“US elects Donald Trump as President: How he handles China, Russia will be interesting”

When the history of the 21st century is written, 8 November, 2016 will be marked as a day when the worst nightmare of liberal internationalists came true with the election of the 45th President of the United States: Donald John Trump. The road from here to a global free-for-all is not far. All that would take is for Trump to carry out a small fraction of his foreign policy promises – if one can indeed call fragmentary, contradictory, stream-of-consciousness statements as such.

What President Trump means for India has already been dissected to the point where adding anything new becomes impossible, on either side of the ledger – Trump as “positive” or “negative” when it comes to India. And as umpteen commentators have already noted, the broad bipartisan support for India is something no American president can overturn overnight. Having said that the challenge for India does not lie in dealing with Trump’s India-specific policies. It lies with fire-fighting contingencies and spill-overs from his Administration’s policies elsewhere.

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“The alphabet soup in Goa”

[Co-authored with Samir Saran]

This weekend will see Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his foreign policy team undertake a complex and significant manoeuvre. This comes at a time when relations with Pakistan have discovered a new trough, the SAARC grouping is gasping for breath, the Chinese continue to demonstrate obstinate determination to hurt, harm and impede India on multiple fronts and the relationship with Russia is in dire need of resuscitation.

The annual BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Goa on October 15-16 is undeniably the main course but hidden in the main course is a set of ingredients with an independent chemistry, the IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa), along with the plat d’accompagnement, BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), that has as much potential as the main course. South Block will need to use this opportunity to respond to the current realities in India’s north and west, even as it consolidates India’s diplomatic push east and south, while opening new avenues for engaging its western partners in innovative ways.

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