Letter from the Editor | June 2023

No month in recent times has been as eventful as May. India hosted the G-20 tourism meeting in Srinagar, Kashmir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi went on the cross-nation tour starting with Japan, where India was an honorary invitee to the G-7 summit at Hiroshima. On the sidelines of the Summit, QUAD (US-Australia-Japan-India) met and took two critical decisions with the potential of completely reshaping the global geopolitical and geoeconomic order. Thereafter, the peripatetic Prime Minister went to Australia, with a pitstop at Papua New Guinea, where leaders from other Pacific islands had collected to meet him.

Meanwhile, at home, while the anniversary of India’s nuclear tests went by unnoticed, the new Parliament was inaugurated by the Prime Minister in a deeply religious and disturbing ceremony.

Before this, the ministry of defence proudly released a press statement saying that the target of 164 items which were part of Positive Indigenisation List (PIL) for import substitution to be indigenised by December 2022 has been met. The value of these items was Rs 814 crore. Buoyed by the success of the first PIL, the government also announced the release of the fourth list. However, along with this came another news as a grim reminder about the challenges to Make in India. Following a series of crashes, the armed forces—army, air force and the navy and the Indian Coast Guard—grounded Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s ALH Dhruv pending detailed enquiry.

As if all of this was not enough, the north-eastern state of Manipur erupted in clashes between the Meitis and the Kukis, both fighting over their claimed first right to the meagre state resources and government largesse. Adding to this deadly mix is access to weapons and ammunition that the ethnic groups have, both through illegally sourced materiel from across the border, as well as from the ransacking of state police armoury.

A month like this can only produce a collector’s issue, with articles sweeping across foreign policy, geopolitics, defence industry and internal security. The June issue is rich not only in news but perspective and analysis too. Pravin Sawhney’s insightful assessment of the consequences of the QUAD’s decisions in Hiroshima deserve pause and reflection upon the way nations focussed on the immediate maybe harming the long-term interests of humanity. Nandita Haksar’s comprehensive overview of the ethnic challenges of Manipur and the prognosis for the future is worrying.

The cover focus on Make in India urges policymakers to distinguish between rhetorical ambitions and realistic expectations through the example of two programmes—IAF’s fighters and the navy’s submarines—which continue to simmer for over a decade. Hopefully, this plaintive reminder will manage to creep inside the corridors of power.



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