In 2020, a group of US senators reportedly wrote a letter, asking India to join the Blue Dot Network. Observers have referred the Blue Dot Network as a counter to China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.
What is the Blue Dot Network?
The Blue Dot Network is a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to bring governments, private sector entities and civil society together to promote “high quality, trusted standards for global infrastructural development”
The Blue Dot Network was jointly launched by the US, Japan and Australia on the sidelines of the 35th ASEAN Summit in 2019.
It should also be noted that the United States, Japan and Australia and India are also part of the QUAD Group – Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. It is an informal informal strategic dialogue between the four. If and when India joins the Blue Dot Network, then there is a likelihood of the QUAD becoming and extension of the Blue Dot Notwork
The network will act as a “Michelin Guide” for infrastructure projects, which means that infrastructure projects which are part of this initiative will be vetted and approved by the network depending on the standards, as per which, the projects should meet certain global infrastructure principles.
The projects that are approved will be awarded a “Blue Dot”, thereby setting a high bar for excellence, which in turn will attract investments and private capital to projects in developing and emerging economies.
Is the Blue Dot Network a counter to the OBOR?
The network may seem like a counter to the OBOR initiative. Strategic experts are of the opinion that while the Blue Dot may be seen as a counter to the OBOR, it needs a lot of fine-tuning for two reasons:
- There is a fundamental difference between the OBOR and Blue Dot – while the former offers direct financing that will provide short-term relief, the latter is not a direct financing initiative and therefore may not be what some countries need.
- The blue dot will need cooperation among the multiple stakeholders when it comes to grading projects. Since they may differ on the standards that need to be kept, it will be an uphill task to get them to agree on a common factor.
What are the benefits of India joining the Blue Dot Network?
The benefits of joining the Blue Dot Network are as follows:
- There will be greater transparency and financial accountability when it comes to development projects India will undertake.
- It will also ensure “principle” based and “sustainable” investment in infrastructure
- It will provide quality infrastructure and facilitate potential foreign investment for the Indian economy.
- Blue Dot project is about providing foreign companies, often reluctant to invest in emerging economies due to concern about the corruption or climate change, the right information about which project to invest it.
- It might give India an economic edge over its rival, China, in the form of better quality infrastructural projects.
- The network will act as a globally recognized seal of approval for major infrastructure projects, which will drive home the message that these projects are not exploitative but sustainable.
The initiative complements the effort to strengthen development finance cooperation in support of principles-based infrastructure and sustainable economic growth.
In the end, the Blue Dot Network participants will form a steering committee to invite partners representing sovereign governments, economies, the private sector, and civil society to join the effort and support the Network.
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