Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

India-Eurasia Relations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Integrated approach to Eurasia

Context

Delhi’s Indo-Pacific strategy has acquired political and institutional traction, thanks to intensive Indian diplomacy in recent years. It must now devote similar energy to the development of a “Eurasian” policy.

Need for Eurasian strategy and challenges

  • This week’s consultations in Delhi on the crisis in Afghanistan among the region’s top security policymakers is part of developing a Eurasian strategy.
  • National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has invited his counterparts from Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia, Russia, and China to join this discussion on Wednesday.
  • Pakistan has declined to join.
  • Pakistan’s reluctance to engage with India on Afghanistan reveals Delhi’s persisting problem with Islamabad in shaping a new Eurasian strategy.
  • But it also reinforces the urgency of an Indian strategy to deal with Eurasia.

Factors shaping India’s Eurasian policy

  • The most important development in Eurasia today is the dramatic rise of China and its growing strategic assertiveness, expanding economic power and rising political influence.
  • Beijing’s muscular approach to the long and disputed border with Bhutan and India, its quest for a security presence in Tajikistan, the active search for a larger role in Afghanistan, and a greater say in the affairs of the broader sub-Himalayan region are only one part of the story.
  • Physical proximity multiplies China’s economic impact on the inner Asian regions.
  •  These leverages, in turn, were reinforced by a deepening alliance with Russia that straddles the Eurasian heartland. Russia’s intractable disputes with Europe and America have increased Moscow’s reliance on Beijing.
  • Amidst mounting challenges from China in the Indo-Pacific maritime domain, Washington has begun to rethink its strategic commitments to Eurasia. 
  • Whether defined as “burden-sharing” in Washington or “strategic autonomy” in Brussels, Europe must necessarily take on a larger regional Eurasian security role.
  • More broadly, regional powers are going to reshape Eurasia.

What should be India’s approach to Eurasia

  • Like the Indo-Pacific, Eurasia is new to India’s strategic discourse.
  • To be sure, there are references to India’s ancient civilisational links with Eurasia.
  • While there are many elements to an Indian strategy towards Eurasia, three of them stand out.
  • Put Europe back into India’s continental calculus: As India now steps up its engagement with Europe, the time has come for it to begin a strategic conversation with Brussels on Eurasian security.
  • This will be a natural complement to the fledgling engagement between India and Europe on the Indo-Pacific.
  • India’s Eurasian policy must necessarily involve greater engagement with both the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
  • Intensify the dialogue on Eurasian security with Russia: While Indo-Russian differences on the Indo-Pacific, the Quad, China, and the Taliban are real, Delhi and Moscow have good reasons to narrow their differences on Afghanistan and widen cooperation on continental Eurasian security.
  • Indian collaboration with both Persia and Arabia: If Persia’s location makes it critical for the future of Afghanistan and Central Asia, the religious influence of Arabia and the weight of the Gulf capital are quite consequential in the region.
  • India’s partnerships with Persia and Arabia are also critical in overcoming Turkey’s alliance with Pakistan that is hostile to Delhi.

Challenges

  • Contradictions: India will surely encounter many contradictions in each of the three areas — between and among America, Europe, Russia, China, Iran, and the Arab Gulf.
  • As in the Indo-Pacific, so in Eurasia, Delhi should not let these contradictions hold India back.

Consider the question ” Eurasia involves the recalibration of India’s continental strategy. India has certainly dealt with Eurasia’s constituent spaces separately over the decades. What Delhi now needs is an integrated approach to Eurasia. In the context of this, examine the challenges in India’s engagement with Eurasia and suggest the elements that should form part of India’s strategy towards Eurasia.”

Conclusion

The current flux in Eurasian geopolitics will lessen some of the current contradictions and generate some new antinomies in the days ahead. The key for India lies in greater strategic activism that opens opportunities in all directions in Eurasia.

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