From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 2- Coalition with the European middle powers
The article explains the shift in India’s foreign policy in its relations with the European middle powers against the backdrop of churn in the geopolitics.
India’s changing perception of Europe
- Three recent developments underline India’s changing perceptions of Europe.
- 1) India’s support for France’s membership of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).
- 2) India’s backing for a larger European role in the Indo-Pacific.
- Delhi has welcomed the interest of Germany and the Netherlands in building a new geopolitical architecture in the Indo-Pacific.
- 3) Security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific is also emerging as an important theme in partnership between India and the U.K.
Reasons for India’s shift
- India is looking beyond the bipolar geopolitical competition between the US and China.
- Delhi also wants to insure against the inevitable volatility in the complex dynamic between Washington and Beijing.
- To cope with the uncertain political trajectory of the US, Delhi is already supplementing its American partnership with a network of multilateral groups with other middle powers, such as the India-Australia-Japan forum and the trilateral dialogue with France and Australia.
Rebuilding ties with Europe and challenges
- Rebuilding ties with Europe needs a significant corrective to Delhi’s traditional strategic neglect of the continent.
- The bipolar Cold War dynamic and the North-South framework developing world versus the developed prevented Delhi from taking a more nuanced view of Europe’s political agency after WWII.
- Attempts to impart strategic momentum after the Cold War did not really succeed.
- As the economic gap between China and India widened, so did the scale of European interest in both countries.
- It is also true that the European ability to project military power into the Indo-Pacific is limited.
- But in combination with Asian democracies, Europe can certainly make a difference.
- It can mobilize massive economic resources, wield political influence, and leverage its significant soft power to shape the Indo-Pacific discourse.
An exceptional relationship with Frace
- France has been an exception in Europe in its connection with India.
- India’s partnership with France now has a strong regional anchor — the Indo-Pacific as it has its territories in the Western Indian Ocean and the South Pacific.
- France and Britain have lingering disputes leftover from the era of decolonization in parts of the Western Indian Ocean.
- India will have to contribute to the amicable resolution of those problems.
Consider the question “A strong coalition with the European middle powers should be the indispensable element of India’s foreign policy in the face of changing geopolitical circumstances. Comment.”
As China transforms the Eurasian landmass as well as the Indo-Pacific, it is abundantly clear that the US alone cannot redress the imbalance. A strong coalition of Asian and European middle powers must now be an indispensable element of the geopolitics of the East. Such a coalition can’t be built overnight. But India could push for a solid start in 2021.