Independent Strategic Analysis of Australia’s Global Interests

Strategic Analysis Paper

Indo-Russian Ties in the Age of Trump – Part One: A Widening Rift

The once very strong Indo-Russian relationship has more recently been reduced as India’s economy and technical base have grown and, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India began to turn away from Russia and increasingly towards the United States, France and Israel as its primary defence suppliers. Subsequent changes in the international order have helped to reinvigorate the relationship.

Living Soils: The Role of Microorganisms in Soil Health

The wealth of biodiversity below ground is vast and unappreciated: millions of microorganisms live and reproduce in a few grams of topsoil and these organisms are critical to soil health and fertility. Soil biological fertility is, however, the least well-understood soil fertility component. Soil microorganisms also play essential roles in the nutrient cycles that are fundamental to life on the planet. A better understanding of soil microbiology is essential if agricultural production is to sustainably meet the needs of a growing world population.

The Growing Strategic Importance of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands will attain increased strategic significance in tandem with the growing geopolitical importance of the Indo-Pacific Region. Located in the Bay of Bengal at the entry to the Malacca Strait, the islands may be the location for a future Indian Navy Third Fleet and could serve as a base for Indian maritime power projection into the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

Demographics in South Asia to 2030: The Status of Women and Sustainable Population Growth

In this paper, FDI Global Food and Water Crisis Research Analyst Benjamin Walsh evaluates the importance of women in ensuring sustainable population growth in South Asia out to 2030. He argues that, throughout South Asia, improvements in female health, employment and education is critical to sustainable population growth. By giving women greater choice in family planning they will be more likely to pursue smaller, economically sustainable families.

The Management of Soil Nutrients: Chemical Fertilisers or Not?

Large-scale industrial farming with a heavy reliance on chemical fertilisers is enabling agricultural to produce food on the scale necessary to feed the growing world population. It is also, however, degrading soil quality and the ever-increasing use of chemicals to support grossly over-harvested mono-cultures will never lead to environmental sustainability. Organic nutrient management has many environmental advantages but it currently has a productivity cost. What is the future of global agriculture?

Addressing Water Insecurity in Central Asia: A Steppe on the One Belt, One Road Initiative?

Central Asia is an integral component of the Chinese “One Belt, One Road” initiative. It remains a volatile region, however, partly because of the unresolved water disputes that impede more amicable interstate relations. While these disputes could undermine the investment programme, it is unlikely that Beijing will get involved in reducing interstate water tensions.

Chinese Optimism Meets Indian Realism on the Silk Road

India chose not to attend the recent Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, citing fiscal reservations and the belief that the debt accrued would be unsustainable. Concerns have also been voiced that China may not so much be giving aid but instead asking countries to assume debt from Chinese banks to pay for their “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure. In the absence of greater transparency, India appears, at this point at least, to have made the right decision.

The Role of Carbon in Promoting Healthy Soils

As the effects of land degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change become increasingly severe, soils have become one of the most vulnerable resources in the world. Soils, among other properties, are a major carbon reservoir containing more carbon than the atmosphere and terrestrial vegetation combined. When managed wisely, it has the potential to sequester large amounts of carbon, thus promoting soil health, assisting food security and contributing to climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience.

Pakistan: A Complicated Domestic Outlook

The violence that is destabilising the province of Balochistan could undermine progress on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that is vital to Pakistan’s economic and energy futures. At the social level, the discrepancies between the public and private education systems also undermine domestic stability and will need to be addressed.

From Billboards to Signs: Iran’s Rise and Obama’s Failure

The actions of Iran in Syria and Yemen raise concerns about the motivations for its nuclear programme and have served to embolden its proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah. The unwillingness or inability of the Obama Administration to match words with actions means that it must share some of the blame for creating those concerns.

Publication Guide

  • Associate papers are primary source assessments written by FDI associates. The assessment topics range from regional bilateral relationships and opportunities and challenges in our neighbouring countries.

  • Feature interviews are interviews conducted by an FDI Research Manager. Interview topics range from the sustainability of our planet to the improved provision of emergency food aid.

  • Normally issued in hardcopy, these represent a comprehensive study of one of FDI’s four research areas.

  • Strategic alerts are priority current intelligence items. We provide these alerts when events such as military deployments or foreign election results occur.

  • A 1500 to 3000 word, single topic assessment.

  • A number of short articles addressing current intelligence topics, issued each week.

  • A record of discussions resulting from a single, or series of, roundtable conferences.

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