Rama Krishna Sangem
For every few months, India joins one or the other global alliance with the US. I2U2 is the latest one – India, Israel, the US and UAE (United Arab Emirates), means 2 Is, 2 Us. After Quad, this new alliance, mainly UAE in focus, expects India to replace Ukraine (please wait, not for being attacked by Russia) for food and energy security. And, India should also produce the energy that came from Russia.
To put it simple, India should produce enough food that came till recently from Ukraine, and enough energy that came from Russia. Of course, India too cane escape from paying huge foreign exchange reserves for importing oil, if not food. UAE would invest around 2 billion US dollars in food parks in India and the US would invest heavily in clean energy plants – solar, wind and green hydrogen.
Till recently, Ukraine and Russia used to export 25 per cent of world’s wheat needs, while Russia supplied 80 per cent of Europe’s oil and gas needs. Initially, everyone thought that Russia’s war against Ukraine would end within weeks,if not days – from February 24. However, the war extended without any end in sight. Fuel prices spiraled, but food prices come down, after going up for sometime.
Some economists, however, estimate fuel prices would go up from the present 108 US dollar per barrel of crude to touch 375 dollars – that means three fold rise in oil prices. But, others guess oil prices sliding to below 70 dollars per barrel. Not because of war ending or crude prices falling, but due to fall in demand, due to recession. That means, people not having purchase power to buy oil. Lack of demand brings oil prices down. No longer a happy situation.
The I2U2 is an emergency response to an emergency situation. India should become the production house for both food and fuel needs of the world. The US and Israel would provide technology while UAE will provide funds for production more food and clean fuel in India. This is an opportunity for India from a looming global crisis.
We should not forget, India is signing bilateral free trade agreements with most countries since recently. UAE is one of them. India in 2021 produced about 110 million tones (MT) of wheat and about 8 MT of this is exported. But a ban two months ago stopped this. Ukraine was exporting about 22 MT wheat a year while Russia about 49 ZMT. The war has stopped that of Ukraine, sanctions did the same to Russia.
Now, India should gear up to replace these two countries for wheat exports. For that wee need to produce more first. But will we be able to do it? We can, provided if our farming technologies and quality of inputs improved. Same is the case with energy needs of the world. We may not produce more oil or gas. But, we can generate more clean energy and green hydrogen.
I2U2 is an opportunity. But, the question is are we ready to utilize it?