CUTS Washington Monthly Brief
#28, July 2020
Towards optimising Indo-U.S. education linkages
The launch of National Education Policy 2020 by India on 29th July is a significant departure from an ‘academic’ to a ‘composite and flexible education’ scheme. This laudable, and long awaited, structural shift to ‘academic plus vocational’ can transform the country’s school and higher education landscape.
Not only that, it can open up tremendous learning potential for more than 600 million youth under the age of 25 years. Furthermore, there will be scope to enhance India’s engagement with other countries to do that effectively. The timing of this reform has coincided fortuitously with the deepening of Indo-U.S. relations. It offers a perfect opportunity for the two democracies to deepen existing educational, innovation and skill development linkages and further deepen their bilateral relations.
With a focus on Indian-ness that is, India’s rich, diverse, ancient and modern culture and knowledge system as soft power leverage, the new policy marks the need for substantial investment. In that context, the higher education system in the U.S. could facilitate a strong, vibrant education system in India by partnerships.
Such cooperation could be taken to greater heights by building as well as deepening of the two way flows of students, private capital, knowledge, talent and technology. Furthermore, given that research and innovation investment in India is only about 0.69 per cent of its gross domestic product as compared to 2.8 per cent in the U.S., our partnerships could work together to improve India’s research and development capacities across all levels, streams and segments. 
By far, the U.S. continues to be a progressive land driven by ideas, skills and collective efforts. Central to that are four million Indian-Americans, among other immigrant communities, who have contributed hugely to this achievement. Many existing universities, schools and institutions in the USA are populated by Indian origin academics. Not to be outdone but many large corporations including big tech, are also headed by Indian origin personnel. On the other hand, various U.S. universities and think tanks have captive ‘India’ specific units and programmes while others have either already or are willing to deepen their presence in India.
With this and having a conducive (and progressive) policy scenario now in India, the two countries could bolster comparative and complementary strengths by cultivating robust and impactful education sector partnerships.                                        
Pradeep S. Mehta

P.S. Having reiterated that China has no legal basis to assert maritime claims in the South China Sea during the 30th Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) on July 28, can the U.S and Australia also rally other countries against China’s expansionist attitude? 

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Americans’ distrust in institutions is running high. What does that mean for trade?
The Jungle Grows Back, foreign policy scholar Robert Kagan cautions that the past seven-plus decades of relative free trade and expanding individual freedoms were not inevitable and may be “a great historical aberration” – the jungle grows back. The World Trade Organization (WTO) was sown from the seeds of democratic, free-market ideals. But China’s state-directed economic approach has growing influence and WTO members have been unable to cultivate modern trade deals to counter it.

The US and Kenya launch negotiations on a free trade agreement. Will they succeed?
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration and Kenyan government launched trade negotiations in early July. Depending on the outcome of the negotiations, which were held virtually, the trade agreement could be the most significant development in U.S-Africa trade relations since the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) passed Congress in 2000.

US, China trade to suffer as closing of consulates raises diplomatic clash
In shutting each other's consulates, the United States and China have done more than strike symbolic blows in their escalating feud. They've also dimmed each other's ability to observe and to spy on critical regions of their countries. For the United States, the loss of the Chengdu mission in southwestern China will, among other things, cloud its view of Tibet, a region where Buddhist residents say Beijing is eroding its culture and its traditional independent streak. China says Tibet has been its territory for centuries.

India must try for Quadrilateral FTA after closing US trade deal
A key cross-national industry body has pitched for an economic partnership deal between India, the United States, Japan and Australia – an informal security forum commonly known as the Quad, for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. New Delhi should look at closing a small trade deal with the United States before the US Presidential elections in November – which would build confidence between the two countries – followed by a Free Trade Agreement and then a larger trade deal, said Mukesh Aghi, president of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF).


End game for oil?
The pandemic drove down daily crude consumption by as much as a third earlier this year, at a time when the rise of electric vehicles and a shift to renewable energy sources were already prompting downward revisions in forecasts for long-term oil demand. It has prompted some officials in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, oil's most powerful proponent since it was founded 60 years ago, to ask whether this year's dramatic demand destruction heralds a permanent shift and how best to manage supplies if the age of oil is drawing to a close.
India and US sign MoU to develop strategic petroleum reserve
India and the US have signed an MoU to develop a strategic petroleum reserve and the two countries are in advanced stage of discussion to store crude oil in America to increase India’s stockpile, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan said on Friday, the 17th July. Pradhan co-chaired with his American counterpart Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette a virtual US-India Strategic Energy Partnership Ministerial.

How does the Rewa Solar Power Plant match up to similar plants in India and abroad?
The 750- megawatt Rewa solar Power Plant in Madhya Pradesh was dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday (10th July). The solar plant was set up by the Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited, a joint venture between Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam Limited and the Centre’s Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI). The project has also received Rs 138 crore financial assistance from the central government.
Scientists Start Construction of World’s Largest Fusion Reactor
The project, called ITER, is an international collaborative effort between 35 countries with enormous ambitions: prove the feasibility of fusion energy with a gigantic magnetic device called a “tokamak,” as per the project’s official website. “Enabling the exclusive use of clean energy will be a miracle for our planet,” ITER director-general Bernard Bigot said during today’s virtual celebration, as quoted by The Guardian.


Is data localization compatible with Atmanirbhar Bharat? Here’s what govt must do to make it successful
The relentless pursuit of data localization by the government runs contrary to India’s recently professed ambition of Atmanirbhar Bharat. This statement sounds stark but stands true in the case of India’s digital services exports, as is reiterated in an empirical study titled “Data Localisation – India’s Double-Edged Sword?” by CUTS international.

Australia reaffirms American alliance but resists push for further exercises in South China Sea
Australia has resisted the United States' push for more assertive freedom of navigation exercises in the disputed waters in the South China Sea at high-level talks in Washington. Australia's Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds flew to the US earlier this week to attend the annual AUSMIN talks with their American counterparts.
A China-Iran Axis?
Has US President Donald Trump succeeded in uniting his worst enemies, China and Iran, in an alliance directed against America and the West?  Instead of isolating Iran, as his foreign policy was designed to do, has he driven it into the arms of the Chinese? During an Iranian parliamentary session on July 5, 2020, the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, confirmed ongoing negotiations about a strategic partnership with China. 

Our approach to future must be human-centric: PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, the 22nd July, said our approach to the future must be human-centric for poor and the vulnerable, at the India Ideas Summit. Delivering his keynote address at the summit, PM Modi said we all agree that world is in need for a better future. And, it is all of us who have to collectively give shape to the future.


Old obsessions & electoral politics — why Modi govt’s strategic policy is a glass only half-full
As the Chinese turned nasty, the US is the only country in the world that spoke out loudly and unqualifiedly for India. Also, at this juncture, in a purely non-transactional manner. That hasn’t happened often in Indian strategic history. Not since the end of the Cold War more than three decades ago.

58 Indian-origin executives employ over 3.6 million globally, account for $1 trillion in revenue
A group of 58 Indian-origin executives heading various companies across 11 different countries, including the US, Canada and Singapore, collectively employ more than 3.6 million people and account for a combined $1 trillion in revenue, $4 trillion in market capitalisation, according to a list released by a US based top Indian diaspora organisation.
US Leads In Artificial Intelligence, Says Pentagon Official
When it comes to advancements in artificial intelligence technology, China does have a lead in some places — like spying on its own people and using facial recognition technology to identify political dissenters. But those are areas where the U.S. simply isn’t pointing its investments in artificial intelligence, said director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. Where it counts, the U.S. leads, he said.
Post- Galwan Indo-China Economic Trends
After the deadly standoff where Chinese troops killed 20 Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley of the eastern Ladakh sector at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on June 15th, popular support in India to reduce economic reliance on China has grown stronger. The growing vengeance is further expected to swell due to loss of a friendly face by China in India even though signs of de-escalations at the LAC are visible. In this context, the post Galwan outburst in India may cause an overall rejig of India's economic dependencies on China. The first and second editions of this ONW, among others, highlight such developments.