The Editorial 21 Sept, 2022 - Positioning India in a chaotic world

21 Sep, 2022

1. Positioning India in a chaotic world.

Theme : International Relations

Related Paper : GS - 2

                          TABLE OF CONTENT

  1. Context
  2. SCO
  3. Objectives & Structure
  4. Evolved Face of Non-Alignment
  5. Refashioning Relations with China
  6. No First Use Doctrine : Nuclear Dimension
  7. How Is it Multi Alignment Policy for India?
  8. Road Ahead

Context : 
Recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting  in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, was a test for governments on how to deal with current conflicts and attempt to set new guidelines for the future.

SCO : 

  • After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the then security and economic architecture in the Eurasian region dissolved and new structures had to come up.
  • The original Shanghai Five were China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
  • The SCO was formed in 2001, with Uzbekistan included. It expanded in 2017 to include India and Pakistan.
  • Since its formation, the SCO has focused on regional non-traditional security, with counter-terrorism as a priority.
  • The fight against the “three evils” of terrorism, separatism and extremism has become its mantra. Today, areas of cooperation include themes such as economics and culture.

Objectives & Structure :

Objectives :

  • Increasing mutual trust and neighborliness among member countries.
  • Encouraging successful collaboration in politics, commerce and economics, research and technology, and culture.
  • Strengthening linkages in education, energy, transportation, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas.
  •  Maintain and ensure regional peace, security, and stability.
  • The establishment of a new world political and economic system that is democratic, fair, and reasonable.

Structure :

  • Heads of State Council - The top SCO body that decides on internal SCO operations, interactions with other states and international organizations, and international concerns.
  • Heads of Government Council - Approves the budget and evaluates and decides on topics pertaining to SCO's economic domains of engagement.
  • Council of Foreign Ministers - Considers problems concerning day-to-day operations.
  • Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) - An organisation formed to combat terrorism, separatism, and extremism.

Evolved Face of Non-Alignment :

  • 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.
  • 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 antagonizing either. The justification provided is that it represented a ‘new version’ of Non-alignment, viz., steering an independent course, despite open association with rival blocs.
  • For instance, after refusing to take sides in the Ukrainian conflict for months, Mr. Modi told Mr. Putin that “this isn’t the era of war, but 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, Mr. Modi thanked both Russia and Ukraine for the evacuation of Indian students from Ukraine, highlighting India’s posture of equidistance between the two countries.
  • The philosophical underpinning for this seems to be that ‘Nonalignment of the past’ had not succeeded, and a way had to be found for “multiple engagements of the future”.
  • Recently the United States and other western allies had complimented India for its participation in the Quad (Australia, Japan, India and the U.S.). Whether India can make out a case for ‘mixing utopia with reality’ under the label of ‘multi alignment’ is yet to be seen, but it does provide grist to an idea being floated that this provides leeway for India to play a much bigger role in ‘managing conflict’.
  • 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 utilize the Chabahar Connectivity Project as an alternate route to Afghanistan.

Refashioning Relations with China : 

  • India’s foreign policy should be creative enough to leave an opening for an improvement in India-China relations over the longer term.
  • Again, the intensity of the current conflict between India and China should not lead India’s strategic establishment to overlook the fact that the primary conflict between India and China is ‘civilizational’, and not for territory.
  • India’s foreign policy mandarins must look for opportunities for the betterment of relations at an opportune time, which could well arise when China’s economy begins to stall and India’s economy (in-line with the expectations of economists worldwide) rises, moderating China's current aggressive behavior.
  • Refurbishing the relations with China over the longer term is important, but attention also needs to be given on how to manage relations in the near term in the context of the growing closeness in China-Russia relations. As it can Impact the Symphony between India-Russia Ties.

No First Use Doctrine : Nuclear Dimension :

  • We have a ‘No First Use Doctrine’,and 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 -China and Pakistan.
  • Nuclear stability, as we have known for some years now, could well change in the near future.
  • India needs to make sure how best to prevent ‘debilitating strategic instability’,with regard to China in particular , given the pace at which China’s nuclear arsenal is growing.

How Is it Multi Alignment Policy for India?

  • India to truly multi aligned or all aligned by being a part of every major grouping.
  • India is a part of BRICS and Prime Minister Modi is attending the SCO SUMMIT in Samarkand.
  • In parallel to rival groups India is also a part of Quad and Indo pacific economic framework.
  • India is buying the discounted Russian oil and refusing to buckle under pressure from the west and USA.
  • S-400 purchase is happening and India has dodged the bullet of sanctions from the USA.
  • India is choosing the bilateral Free trade agreement with Australia and UAE and withdrew from groupings like RCEP and most recently IPEF. 

Road Ahead :

  • Multi alignment will serve India in its best national interest.
  • So far India has managed the rival parties at world stage to secure its foreign policy objectives but with Russian aggression and Chinese assertion and divided world will pose a significant challenge to India’s multi alignment policy.
  • India no longer wants to repeat the mistake of missing out on the P5 Security council (Permanent membership in the Security Council was granted to five states based on their importance in the aftermath of World War II).
  • If any group work against your interest it is better to be part of group rather than remain outside and do nothing
  • With the retreating USA and its collapsing hegemony world is moving towards multiple polar world order.