Suzuki plans to invest nearly $1.3 billion in India to manufacture electric vehicles and the batteries needed to power them. It is safe to assume many of those vehicles will be scooters and mopeds designed to deal with the congestion common in most cities in India. Production is expected to begin in 2025, our sources claim. The new factory is expected to be constructed in Prime Minister Modi’s home state of Gujarat.
There is a back story to this announcement. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited India on Saturday for talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which Kishida presented a plan for Japan to invest 5 trillion yen ($42 billion) in India over the next 5 years, according to a separate Reuters report. That’s a ton of investment. To put it in perspective, since 2000, Japan has invested $27 billion in India, primarily in the automobile, electrical equipment, telecommunications, chemical, and pharmaceutical sectors.
India and Japan are party to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), a security framework that also includes the United States and Australia. Amid the turmoil of Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine, India is the only member of that group not to have condemned the invasion.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told his Indian counterpart that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had shaken the “foundation of international order” and required a clear response, according to Reuters. Japan has imposed sanctions on dozens of Russian individuals and organizations since the start of what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine and has accepted Ukrainian refugees.
“We confirmed any unilateral change to the status quo by force cannot be forgiven in any region, and it is necessary to seek peaceful resolutions of disputes based on international law,” Kishida told reporters after the meeting with Modi in New Delhi.
The leaders expressed their seriousness about the conflict in Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis there. Modi’s response can only be characterized as tepid. He refrained from commenting directly on Ukraine, but noted that geopolitical incidents were “presenting new challenges.” That sounds a lot like a weasel-worded statement at a time when condemnation of Russia is nearly universal. Clearly, Modi is at pains to refrain from poking the Russian bear.
Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India’s foreign secretary, told reporters that the two leaders had “assessed broader implications particularly for the Indo Pacific region. They underscored the importance of safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine.” If that seems like less than a full-throated response to Russia campaign of terror, that’s because it is. But business is business and the strictures of capitalism must be observed even while the dogs of war are on the loose.
The good news is that India will have a larger supply of electric vehicles. The bad news is that India is perfectly happy to issue platitudes when confronted with a humanitarian crisis. It is the least India can do — emphasis on “least.”
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