IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 9th May 2020
You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.– Zig Ziglar
EDITORIAL HUNT 76:“Shaping India’s response in a global hinge moment“
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL/EDITORIALS FOR UPSC CSE MAINS 2020
Shivshankar Menon is a former National Security Adviser.
A longer version of this argument appeared in “India’s Foreign Affairs Strategy”, Brookings India Impact Series, May 2020
Shaping India’s response in a global hinge moment
The most important improvements concern its national security structures and their work, and flexibility in thinking
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2:IR
It is a hinge moment in the international system.US-China structural conflicts can benefit India. Substantiate -(GS 2)
- How to combat diplomacy of China ?
- What leadership skills can guide India ?
- How much we are dependent on our immediate neighbours .
- India finds itself in an increasingly dangerous world, one that is fragmenting and slowing down economically.
- We are today in a new geopolitical situation, caused primarily by the rise of China, India and other powers — Indonesia, South Korea, Iran, Vietnam — in a crowded Asia-Pacific, which is the new economic and political centre of gravity of the world.
- China-U.S. strategic contention is growing, uninhibited so far by their economic co-dependence.
- As China seeks primacy in a world so far dominated by the U.S., the world faces a destabilising power transition which may or may not be completed.
STRATEGIC AUTONOMY :
- CHANGING POLICIES : There is a common thread running through the foreign and security policies of successive governments of India until this one, irrespective of their various political persuasions: it has been the pursuit of strategic autonomy for India.
- UNCERTAINITY : If there is any situation in which India should retain the initiative and not get entangled in others’ quarrels, keeping India’s powder dry and free to pursue its own national interest, it is this disorganised and uncertain world.
- CREATIVE DIPLOMACY : This is a world that calls for creative diplomacy and flexibility, adjusting to the fast-changing balance of power and correlation of forces around us.
- It saw a tepid reaction from the rest of the world. To expect anything else is unreasonable.
THE CHINA QUESTION
- OPPORTUNISTIC APPROACH : One possibility is to engage China bilaterally to see whether the two countries can evolve a new modus vivendi(way of life), to replace the one that was formalised in the 1988 Rajiv Gandhi visit.
- CO-OPERATION : The more India rises, the more it must expect Chinese opposition, and it will have to also work with other powers to ensure that its interests are protected in the neighbourhood, the region and the world.
- CHARACTERS TO PLAY: The balance will keep shifting between cooperation and competition with China, both of which characterise that relationship.
- MACRO BALANCING POWERS : The important thing is the need to rapidly accumulate usable and effective power, even while the macro balance will take time to right itself.
- STRATEGIC DIALOGUES : This would require a high-level strategic dialogue between the two sides about their core interests, red lines, differences and areas of convergence.
- US POSITION : Certainly, it will no longer be the upholder of international order, economic or political, and seems to have tired of that role.
- MULTI-POLARITY : India must work with other powers to ensure that its region stays multi-polar and that China behaves responsibly.
DOUBLE OPPORTUNITY AWAITS
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared a goal of India to be a ‘Vishwa guru’, or world teacher, which is still a long way away when it is an importer of knowledge and technology.
- Nor is it clear that this status will actually contribute to transforming the lives of India’s citizens, though it might satisfy the ego.
- Tactically, China-U.S. contention — which is structural and, therefore, likely to continue for some time with a paradigm shift away from cooperation to increasing contention, despite temporary deals and “victories” declared by one or both — opens up opportunities and space for other powers.
- Today, India is more dependent on the outside world than ever before.
- When you add the new security agenda and the contested global commons in outer and cyberspace and the high seas to India’s traditional state-centred security concerns, you can see why there is greater worry or a sense of insecurity.
- The most important improvement that India needs to make concerns its national security structures and their work —
”introducing flexibility into India’s thinking and India’s structures.”
- For change is the only certainty in life.