According to IMF, India will be the fastest growing major economy next year . This will not only raise our International clout but also make us more vulnerable to the changes taking place in our volatile neighborhood. Our biggest neighbor China is facing the biggest economic crisis since its meteoric rise in the 80s and is expected to slow down to sub 7% levels for the first time next year. Though western experts expect a dystopic future , in reality the Chinese one party system could be stretched to its limits . There could be ruthless oppression in Tibet as the communist party would be needing scape goats to tide over the situation , which could easily spill over into India .Pakistan on the other hand is fighting a civil war with a hydra headed Taliban , which ironically have sympathizers within the government apparatus. A failing state is more dangerous , as it could do anything to take maximum causalities with it as it sinks , which in Pakistan’s case is us.Hence The proxy war and a porous border are bound to frustrate us more and more in the coming years . Bangladesh , a regional success story is in midst of a showdown between two women , who are in no way in the mood to relent. Nepal and Myanmar are in transition while Bhutan and Sri Lanka are on a path of self discovery. Being the only “bright spot” in the region we must be prepared to face the worst.
Bharat mala and Sagar mala are two ambitious projects proposed by the the new central government aimed at enhancing the infrastructure along our land and water boundaries .
The Bharat Mala project plans to build a 14,000 Km long highway along our land border extending from Gujarat to Mizoram on a fast track basis . This is of strategic importance especially along the border with China , which will reduce the chances of a 1962 fiasco from being repeated. It is a known fact that the Chinese are also enhancing the infrastructure along the other side of the border and in many ways this initiative could act as a deterrent for the Chinese. The project is expected to be completed by 2020.
Sagar Mala on the other hand aims at improving the infrastructure along the coast , with ports developed along the modern lines and improved connectivity between them.The modes of communication would include roads, railways, inland waterways and coastal routes. Both these projects aims at garlanding India (Mala) along its peripheries not only acting as arteries for economic growth , but also as a shield to protect us .
Yesterday (6 may 2015) Minister for road transport and highways Mr Nithin Gadkari signed an MoU with Iran to develop the southeastern Iranian port of Chabahar for $ 85 million . This project is expected to increase Indian access to the resource rich central Asia Bye passing Pakistan. Ironically , China is developing the Gwadar port in pakistan , which is 72 km east of chabahar , aimed at turning it into a naval base in the distant future . With these ports becoming operational in years to come their effect on regional dynamics is something to look forward to.
footnote : With two more ports in its neighborhood it would be interesting to find how Dubai , which is basically the gateway to Iran will fare in years to come.