Brookings India hosted a private roundtable on ‘Indian Perspectives of Global Trends’ with Sir John Sawers and Nader Mousavizadeh on September 15. Sir John Sawers is the former chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (also known as MI6) and is now Chairman of Macro Advisory Partners. Mr. Mousavizadeh was Chief Executive of Oxford Analytica and was previously an investment banker with Goldman Sachs. The discussion was moderated by Dhruva Jaishankar, Fellow for Foreign Policy at Brookings India. The discussion revolved around various Indian perspectives on important international developments- including events in Europe and the United States, in Iran and Central Asia, and to India’s East, as well as the relationship between these developments.
The upcoming U.S. presidential elections and the implications for India and the Indo-U.S. relationship more broadly were discussed. Discussants were of the opinion that there is a considerable pro-American sentiment in India and that the future of India-U.S. relations looks optimistic. However, there was some concern about the possibility of Donald Trump becoming President and what that might entail, not only in domestic terms but also American involvement in the international arena.
Developments in Central and West Asia and their implications for Indian foreign policy were also discussed. The issue of economic and political stagnation was identified as a big concern in Central Asian countries with important ramifications for India. While India has a good relationship with Central Asian countries at the political level, the economic relationship is still week. India has higher stakes in the Gulf with a huge Indian diaspora in the region, dependency on energy supplies from the Middle East, and significant remittance flows. The India-Iran relationship which has become less complicated after the lifting of sanctions was also discussed. There is considerable potential for trade and other engagements between the two countries, which has not been realised as yet.
With India’s Act East policy and the U.S. pivot to Asia, Southeast Asia is increasingly becoming important for strategic, geopolitical and economic reasons. While China is the dominant player in South East Asia in terms of investment in hardware and infrastructure, India can provide expertise in commodity, software and institutional services. Projects such as China’s One Belt One Road are also increasing a sense of strategic unease in India. Greater engagement with Southeast Asia through ASEAN and other mechanisms can be an effective counter to China’s growing influence in the region.
The strategic landscape has undergone a significant change in the last few years resulting in the realignment of traditional foreign and security policy structures. The rise of nationalist leaders in different parts of the world and anti-globalization sentiments have the power to disrupt world peace and stability. Falling oil prices, the advent of technology, and sectarian crises have also significantly altered West Asia as a region and its relationships with the rest of the world. China’s growing influence, not only in East Asia but also in other parts of the world such as West Asia and Africa, has caused some strategic unease in traditional power structures. Nonetheless, its rise as a major global power will have to be accommodated. In India, foreign policy under Prime Minister Modi has undergone considerable change and become somewhat more assertive. The Indian Ocean Region has assumed greater importance as was evident with Modi’s visits to all islands in the Indian Ocean and increasing presence in African littoral states like Mozambique. India’s neighbourhood first policy has also meant increased engagement with countries like Afghanistan and Bangladesh on issues of mutual importance such as terrorism.
In conclusion, discussants were of the opinion that relations between great powers such as U.S., Russia, EU, China, India, and Japan will be central to international stability in the future, with the Indian Ocean region assuming greater strategic importance.
Like other products of the Brookings Institution India Center, this article is intended to contribute to discussion and stimulate debate on important issues. The views are of the author(s) and discussants(s). Brookings India does not have any institutional views.
This event is by invitation only
Brookings India hosted a discussion with Sir John Sawers and Nader Mousavizadeh on Indian perspectives of global trends.
Sir John Sawers is the former chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (also known as MI6) and is now Chairman of Macro Advisory Partners. He has also served as the UK’s ambassador to Cairo and as its permanent representative to the United Nations. Mr. Mousavizadeh was Chief Executive of Oxford Analytica and was previously an investment banker with Goldman Sachs.
The discussion featured various Indian perspectives on important international developments – including events in Europe and the United States, in Iran and Central Asia, and to India’s East, as well as the relationship between these developments, along with inputs from Sir John and Mr. Mousavizadeh.
This event is by invitation only
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[President Trump's counterparts fear that Americans] do not feel they need to lead the world anymore... The United States is still the dominant power out there – the Atlantic alliance is still alive. But [Trump's] foreign policy weakened some of the elements.