Turkey’s new foray: The Red Sea and the Indian Ocean

Erdogan Muizzu

Turkey is making in roads as a proxy for Iran and Qatar into the Red Sea and China in the Indian Ocean. The Sultan’s gambit is to keep increasing his sphere of influence at any cost. Will he succeed?

In 2020, I had commented on the rising alliance between China-Pakistan-Iran-Turkey-Qatar, an alliance which allowed both Turkish President Erdogan and then Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to dream of leading the muslim ummah. In 2023 the declaration of the India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor (IMEC) at the G20 in Delhi created a lot of discontent in most of these countries.

While in 2020 Russia was sitting on a fence, between the west and China-Pakistan-Iran-Turkey-Qatar alliance, it has now firmly joined it. I personally see BRICS and its extension as a battleground between this new Russia-China-Pakistan-Iran-Turkey-Qatar alliance and India, but we will come to that in another blog post.

The Hamas attack on Israel essentially had different objectives. One was the Hamas just driving the point home that any Saudi Arabia-Israel rapprochement could not happen without Saudi Arabia settling the Palestine matter. Another was to consolidate global jihadist group’s under the banner of a Iran led “Axis of Resistance”, for which it was very successful.

IMEC would have led to Saudi-Israeli mutual recognition and the loss of Saudi interest in a Palestinian state would have destroyed any little relevance that the Hamas had left. Russia and Iran had their own agendas. The IMEC essentially expanded the West Asian Quad, I2U2 (Israel, India, USA and UAE), it consigned the Russia-Iran International North South transport corridor (INSTC) to the flames and challenged the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The countries most affected by the IMEC’s announcement were Egypt, Turkey, China, Russia, Iran (coincidentally, all Hamas allies). Erdogan, the Turkish President, was offended at the G20 in Delhi that Turkey was left out of the IMEC. He has fully supported the Hamas terrorist attack of 7th October and now Turkey is trying to make inroads into the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Somalia and the Horn of Africa: Turkey’s entry into the Red Sea

Somalia has always been in the news for being a failed state in the past couple of decades. Constant civil war, an Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabab along with Islamists continuously challenging the weak federal government and piracy are only some of its problems. The country faces abject poverty and is also in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. It is also located strategically on the African coast as ships exit from the Bab-Al Mandab strait into the Gulf of Aden which connects the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.

With Houthi attacks on ships passing the Bab Al-Mandab, Somali pirates seem to have also got energised(and received arms) to attack and capture ships transiting the strait. With the wars around the world, the recent crisis in Somalia has been almost ignored.

The New Somalia-Ethiopia conflict

Ethiopia is one of the largest and fastest growing African economies. It is also landlocked since Eritrea gained its independence in 1993 after a 30 year war of independence and the neighbours started a war in 1998 losing it complete access to the port of Assab in the Red Sea. While a peace deal (supported by the UAE) was signed in 2018, after five tumultuous years, it seems that the neighbours are on the brink of war again. One of the reasons is Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s belief that without its own port, Ethiopia’s development will be extremely hindered.

While both countries en masse troops for war, pragmatic Abiy signed an MoU with the breakaway Somali region of Somaliland for the use of the Berbera port on the Red Sea. While the terms of the MoU are not clear, Somaliland seems to have been offered similar terms Abiy had offered Eritrea for the use of Assab, including a share in the state-owned Ethiopian Airlines. The MoU will allow Ethiopia not obly to use Berbera for cargo but also as a military port and have a Ethiopian navy in the Red Sea. One of the promises that Abiy has made in return is eventual recognition and support for Somaliland’s independence, and this has kicked the hornet’s next in Somalia. While Somaliland has claimed independence from Mogadishu for a while, the Federal government has done its best to maintain national unity.

Enter Turkey…

The current Somali President Hassan Shiekh Mohamud has been strongly supported by the UAE while the previous President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo was supported by Qatar and Turkey. The recent agreement between Somaliland and Ethiopia seems to have given Mohamud the opportunity to change his alliances. He is also personally under duress as his son faces manslaughter charges in Istanbul for running over and killed a courier driver. Mohamud’s son fled Turkey since the accident and there is a warrant for his arrest. Turkey expects him to return and face charges.

Turkey seems to beneficiary of this latest round of tension in the Horn of Africa. Mohamud is rumored to be imminently visiting Turkey to meet with Erdogan, to ask for Turkish ships to patrol the Somali coast for anti-piracy as well as guarding against any Ethiopia-Somaliland moves. It seems that it is also being discussed that Turkey will provide ships, arms and equipment so that the Federal Somali Government can finally have its own navy. If this is true, this essentially brings both sides of the Bab-Al Mandab and the Gulf of Aden under the control of the Turkish (Islamic brotherhood run) Erdogan government on the African end, and the Iranian Houthi’s on the Asian (Yemeni) end.

Turkey also seems to be acting as a proxy for China in the Indian Ocean. The new President of Maldives, Mohamed Muizzu, is a dedicated Islamist. Traditionally Maldives Presidents visit India on their first international trip, given the position and importance of India to Maldives. Maldives relies on India for medical care, food supplies, tourism and a lot of other important survival issues.

Muizzu was elected instead on an Islamic, “India-out” platform and visited Turkey for his first international trip. His second international trip is scheduled for Beijing. While Sri Lanka denied permission for Chinese research ship Xiang Yang Hong 3 at India’s request, Maldives refused to do so. At his inauguration he requested the Indian government to withdraw its defence personnel stationed on the island.

If all goes as Erdogan has planned, Turkey will not only firmly have a base in the Red Sea, but also provide some kind of support with China to the Maldives, increasing its area of influence tremendously. The only question is if Erdogan will be able to pull this off.

Sri Lanka vieta le navi spia cinesi per 1 anno

Xiang Yang Hong 3

Il governo dello Sri Lanka ha annunciato un divieto di un anno per le “navi da ricerca” cinesi nella sua Zona Economica Esclusiva (ZEE), utilizzata per monitorare i test militari indiani e sorvegliare acque di cruciale importanza strategica. Questa decisione arriva in risposta alle preoccupazioni strategiche e di sicurezza sollevate dal primo ministro indiano Narendra Modi durante un incontro con il presidente dello Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, lo scorso luglio.

La misura immediata impedisce alla nave cinese per la ricerca scientifica Xiang Yang Hong 3 di condurre “esplorazioni di acque profonde” nell’Oceano Indiano meridionale dal 5 gennaio 2024 fino alla fine di maggio, poiché non otterrà l’autorizzazione dalle autorità srilankesi.

Il governo dello Sri Lanka, entrato nel suo anno elettorale nel 2024, ha scelto di evitare ulteriori complicazioni geopolitiche con il suo vicino più prossimo, l’India. La raccolta di dati da parte delle navi cinesi è di grande valore per i sottomarini cinesi che navigano nelle acque poco profonde dello stretto di Malacca e attraverso la regione dell’Oceano Indiano orientale, suscitando preoccupazioni in India.

Inoltre, la Cina ha richiesto al regime filo-Pechino delle Maldive, guidato dal neo eletto presidente Mohammed Muizzu, di permettere alla nave cinese con sede a Xiamen, con un peso di 4.600 tonnellate, di condurre indagini al largo della costa di Malé aumentano il suo footprint nell’Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

L’ultima di una serie di navi oceanografiche cinesi che arrivano nella regione per una missione di tre mesi è la Shi Yan 6, che attraccò nel porto di Hambantota nello Sri Lanka proprio sotto il naso dell’India nel 2023. Queste navi da ricognizione cinesi svolgono compiti cruciali come la mappatura del fondale marino, la registrazione di dati idrologici e la raccolta di informazioni su cavi sottomarini e lanci di missili.

Le navi della “ricerca” cinesi sono diventate comuni nella sfera di influenza dell’India. I rapporti indicano che i cinesi sono particolarmente interessati alla dorsale novanta est, una dorsale oceanica sul fondale dell’Oceano Indiano. La dorsale divide l’Oceano Indiano nell’Oceano Indiano occidentale e orientale.

I tre porti gestiti dai cinesi nell’Asia meridionale – Chittagong in Bangladesh, Hambantota nello Sri Lanka e Gwadar in Pakistan – sono chiamati un “triangolo della morte” che circonda l’India. Inoltre, la Cina ha recentemente riavviato i lavori per il suo porto in acque profonde sulla costa del Myanmar, consolidando ulteriormente la sua presenza nel Golfo del Bengala attraverso un addendum all’accordo di concessione per il porto di Kyaukpyu. (articolo formiche.net)

Gli analisti suggeriscono che le attività di indagine cinesi vicino all’Indonesia e all’arcipelago indiano delle Isole Andamane e Nicobare mirano a individuare le reti di sensori “a amo da pesca” della Marina americana progettate per segnalare l’ingresso di sottomarini cinesi nell’Oceano Indiano.

Notes on IMEC, the Indo-Pacific, China’s presence

Audizione su rapporti Italia-Paesi Indo-pacifico, Comitato permanente sulla politica estera per l’indo-pacifico, istituito presso la Commissione Affari esteri. 22nd November 2023. (Link: Audition)

The view of the Indo-pacific has normally been from the other side of the Pacific Ocean where the more used economic term was Asia Pacific. The first leader to recognize the importance of India, was former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his speech to the Indian parliament called the “Confluence of the Two Seas”. While this was an inspiration to the first Quad, it came from Abe’s experience at countering China in the Pacific and his realization that India needed to be at the centre of any struggle to counter China. The first Quad was to fail within one year of its birth.

Launched in 2023, India-Middle East-Europe Economic corridor (IMEC) moves India to the center of the Indo-Pacifico almost 16 years after Abe’s famous speech. It has taken India 16 years to develop its own political strategy and take its position as a global power while concluding various defense agreements, principally with the United States. While different countries in the region have different strategies to deal with the growing contest between China and the United States, the basic concept is to protect a Free and open indo pacific  (FoIP) from China’s aggressive policies.

By moving the center of the Indo-Pacific macro region to India by the announcement of IMEC, the large unit that is the Indo-Pacific, which goes from the shores of africa right up to the pacific shores of the united states is automatically divided into two parts, the Indo-Mediterranean and the smaller Indo-Pacific.

The Indo-Mediterranean marries the enlarged Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean of the Indian West coast. Its influence extends from Italy right up to the west coast of India, including the Middle East (now called West Asia), Israel, the persian gulf and GCC, horn of Africa, right through the red sea, bab al mandab into the the Indias west coast.

The smaller Indo-Pacific starts from the Eastern shore of India, the Bay of Bengal, Sri lanka and extends to the pacific shores of the United States, bringing into it Japan, ASEAN, Australia etc.

This division creates a far more important role for Europe, Italy, Israel and the countries of Middle East, GCC and makes them stronger stakeholders in the larger Indo-Pacific project. As foreign policy, the Indo-Mediterranean brings Italy’s Mattei plan in complete synergy with India’s Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) which become complements of each other.

This is strategically also important as the Indo-Mediterranean has traditionally been the projection of influence of European countries. This is also the area which is most important for energy production world wide, the GCC countries which account  for around 45% of the worlds oil reserves and around 20% of the worlds gas reserves. The Indian Ocean is also China’s weak point, where China receives more than half its oil and gas from. It is China’s access to its biggest markets but where China struggles to create a contiguous military presence. Strategically, to check China’s growing influence in the Pacific, Abe had envisioned, it was important to start in the Indian Ocean.

IMEC’s announcement at the G20 in Delhi also brought together over 500 years of history. In 1453 the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans, cut the land route from India to Europe, started a struggle in Europe for access to India via sea and destroyed Venices (Italy) primacy for trade with the orient, first to Portugal and later to the UK.

Until IMEC’s announcement Europe and India (and Asia) were mainly connected by sea, initially around the Cape of Good hope and now through the Suez canal.

This was all to say that the IMEC is a simple concept, not a grand political announcement. Unlike the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative(BRI), the IMEC works at making trade more efficient by connecting corridors which exist, which have to be reinforced and not created. In this aspect it is more a competitor to the International North South Trade Corridor (INSTC) which was started by Russia, Iran and India and recently started operations.

Continue Reading

Audizione su rapporti Italia-Paesi Indo-pacifico

Camera dei Deputati, Comitato permanente sulla politica estera per l’indo-pacifico, istituito presso la Commissione Affari esteri

Indo-Pacifico è stata normalmente visto dall’altra parte dell’Oceano Pacifico, quello Australiano, Giapponese, USA. Il termine economico più utilizzato era Asia Pacifico. Il primo leader a riconoscere l’importanza dell’India è stato l’ex primo ministro giapponese Shinzo Abe nel suo discorso al parlamento indiano chiamato “la confluenza dei due mari”. (Link: Audizione)

Sebbene questa sia stata un’ispirazione per il primo Quadrilateral Dialogue (“Quad”), deriva dall’esperienza di Abe nel contrastare la Cina nel Pacifico e dalla sua consapevolezza che l’India doveva essere al centro di qualsiasi lotta per contrastare la Cina.

Lanciato nel 2023, the India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor (“IMEC”) sposta l’India al baricentro dell’Indo-Pacifico quasi 16 anni dopo il famoso discorso di Abe.  I 16 anni erano necessari all’India per sviluppare la propria maturità e politica estera, firmare patti di difesa con gli Stati Uniti e organizzarsi per assumere la propria posizione di potenza globale.

Sebbene i diversi paesi della regione abbiano strategie diverse per affrontare la crescente competizione tra Cina e Stati Uniti, il concetto di base è quello di proteggere un’indo-pacifico libera e aperta (FOIP) dalle politiche aggressive della Cina.

Indo-Mediterraneo e Indo-Pacifico

Con l’annuncio dell’IMEC, spostando il centro della macro-regione chiamata Indo-Pacifico in India, quella grande unità che è l’Indo-Pacifico, che va dalle coste africane fino alle coste pacifiche degli Stati Uniti, viene automaticamente divisa in due parti, l’Indo-Mediterraneo (sposa il Mediterraneo allargato con l’Oceano Indiano) dove il Piano Mattei Italiano si sposa con l’approccio Indiano SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region). La sua influenza si estende dall’Italia fino alla costa occidentale dell’India, compreso l’Asia occidentale (il Medio Oriente).

Continue Reading

Will Italy take advantage of India’s efforts to lead the global south?

The XVth BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit has concluded with the long awaited expansion of the bloc with new members being announced. Effective 1st January 2024, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Iran, Argentina, Egypt will join the BRICS bloc as new members. The expansion was controversial, with China trying to pack the grouping with its allies, including Venezuela and India rather contrary to a sudden expansion. The Indian Prime Minister almost canceled his in person participation for this summit in South Africa.

While the inclusion of Iran gives the group an anti-west tilt, the other new members balance out Iran’s inclusion and provide India strong support to continue as a member of the bloc without having to bow to China’s demands. Modi also has almost achieved African Union’s (AU) entry into the G20 during India’s Presidency with China’s supreme leader Xi Jinping expressing his support for the AU’s entry into the G20 at a bilateral meeting with Senegal’s President Mickey Sall.

China’s attempt so far had been to create a separate grouping of developing nations under the BRICS umbrella which would counter the G7 while India’s attempt was to pull the African Union into the G20 fold during its Presidency. Xi also left dissatisfied, instead of BRICS announcing its own currency to counter the US dollar, the bloc encouraged members to trade in their own and local currencies. Xi has been under fire recently at home, a financial crisis in China and a decelerating economy much attributed to Xi’s authoritarian stance have started to challenge Xi’s capacity and leadership.

On the sidelines of the BRICS summit Modi also met with his counterparts from Iran, Mozambique, South Africa, Ethiopia, Senegal among others for bilateral meetings. All leaders congratulated India on its moon landing, the first country to reach the south pole of the moon and the fourth to land on the moon’s surface, a huge achievement for India and the global south.

The leadership of the Global South

China has followed a strategy to seize leadership of the global south, while India has always maintained its role as a spokesperson for the global south advocating for the concerns of developing countries with western developed economies. China’s various strategies included obtaining the leadership of UN entities and now proposing BRICS as a direct alternative to the Group of 7 (G7) where it is not invited despite being the world’s second economy. India has been a regular guest at G7 meetings. The world’s most populous country, its largest democracy and fifth largest economy neither has a permanent seat in the UN security council, nor is a permanent part of the more informal G7 and continues participating as a guest of the Presidency.

In Africa, China and Russia’s intentions have come to the fore over years. In the past decades, between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and development assistance, China’s supreme leader Xi Jinping has doled out billions of dollars in aid and loans. African leaders have discovered that most of these loans were to make their countries dependant on China or seize strategic assets such as ports and other infrastructure at default which China assumed would be a certainty.

Russia’s interference through the Wagner group and other private military companies in Libya, Mali and Niger Africa as well as its support to Syria in a bloody civil war has not gone unnoticed by African leaders.

Africa has a long-suffering relationship with colonialism and imperialism. African people and leaders have developed an aversion to European countries which have colonized and looted them for centuries. The EU continues to preach human rights and provide funds with impossible conditions, despite a lot of individual countries’ prosperity being due to their colonial abuse of Africa.

Despite being the beacon of western democracy, slavery was an important ingredient in prosperity of the United States of America. The US and the EU have continued to meddle in African politics until recently, replacing heads of state at their whim and blaming suffering and poverty in African countries on corruption and mismanagement.

Africa finds the same imperial vein in China and Russia, both rush to prove their leadership and in that rush impose their will and leaders on the African people often with the use of deceit and violence. India instead has never had imperial ambitions. It has been a beacon for the independence struggle of most African countries. Indian communities have settled in Africa for hundreds of years, some attracted by middle management opportunities offered by colonial Britain, France and Portugal, others dragged in indentured servitude by the colonial masters. Despite the reasons, India’s culture, cuisine, languages as well as Africans of Indian origin are now an indelible part of the continent. India understands the pain from colonial plunder and has developed into a global power within 75 years of its independence from Britain despite its “two centuries of humiliation”.

Despite money and muscle that China and Russia may possess, India will continue to be the voice of the global south-it understands colonialism, poverty and humiliation. The world’s largest democracy now has the muscle, credibility, the authority, and understanding of the developing world’s issues far beyond what a dictatorial China or an imperialist Russia ever can.

Italy’s G7: Countering China and Russia

Italy is one of the only European countries which has failed at a colonial project. Its flirtation as an imperial power in Ethiopia and Libya was short-lived. Prime Minister Meloni also understands the importance of Africa. Her “Mattei plan” which focuses on development and cooperation with Africa is the cornerstone of her international relations strategy. She will visit India in September 2023 for the G20 Heads of State, her second visit to Delhi this year. Meloni also understands and appreciates the rising importance of India in global geopolitics, especially as Italy is preparing to exit its Belt and Road Initiative MoU. Meloni and Modi have developed a strong relationship since her election and both have convergent strategies for Africa.

While many analysts have spoken of enlarging the G7 to counter China’s aggressive ambitions, Italy’s G7 should propose only two names for an expansion during its presidency in 2024: India as the 8th member and the African Union as a non-enumerated member as is the EU. As the world’s fifth economy, India has a right to be invited to the table, not having to wait for a larger reform or expansion of the G7. The gains India has made during its G20 Presidency and the effort it has put in ensuring that BRICS does not become a China led platform can be maximized with this invitation to the G7 during Italy’s Presidency to India and the AU. As former undersecretary for external affairs of Italy, Gianni Vernetti, summarizes in his opinion piece “The entry of India into the club of powerful nations (G7) would be of great benefit to the west”.

Such an invitation will be a clear signal to India and Africa of their importance to the world’s democracies and their place in global geopolitics. It will encourage African leaders to be stakeholders in democracy and development and empower India to be the bridge and voice between the global south and the world’s leading democracies. A non-confrontational, India-Italy partnership can continue to keep most of the global south in the corner of democracies without a direct confrontation with China.

The recent BRICS expansion should be a wake up call to western democracies. As Meloni heads to Delhi she has a historic opportunity to consolidate Italy’s role on the global stage in 2024.

Al-Zawahiri dead: bad timing?

Zawahiri’s assassination opens a pandora’s box
5th august 2022 jerusalem post

JPost article in English

Formiche.net article in Italian

The killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the lackluster, pedantic idealogue of Al-Qaeda, brings a strange closure to the US “War on Terror”, which started with 9/11. Egyptian born al-Zawahiri, was known to be a confidant of Saudi Osama bin Laden, who was America’s Public enemy number one, until he was found and killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, over 10 years ago.

The world had all but forgotten about al-Zawahiri and al-Qaeda. Once the primary global Islamic terrorist organization, the Al-Qaeda had become a footnote with more deadly organizations such as the ISIS taking its place. Islamic terrorism has also evolved extensively since Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri masterminded the attacks on 9/11. Al-Zawahiri neither had the finances nor the sophistication to upgrade to terrorism 4.0.

Continue Reading

Il momento dell’India nella diplomazia europea

Modi and Quad

Originale Affarinternazionali

L’India è diventata un centro di interessi molto attivo di recente, nonostante la sua posizione impopolare in occidente sulla Russia. Sulla scia della visita in India del primo ministro britannico Johnson, anche la presidente della Commissione europea, Ursula von der Leyen è stata a Delhi. Von der Leyen ha visitato la capitale indiana più volte in veste di politica e ministra della difesa tedesca, ma questa è stata la prima volta da presidente della Commissione europea.

La sua visita arriva in un momento difficile, momento in cui Boris Johnson, nonostante le proteste provenienti da diverse parti nel Regno Unito, è stato in India per incoraggiare la Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP), che prevede il raddoppio del commercio tra Regno Unito e India entro il 2030, e i negoziati per l’accordo di libero scambio (FTA) tra Regno Unito e India, iniziati nel gennaio 2022. Secondo tutti i rapporti, la visita di Johnson ha avuto molto successo considerato che il punto cruciale della Brexit è stata proprio la concorrenza commerciale Ue-Uk, soprattutto nel Commonwealth, di cui l’India è membro, una comunità forte di 2,4 miliardi di persone.

Continue Reading

Will Di Maio’s visit to Delhi build on Von der Leyen’s momentum?

Will Di Maio’s visit to Delhi build on Von der Leyen’s momentum?

India has become a hub of activity recently, despite its unpopular position in the west on Russia. On the heels of UK Prime Minister Johnson’s visit to India, European Commission President, Ursula Von Der Leyen, now visits Delhi. Von der Leyen has visited the Indian capital several times as a German politician and defense minister, this is her first as the President of the European Commission. Her visit comes at a challenging time, as Boris Johnson, who despite protests from different segments in the UK, was in India to encourage trade and to push ahead the Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) which envisions doubling UK-India trade by 2030. He also was looking to boost the UK-India Free trade agreement negotiations (FTA) which started in January 2022. By all reports, Johnson’s visit was very successful and the crux of Brexit was the EU-British trade competition, especially in the 2.4 billion people strong commonwealth of which India is a member.

Boris Johnson in India

The United Kingdom was almost 100% supplier of India’s defense equipment in the 1950’s. In 2020, it was reduced to around 1% of the $70-80 billion that India spends annually on defense. Johnson was aiming at clawing back into the defense segment, which is lucrative for the UK and  had to be ignored during the UK’s EU membership, given competition rules.

Johnson tried, during his visit, to shore up the UK’s sales in this lucrative market while announcing investments in the Green economy, technology unicorns etc. to a tune of £1billion. Flying directly to Ahmedabad, the erstwhile capital of Gujarat, Prime Minister Modi’s home state and more importantly Mahatma Gandhi’s home state, Johnson all but atoned for all his predecessors’ actions in 190 years of colonialization with the show he put on, which frankly surprised experts and observers. What now remains to be seen is if Von Der leyen can triumph Johnson’s act and if Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio is able to continue with Von de Leyen’s momentum when he visits Delhi in May.

Continue Reading

“A dialogue on democracy” is launched.

A dialogue on democracy is launched.

I was honoured to launch the “Dialogue on Democracy” with Fondazione Einaudi and Indian Council of Cultural Relations.

Democracy has grown from Abraham Lincoln’s description of a government “of the people, for the people and by the people” at Gettysburg. Over time this has evolved from selective suffrage to universal suffrage. Today in the digital age, democracy has become a constant rapport between governments and their constituents with flash plebiscites or referendums or polls conducted by political parties to measure the reaction of their proposals and actions within their electoral pool. While digital democracy has in one way, made governance more accountable, more transparent, and more inclusive, it has handicapped modern political decision making. While digital platforms today allow more information flow from the government bodies to the constituents and allow governments to measure the perception of the electorate, similarly fake news and “trial by social media” amputates the ability of the decision makers to take strategic decisions which may be unpopular in the short term however may be of great benefit to the country in the long term. Above all this also calls into the question the role of the platform and messenger which is usually a US based multinational which responds to US sensitivities and shareholders. Much like governance was corporatized in the 1600’s to private companies like the East India company, is democracy now being corporatized in the name of free speech and expression? European countries have had their challenges with social media and democracy and India, the world’s largest democracy is always in election mode, given the vastness of positions, governments to be elected. India conducts elections every year, to state legislatures or local governments. The panel “The future of democracy: Politics of the future”, aims to reinforce the motto of the Indian republic “Satya Meva Jayate (Truth always conquers)” celebrating the anniversary of the architect of the Indian constitution Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, to discuss key issues facing India’s democracy and democracy in general. Speakers included Ambassador Dore Gold (President of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs & former Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State of Israel), H.E Rajiv Chandrasekhar (Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Govt. of India), His Excellency Arif Mohamed Khan (Governor of Kerala, Republic of India), Sasmit Patra (Member of the Rajya Sabha, Parliament of India), Ambassador Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agatha (former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Italy), Nirj Deva (former Member of the European Parliament).

Ukraine: Who will bear the cross?

Ukraine, the conflict now rages while it is more apparent that this is a proxy war fought at the doorsteps of Russia and Europe.

A comedian kickstarts his career with a parody. The story runs thus, a schoolteacher accidently getting himself elected as the President of his country when his students post his rant against the government online and crowdfund for his election. The show is so successful that four years later, the comedian really lands up in the top office. The plot doesn’t stop there, he takes on a feared, despised, and evil dictator, who decides to invade his country and …. (wins?). World leaders who tolerated the evil dictator and his evil, sidekick corrupt billionaires for decades rally with the upstart and move to send weapons and medicines to the besieged population while government employees in various countries which welcomed the evil empires evil money go to confiscate their yachts and arrest the billionaire cronies.

This isn’t the plot of “Argo returns” or a B-grade Hollywood film, but of the state of the world’s geopolitics. The script seems to have been written in the Obama White House in 2014 as an afterthought to the Maidan revolution, which brought western democracy to Ukraine and brought Ukraine to “NATO-sphere”.

Continue Reading