CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

OPINION


Foreign Policy: A Double Whammy Awaits India


If India's rulers remain determined to take India into US's imperial orbit, the supposed course correction may be a tactical ahead of the general elections early next year.

After wasting four years, the BJP-led government's prime minister and his team have finally been credited with "course correction" after realising that the 'strategic tilt' towards United States has actually "grossly upset" India's geo-political image and also has "undermined national interests". The "overwhelming impression" was that India was striving to become a "regional ally" of the US in "Indo-Pacific".[P Stobdan; "Averting Indias fall into a geopolitical trap"; IDSA Comment, July 06, 2018]

In diplomacy, ambiguity plays an important role, but there has to be the "balance between ambiguity and coherence". This is where India was no longer able to maintain ambiguity on Indian rulers' attempt to hide its burgeoning military ties with the US and its pursuit of membership of Quadrilateral Alliance between Australia, India, Japan and US. Although much is made out of India's trade friction with US, total value of tariffs on 29 US products is $295 million. And the dependence of Indian corporate houses on the US's financial debt and equity market makes this proximity a dependent relationship between Indian corporate and the US. No wonder, Reliance's Mukesh Ambani and Essar's Ruias were the first to cut off oil imports from Iran for their oil refineries when the US withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (2015) on Iran. They did not even bother to wait to take the lead from the Government of India.

The point is that India's strategic tilt was evident long before and the extent of "influence" wielded by US – articulated through lobbies, think-tanks, US-based NRIs and the US citizens of Indian origin etc – is no longer hidden. It's a measure of their clout that in 2001, India offered three air bases to the US to use for launching its aggression against Afghanistan. In 2003, an idea promoted by some "eminent" strategic experts and economists was picked up by LK Advani, then deputy PM, as he proposed that India send a division of army to Iraq to fight alongside the US. All this was articulated in media for months.

In last four years, while relations with the US trudged along the supine approach towards the US, relations remained troubled with immediate (Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and China) and extended neighbours (Iran & Russia). If arresting this drift is imperative, then this "course correction", must be welcomed. The reason for caution is because so deep has relations with the US become for India's corporate class and the successive Indian governments-convinced that world had turned unipolar after 1989-that they chose to give up one-by- one the principles that officially still inform India's strategic and foreign policy. Admiral Bhagwat, in his interview toNewsclick, pointed out that the signing of 'New Framework for the US-India Defence Relations' in 2005 was a turning point in relations with the US and by 2007, India began buying military wherewithal from US reaching $ 15 billion between 2007-16. Next such moment was signing Logistic Exchange Memorandum of Agreement in 2015.

In spite of serious problems with the US, India does not mind the strategic tilt towards US driven by its rivalry with China. But notwithstanding rivalry with China, India shares more interests in common, because they converge, but here India treads warily. Thus, it is in both India and China's interest to keep Indian Ocean region, especially the Persian Gulf, safe and open to rule-based order. For instance, 30-odd countries in Indian Ocean Region are key to 55 per cent of world's oil resources, 40 per cent of gold, 35 per cent of natural gas and 60 per cent of world's uranium reserves. Ninety per cent of the oil which comes through Persian Gulf region passes through Indian Ocean Region.

cent of the oil which comes through Persian Gulf region passes through Indian Ocean Region.

Recall also that Strait of Hormuz, which separates Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea, is 21 miles wide, whereas the shipping lane on which ships ply is only two miles wide in either direction, from where 17.5 mbpd of crude oil is transported. Thirty per cent of world crude, from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Iraq and Iran, as well as LNG from Qatar pass through here. It is here that the US demands that India (China, Japan and South Korea) cut down on imports from Iran and turn to its allies or even better, import from the US instead.

When Nikki Haley visited India recently, she propounded the US's view that US sees Indo-Pacific as everything east of India and wants India to toe its line in North Arabian Sea, especially vis a vis Iran. The fact that Indian PM shied away from expressing India's redline to Nikki Haley – regarding India's strategic interests and vital stakes in Persian Gulf, so far as the relations with Iran are concerned – drives a hole in the thesis of "course correction".

With Indian dilly-dallying and deferring to the US extra-territorial sanctions by saying that they will announce what steps to take on Iran after parley with the US, even as Indian private sector oil importers have already announced their decision to cease use of Iranian oil, there is little likelihood of any resolute response from India. Because a country seeking "exemption" from the US would have to in return appease the US by buying US's military equipment and/or import energy from the US with all that it entails.

Decidedly upset with India's prevarication, recently a senior Iranian diplomat warned that Iran would end "special privilege" to India if it turns to Saudi Arabia, UAE or Russia to make up for foregoing Iranian crude oil. He also said that Indian investments for Chabahar port are not forthcoming, although Iran has helped India in energy and connectivity. Now, Chabahar port constitutes the entry/exit point for North-South Corridor that PM Modi so grandiosely announced at 'Shanghai Cooperation Organisation' summit in Moscow.

The point is that successive Indian governments have tilted so far towards the US that India had to take recourse in informal summits with China and Russia leaders and use Shangri La conference to return to the language of the non-aligned past to send the message that India is not heading towards forging military alliance with the US. Thus, when US administration used terms such as India is the "fulcrum" or "central" to US's Indo-Pacific strategy at Shangri La conference, PM Narendra Modi side-stepped this by affirming the central role of ASEAN countries.

All of this is fine. But, the point is that for a "course correction", there has to be lot more than words. It must also involve a shift away from dependence on the US's financial market, hedging dependence on dollar-denominated trade, and refusing to sign any more foundational pact with the US. This is not happening right now because Indian policymakers are keen to assure the US of India's "intention" to sign these pacts. If India's rulers remain determined to take India into US's imperial orbit, the supposed course correction may be a tactical move lest 'waters becomes too choppy for smooth navigation', as India heads towards general elections early next year. Because to appear to have succumbed to the US's bullying would hurt the tough guy image of the PM and the party he leads.

The studious indifference of Indian government to consider China's offer, that the two countries cooperate in joint ventures in Nepal as well as Afghanistan, also suggests that it may be a stop-gap-arrangement. On Nepal, we know for sure that China has maintained that Nepal's economic connectivity issues with India are more cost effective that with China and has advised Nepal to work with India. Instead, the Indian government remains committed to coordinate its economic aid policies in its immediate neighborhood with that of the US and the EU and Japan.

Meanwhile, a new threat is upon us. Writing in theBusiness Standard,former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran reminded that work of diplomats gets "enhanced" by India's reputation. He wrote that India was perceived as a country that has "successfully managed immense diversity…delivered economic progress even while maintaining the precious individual freedoms of its people, a country where powerful institutions enable the day to day practice of democracy…". Conversely, if the reputation gets "tarnished", as has happened, it hampers the work of the diplomats. There should be little doubt left that even in the midst of the worldwide resurgence of regressive forces and movements, India's descent and decline with rapes, lynchings and vigilantism is quite spectacular in words as well as deeds.

In this sense, 'course correction' may not mean much when Indian government is unabashedly engaged in tarnishing the image and reputation of India as a country rushing headlong into regression. Indeed, it is double whammy, which confronts us when we observe the pusillanimity displayed by India vis a vis US and the BJP government's bloody majoritarianism.

OPINION

  • River in a 'Court of Law' - Legal issues pertaining to its personality
  • Syria: A Testament To International Moral Bankruptcy
  • When the State Sought to Muzzle Privacy, U-Turn Now Only to Accommodate SC Verdict
  • The Bull in A China Shop Wrecks Indian Economy
  • When Buddha Looks The Other Way: The Plight Of The Rohingya
  • A Fatal Blow to The Judiciary
  • The Dramatic Rise in Wealth Inequality
  • Wild And Baseless Speculations of Crisis in the CPI(M)
  • Budget 2018: Fantabulous Schemes With Not A Paisa Earmarked
  • Kasganj: Sankalp Foundation and the Politics of Hate
  • PM Modi Sounds the Election Bugle: Congress and Hindutva the Agenda for 2019 Polls
  • The US Game Plan in Syria
  • Both Nehru and Patel Were the Need of the Hour in 1947-48
  • The Battle of the Two Begums of Bangladesh
  • Why Bangladesh Matters
  • Kejriwal's Apology is Not What the Media Claims
  • Arrest of a '5-minute Dalits' Proves Why SC/ST Act Dilution Will Grossly Impact Real Dalits
  • The Dalits and the Law
  • Winners May Be Losers In Karnataka's Catch 22 Endgame
  • Jinnah and the BJP
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (Nov 14 1889- May 27, 1964): We Still Live In A House That Nehru Built
  • Implications of Trump-Kim Summit: Nuclear Pays!
  • Thomas Reuters Foundation Survey: Measuring Safety, Generating Outrage
  • ROADMAP TO A CEASEFIRE: AFGN - PAK
  • What Are People Voting for?
  • Foreign Policy: A Double Whammy Awaits India
  • Changing Discourse
  • Assam: The Mythology of "Immigrants"
  • Imran Time is Here
  • 71 Years on, Forsty Relations Countinue
  • To Stop Climate Change, We Need to Open Bordera
  • Make Use of Bid to Postpone Provincial Elections
  • Cringing and Fuddled at 71
  • Ensuring Strident Voice Will Not Become Majority Voice
  • Nehru, Vajpayee and Modi
  • Religious Bias Okayed
  • The Oslo Accords: A Bloody Legacy of Betrayal
  • Crushing the Campus
  • Three Stories And Task of The Office Of Missing Person
  • Drama Over Indo-Pak Meeting
  • An ill Wind
  • Symbolic Actions Alone Are Insufficient For Long Term Change To Occur
  • If Democracy Subverts Itself
  • Returning Land to Civilians is a Promise That Needs Follow Up
  • Democracy In Crisis: What we Know and What we Don't
  • Reparations Office Can Bind The Nations Together
  • Implementation Challenges Facing The Ayushman Bharat Program
  • Subverting the Central Bank
  • Under the Yoke of New-Imperialism: A Fake War of Patriotism and Treason
  • India Joins the Club
  • The Third Phase
  • President is Best Situated to Resolve Political Crisis
  • No Country for Adventure: Challenges Extreme Sports Athletes Face in India
  • Setting A Perilous Political Precedent
  • What Rahul and Modi can do in the Next Four Months
  • Finding a Win-Win Solution to Break the Deadlock
  • Temple in the Age of Colliders
  • Four Parameters of a Political Solution at This Time
  • Resolve National Question With President's Support
  • Decapitating the Leadership
  • Four Takeaways From the 2018 Election
  • Science of Words
  • The Ace up Modi's Sleeve
  • The Government Must Not Deny The TNA
  • The Prolonged Wait For Justice And For Political Leadership
  • Endgame in Afghanistan
  • Pluralist Ethos is More Relevant to National Identity
  • A Concerned Citizen's Points For Inclusion in The Manifesto of Political Parties
  • In My Own Voice: Circle of Unreason
  • RBI To The Rescue of Modi Government - It's Election Time!
  • Say No to War
  • A terrifying Fallout
  • The Type of Leadership The Country Needs
  • Death Wish as Nationalism
  • Politics on Kashmir Need Not be About Optics Alone
  • Why an Urban Job Guarantee Scheme is Not a Bad Idea
  • National Security: The New in 'New Normal'
  • Re-Promulgating an Ordinance is a Fraud on the Constitution
  • Elections 2019: India at a Crossroads
  • Peace and Inclusive Development
  • NYAY Providing Basic Income Fulfills the Vision of Mahatma Gandhi and Changed Election Narrative Based on Basic Issues
  • Advani Should Blame Himself For Promoting Modi
  • Kashmir: Tracing the Degeneration of Mainstream Politics
  • Elections and the Issue of Civil Liberties
  • Jumlanomics:Chronicles of a Post-Truth Bharat
  • BJP: Hiding Failures, Targeting Nehru
  • A Mayawati Moment
  • Godse is a Synonym of Hindu Nationalism, Agenda of the RSS Combine!
  • Development Beyond Numbers
  • A Rational Approach to Countering Extremist Violence is Needed
  • In My Own Voice: Is This the Sprit of Democracy?
  • Prevention is The Best Migration Cure
  • The Rise of Hate
  • The Right Mantras for India's Change
  • Coming Home - Where Family Overpowers All
  • Easter Sunday Bombing Used to Create a Major Rift in Sri Lankan Society
  • Hacking Humanity
  • Environmental Rule of Law in India
  • Peace is a Word That West Has Taken From Afghans
  • Trump's War Games
  • Modi & States
  • Who is an 'Outsider' in West Bengal?
  • China on Maps
  • 19th Amendment Will Correct Itself at End of President's Current Term
  • Authoritarianism and the Crisis of Public Ethics in India
  • Presidential Candidate The People Want
  • Has India's Kashmir Cape Given Pakistan Reason for War?
  • Icons and Ideology of Religious Nationalism
  • Why NRC in Assam May Create Another Kashmir
  • Campaign to Abolish the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka is a Red Herring
  • As US Tries to Isolate Iran, China Steps In
  • Of Hindi and Hierarchy
  • Why Sri Lankan Elections May Bring Far Reaching Change
  • What US Policy Tells Us About India's Growing 'Friendship' With It
  • Gandhian Philosophy is a Critique of Modernity and Power
  • Inner Party Democracy is Just as Important as Funding
  • India's Foreign Policy Has Dug Itself a Deep Hole
  • 'Broken Promises' and Politics of Hate': Is Political Autonomy The Way Forward For J&K?
  • The Ninth Betrayal: America Has Let Down Khurd, Yet Again
  • Who Benefits From The WhatsApp Hacking Case?: Pertinent Question Left Unanswered
  • State Elections Results Expose "Limits" of BJP's Nationalist Agenda
  • "Religious Belief" vs. "Rule of Law": Did SC's Ayodhya Verdict Legalise Building of a Theocratic State?
  • What Does Trump's "New Refugee Ban" Mean for America's Immigrants?
  • India Must Change Course as Rajapaksas Return on Sinhala Buddhist Wave
  • The Supreme Court's First Judgment Without an Author
  • Geopolitics in South Asia Renders Millions Stateless
  • "Shakespeare's Vision of the Improbale" Unfolds: Is Modi Today's Macbeth?
  • Sri Lanka Under Rajapaksa: Finding Areas of Mutual Agreement
  • "The Game of Religion is Played by Men": Women Speak From the Margins of Ayodhya Dispute
  • Telangana Ecounter- Failure of Local Police Poses Grave Danger to Democracy
  • The Changing Nature of War and Diplomacy
  • Sri Lanka: Government's Cooperation A "Temporary Phenomenon"?
  • The Role of Corruption in This Season of Revolts
  • New Citizenship Law to a "Brazenly Divisive Agenda"
  • Youth Agitation Against CAA Brings a Historic Generational Shift
  • "Digital Authoritarianism": With Internet Shutdowns Normalised, the Digital Space is Democracy's New Battleground
  • Sri Lanka: The Challenge of Development Amidst Devolution of Power
  • The Political Divides that Split India
  • 'Never Again': Echoes of Nazi Crimes Remain Alive 75 Years After Auschwitz
  • "Legacy of Mutual Suspicion" Plagues Opponents of the Modi Regime
  • "Toxic" India Sliding into an Environmental Abyss
  • Manufacturing Hate: From Anurag Thakur's 'Shoot the Traitors' to Pistol-Bearing Youth's 'Yeh lo Azaadi!'
  • Kejriwal Isn't Communal, But His Desire Not to be Seen Anti-Hindu May Prove Self-Defeating
  • Religion States Won't Oppose US-Taliban Deal
  • Lessons From Pathogens: Coronavirus, A wake Up Call?
  • The Geopolitics of the Covid 19 Pandemic
  • Cold War Begins As Nations Fued Over Coronavirus
  • India Fights Coronavirus...With Scriptures, Morals and Police
  • The Burden of COVID 19
  • Do Israeli Settelemnts in Occupies West Bank Constitute a War Crime ?
  • The Global Debate on COVID-19 Lockdown: Listen to Divergent Scientific Voices or Risk Manipulation by Big Businesses?
  • Sri Lanka's Easter Bombings And The Demand For Justice
  • How India Can Solve the "Catch-22 Situation" of Allowing Migrant Workers to Return Home
  • The Time for Universal Basic Income Has Arrived
  • COVID-19 Crisis Exposes Fatal Weaknesses of 'Strong' Leaders
  • The Pandemic Has Taught Us the Importance of Maintaining an Ecological Balance, Will we Remember IT?
  • The Muslim Elite Has Let Down the Muslim Poor
  • "There is Nothing Nationalist or Non-Nationalist in Reporting"
  • Why WHO Took 3 Months to Declare a Global Pandemic
  • A Political Lockdown That Silences Voices
  • The 'Relief Package' of Online Education May End up "Institutionalising Drop Outs"
  • Can Democracy Survive the Coronavirus?
  • As China Ups the Ante, This is What India Must do...
  • Tackling Racism With Compassionate Reporting-CNN Leads The Way
  • Sri Lanka: Pluralism In Governance Required In The Absence of Parliament
  • Idia's Tactical Non-Solutions To China's Incursions in Ladakh
  • "At The Brink of A New Cold War": Sino-US Ties at a Crossroads
  • In Light of Rising Conservatism, Can The Personal be Political Again?
  • India-China: The Complete Breakdown of Trust, How and Why
  • Rethinking Development After Covid-19
  • The Pandemic Must Transform Our Agriculture
  • Treacherous Road to Make Manu History
  • The 'American Way of War' Is Built On A Foundation of Racism
  • Covid -19 And The Crisis of Education-An Insight
  • Governments That Preach Non-Violence Must Lead By Example
  • New Status of Hagia Sophia Signals The Death Of Secularism
  • Covid 19 and Furthering of Sectarian Agenda in Education
  • Biden's "Conventional" Approach vs Trump's "Whimsical" Handling of Foreign Policy
  • Why Arguments Against Reservation are Flawed
  • Curfew Welcomes One Year of Abrogations in Kashmir
  • Ayodha: What is BJP's Motive For Holding Ram Temple Ceremony Amid Pandemic?
  • New Education Policies of India And Pakistan Will Further Divide, Within and Without
  • Does India's Handling of China Make Sense?
  • Return of the Rajapaksas in Sri Lanka
  • An Independent Supreme Court Is a Must for Democracy
  • Does Rule of Law Trump Tide of Public Opinion?
  • UAE-Israel Deal Accelerating Fragmentation of West Asian Politics
  • Congress And Its "Unprecedented Political Challenge""
  • Does The 20th Amendment Threaten Pluralism in Sri Lanka?
  • Digital Hate, Now A Profitable Commodity
  • Rising Cases, Unemployment: Is India Ignoring Fears Stoked by the Pandemic?
  • Surging Pandemic, Slumping Economy - And the Crisis of Democracy
  •