by Prof. Sudhanshu Tripathi 13 September 2023
India’s current G-20 presidency with its transfer yesterday and its substantive role in the ASEAN summit in Jakarta have once again proved the mettle of the country’s leadership under PM Narendra Modi with immense fruitful prospects for future. While it has turned the entire global scenario into India’s World with spectacular glitter and charisma of participating global powers including the US, UK, France, Italy and many more, the remarkably successful 120 outcomes of the summit, highest ever, has indeed set the broad contours of the evolving new world order which really captures and sets the tone of the spirit of the eastward shifting global geopolitics.
It looks almost the same, notwithstanding few exceptions, as it was during the early 1970’s India-Pakistan War when New Delhi was encircled by the Washington-Islamabad-Beijing axis. And that had prompted the then PM (now late) Indira Gandhi to conclude a very significant ostensibly friendship treaty with the erstwhile Soviet Union (the USSR) to ensure India’s security and national integrity and also established the bold, decisive and meaningful leadership of Late Indira Gandhi. Everybody knows her bold assurance given to East Pakistan’s Sheikh Mujiburr Rahman – the late leader of Bangla Mukti Vahini fighting against Pakistan’s unbearable atrocities – to secure its liberation from their tormentors despite against the wishes of America as well as China and, of course, Pakistan as well. Her assertion led to the division of Pakistan into West and East Pakistan. And East Pakistan came to be known as Bangladesh so it continues even today. And Late Gandhi was acknowledged as Goddess Durga or Iron Lady by an equally illustrious Late PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The aforesaid first exception is that the US has now disenchanted by the Pakistan’s dubious role in siphoning out huge American assistance to prop up terror networks in its territory apart from actively colluding with various global terror organizations. The second exception points at the mounting Sino-US tensions on several important issues like AI, Climate and Trade relations etc., in addition to direct confrontation between two big powers in the Indo-Pacific, particularly as regards China’s illegal takeover of South China Sea, besides Beijing’s invasion in the airspace of Taiwan and collusion with Pyongyang to threaten both South Korea and Japan.
While the aforesaid India-USSR treaty indeed laid down the future course of expanding and deepening bilateral cooperation between the two faraway asymmetric states – one the then Super Power and the other as a consolidating Nonaligned Nation – carrying ahead its tryst with destiny that began on the midnight of 15th August 1947, the country has so far attained a significant power-position in international and global affairs. Now India continues to maintain its strategic autonomy while boldly asserting its independent position through its muscular foreign policy.
That may be substantiated by successfully handling China’s attempts to invade the Sino-Indian borders (McMahon line) towards India at Doklam and Galwan in 2017 and 2020 respectively. Further, New Delhi’s meticulous surgical strikes against terror outfits inside Pakistan’s territory has not only smashed and deterred the terrorists housed therein, but has also sent strong signals to Government-Mullah-ISI trio in Islamabad including other terror-supporting countries throughout the world, as they consider the country as a safe pasture for promoting terrorism & religious fundamentalism of all shades and forms.
Further, India has maintained a cautious balance with both the US and Russia as both these powers are equally important for accomplishing its national interests including economy, security and possibly a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. While India, having its historical-traditional ties with Russia and its growing partnership with America, finds itself walking a tightrope as it interacts simultaneously with both the major powers particularly during the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, it is still yearning to discharge its due role to reduce tensions between the two belligerents.
Indeed, India has long maintained the close multi-faceted relations with the erstwhile USSR, succeeded by the present Russia, upon its disintegration during the closing years of 1980s. The partnership between the two countries spans many decades since the end of the second-World War and that encompasses various areas such as defense, cultural exchanges, energy etc.. Fortunately Russia continues to be a significant supplier of military hardware to India even today apart from cheap crude oil and both nations continue to cooperate on numerous global issues, including counter-terrorism and regional stability.
However, the conflict in Ukraine has obviously strained India’s traditional relations with Moscow as New Delhi maintains silence over the US led western power’s massive logistical support to Ukraine. That continues to sustain this war and accrues immense benefits to America and other western states from sale of arms and ammunition to Ukraine. This is why, India continues to maintain a prudent stand, neither condemning nor fully endorsing Moscow’s attacks in Kyiv.
Against this backdrop, India’s likely meaningful actions in Jakarta will matter significantly to determine future security concerns of almost all regional partners in Southeast Asia as most of them are having long-continuing border disputes with China. That may also stress over the security concerns of not only South Asian states, including India, but also the entire East, against the backdrop of eastward shifting global geopolitics.
This is why the ASEAN nations very much long for the US’ constant support and its increasing military actions in the region, like forging security cooperation and holding joint military exercises, apart from expanding economic cooperation for protecting they national borders and economic well-being as well. Also the organization lays emphasis over India’s purposeful role of being the net security provider in the region and that shall obviously be meaningful for the entire East Asia including the Indo-Pacific, besides the Far East and beyond.
In this scenario, the presidency of G-20 offers a significant leverage to India to chalk-out and lead the forthcoming prospects of immense economic cooperation among member states to effectively consolidate the hitherto dejected global South against the privileged North as former colonial rulers. And that becomes very pertinent – as it will definitely revive the lost spirit of the earlier South-South cooperation, of course, with added glitter of the lone super-power and many major global powers – amidst imbalanced growth of ongoing Globalization in all over the world.
It will further boost the national confidence of India while hosting prominent global and major powers spread-over all across continents with added glitter and charisma of PM Narendra Modi, almost in the same way as Late PM Indira Gandhi presided over the 1987’s Seventh NAM Summit in New Delhi. As obvious the G-20 has today presented a much needed global forum to India especially against the backdrop of declining role of the Nonaligned Movement (NAM) in international relations during the past few decades.
Hence India has to fully avail both these opportunities with utmost care to protect its national interests and also to cast its everlasting noble and peaceful yet self-capable image of Vishwa Guru among global leaders in accordance with the true spirit of Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam for all times to come. Although Ukraine stands almost completely devastated and consequently overpowered by the dangerous onslaughts of the Russian army, yet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy continues to stage the lost show by deriving consistent support from the US’ led NATO powers. And that constantly prevents the ongoing Russia-Ukraine to cease or conclude to its logical end. Facing the gravity of the challenge from a very small state vis-à-vis it’s global might, President Putin may, in utter frustration, take recourse to nuclear weapons to finally stop the war. Such an ill-fated action may witness a chain of extreme counter-nuclear reactions which may lead an unimaginable catastrophe. Evidently, India must sound a clear note of caution by availing the golden opportunity at the G-20 forum that peace and prosperity has no substitute for the global humanity to survive and sustain in the world. That will be a befitting reply, albeit in disguise, to the war-mongering Russia and the NATO powers led by the US. This may happen as nothing is beyond human endeavour.