Talk on “Connectivity Strategies in the Indo- Pacific Region” by Prof. Gulshan Sachdeva
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The Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) organised a talk by Prof. Gulshan Sachdeva on

“Connectivity Strategies in the Indo- Pacific Region”

on February 13, 2023. Dr. Arvind Gupta, Director, VIF, chaired the session and made welcome remarks. Lt. Gen. R. K. Sawhney, Amb. Anil Wadhwa, Mr. Anil Devli, Mr. Kanav Monga, Dr. Udai Bhanu Singh, Brig. Vinod Anand and members from the strategic community participated in this deliberation. The talk was followed by a discussion and Q& A session.

The talk highlighted that the current phase of globalisation is defined by geopolitics and geoeconomics of connectivity. In the Indo-Pacific, which is an emerging economic architecture, all major players have their own connectivity strategies either individually or through multilateral frameworks. This trend is expected to continue for the next few decades. The connectivity strategies have also become national regional strategies for many countries in the region. These strategies have a developmental, political economy and geopolitical dimensions.

The talk highlighted that the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) dominates over all other connectivity strategies as there are around 200 cooperation agreements they have signed with 150 countries, and with 32 international organisations under this initiative. Many countries in the Indo-Pacific region, Central Asia and Europe became a part of the BRI as they viewed it as an opportunity for regional integration.

The connectivity strategies of the United States, Japan, South Korea, the European Union and Russia were also discussed. It was highlighted during the discussion that the infrastructure projects and connectivity strategies are now being contested especially between the US and China and their respective partners. The official statements of the Quad countries and the EU are now highlighting the issues of global norms, financial responsibilities, transparency, debt burden, environment, sustainability and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

India’s approach towards regional connectivities was also part of the deliberation. India has not announced any connectivity strategy, however, there is some development taking place in this direction including India's involvement with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). India is not part of BRI or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and has also not agreed to the trade pillar of the Indo- Pacific Economic Framework. However, it is promoting road connectivity narrative through its strategic partnerships, trade agreements and policies such as the Act East policy, connect Central Asia policy, Indian Ocean Association, Africa dialogues, the International North South Transport Corridor and its engagements in Afghanistan, the Middle East and other areas. Given the economic and geopolitical relevance of connectivity, the talk emphasised that India needs to evaluate the existing regional connectivity linkages and also develop its own connectivity strategy in order to play an important role in the Indo- Pacific region. India’s role in maximising the positive impact of infrastructure towards sustainable growth and development in G20 was also part of the deliberation.

Event Date 
February 13, 2023

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