Hello and welcome once again to Cooling India. As I write this note, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe is in India to lay the foundation stone of the 508-km long Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail. I can tell for sure, bullet train is not the main reason why the Japanese prime minister is here in India. That is a project which will not be ready till 2023 (as per government deadline). We all know infrastructure projects are never completed on time in our country. And given the gigantic scale of this project, it's everyone's guess when it will be completed. Be that as it may, it's a good beginning for a modern technology to be brought into the country.
The geo-political situation in this part of the world - starting from Japan till India is changing fast, with China claiming supremacy over the South China Sea from where an estimated US$5 trillion worth of global trade passes. Gone are the days, when the world was only talking about two cold war countries. Today, the entire shift has been in the eastern part of the world, where one country China is challenging the supremacy of the US. Last month we also saw a face-off between India and China at Dokhlam. China is rapidly developing ports at Hambantota and Kyaukpyu in Sri Lanka and Myanmar respectively. We need to immediately get some contracts in south Asian countries to counter these projects undertaken by China in our neighbourhood, but we do not have the necessary band-with to match the current geopolitical needs. Both, the US and Japan need a partner country in this part of the world to counter growing China. They cannot find a better partner than India. Prime minister Modi's East Asia policy augers well for Japan.
In the nineties Japan invested primarily in sectors like automobiles, telecom and electrical equipment. Today the shift is towards infrastructure with projects like Delhi metro, now the bullet train and future projects like Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor and so on. Not to forget the Indo-Japanese nuclear deal last year. We can ask Japan to help develop our much-neglected north-east states, and in doing so send a message to China. That apart, Japan's assistance can be sought for the much-talked smart city project. After all, it's about increasing the quality of life of the majority of the population and not just about 25,000 people who would be travelling by this high speed train per day and that too after next 10 years hopefully.
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