1. Space research: ISRO has been doing really well in the past and Chandrayaan was a big achievement. However, in 2014 things have really taken off. We have finally developed a cryogenic engine of our own and have launched a rocket large enough to take humans into space.
We are on the cusp of having a network of GPS satellites above India. Mangalyaan has proved to our biggest success so far. We are the first country that reached Mars orbit with the first attempt in just tenth the price and that’s huge achievement.
With NASA facing budget cuts, they would be interested with many partnerships and one has already started with proposed Nasa-Isro Synthetic Aperture Radar or NISAR, the first satellite that will use dual frequency for radar imaging.
2. Israeli partnership: Israel is a superpower when it comes to military and agricultural technology along with intelligence. India desperately needs all three and Israel is more than willing to go out of its way to help India.
Narendra Modi is India’s first Prime Minister who has visited Israel (before he became PM that is). He is likely to become the first sitting Indian PM to visit Israel if and when that takes place, and it will become big news across the world. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the sky is the limit when it comes to Indo-Israel ties.
3. Terror radar: This one is not so good. Before only Pakistan-based terror groups targeted India. This year a lot changed. Islamic State showed a map where they included India as a part of their caliphate and some Indians were found heading for Iraq to join IS.
Al-Qaeda also announced their India plans and after the Burdwan blast in West Bengal, authorities found Al-Qaeda literature. To make matters worse, a plot to assassinate Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was also uncovered.
The arrest of Mehdi Masroor Biswas, an IS sympathizer from Bengaluru who handled the account @ShamiWitness made international headlines.
4. American tilt: Dozens of US politicians lined up to meet Modi at Madison Gardens in New York. One even called him the (former US President Ronald) Reagan of the world. After all the official meetings were over, US President Barack Obama tagged along when Modi visited the Martin Luther King Memorial.
At the ASEAN summit Obama called Modi a “man of action”. When Modi invited Obama to be chief guest at the Republic Day at short notice, the latter promptly accepted. The US is pulling out of Afghanistan and getting totally frustrated with Pakistan.
From here one Indo-US strategic and economic ties are bound to grow.
5. NRIs: Non-Resident Indians have always wanted to contribute in a big way to India but our government always makes it difficult for them. Now the new one is trying to change that. Modi wowed NRIs in America and Australia and he’s trying to get them on board.
The Indian diaspora including PIOs have spread far and wide and are gaining power. The way the Jewish lobby has helped Israel, the Indian diaspora could do something similar.
6. Continuing economy trends: There have been some trends that have been taking place in the last few years and they continued in 2014. India broke into the world’s top ten countries in terms of GDP some time back, but in terms of GDP-PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) it is third behind America and China.
Modi has a strong development focus and is a believer in big inflow of FDI. His whirlwind global tour has been a success and India is set to steadily rise on the international trade ladder.
7. Continuing oil trends: The global oil scenario is changing rapidly. For ages all the action was in West Asia, but no more. With current trends the US may soon permanently be both the biggest consumer and producer of oil in the world.
Venezuela is now acknowledged as the country with the biggest oil reserves. The other giant is Russia. India is headed to being the third largest consumer of oil in the world. However unlike other giants, our oil reserves are not that high and we barely make into the Top 20 depending on the calculations.
Now that’s a huge disparity. We cannot continue to import huge quantities of oil and we desperately need a comprehensive long-term energy solution.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.