→We are witnessing momentous changes in the world today, geopolitics of today impact everything in our lives, how we live, consume(digitally and physically), think, work, earn are all determined by the geo-polity of today’s world. With the rise of Asia powered by China and India to the start of the decline of west due to their aging populations(hence expensive and less labor force) and domestic problems, what we are seeing today is notable power shift.
In this article, we look at how India (assuming unsusceptible to it’s high risk domestic problems) can discern the risks and opportunities at various ends of a multipolar world setup
India is having historical ties with the Russian federation since our independence and it is indeed an important partner for India to embrace the multi-polarity, recently our External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar quoted India-Russia relations as “Steadiest of major global relations” and also “Committed to multipolar world” in a recent foreign ministers meet in April 2023, this was once again proven in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war where India abstained on almost all West led Anti-Russia resolutions at the UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) and UNSC (United Nations Security Council) despite the pressure from America and it’s allies, India only supported Ukraine on civilian humanitarian aids assist.
Russia’s significance for India surged when India started buying crude oil from Russia in large amounts at discounted rates as Europe chopped it’s energy demands from Russia due to the Ukraine war. Trade between India-Russia rose up from USD 8 Billion in FY2021-22 to USD 45 Billion in FY2022-2023, the Russian share in India’s total trade increased from 1.27% in 2021-22 to 3.54% in 2022-23. Though in this sudden trade jump between the two, India’s trade imbalance increased which should be addressed, in this regard lately India discussed advanced Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Russia led EEU(Eurasian economic union) which includes Central Asian countries. India-Russia are trading in Rupee-Ruble to reduce dependency on US and hence contributing to the start of the de-dollarization.
India’s reliance on Russian defence systems and energy should decrease in long-term, On the other hand India should expand its commodities in the Russian market which is now dominated by PRC. India should always make sure that we should not align with west in a way such that Russia becomes a Chinese colony, A strong Russia is important for India in this most important decade of Global power shift or rather say balancing.
Indo-China border conflict is well known to the world today, tensions escalated b/w the two when soldiers from both sides clashed with each other in April 2020 in Galwan resulting in heavy casualties, since then both militaries heavily deployed forces and have been building infrastructure on respective sides, there have been instances of patrolling teams face off at various points both in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. China illegally occupied Aksai Chin in the 1962 Indo-Sino war, now challenges India’s sovereignty by claiming Arunachal Pradesh as its part of “South Tibet” hence it is indeed a challenging situation for India to counter the Chinese hegemony in the regions (Indian subcontinent & Asia-pacific) and pushback their expansionist moves on the Himalayas.
On the economic side of this bilateral, China is India’s 2nd biggest trading partner after the US with a huge trade imbalance on the Indian side. Here’s a shocking figure. The trade b/w India and China touched an all-time high of USD 135.98 billion in FY2022, while New Delhi’s trade deficit with Beijing crossed the USD 100 billion mark for the first time in history despite the tensions b/w the two. China’s GDP is roughly 5 times that of India and hence India has no match to their mighty Industrial strength. We can only compete with China if we somehow semi-industrialize and fix our domestic problems.
India can take benefit from Chinese investments with caution which also strengths India as it can diversify apart from the US led West FDI inflows for it’s emerging(high end manufacturing) and well-established (consumer and services) sectors. India’s future customers markets will largely include Asia and Europe, so taking help for technical expertise of Chinese manufacturing will be important for India’s manufacturing. To enclasp multi-polarity we should look out for our strong adversary as well as engage in various dialogues on major platforms like BRICS,SCO. Expanding BRICS can really help us to create a more peaceful multipolar world.
By 2030, India will surpass Germany and Japan in GDP terms to become world’s 3rd largest economy and on the other hand China will surpass USA to become the world’s largest economy, with this rise of the powers of the “East”, if both countries maintain peaceful terms on their borders then they can give a tough time to the old world order. But this doesn’t seem practical and as easy as journos and geo-polity pundits write, as India and China with their growing economies will challenge each other’s power positions on issues especially when India will be aligning more with west to counter Chin.
This can be seen as India participates in anti-China groups like QUAD and have deep ties with Japan, do participate in military exercises with USA and QUAD. We shall look more into the two countries bilateral ties and engagements on multilateral platforms to understand nuisances and goods of these major powers. The matter is definitely gray and not white and black only.
US-India diplomatic relations are one of the most complex ones. On one side US has helped us build Indian IT sector which exported services worth USD 323 Billion through outsourcing its services and tech corporates but on the other hand we know how US undermines our national interests or for that matter any country’s national interests to fulfill its needs. Despite this, one of the India’s most successful achievement on the strategic autonomy front was the 2006 Indo-US Civil Nuclear deal, indeed India is the only major non-anglo country which signed a civil nuclear deal with US on its own terms (until recently Saudi seek US security pledges and nuclear help in exchange of peace with Israel).
USA do not want to have a multipolar world because it will challenge it’s hegemony, but countries like Russia, India, Saudi Arabia and France are today challenging the bi-polarity nature of geopolitics by engaging with various partners at the same time ensuring that they do not undermine their development and economic goals. Recent examples of this are; Saudi Arabia-Iran peace deal brokered by China with Saudi refusing the US to cap oil rates, French President talking about “Europe must resist pressure to become America’s followers’ in a recent visit to Beijing. And India engaging with all three of Russia, US, China economically and militarily with US(QUAD) and Russia.
US venture capitalists invest heavily in Indian tech startups, but this free trade and market liberalism is only one way, for e.g. Indian VCs and billionaires cannot invest and take ownerships in important US corporates. With major Indian market dominated in different fields by US corporates for e.g. Google and google pay in internet browser and payments, social medias like whatsapp, instagram and e-marts like Amazon , if US sanction India in future then due to dependency on them our economy will take major hit. Our 5G rollout is also partnered with US and it’s allies. What US want with regard to India ? Here are those things :
1. Buying US weapons instead of Russian
2. Be more Anti-China while US-China trade crossed USD 700 Billion in FY22
3. Do not challenge the petro-dollar hegemony hence trade in dollars not in rupee or any other currency
4. Let US corporates take major stakes in Indian financial institutions (public and private sector banks mainly
What we are seeing today is US deep state using NGOs and media in the name of promoting “democracy”, “environmentalism”, “minority/human rights” etc engage in regime change operations. George Soros, famous for regime change operations and color revolutions recently called for “Democratic revival of India” in a call to remove PM Modi in ’24 general elections in India. India should not allow US to blatantly engineer a regime change.
India must pursue it’s development goals and focus on it’s growth. Taking sovereign decisions for it’s people, not to be influenced by any power. To achieve this we must embrace a multi polar world , balancing between West and Russia-China must continue and the same time banning NGOs and media which posses threat to India’s development and take advantage from our domestic fault lines and bad policies. Next two decades of growth will determine India’s future in 21st century.
In the second part, we will look at how India’s relations in South Asia, Middle East, South east Asia, Africa and Europe will determine it’s future aspirations to dominate world.