India and Myanmar have recently signed an MoU after holding talks on a range of issues on joint military exercises and training provided to Myanmar Defence Services in India, joint maritime security surveillance and cooperation in new infrastructure projects. These talks are of vital importance given the growing influence of China in the region.
Recently, India had dropped out of the RCEP deal since the outstanding issues like India’s major trade deficit with countries in RCEP, lack of assurances on market access and the other nations’ insistence on keeping 2014 as the base year for tariff reduction was not addressed. These above-mentioned issues can lead to negative effects on the Indian farmers, MSMEs and dairy sector. This incident reflects India’s limitations when it comes to the diplomatic ties with the ASEAN nations despite the recent efforts taken through the Act East Policy. Addressing the existing issues with the ASEAN nations is vital for India’s national interest.
General Bipin Rawat has become the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of India on New Year’s Day. This came as the result of the centre’s approval for the creation of the new posting of the Chief of Defence Staff and the Department of Military Affairs under the Ministry of Defence. This position has been recommended by many for decades and the government was not able to implement this until now due to criticism from the political class on the possibility of a military takeover and the service staffs’ unwillingness to part their powers and confine themselves to only staff functions.
The India-Bangladesh bilateral relationship has witnessed unprecedented heights over the last few years. This is because of Bangladesh’s growing geopolitical importance in the current times. Bangladesh is a key player in India’s Act East Policy and Neighbourhood First Policy. India’s ties with Bangladesh can ensure an economic boost to north-eastern India and the absence of terrorism and insurgency in the region. However, there are still a few contentious issues that are affecting India-Bangladesh bilateral ties. India would do well to proactively boost its ties with Bangladesh for its economic growth and for enhancing its presence in the international arena.