[op-ed snap] Looking for balance in power

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the RIC

Mains level: The article comprehensively discusses the issues related to the RIC trilateral group


News

Context

  1. The Russia-India-China trilateral held its 15th meeting recently
  2. Held at New Delhi

Points that shows divergence between India and Russia relationship

  1. Russia and China’s continued attempts to frame global and regional politics through a similar lens
  2. Changed stance: Russia now believes that India can benefit by joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative

From China’s point of view

  1. China has continued to take an aggressive posture on Doklam and its aftermath
  2. China’s official statement at the meet: “China and India have far greater shared strategic interests than differences, and far greater needs for cooperation than partial friction”

Reasons that are binding Russia and China together

  1. As Russia witnessed a downward slide in its status as a superpower since the end of the Cold War, China emerged as a rising power that saw the U.S. as the greatest obstacle
  2. As a consequence, China recognised the importance of cooperating with Russia to check U.S. expansionism in the world, even if only for the short term
  3. In fact, American policies towards Russia and China moved the two states closer to each other, leading to the formation of a new balance of power against the U.S.

Trilateral meet from India’s point of view

  1. As India was still far from becoming a global power of any reckoning
  2. India saw in the trilateral a mechanism to bring greater balance in the global order as it believed that a unipolar U.S.-dominated world was not in the best interests of weaker states like itself

Consequences of the discussed points

  1. As a consequence, the trilateral did not lead to consequences of any great import
  2. It merely resulted in declarations which were often critical of the West, and of the U.S. in particular
  3. Yet this was also a period which saw significant shifts in Indo-U.S. ties as bilateral relations expanded while Russian and Chinese links with the U.S. have witnessed a downward shift

Changing Situation of the trilateral group

  1. The group had started with an attempt to manage American unipolarity is now being affected fundamentally by Chinese resurgence
  2. Both Russia and India are having to deal with the externalities being generated by China’s rise
  3. While Russia is getting closer to China, India is trying to leverage its partnership with other like-minded states in the wider Indo-Pacific region
  4. As a multipolar world order takes shape, India will have to engage with multiple partners so as to limit bilateral divergences
  5. Moreover, all three countries realised the enormous potential in the economic, political, military and cultural realms if bilateral relationships among them were adequately strengthened

The way forward

  1. The Russia-India-China template comes with its own set of challenges.
  2. India has continued engagement with Russia and China and it suggests that India is today confident of setting its own agenda in various platforms
  3. Just as China engages with the U.S. on the one hand and with Russia on the other, a rising India is quite capable of managing its ties with USA, China and Russia simultaneously
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China
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