Positioning India in a chaotic world
GS Paper 2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s Interests
Prelims exam: Non alignment movement, SCO
Mains exam: New era of Non aligned policy of India
India’s presence at the meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO was significant, reflecting a desire to be a part of both blocs, without antagonising either. The similar position as it was during the peak of non alignment movement.
Challenges for India
- SCO’s meeting was taking place when the world stood at the crossroads, in the wake of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
- Closeness of China and Russia at the global level is posing challenges for Indian diplomacy.
- Presence of Pakistan in SCO make it difficult for India to convince member nations to put a strong policy against terrorism.
Why India’s stance is termed as new Non alignment
- The Prime Minister of India made significant observations which mirror India’s new version of Nonalignment.
- For instance, after refusing to take sides in the Ukrainian conflict for months, he told the Russian president that “this isn’t the era of war”, stressing instead that “it was one of democracy, dialogue and diplomacy”.
- This has been interpreted as a mild rebuke of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- On the other hand, in his formal opening remarks at the summit, he thanked both Russia and Ukraine for the evacuation of Indian students from Ukraine, highlighting India’s posture of equidistance between the two countries.
- Very recently US and other western allies had complimented India for its participation in the Quad, which is considered as western led(US) grouping for Asia pacific.
- Relation of India with Iran is another dimension in this multialignment order as it is to be seen whether India restarts its freezing relation with Iran on the account of a U.S. threat to impose sanctions on India if it trades with Iran.
- The cost to India on account of the freeze in relations with Iran has been high, including having to pay higher prices for crude and the inability to utilise the Chabahar Connectivity Project as an alternate route to Afghanistan.
Nuclear dimension in Indian Foreign policy
- The issue of the nuclear dimension. that has remained on the backburner for years needs consideration in the context of the Ukraine Russia conflict.
- India is a firm adherent of the ‘No First Use Doctrine’, and nuclear relationships involving India, China and Pakistan have remained remarkably subdued over many years.
- India’s strategic and foreign policy establishment cannot afford to overlook the nuclear aspect, given that the country is wedged between two active, and hostile, nuclear powers.
- Pakistan and China can put India at a disadvantage with both predictable and unpredictable consequences.
- It behoves India’s strategic and foreign policy establishment to consider how best to prevent ‘debilitating strategic instability’, with regard to China in particular, given the pace at which China’s nuclear arsenal is growing.
- Relation with Iran: It will be in favour of India to better relations with Iran. It will not only ease the burden of higher crude oil prices, but it will also give India a pass to the market of central Asian Nations.
- Relation with China: It is important that India does not fall into the trap that the current adversarial relationship with China is ‘carved in stone’, and can or never will be altered. India’s foreign policy should be creative enough to leave an opening for an improvement in IndiaChina relations over the longer term.
Given the history of nations there is enough scope for India to formulate a policy that would not completely close the doors on China for all time
- Tackling the growing closeness in China-Russia relations: As their relations become closer, they have the potential of adversely impacting the current warmth in India-Russia relations. India’s foreign policy makers need to consider how best to manage the relationship with both Russia and China in the current scenario.
Refashioning India’s foreign policy has become vital at a time when India is facing a confluence of old and new situations and threats, which often intersect.
Such a situation may not be unique, but the nature of rivalries and present global undercurrents makes this extremely tricky. It may require a major overhaul of how we interpret regional and international tensions that have increased. New priorities need to be devised without squandering the past inheritance of managing to remain independent of conflicting blocs.