Foreign Policy Watch- India-Central Asia

Domestic and geopolitical risks India faces in 2022


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CAATSA

Mains level: Paper 2- Challenges facing India in 2022


Risks in 2022 could be both domestic and geopolitical, with many precepts that the world has been accustomed to being at risk. Democracy itself could face serious headwinds this year.

 Challenges to democracy

  • The world has recently seen the rise of authoritarian rulers in many countries.
  • What is worrisome is that democratic tenets which have been under attack in recent years appear set to face more onslaughts this year.
  • The United States, which was widely viewed as a major bulwark for democracy, appears to have developed certain pathological infirmities.

Geopolitical challenges and risks

[1] Disruption by China

  • The role of China is possibly the most disrupting one, given the challenge it poses to the existing international order.
  • Militarily, China is openly challenging U.S. supremacy in many areas, including ‘state-of-the-art weaponry’ such as hyper-sonic technology.
  • China is now threatening Taiwan, which could well become one of the flashpoints of conflict in 2022.
  • The dip in China’s economic profile in the past year and more could also lead to new tensions in the Asia-Pacific region in 2022.

[2] Russia-Ukraine conflict

  • The other major risk of a war in 2022, stems from the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine — the latter being backed by the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces.
  • During the past three decades, NATO has expanded its reach almost a 1,000 miles to the east in violation of an earlier tacit understanding.
  • Russia appears determined that Ukraine should be the ‘last frontier’ and, if need be, ensure this through military force.
  • The situation has grave possibilities and could result in a series of cyclical outcomes with considerable damage potential.

[3] Instability in the vast region

  • Unrest in Kazakhstan: The current unrest in Kazakhstan, which till recently was one of the more stable Central Asian nations, is perhaps symptomatic of what is in store.
  • Recent events in Kazakhstan demonstrates a sharper cleavage between the U.S.-led West and its principal opponents, Russia and China.
  • This is not a good sign for the world already wracked by a series of coups or internecine strife as in Ethiopia, Libya and certain regions of West Asia and North Africa.

[4] Return of Taliban and security implications for India

  • Shift in balance of power: Of particular significance to India is that the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan has led to a material shift in the balance of power in India’s periphery.
  • Developments in Afghanistan have fuelled the ambitions of quite a few ‘anti-state militant groups’ across the region.
  • Even in Pakistan, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has become energised and is enlarging its sphere of action to other parts of Asia, notably Kazakhstan.
  • This will have an unsettling effect across large parts of Asia.
  • New evidence suggests that on India’s eastern flank, viz. Indonesia, a resurgence of radical Islamist activities is taking place.
  • The Jemaah Islamiyah has reportedly become more active in Indonesia.

[5] India’s border issue with China

  • The most serious issue that India confronts today is how to deal with a China that has become more confrontational.
  • India’s membership of the Quad still rankles as far as China’s psyche is concerned, and during 2022, may well result in China embarking on new adventurist actions at many more points on the Sino-Indian border compelling India to react.
  • Additionally, India will need to determine how best to respond to China’s provocations.
  • Strengthen military posture: India would need to strengthen its military posture, both as a means to deter China and also to convince India’s neighbours that it can stand up to China.

Challenges ahead for India

  • Challenge in Central Asia: Diplomatically, in 2022, India may find itself vulnerable in dealing with the turmoils which have occurred in two areas of strategic interest to it, viz. Central Asia and West Asia.
  • Challenge in West Asia: In West Asia, the challenge for India is how to manage its membership of the Second Quad (India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S.) with the conflicting interests of different players in the region.
  • Limits to balancing: There is a limit to the kind of balancing act that India can perform, whether it be with regard to buying S-400 missile systems from Russia, risking potential sanctions from Washington under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) or manoeuvering between the Arab States, Israel, Iran and the U.S. in West Asia.


Facing a host of unprecedented challenges, India’s leaders and diplomats must not only take stock of the dangers that exist but also be ready on how to manage the risks that are well evident.

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2 years ago

great analysis


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