen, one feels that India needs to tackle this menace in a firm and decisive manner.
Right now India happens to be the biggest importer of arms and it is focusing on areas such as relations between armed forces of both countries, improving cooperation in the defence industry. Improving regional cooperation is also critical over here. The US has also welcomed the fact that India has increased the upper limit for FDI in defence to 49 per cent from 26 per cent, saying that such a step could help both countries exploit their full potential.
In fact, more than red-tapism it is corruption that has been the biggest bane of India as far as achieving its fullest potential is concerned. Over the years policies have been formulated for the benefit of common people only for the middlemen to misappropriate them. Yet in most cases no stern action has been taken against them and this has given rise to a school of thought that corruption pays in India. Perhaps it is time India really turned it the other way round before it is too late.
US set to ink defence pacts with India
The US has offered 7 deals for jointly developing defence technologies through Chuck Hagel. One of these projects involves ‘big data’ technology and there are several others that are concerned with the key area of cyber security. The US is the global leader when it comes to ‘big data’ projects. ‘Big data’ comprises revolutionary algorithm-based programmes that can forecast terror attacks and also be used for purposes of surveillance.
The US is also proposing to sell to India javelin missiles that can be used against tanks and Hawk 21, which is a surface-to-air missile. The magnetic catapults can be used for launching bigger planes from the comparatively smaller ships. The DTTI (defence trade and technology initiative), which has been lying inactive for couple of years, is also an important piece of this puzzle.
The US is also depending on India as far as developing and producing a new line of defence products is concerned. During the UPA regime the US had offered 10 similar deals but nothing much came of it. As of now Narendra Modi is looking at the private sector to take the lead in making sure that India is no longer just the largest arms importer of the world. Now with the US’ proposal it seems that the demands of both the sides will be addressed adequately.