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Geopolitical Shift: Is India Moving Closer to the US?



Indo US ties

Last week on Wednesday, External affairs minister of India, S.M. Krishna met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for their third annual strategic dialogue in Washington.

With the changing geopolitical orientation in South Asia, US is also shifting sides. US is now at many differences with Pakistan, its once major non NATO Ally and ex CENTO and SEATO. It was US which supported Pakistan against India in 1971 war of liberation of Bangladesh and even sent its navy to check India.  Today US finds its interests in India which is slightly alarming for the greater Eurasian region. 
Discussion for strategy for Pakistan, Afghanistan and counter terrorism was brought in the domain, however the main agenda was the economic and military cooperation.
India may not be that close to US strategically but a large part of its economy is dependent on US like most of the open economy in the world. India’s one of the largest growing industry of Information Technology earns most of its revenue from US based companies. Not talking about call centres alone, but real engineers who have been providing solutions, suggestions and developing cutting edge technology for these companies. Indian companies have been developing softwares for almost every industry whether it is telecom, healthcare, aviation, transport or finance, in fact some Indian companies have also been developing software for charity.
With the shifting focus of US foreign policy from Middle East to Asia Pacific, US is hoping that presence of India on their side can benefit US to a greater extent. Except Pakistan, India maintains good relations with almost every country on the land as well as in the Indian Ocean region. Thus gaining India’s support in their activities and somehow shifting the work aimed at containing China on India’s shoulders would be the top priority of the American diplomacy.
India and US began to come closer since 9/11 attack on New York’s World Trade Centre. It was the first time when America accepted that India has been the victim of cross border terrorism for very long time. First time extremists in the Afghanistan and Pakistan were considered as global problem. As soon as the US and Northern alliance forces regained control over Afghanistan pushing Taliban regime out, Indian diplomats started rebuilding work in Afghanistan donating and investing billions of dollars, appreciated by the US.
However, it was George W. Bush who entered into a great partnership with India by signing Indo US nuclear deal with India, that allowed India to openly carry on its civilian as well as military nuclear program without signing the NPT. George W Bush arrived India during his last days of Presidency saying he came to India as a friend rather than the President of USA. The partnership also witnessed a five-fold increase in bilateral trade (from $18 bln in 2001 to $100 bln expected this year) in the last decade. India and US also signed various military and arm procurement contracts in last 5 years.
Recently US has expressed its willingness to forge better and stronger ties with India, making India its full fledged ally, however most of the US ally becomes mere a satellite of US which accepts pentagon policies and respects their interests. In this case US knows that India will not be willing to lose its independence in making policies and is not so small country that can be controlled easily.
Indian Minister of External affairs just after concluding their trip to US headed towards Cuba for important discussions, Cuba is America’s old geopolitical and ideological rival. This shows that India is with US, but only till its interests are met, otherwise India is free to make its own policy and relations with other countries, whether they fall in US pole or not.
Similarly, after signing the agreement on cooperation in the civil nuclear energy sector, the US expected that the Indian market would open up for American companies. But India’s nuclear liability law which allows suing suppliers of technology in case of an accident prevented US companies from eagerly stepping into the game. When the US saw that it was losing the competition, it resorted to well-tested tactics. The US-funded NGOs in southern Indian Tamil Nadu state waged protests that have until now prevented the commencement of a Russian-built Kudankulam nuclear power plant which was ready to start operations by the end of 2011, writes Boris Volkhonsky, senior research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies for Voice of Russia.
Also, despite a significant growth in defense trade, India last year rejected both Boeing and Lockheed Martin in their bid for supplying 126 multi-role combat aircraft for Indian Air Force, making the choice solely based on its national interests.
He further mentions that despite all the pressure to open markets for American retailers like Wal-Mart, India is keen on preserving the social balance within the country, because the advent of gross foreign retailers will inevitably lead to the ruin of hundreds of thousands of small businesses in the retail sphere.
India believes in checking China’s growth and now that China and Russia are very close it is America and Japan which can help India do that, however in the current scenario geopolitical orientation is very confusing. India understands that growing together with China is better for both India and China than to grow being rivals. If India make a move to counter China with the help of foreign hand, it will only create tensed environment between the two countries and the long border which they share along the Himalayas. This can give a bad direction to the billion dollar worth trade between the two countries which both India and China do not want to risk. Also, in the worst case scenario, if India and China ever get into a conflict, US will at the max provide India weapons and assistant, and will remain mere a spectator leaving India in the tough situation to suffer.
The other area where US and India think different is Iran, although due US pressure India has reduced oil imports from Iran by 15%. however, India claims that it reduced the imports seeing the worsening economic conditions in the country. India considers Iran as a great partner in rebuilding Afghanistan. India had recently constructed road from Afghanistan to Iran’s chah bahar port, to reduce Afghanistan’s dependency on Pakistan for sea trade.
India considers its relations with Iran special and to continue buying Iranian oil, India declared that it will make payments in gold and Indian Rupees instead of US Dollars [Read more: Iranian Oil Import: What US Sanction on India Could Mean for US].
India’s relation with Iran will face a blow if India stops importing Iranian oil. And this will, in return, negatively affect America’s interest in Afghanistan. America, has so far lauded India’s efforts in Afghanistan for  development of infrastructure and basic civil facilities, which has reduced the burden of America who, by default, holds the responsibility to repair the damage done in war. India depends on Iran to execute its various humanitarian projects in Afghanistan, as India has a long history of conflicts with Pakistan. India is also connecting Iranian ports with Afghanistan and Central Asia upto Russia by rail and road for better trade in the region. India is also helping Iran in the development of the Chabahar port, which gives Indian goods heading for Central Asia and Afghanistan, preferential treatment and tariff reductions. Considering this, if relations with Iran is disturbed, India’s efforts in helping Afghanistan will also be disturbed severely.
All this shows that India is doing real business with US, it is with US till it is beneficial for both, India will not agree to do something that is in sole interest of US. Moreover, India enjoys the comfort of being the regional power as well as the representative of the neutral world and being compared with the rising powers like Russia and China. India has still kept open all the doors of any cooperation with its all weather trusted and proven friend Russia.

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Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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A Historical exploration of Khajuraho



khajuraho temple

The UNESCO world heritage temples of Khajuraho are situated in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh. Built by the kings of Chandela dynasty during 950 to 1050 AD, these exquisite temples were lost to the world from 13AD onwards till they were discovered by the British in 1838 under the cover of dense date palm trees.

 This collection of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples are Khajuraho temples are famous for art on stone. Variously described as living temples, Temple of Love and consisting of unique erotic sculptures the Khajuraho group of temples are considered by many to be the pinnacle of India’s temple art. The temple complex creates an eclectic mix of spirituality, eastern philosophy, architecture and cultural heritage.

Khajuraho is best visited during winter on account of its extreme climate. Summer months can be very hot. The famous Khajuraho Dance Festival is held in March and attracts visitors from across the world.

 Khajuraho is well connected to major cities by train and by air. The airport is 5km from the city centre and links to Delhi, Agra and Mumbai. It is best recommended to use a trusted cab service provider like Savaari, where you can make an online booking by downloading the Savaari App.

Western Group of temples.

 The Western group of temples have the largest of the temples and are richly decorated and form the main area of attraction

  • Lakshmana Temple – The temple dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva is the oldest of the Khajuraho temples and has some the finest sculptures that can be seen in India.
  • Kandariya Mahadeo Temple – This Shiva temple is covered with beautiful carvings, sculptures and frescos that are known for their beauty, grandeur and finesse.
  • Devi Jagdamba Temple – This relatively dainty temple dedicated to Goddess Jagadamba has three bands of sculptures and the uppermost layer has some of the most erotic sculptures that Khajuraho is also famous for.
  • Chitragupta Temple – One of the rare temples of the Sun God in the country.
  • Vishwanath Temple – The temple is unique for its colossal bull statue dedicated to Nandi, the favourite companion of Lord Shiva.

Eastern Group of Temples

  • Parsvanath Temple – The Jain temple shows an eclectic mixture of Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim influences in its three roof architecture.
  • Ghantai Temple – This Digambar Jain temple has a beautiful frieze inscribed on stone depicting the 16 dreams as seen by the Mother of Lord Mahavira. The temple though gets its name from the remarkable pillars, carved with chains and bells.
  • Brahma Temple – Among the oldest temples in Khajuraho, the temple is built entirely using granite and sandstone and dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

 Southern Group of Temples

  • Chattarbhuj Temple – Situated 3 km from the main city, the temple is the only one in Khajuraho without any erotic sculpture and faces west. Best visited during the sunset, the temple is known for the intricate and beautifully detailed four-armed idol of Lord Vishnu.

Do remember to attend the Light and Sound Show conducted in the Western group of temples that describes the horary past of these beautiful monuments.

Khajuraho is surrounded by other places of interest, such as the Panna National Park and the Ranneh Falls. Do plan your visit and hire outstation or local cabs from the airport to visit these temple complexes.

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Explore the royal city of Mysore



Call it the Heritage City or the City of Palaces, the city of Mysore still emanates a feeling of au royale even in a 21st century India. A place of heritage for royal families, sultans, and legendary names in history, every corner of Mysore is steeped in stories of victory, power, and grandeur. A tour of this majestic city is only justified when you explore the royal heritage of the City of Palaces.

Getting there

Conveniently located on the southern edge of the Karnataka State, Mysore is easily accessible from major cities. It takes about three hours to travel the 152 KM distance from Bangalore to Mysore.

History and Heritage

The city of Mysore served as the capital for the Kingdom of Mysore between the 1300s until 1956. These six centuries saw the kingdom change hands of rulers and kings, from the Wadiyar Dynasty, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. But the common element of all the rulers was their penchant for art and culture. Under their patronage, they contributed to the city’s visual and cultural glory which earned Mysore the fame of Karnataka’s cultural capital.

A royal tour

If you want to experience the regal side of Mysore, you cannot but miss these structures of historical and architectural significance. You can join a heritage walking tour to explore the city on foot, or head from Bangalore to Mysore by car and stop by at monuments, palaces, and museums and learn about the legends that made Mysore. You can start your walk from the Town Hall, built in 1884, as a tribute to the first Dewan of the city.


Mysore Palace- The official residence of the royal family of Wadiyars, the palace itself is a work of marvel. An overwhelming blend of   Indo-Saracenic, neoclassical, Indo-Islamic and Gothic architectural works, the Mysore Palace is a breathtaking sight. Built in 1912, the palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts delicate works of mirrors, stained glass, mosaic and more. On any given day, you will find more tourists here than even at the Taj Mahal. Every Sunday, the palace comes alive with 97000 light bulbs bedazzling its façade and the premises.

Lalitha Palace– Yet another heritage building, the two-storied Lalitha Mahal sits on a ridge at the foothills of the Chamundi Hills, which makes for a great vantage point. The palace was transformed into a hotel and offers a royal stay. If you truly want a feeling of royalty, then a stay here would be an experience.

Jaganmohan Palace– One of the seven prominent palaces of Mysore city, is a stunning work of ancient Indian architecture with intricate interiors and exteriors. The palace, transformed into a royal art gallery since 1915, houses paintings of the royal family, art by Raja Ravi Varma and an array of rare and antique musical instruments.

Museums- Stop by the Rail Museum to explore the archaic steam engines, the Maharani’s saloon, and other railway souvenirs. There’s also the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion showcasing more than 6500 folk artifacts from all parts of Karnataka. The Folk Art Museum, one of the most visited in the city, is also known for its collection of toys, models, and figurines.

Crawford Hall- Built in 1947, this is a must visit historic structure in Mysore. The royal palace is now known as the Mysore University but still renders a rich heritage to its ambiance.

Small, medium or large-scale, every historical building and monument of Mysore has a majestic touch to it. And such architecture speaks of its glorious past, which has left traces for the modern civilization to explore.

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India’s Victory at the International Court of Justice is the World’s Challenge to the Status Quo

Manak Suri




For the past week, both the Indian and British media have rigorously covered the story of the re-election of India’s justice Dalveer Bhandari to the bench of judges in the International Court of Justice on Tuesday, November 21. That the Indian judge retained his position on the bench was not the sole reason for the story’s extensive coverage; his reappointment combined with the fact that it happened at the expense of the United Kingdom’s spot on the bench is why the story is making so many rounds… and no, that many Indians may see it as some sort of a comeback against Britain’s 200 years of colonial rule over the country is not the reason why it matters. It matters because this is the first time since 1946 that the UK has no judge on the ICJ bench, and that signals possible changes in the way international bodies govern and are governed. So what does this mean for India, for the UK and for the world at large?

The International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice or the ICJ was established in 1945 by the United Nations as its principal judicial branch and is located in The Hague, Netherlands. Its job is to settle legal disputes between states that are submitted to it and give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it. The court comprises of a total of 15 judges that are elected to 9 year terms by way of voting from both the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) separately. One third of the court is re-elected every three years, and no two judges of the same nationality may assume positions on the bench simultaneously. However, the rule that led to the deadlock between the candidates from India and UK is that a candidate must obtain an absolute majority in both the UNGA and the UNSC in order to be elected to the bench.

UN General Assembly vs UN Security Council: The Race in Numbers

On November 9 and November 13, in seven rounds of voting justice Bhandari secured between 110 and 121 votes from a total of 193 in the UNGA against figures between 68 and 79 secured by his British counterpart Sir Christopher Greenwood. However, among the UNSC, justice Bhandari lost out by 5 votes to 9 in favour of Sir Greenwood. In the face of uncertainty, the UK then pushed for a ‘joint conference’ under the rules of the court between the UNSC and the UNGA. Under the ‘joint conference’ three countries from each side then determine the name for the court. However, the rules do not mention the procedure to select these countries and understandably so, since the option was last invoked in 1921. Fearing not enough support from the council, criticism for invoking the charter, and harming its friendly as well as economic relations with India, the UK eventually chose to not follow through with the process and withdrew its candidature for the post. In the end, India secured the seat with a total of 183 votes out of 193 at the UNGA and all 15 at the UNSC.

There is More to the Victory than Meets the Eye

The result means different things for the parties involved and also for the balance of power and influence between countries. For the UK, there are hardly any positives to take away from this result amid already turbulent times. Many in the British media have viewed this loss as ‘a blow to British international prestige’ and the country’s acceptance of a diminishing role in global affairs. This was the UK’s second major defeat at the ICJ after it lost a vote by a margin of 94 to 15 countries in June when the UNGA voted in favour of referring the question of decolonisation and self-determination of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean to the ICJ, which is currently under its control. Many within and outside the country have also been quick to blame Brexit for the situation in which they find themselves today, arguing that the other states, especially the ones within the European Union would have been less willing to snub the UK had the UK chosen not to leave the alliance. In the face of defeat, British diplomats have continued to maintain that they are happy that their close friend India has won, but have also not been shy of hiding their natural disappointment at their own loss.

For India, their victory in having a judge win the contest in getting elected to the ICJ bench against a permanent member of the UNSC is more symbolic than anything else. It reinforces India’s image at the highest stage as a major emerging global player and its ability to bring in greater reforms that push for more involvement from developing countries and emerging economies. Also, having a judge on the ICJ bench gives India an edge over Pakistan in the case involving former Indian Navy Officer Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistan military court on the charges of espionage. True, a judge on the ICJ does not represent his/her country or their interests. However, as suggested by repeated criticism the court receives for being biased in favour of the states who appoint the judges, having a judge on the panel is certainly an asset for any country, no matter what the rules dictate on paper.

The most important takeaway from the whole episode far exceeds the ambitions of just the two countries and a race for a seat at the ICJ. India’s victory at the court reinforces the belief that power does not necessarily reside or has to reside with the ‘few global elite’, a sentiment which was expressed clearly when most member states of the UNGA backed India’s justice Bhandari to be re-elected against the choice of the permanent members or P5 of the UNSC. There seems to be an acknowledgment among the member states of the UN of the beginning of a change which sees an increasing shift in the balance of power away from the traditional powers of the world or the P5 – Britain, China, United States, Russia, and France. Of these countries, China was the only member to not have a judge on the ICJ between 1967 and 1985 till the final decision last week, when they were joined by the UK in the list. Last year, Russia was voted off the United Nations Human Rights Council. In the 2016 elections, France lost out on securing a position in the International Law Commission. While diplomats at the UN continue to maintain that there are no winners and losers here, that it is all part of a bigger picture, these developments undoubtedly mark diplomatic victories for the Group of 77 or the G77, a coalition of developing nations at the UN that have constantly pushed for an enhanced negotiating capacity. What remains to be seen is just to what extent they bring about a change in the status quo.

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