China, West, G20 Presidency: Opportunities & concerns for India in 2023

Source– The post is based on the article “China, West, G20 Presidency: Opportunities & concerns for India in 2023” published in The Indian Express on 28th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- International relations

Relevance– Foreign policy and changing international dynamics

News– The article explains the strategic scenario across the world that matters for India foreign policy establishment. It also explains the challenges and opportunities for India.

What are six hard realities for the Indian strategic establishment?

Russia-Ukraine war: The Russian invasion of Ukraine has upended the global order in place since World War II. It has impacted the world’s food and energy security. It can lead to global economic recession.

The nuclear threat from Russian leaders is a cause of worry. The Strategic alignment between Russia and China is another concern.

China’s aggression: China’s aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific may create disruptions. India is facing that aggression on its border.

China is also constructing an island in the South China Sea.

Ties with the West being tested: India’s ties with the West are going through a stress test due to the Russia factor. The India balancing act has been perceived as opportunistic by US and Europe.

Delhi is seen as following its interests and not being guided by “shared values”. European partners have criticised India for buying cheap oil from Russia.

There is absence of a full time US ambassador in India for two years.

Engagement with Taliban: India reopened its limited operations in the Indian embassy in Kabul  in June. Delhi had begun the process of re-engaging by sending humanitarian aid. It has made a commitment of USD 80 million for improving the lives of Afghans.

But, India will not compromise on extremism and rights of minorities and women.

Finally, Delhi is finally looking at the Taliban as a political actor.

Pakistan turmoil:  Imran Khan led government was ousted and the Shehbaz Sharif-led coalition has formed the government in May. The rhetoric against India has lowered a bit. But, there has been no movement in bilateral ties.

Towards the end of the year, Pakistan got a new Army chief. This is the real transition of power in this country.

Neighbourhood in crisis: The Sri Lankan economic and political crisis was a major challenge in the neighbourhood. India provided humanitarian aid, fuel, medicines.

Delhi is also helping the island country negotiate an economic debt relief package from the International Monetary Fund.  Delhi wants a government that understands India’s security and strategic interests.

Engagement with Myanmar has continued in low-key visits. India has sought to not isolate the military regime, unlike the western partners.

The key impact has been the influx of refugees from Myanmar to the north-eastern states through the porous borders. There are  concerns about non-state actors creating trouble in the north-east.

What are six challenges and opportunities for 2023?

Dealing with China: Beijing is challenging the status quo, not just in eastern Ladakh but in other sectors along the border with India. It was evident from the Arunachal clash.

As China sees itself as a superpower, there will be  more clashes and competing interests with India. It will have to be resolved through negotiations.

Engaging with Russia: The border standoff with China has shown Russia’s importance in India’s strategic calculus.

However, increasing closeness between Russia and China is cause of worry for India. Economic relations have formed the “new strategic basis” for Sino-Russian relations.

India will try to engage with both Russia and the West, and put its strategic defence and national security interests first.

G20 as a global stage: New Delhi, has already positioned itself as the “voice of the Global South”. It will seek to put its priorities on the global forum.

In this context, it will also seek to bring Russia and the West together and end the conflict in Europe. If it manages to do so, it can claim a diplomatic win.

Ties with the West: Delhi will have to address the concerns of European and American partners. In fact, the G20 preparations will give some opportunity to do that.

Challenge in the neighbourhood: Sri Lanka will continue to demand India’s humanitarian, financial and political attention in the new year.

India will also be part of political conversation in Maldives. The Maldives is going to polls in September. Delhi will be watching closely as political parties try to project India as the bully and a big brother.

Bangladesh also goes into election mode in 2023. India will be looking at the prospects of Sheikh Hasina after a long political journey that has brought security in India’s eastern states.

In Nepal,Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda has become the Prime Minister. Former PM Oli is holding the keys to the government. This will pose a significant challenge for Delhi. Beijing’s influence is growing in Kathmandu in recent years.

Pakistan’s crucial year: Elections in Pakistan are scheduled for later in 2023. The new civilian government and the Army chief will shape their attitude towards India.

What is the way forward for our strategic establishment?

Our domestic efforts will need to be bolstered by smart partnerships with others. New relationships are necessary. But, there is a need to keep old partners like Russia by our side.

India should engage all countries including China, and resolve outstanding matters with our smaller neighbours.

Print Friendly and PDF