Publication in Economics, Politics and Public Policy in East Asia and the Pacific

South Asia

China–India relations plummet to new lows in the Himalayas

Demonstrators shout slogans as they burn an effigy depicting Chinese President Xi Jinping during a protest against China, in Kolkata, India, 18 June, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri).

Author: Manjari Chatterjee Miller, Boston University

The relationship between China and India has reached a dangerous low. The recent clash between Chinese and Indian troops resulted in the deaths of at least 20 Indian soldiers and the injury of many others. The conflict took place in the Galwan River Valley in the Himalayan border region of Ladakh at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Read more…

The creeping danger of Hindu extremism

Supporters of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hold flags as they attend a rally, addressed by Home Minister Amit Shah, in support of a new citizenship law, in Lucknow, India, 21 January 21 2020 (Reuters/Pawan Kumar).

Author: Balachander Palanisamy, RSIS

India’s government is neglecting the creeping danger of Hindu extremism. The nation has seen several mass riots from Ayodhya in 1992 and Gujarat in 2002 to the recent New Delhi riots in February 2020. Read more…

Time to work with Asian partners on a global COVID-19 recovery strategy

Thai Airways idle airplanes are seen parked on the tarmac of Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand 25 May, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Silva).

Authors: Peter Drysdale, ANU and Chatib Basri, University of Indonesia

As the world contemplates the savage impact of the COVID-19 virus on the global economy, there’s need to seize initiative in global cooperation to escape the slump caused by the health lockdown. International economic cooperation will be vital to managing the crisis and to supporting the recovery through trade, stabilising markets, faster reopening of business supply chains and international travel. Without it, the world is facing a prolonged health crisis and lasting economic stagnation on a scale not seen since the Great Depression.

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Leveraging ASEAN to respond to COVID-19

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc addresses a special video conference on COVID-19 with leaders of ASEAN countries, 14 April 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Manan Vatsyayana).

Author: Frederick Kliem, RSIS

COVID-19 is testing international resolve to cooperate. Both China and the United States have so far failed to provide the necessary global leadership. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) play — at best — the role of supporting actors. Even the European Union and ASEAN are struggling with outbreaks of nationalism and unilateral knee-jerk reactions.

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India’s pivot to the United States

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves next to U.S. President Donald Trump as they attend the "Namaste Trump" event at Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium, in Ahmedabad, India, 24 February 2020 (Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas).

Author: C Raja Mohan, NUS

At a time when much of Asia is reconciling itself to the regional dominance of China and increasing political distance from the United States, India is going the other way — moving into an ever-closer partnership with the United States and making a more intensive effort to balance China in the Indo-Pacific. Read more…

Counting urban India

Migrant workers and pilgrims, who were stranded in the western state of Rajasthan due to a lockdown imposed by the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), gesture from inside a train upon their arrival in their home state of eastern West Bengal, at a railway station on the outskirts of Kolkata, India, 5 May, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri).

Authors: Ankush Agrawal, IIT Delhi and Vikas Kumar, Azim Premji University

Millions of informal sector workers tried to return to their villages after the government imposed a lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in India. The government’s muddled response to this exodus reflects its limited disaster preparedness and neglect of urban planning, both of which are related to a lack of reliable statistics, among other things. Read more…

The renewable energy transition is coming to Asia

Workers clean photovoltaic panels inside a solar power plant in Gujarat, India, 2 July, 2015 (Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave).

Author: Tim Buckley, Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world. It is a truly global threat, ignoring national borders and domestic politics. But this pandemic highlights the need for a global response to a second key global threat: climate change. It is now more important than ever to listen to the advice of experts before it’s too late. Read more…

COVID-19 batters Bangladesh’s already struggling economy

Garment workers return from a workplace as factories reopened after the government has eased the restrictions amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 4 May, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/ Mohammad Ponir Hossain).

Author: Fahmida Khatun, Centre for Policy Dialogue

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) hit Bangladesh at a point when its economy was already under stress. Except for remittance income, all major economic indicators were underperforming during the first few months of the 2020 fiscal year (FY2020). Read more…

‘Maximum pressure’ on India’s relations with Iran

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif speaks with the media on the sidelines of a security conference in New Delhi, India, 15 January 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Alasdair Pal).

Author: Muhsin Puthan Purayil, University of Hyderabad

The current foreign policy dynamics between India and Iran are being shaped by the ongoing US–Iran strategic confrontation. It illustrates the weakness of India’s policy of strategic balancing between Iran and the United States. Read more…

Containing COVID-19 in Bangladesh

Homeless and impoverished Bangladeshi people receive food provided by volunteers during the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 27 April, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Suvra Kanti Das).

Authors: Asad Islam, Gaurav Datt and Sisira Jayasuriya, Monash University

COVID-19 is now in Bangladesh. It is one of the world’s most densely populated countries with poor healthcare infrastructure, weak logistical facilities, widespread poverty, and inadequate safety nets and income transfer mechanisms. It has not faced a crisis of this magnitude in its five decades as an independent country. Read more…

Bangladesh’s garment industry unravelling

Relatives of victims killed in Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013, mourn at the site during the fourth anniversary of the collapse in Savar, on the outskirt of Dhaka, Bangladesh, 24 April, 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain).

Author: Sanchita Banerjee Saxena, UC Berkeley

Seven years ago, one of the worst industrial disasters in history — the collapse of an eight-story commercial building in Rana Plaza, Dhaka — demonstrated to the world the heavy price of producing cheap clothing to fuel the ‘fast fashion’ industry for consumers in the global North. Read more…

Sri Lanka’s Easter attacks one year on

People light candles during a vigil in memory of the victims of a string of suicide bomb attacks across the island on Easter Sunday, in Colombo, Sri Lanka 28 April 2019 (Reuters/Thomas Peter/File Photo).

Author: Amresh Lavan Gunasingham, RSIS

A year has passed since last April’s Easter Sunday bombings, when Sri Lanka was hit by a wave of suicide bomb attacks carried out by a terrorist cell linked to the so-called Islamic State (IS) on three luxury hotels and three churches. Read more…

The failed politics of reform in Malaysia and Sri Lanka

Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad leaves after an event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 28 February 2020 (Reuters/Lim Huey Teng).

Author: Kanishka Jayasuriya, Murdoch University

The ejection of Mahathir Mohamad from Malaysian government and the victory of Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the Sri Lankan presidential election seemingly mark the end of coalitions pushing for greater openness in the two countries. These developments offer an instructive case study on the politics of institutional reform. Read more…

Justice disappears for victims of the Sri Lankan civil war

Members of Sri Lankan 'Movement for equal rights' shout slogans outside Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's office against the government's decision to issue death certificates for people who disappeared during the civil war, Placard in Sinhala reads: 'If missing people are dead, who killed them?' in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 11 February 2020 (Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte).

Author: Sharika Thiranagama, Stanford University

In January 2020, the new President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared thousands who had disappeared during the civil war were ‘dead’ and that he couldn’t ‘bring them back’. This statement dismissed campaigns by families trying to locate their loved ones and demand accountability, as well as the work of the Office on Missing Persons, set up by the previous government to address disappearances. The state proposes issuing death certificates for up to 24,000 people. Read more…

India’s 2020 budget falls short of expectations

A customer hands a 50-Indian rupee note to an attendant at a fuel station in Ahmedabad, India, 5 October 2018, (Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave).

Author: Alok Sheel, ICRIER

India’s 2020–21 federal budget was presented on 1 February against the backdrop of six successive quarters of declining growth. Continuing frictions in the financial system have clogged the channels of monetary policy. This means that fiscal policy and structural reforms now have a critical role in stimulating the slowing economy and putting it back on a high growth trajectory. But the budget falls short of expectations in both areas. Read more…