CUTS Washington Monthly Brief
#26, May 2020
Imperative for a Human-centric Globalisation
In his televised address to the nation on May 12, 2020, the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, delivered several messages to the citizens of India and to the global community. For example, his novel proclivity for Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self Reliant India) lays focus on human-centric globalisation as against just trade- and/or finance- centric.
Another interesting fact is while in all his speeches since the advent of the Covid-19 in India he consistently used a term - Global Pandemic (Vaishwik Mahamari). In the latest one, he did not use it even for once; thus, a subtle message was sent to one of our neighbours.  
The Prime Minister spoke about the role that India can and should play in future for a human-centric globalisation and placed them before the global community. In this context, he outlined the significance of five pillars - Economy, Infrastructure, System, Demography and Demand - in shaping and implementing this Vision.
Here, it is important to underline that a ‘Self Reliant India’ will require strengthened structural linkages between the real and the financial economy with a larger role for local communities in strengthening those linkages. 
Primarily, it is about empowering local communities to play a pivotal role for the country to deepen its integration with global supply chains through trade and financial centres. For example, in another speech, the Prime Minister explained why and how India can become a logistics hub.
In the times of COVID-19, such a novel approach needs to be supported by the global community instead of being misconstrued as a protectionist measure. The global private sector has a huge role to play in shaping and advancing this Vision.
It is in this context the Facebook-Jio deal to provide digital platforms for local groceries in India underscores the magnitude of a people-driven, people-oriented private sector led partnership. Given the current challenges, this kind of new age innovative partnerships hold the potential to steer the human-centric globalisation in a complementary manner.
Such an approach needs to be supported not just in India but globally to make societies even more resilient to current and future crises. India and the United States, along with the latter’s trusted partners of the Economic Prosperity Network in the Indo-Pacific, are perfectly poised to lead this future.
Pradeep S. Mehta

PS: Does China understand the churnings, which are taking place in the Indo-Pacific region? Or, will it continue with its posturing of aggressive behaviour?

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India, US could strike a 'smaller' trade deal in the coming weeks
India and the US could strike a “smaller” trade deal in the coming weeks, India's ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu has said while acknowledging that the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic has been a "bit of a setback" in moving ahead as the governments are focused on tackling the health crisis. Addressing the virtual West Coast Summit of US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), Sandhu said that India's supply of antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to the US has given the two countries enough confidence and have played an important foundation.

An economic Cold War was long coming
Among the likely transformative changes due to the Covid-19 pandemic around the world, it is certain that it acted as a catalyst on the economic front. It has accelerated the economic Cold War between the world’s two largest economies. The US and China are almost on an irreversible war path on every economic front.
Who Will Replace China- India or Vietnam?
Over the past two decades, China has served as the global production hub for companies in multiple industries, such as electronics, textile, medical devices, and automotive. The key factors have been the high availability of raw material, technological innovations, business-friendly laws, and accessibility to skilled labor. However, the scenario changed in 2019, when increasing cost of labor, as well as tensions created by the US-China trade war, clouded China’s perception as a favourable production center.

H-1B bill seeks to prioritise foreigners educated in US
A bipartisan, bicameral group of US lawmakers on May 22nd reintroduced a fine-tuned legislation aimed at reforming the skilled guest worker programme to prevent flight of American jobs and outsourcing, while giving priority to absorbing US-educated foreign technology professionals.


India looks to store cheap oil in United States
India is looking at storing some low priced U.S. oil in facilities there as its local storage is full, oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan told a news channel. India's plan could be similar to a move by Australia, which last month said it would build up an emergency oil stockpile initially by buying crude to store in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to take advantage of low oil prices.
The Path To The Covid Recovery Is Paved With Renewable Energy
Harish Hande is an engineer and social entrepreneur working with underserved communities. He is the co-founder of SELCO whose interventions have impacted more than 800,000 poor households across 6 Indian states. We caught up with him a couple of weeks ago to reflect on the relevance of sustainable energy during the Covid pandemic and after.

The World’s Most Influential Energy Model Needs a Climate Update
The International Energy Agency marginalizes key climate goals in its research, according to an open letter from dozens of investors, business leaders, researchers and climate policy advocates. The Paris-based organization is largely funded by rich countries and advises nations on energy policy. It publishes an annual report called the World Energy Outlook, which projects how the global energy system is likely to look in years to come. 
Coronavirus: Winners and losers from oil price drop
The UK's oil and gas industry is warning 30,000 jobs could be lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic with oil prices at their lowest in 20 years. That has seen bills for houses heated by oil fall by as much as 75%.However there are concerns that those customers storing additional cheap fuel could be targeted by thieves. About 1.5 million homes in the UK use heating oil, including nearly 114,000 in Wales.


Vietnam May Turn Threats Into Opportunity
So far in 2020, Vietnam has succeeded in “fighting the virus as an enemy,” as Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc quipped, reporting just over 300 confirmed Covid-19 cases and no deaths, while the rest of the world still struggles. Yet another danger lurks in the South China Sea, a vital maritime space for not only Vietnam’s survival but that of other countries as well. To confront the danger, Vietnam openly begins cooperation with the Quad, ostensibly to manage the Covid-19 threat. Still, the United States, Japan, Australia and India formed the Quad in 2007 to confront China’s rising power.
China Abandons Strategy Of Persuasion And Compromise
If U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt believed that if you “speak softly and carry a big stick: you will go far”, half a century later and many thousands of miles away, another man practised it. His name was Zhou Enlai. If Mao Zedong represented the crude face of Chinese communism, then Zhou was the epitome of its refinement. Where Mao preferred to exercise his power from “out of the barrel of a gun”, Zhou preferred to seduce his opponents through word and gesture in the pursuit of national self-interest, with the elegance of an opera star. The stick was used rarely, and only when all other means of persuasion failed.
Australia-India naval cooperation and the islands of the Indo-Pacific
As India and Australia prepare for a virtual summit in early June between prime ministers amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, a possible strategic initiative could involve the cooperative use of their respective island territories in the Indian Ocean for strategic purposes. India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Australia’s Cocos (Keeling) Islands are well positioned to offer significant advantages for both countries.

How the Taliban Outlasted a Superpower: Tenacity and Carnage
Under the shade of a mulberry tree, near grave sites dotted with Taliban flags, a top insurgent military leader in eastern Afghanistan acknowledged that the group had suffered devastating losses from American strikes and government operations over the past decade. But those losses have changed little on the ground: The Taliban keep replacing their dead and wounded and delivering brutal violence.


Parsing The US Public Relations Campaign Concerning The South China Sea
As the US-China contest for regional dominance heats up, the South China Sea is becoming a main cockpit of the struggle – both militarily and for control of the narrative.  Many have analyzed and criticized China’s actions and its narrative defending.

How India can end Chinese transgressions: Take conflict to a place Beijing is worried about
How should India respond to another surge in Chinese transgressions at several places along our Himalayan frontiers? Over the past 15 years or so, strategic analysts have recommended two diametrically opposite approaches. The first, advocated by sober defence traditionalists and by hawks, is that we should hold the line along the Himalayas and escalate the conflict if we have to.
Trump seeks to add India, Russia to G7 invitation list
US President Donald Trump has postponed the G7 Summit till September and expressed his desire to expand the "outdated" bloc to G10 or G11, including India and three other nations to the grouping of the world's top economies. The president, in an interaction with reporters travelling with him aboard the Air Force One from Florida to Washington DC on May 30th, said that he is "postponing it (the summit) until September" and plans to invite Russia, South Korea, Australia and India.

The COVID-19 Crisis in Emerging Markets Demands a Once-in-a-Century Response
The novel coronavirus plunged emerging markets into crisis. As investors rushed to safety, major emerging economies lost more than $100 billion in foreign currency reserves in the month of March alone. Trade flows shrank. New capital inflows dried up. In many ways, the pandemic has been harder on emerging economies than the 2008 global financial crisis.