Editorial 1: India and the great power contest in West Asia


  • At the G-20 summit in New Delhi earlier this month, United States President Joe Biden and others unveiled a U.S.-backed infrastructure project to connect India, West Asia and Europe with shipping lanes, rail networks, pipelines and data cables.

Two-part policy

  • Mr. Biden’s West Asia strategy has two parts. One is the continuation of the Trump-era policy of bringing America’s two pillars in the region — the Gulf Arabs and Israel — closer to meet their common geopolitical challenges such as Iran’s rise.
  • The second part of Mr. Biden’s approach is to reassure America’s friends and allies that the U.S. is not exiting West Asia.
  • In 2012, leaders of India, Israel, the U.S. and the UAE held a virtual summit of what is now called the I2U2 minilateral.
  • The idea behind I2U2 is to create a new platform that could expedite economic integration between West Asia and South Asia and offer economic and technological solutions to the problems faced by the Global South.
  • India’s presence in a grouping of the Abraham Accords countries was seen as a legitimate recognition of India’s presence in the region.
  • The India-Middle East-Europe Corridor, announced at the G-20 summit enhances New Delhi’s standing.
  •  It seeks to build an economic corridor from India’s western coast, through the Gulf (the UAE and Saudi Arabia), Jordan and Israel, to the Mediterranean, bringing India and Europe closer.
  • If this project takes off, the U.S. hopes that it could retain its channels of influence in West Asia, control the major shipping lanes and reassure its allies of its staying capacity.
  • America’s answer to this challenge is to forge closer ties between its allies in the region and strengthen the U.S. security architecture, and bring India in as a bigger, stable partner to write the new rules of economic engagement and integration, competing with China. India seems willing to take this bet.

Multiple avenues for India

  • For India, the U.S.-China competition in West Asia opens new avenues of engagement.
  • The U.S. sees India, with its size, the size of its economy and the legacy of its historical engagement and cultural connect with the region, as an important partner in its bid to continue to shape West’s Asia’s geopolitics.
  • India should welcome the moment but should not look at it through the prism of another Cold War — or it should not put all its eggs in one basket as it did in Afghanistan.
  • It is already part of the near-functional International North-South Transport Corridor that connects India to Russia through Iran and Central Asia.
  • The ‘Middle East Corridor’ would open another economic channel.

Way forward

  • India’s overall policy towards the region should stay anchored in this idea of multi-engagement — not in appeasing or containing any great power.
  • With or without the U.S., or irrespective of China’s presence in the region, India should strive to play a major geopolitical role in West Asia, its extended neighbourhood, without upsetting its traditional balance.

Editorial 2: A clear message to industry on dispute resolution


  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)  refers to a bouquet of mechanisms that enables disputing parties to resolve their differences amicably, without the intervention of courts. Given the delays in Indian court proceedings and increasing cost of litigation, the significance of ADR in India cannot be understated.


  • In the recent monsoon session of Parliament, both Houses passed The Mediation Bill, 2023, and upon receiving the assent of the President of India, is referred to as the Mediation Act, 2023 (“the Act”).
  • The Indian legal framework already encourages courts to refer the disputing parties to ADR procedures, including mediation, if there were elements of settlement which the parties may accept.
  • The Act will take this encouragement a step forward. Irrespective of a prior mediation agreement, it will obligate each party to take steps to settle their dispute through pre-litigation mediation before approaching an Indian court.
  • To facilitate this process, the Act will also require courts and relevant institutions to maintain a panel of mediators.

Many benefits

  • This requirement is expected to reduce the filing of frivolous claims before Indian courts.
  • Owing to the confidentiality of a mediation, it may also mitigate the risk of deterioration of the parties’ relationship due to a publicly fought dispute.
  • Yet, at the same time, concerns are raised about the feasibility of a mediation conducted under the sword of an obligation as opposed to a sincere desire to arrive at an amicable resolution.
  • In the latter scenario, this may empower a recalcitrant defendant to delay a genuine claim.
  • Subject to an extension by the parties, they must also complete the mediation within 180 days from the parties’ first appearance.
  • On the other hand, the Act will not remove the refuge of Indian courts entirely.
  • A party may, in exceptional circumstances, seek urgent interim reliefs from a court before the commencement or during the continuation of a mediation.
  • These provisions prioritise expertise and efficiency, while ensuring that the obligation of pre-litigation mediation is not weaponised.
  • The aim is to create a balanced framework which encourages the parties to focus more on their commercial dealings and less on their disputes.

The aspect of mediation and arbitration

  • The Act will effectively position mediation similar to commercial arbitration in India. The similarities between their respective supporting pieces of legislation are obvious.
  • Both pieces of legislation impose stringent timelines for the conduct of proceedings, mandate confidentiality, obligate Indian courts to refer the parties to mediation or arbitration, provide a default mechanism for the appointment of a mediator or arbitrator, and prescribe the procedure for the termination of their mandate.
  • Likewise, both ensure the enforceability of a mediated settlement agreement and an arbitral award, respectively.
  • The establishment of a Mediation Council of India equally mirrors the proposal in 2019 to establish an Arbitration Council of India.
  •  Parliament’s message to Indian industry is clear — in commercial matters, courts must no longer be the default venue for dispute resolution.
  • Parties are expected to resolve their dispute amicably through mediation, and, alternatively, through commercial arbitration.
  • While the doors of Indian courts are open if required, this access must be perceived as a matter of last resort.

Way forward

  • Similar to how the recent amendments to the A&C Act prioritised institutional arbitration of disputes, the Act also places emphasis on institutional mediation in India.
  •  It envisages “mediation service providers” to provide not only the services of a mediator but also all the facilities, secretarial assistance, and infrastructure for the efficient conduct of mediation.
  • India is already home to experienced arbitration institutions, some of which provide mediation services that are on a par with global best practices.
  • Only then would India become a global hub not only for arbitration but also for all aspects of commercial dispute resolution.