Wednesday, May, 29,2024

Latest News


This could be India’s decade if it plays its cards right. The subcontinental state is poised to be the next China, even if its path will likely be less straightforward than that of China and more of a Leninist two steps forward, one step backwards.

Leaving aside the multiple domestic issues India will have to address to realize its full potential, it is already, in the words of an Indian analyst, in a “geopolitical sweet spot.” Recently concluded defense and technology agreements with the US constitute a milestone. The agreements acknowledge reality, including that one underestimates the US at one’s peril and that, despite their domestic travails, the US and the UK still produce 50% of the global wealth as opposed to China and Russia’s combined 20%.

“For India, the West is the most important trading partner, the dominant source of capital and technology, and the major destination for the Indian diaspora,” said columnist and former member of India’s National Security Advisory Board C. Mohan Raja in a Foreign Policy article, titled ‘It’s Time to Tie India to the West.’ With India set to become the world’s third largest economy, Raja advocated turning the Group of 7 (G-7), which groups the world’s foremost democratic economies, into a G-8 with India as its newest member.

The agreements reinforce the notion that supply chain security and geopolitics have become as important as economics and pricing in creating and/or managing global value chains. Furthermore, they are a step towards enabling India to redress its trade imbalances skewed in China’s favor. Finally, the agreements constitute a building block for a potential future multilateral security arrangement in the Gulf in which India would be a key player.

Gulf security was not foremost in the minds of Indian and US policymakers when they conceived the agreements. However, inevitably, that is where the Gulf is going for multiple reasons. These include a US desire to rejigger America’s commitment to Gulf security and share the burden with regional players. The US is not yet at a point where it is willing to share control of Gulf security commitments with other external powers. Still, it is something that policymakers in both the Trump and Biden administrations have at various times considered.

It’s an option that the US has not pursued, but neither has either administration rejected it out of hand. “I don’t think we are ever again going to see a position where the United States is prepared to be the primary security provider and bear any burden or pay any price to uphold order in the Middle East,” said former Singaporean diplomat and chairman of the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute Bilahari Kausikan.

India’s regional relationships, ability to get its domestic house in order, and grow its economy will likely shape its place in a new 21st century world order. This year’s Indian chairmanship of the Group of 20, which brings together the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies, is an opportunity for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to showcase where India is heading.

One focus will be the impact of the rise of Hindu nationalism, the country’s increasingly strained intercommunal relations, and what India’s motto for its chairmanship, “One Earth One Family One Future” means in practice. So far, India, like China, has benefitted from Muslim-majority states emphasizing national interests rather than communal and identity concerns. However, that may prove to be a fragile proposition.

The US may have suffered the least, given its ability to marshal its allies in Europe and some in Asia to forcefully support Ukraine while remaining focused on its rivalry with China in Asia. Even so, as former Indian national security advisor Shivshankar Menon notes, “worries remain… about the United States being distracted by Ukraine from its roles elsewhere, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.” Those worries are compounded by the bungled US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and concern about the impact of deep polarization in the US that is likely to be reflected in the campaign for the 2024 presidential election.


JAMES M DORSEY The writer is an award-winning journalist and commentator on foreign affairs who has covered ethnic and religious conflict and terrorism across the globe for over 3 decades.

  Share on

Related News