India, Israel, US, UAE ministerial meeting opens possibility of M-E ‘Quad’ (News Analysis)

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By Arul Louis
New York, Oct 19 |
The foreign policy leaders of India, the US, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) held a virtual ministerial meeting for what could have the makings of a grouping in the Middle East similar to the Quad, but with a more limited security agenda.

“Discussed working together more closely on economic growth and global issues. Agreed on expeditious follow-up,” India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting on Monday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Ministers Yair Lapid of Israel and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed of the UAE.

Jaishankar, who is currently on a visit to Israel, was seated next to Lapid during the virtual meeting.

The four top diplomats discussed “future opportunities for collaboration in the region and globally”, as well as maritime security, said a statement from State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

They also discussed “expanding economic and political cooperation in the Middle East and Asia, including through trade”, the statement added.

Earlier at his daily briefing in Washington, Price said: “Obviously this is a collection of four countries — the US, the UAE, Israel and India — with whom we share many interests.”

India has close relations with all three countries.

In a kaleidoscopic strategic environment where China stretches its sphere of action from the Indo-Pacific on the East to the West and beyond, India is situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean with its sea borders opening to the two areas can bridge them in association with the US.

After the US pulled out its troops from Afghanistan, China, which borders that country, is exerting its influence there with an eye on projecting its power beyond.

But unlike in the Indo-Pacific, where the Quad sees Beijing as the overarching threat, India is likely to be a restraining force on a possible Middle Eastern “Quad” making it less likely to get too deep into local rivalries, but focusing instead on cooperation in critical areas energy, health, economics and climate change.

US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and Scott Morrison of Australia and the then-prime minister of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, held a summit in Washington last month at which they committed themselves “to bolster security and prosperity, in the Indo-Pacific and beyonda, giving an opening for moves further afield”.

The Quad bills itself as a group of democracies “committed to building democratic resilience in the Indo-Pacific and beyond, but that does apply to the Middle East-oriented group, which includes the UAE, an amalgam of non-democratic monarchies”.

Price’s statement on the Middle East meeting avoided mentioning democracy, showing the limits to Washington’s vociferous declarations about it.

The US statement on the meeting makes no mention of security issues beyond a passing mention of “maritime security” and it is also regional tensions.

The Quad summit’s statement, though, said that “regional security has become ever-more complex, testing all of our countries individually and together”, a reference to China without naming it and added: “We recommit to promoting the free, open, rules-based order, rooted in international law and undaunted by coercion, to bolster security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.”

The Quad has been steadfast in avoiding being labelled a security alliance, instead focusing its outward-looking action agenda on matters like jointly providing Covid-19 vaccines around the Indo-Pacific and cooperating on climate change.

The Middle East meeting statement also emphasised climate change and Covid-19. And a common thread in both was “people to people ties in technology and science”.

The members of the Quad participate in joint military exercises and India hosted the second phase of the Malabar Exercise of the four navies last week.

The US and India extended their joint naval exercises to the other side of the Indian Ocean in 2019 with anti-submarine drills near Diego Garcia.

The four countries in the Middle East, have not held joint military exercises, but India participates in separate exercises with Israel and the UAE.

It is participating in the Israeli Blue Flag Exercise of air forces that began on Sunday alongside the US, the UK, Germany, Italy, France and Greece.

India and the UAE conducted a naval exercise off the coast of Abu Dhabi in August.

In a cooperative set-up of the four nations focused on the Middle East, the UAE has the capital and Israel and the US the technology edge and India the manufacturing and execution capability.

The geopolitical situation in the Middle East is, however, a web of complexities and some interdependencies.

The UAE is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, a leading regional powerhouse, which is not involved in the Middle East initiative and does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

But inevitably, any cooperation of the four countries would seem to include Saudi Arabia as the unseen guest.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have a measure of hostility towards Qatar, having even gone through a phase of cutting off diplomatic ties with Doha and even imposing an embargo on it over allegations that it was supporting terrorists.

Israel, too, has had similar complaints about Qatar.

The conflict in Yemen sees the UAE and Saudi Arabia ranged on one side supporting the government there, while Qatar and Iran are backing the Houthi rebels in the ongoing civil war.

And there is the Turkey factor: Ankara is trying to emerge as a rival centre of political Islam reclaiming the pre-World War I role as the Caliphate.

Then there are the conflicts in the region like in Syria, which is supported by Russia and Iran, but opposed by the US and Saudi Arabia, and Libya.

India has stayed aloof of the conflicts trying to maintain some neutrality keeping bridges to Iran, Qatar and Iran.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in and followed @arulouis)

Source: IANS

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Does MBA really help in getting a better job offer ?

Does MBA really help in getting a better job offer ?

Most students pursuing an MBA come with the sole objective of having a decent job offer or a promotion in the existing job soon after completion of the MBA. And most of them take loans to pursue this career dream. According to a recent survey by education portal Campusutra.com  74% MBA 2022-24 aspirants said they would opt for education loans.

There are exceptional cases like those seeking master’s degree or may have a family business to take care of or an entrepreneurial venture in mind. But the exception cases are barely 1%. For the rest 99%, a management degree is a ticket to a dream job through campus placements or leap towards career enhancements. Stakes are high as many of them quit their jobs which essentially means loss of 2 years of income, apprehension and uncertainty of the job market. On top of that, the pressure to pay back the education loans. Hence the returns have to be high. There is more than just the management degree. Colleges need to ensure that they offer quality management education which enables them to be prepared for not just the demands of recruiters and for a decent job but also to sustain and achieve, all along their career path.

  • So, what exactly are the B Schools doing to prepare their students for the job market and make them industry ready ?
  •  Are B schools ready to deliver and prepare the future business leaders to cope up with the disrupted market ?  

These are the two key questions every MBA aspirant needs to ask, check and validate before filling the MBA application forms of management institutes. And worth mentioning that these application forms do not come cheap. An MBA aspirant who may have shortlisted 5 B Schools to apply for, may end up spending Rs 10,000.00 to Rs 15,000.00 just buying MBA / PGDM application forms.

While internship and placements data of some management institutes clearly indicates that recruiters today have specific demands. The skill sets looked for are job centric and industry oriented. MBA schools which have adopted new models of delivery and technology, redesigned their courses, built an effective evaluation process and prepared the students to cope with the dynamic business scenario, have done great with campus placements despite the economic slow down.

However, the skill set being looked for by a consulting company like Deloitte or KPMG may be quite different from FMCG or a manufacturing sector. Institutes need to acknowledge this fact and act accordingly.

  • Management institutes should ensure that students are intellectually engaged, self motivated and adapt to changes fast. In one word ‘VUCA ready’.
  • B Schools should encourage students to participate in national and international competitive events, simulations of business scenarios.
  • Institutes should have the right mix of faculty members with industry exposure and pure academics.

The placement records of 2021 across top management institutes indicated the fact that recruitment is happening, skilled talent is in demand and certain management institutions continued to attract recruiters even in the middle of an ongoing crisis.

It is time, all management institutes rise to the occasion, understand market realities and identify areas of improvement at both ends – students and faculty.

After all, the stakes are high at both ends. B Schools taking corrective measures will stay while those which are lagging will end up shutting down.

Author Name : Nirmalya Pal

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