India must make the most of the diplomatic attention it’s receiving

Context: India witnessed a plethora of diplomatic activities in the past few days in light of the Raisina Dialogue, where representatives from Europe, and the West interacted with their Indian counterparts.

India’s Quad partners the US, Japan, Australia, its partners in Europe and several ASEAN countries, see India as an anchor that could help stabilise the present international situation. They have a stake in India emerging as an influential power and are willing to contribute to that end. This is an opportunity that ought to be leveraged as part of a broader strategy to significantly advance India’s long-term prospects.

It must be grasped.

Should India downgrade its ties with Russia, and how have they developed over the years?


There are valid legacy reasons for maintaining positive ties with Russia just as some European countries have had to do.

Present India-Russia relations are not a continuation of the old Indo-Soviet ties. That strategic partnership that helped India cope with the Cold War and the Chinese and Pakistani threats ended with the war and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Moscow no longer sees Beijing as its main security challenge, but for India, China became a bigger challenge.

India’s economic and trade relationship with Russia has become increasingly marginal.

Prospects of a new energy partnership failed to materialise as for Russia, China emerged as a more proximate and attractive power.

Even the defence hardware relationship has diminished progressively as India has rightly tried to diversify its sources of supply.

Why India needs to rethink its Russia policy?

A key assumption in India’s Russia policy has been that as a great power,

– Moscow would be unlikely to accept a junior partnership with China;

And that it is China that was increasing its presence and influence in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, which Russia considers its “near neighbourhood” and security perimeter.

In the long run, Russian and Chinese interests would not be aligned and, therefore, India should maintain a close relationship with Moscow.

This was also the reason why India argued with the US and other western partners that they needed to be more accommodative of Russian interests so that it could distance itself from Beijing.

Even if the Ukraine war had not erupted, the February 4 Sino-Russian Joint Declaration should have led India to question the continuing validity of these assumptions.

The Sino-Russian commitment is to dismantle the existing Western-dominated international order, and estb a new order more aligned with their interests as major continental Eurasian powers. This new order is not the alternative which would enhance India’s interests.
How India needs to shape its foreign policy engagement?

In a shifting geopolitical landscape, it is in India’s interest to remain engaged with Russia and China as two leading powers in the world. Such engagement is important to ascertain how these powers are themselves adjusting to the changing geopolitical equations across the world.

Russia is already a seriously weakened power in a European order and will not be able to prevent Finland and Sweden from joining NATO.

The domestic politics of the US is unpredictable, and this calls for caution.

Europe will likely emerge as a more coherent and cohesive entity, anchored in German power, and playing a role more independent of the US until now. All the more reason why India must deepen its all-round partnership with Europe, build a shared vision of an altered geopolitical landscape and encourage Europe to play a greater role in the Indo-Pacific.

Way forward

The attention being paid to India reflects not what India is. but rather what India could become as one of the key architects of a new international order.

It is time to think strategically about India’s place in a world which is in the midst of a historic transformation.

Source: This post is based on the article “India must make the most of the diplomatic attention it’s receiving” published inThe Indian Express on 2nd May 22.

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