Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Making the most of the diplomatic attention

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- India as a key architects of a new international order

Context

India has witnessed a flurry of diplomatic activity during the past week with a long line of ministers, senior military officers and diplomats from a number of countries visiting Delhi and engaging with their Indian counterparts.

Highlights of this year’s Raisina Dialogue

  • The senior-most official and inaugural speaker was Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
  • The European presence was prominent.
  • China and Russia were absent from among official delegates, which is a pity.
  • The European presence was prominent. China and Russia were absent from among official delegates.
  • The focus narrowed down to the Ukraine war and, more specifically, India’s posture on Russia’s increasingly brutal assault on the hapless people of Ukraine.
  • It fell to the external affairs minister to deflect the expectations of India on this score.

What should be India’s approach toward West?

  • India will need the West more than it has in the recent past, whether in building up its deterrent capabilities or accelerating its own economic and technological transformation.
  • 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 international situation.
  • They have a stake in India emerging as an influential power and are willing to contribute to that end.
  • The temptation to indulge in criticising each other should be avoided.

Why India should recalibrate its ties with Russia?

  • Assumptions about Russia-China ties: 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.
  • It was also assumed that in the long run, Russian and Chinese interests would not be aligned and, therefore, India should maintain a close relationship with Moscow.
  • 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.
  • There are valid legacy reasons for maintaining positive ties with Russia just as some European countries have had to do.
  • The reality is that 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 evaporated with the end of that war and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • Moscow no longer saw Beijing as its main security challenge but for India, China became a bigger challenge.
  • Marginal economic and trade relations: India’s economic and trade relationship with Russia has become increasingly marginal.
  • Defence relationship diminishing progressively: Even the defence hardware relationship has diminished progressively as India has rightly tried to diversify its sources of supply.
  • The legacy in this respect, too, is of diminishing relevance.
  •  India may have its issues with the existing order but what is envisaged in the Joint Declaration is not the alternative which would enhance India’s interests.

Way forward for India

  • Remain engaged with Russia and China: 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 gauge how these powers are themselves adjusting to the changing geopolitical equations across the world.
  • The US has shaken off the taint of its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan but its domestic politics 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 than hitherto.
  • Deepen partnership with Europe: 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.

Conclusion

The attention being paid to India is substantive. A rare but perishable opportunity has presented itself to significantly advance India’s long-term prospects. It must be grasped with single-minded tenacity.

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