For India, the buzzword now is ‘all-alignment’

Source: The post is based on the article “For India, the buzzword now is ‘all-alignment’ published in The Hindu on 14th September 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Relevance: About India’s all alignment policy.

News: In his book the India Way, External Affairs Minister offers a critique of India’s traditional policy of “non-alignment”.  He distinguishes between the “optimistic non-alignment” of the past and the more realistic “multiple engagements of the future”.

How India’s participation in the SCO summit is a clear signal of India’s all-alignment policy?

Next year, India will host the SCO summit, and is expected to invite all members — this includes the Chinese President and Pakistan’s Prime Minister. India’s engagement with the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan highlights India balances various blocs. For instance,

a) India is a member of SCO and BRICS and also a member of Quad, groups such as the I2U2 (India-Israel-U.S.-UAE), and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

b) India joining the Russian-led ‘Vostok’ Army Exercises along with China, and plans to host SCO-RATS counterterror exercises. On the other hand, the Indian Air Force took part in the Australian ‘Pitch Black’ exercises, and the Indian Army is planning exercises with the U.S. (Yudh Abhyas).

This shows India is the only country that would form the intersection, a part of all of those groupings.

How does India’s all alignment policy function within the SCO grouping and what India can do in the upcoming SCO Summit?

India’s ties with Russia: India has refused to heed pleas from the U.S. and Europe to endorse resolutions critical of Russia at the United Nations. India often abstained from voting on the Ukraine crisis. Further, India’s imports of Russian oil jumped from 0.66 million tonnes in the first quarter to 8.42 million tonnes in the second this year.

In the recent Eastern Economic Forum meeting, India outlines it wants to further strengthen energy ties, building on the $16 billion investment Indian public sector units already have in Russian oil and gas fields.

India’s ties with China: The two leaders of India and China met 18 times between 2014-2019. But have not spoken directly once since the standoff that began in April 2020 between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). India-China bilateral ties have come to a virtual standstill on most fronts, with the exception of trade.

During the Doklam conflict, it was a “brush by” meeting between two leaders at the G-20 summit that led to the “breakthrough” in talks. So a similar can happen in the upcoming SCO summit or the G20 Summit.

India’s engagement with Iran: The SCO meeting is expected to pitch the Chabahar port terminal India is developing as an important route for trade to Central Asia and Russia.

Further, Iran has asked for India’s support with “above ground” equipment and parts for its plans to extend the rail line from the Afghan border outpost to Turkmenistan, the shortest possible route for India. This is in line with India’s plan to build a connectivity framework that counters the China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor from Gwadar.

India’s engagement with Pakistan:  The decision by the Pakistan government in 2019 that no trade with India is possible without a reversal of India’s Article 370 moves in Jammu and Kashmir has ended formal communication between both the countries.

With Pakistan reeling from massive floods, an economic crisis, and growing worries of an unstable Afghanistan Pakistan might look for a way to hold a conversation with India.

All this shows India fights for its unique brand of multi-alignment or “all-alignment” with partners worldwide, without having to choose between them.

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