China-India clash marks a whole new level of Chinese aggression in the region in India that is closest to Eurasia.
- A core geopolitical trend over the past five years has been an accelerating strategic competition between the US, Russia, and China.
- The triangular contest has converted largely into a bipolar face-off with Russia and China forming a compact that spans bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, energy ties, trade in defence items, critical technologies (such as 5G), and growing joint military exercises.
- The logic of Eurasia, however, extends well beyond the Chinese-Russian compact and it is increasingly drawing in Iran.
- The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) was conceived way back in September 2000 and the first consignment of goods was transported from Mumbai to St. Petersburg during mid-January 2018.
How Eurasia matters to India?
- Russia looms large on India as much of India’s defence hardware is still imported from there and it is an increasing source of India’s hydrocarbon imports.
- A hostile Eurasia is arguably more damaging to Indian interests than an unstable Indo-Pacific as the US would like India to act toward its maritime south and east in its grand strategy.
- The Central Asian region is part of India’s “extended neighborhood” and of great geo-strategic value to India, especially as New Delhi is trying to balance China’s huge presence in the region.
- The rising political and economic profile of Eurasia demands an effective security framework to safeguard its valuable resource assets and the corridors which provide the infrastructure for its sustained development and prosperity.
- The Eurasian region is rich in natural resources and most notably the energy resources, which will be significant for India’s interest.
- The strategic peninsular location of Eurasia makes it important for India’s objective of becoming an Economic Hub.
Challenges in India-Eurasia Relations
- Beijing’s economic ties with Tehran are strong, and Iran is a vital component of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.
- Central Asia is the centroid of the new Eurasia and China feeds off its plentiful energy reserves and provides substantial investments in return.
- The Indo-Pacific region has been given more than rhetorical teeth than Eurasia, with the ambitious Quad initiative of four powers concerned with the rise of China i.e. the US, Japan, Australia, and India.
- Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy does not seem to account adequately for the rise of Eurasia as US interests in Asia lie primarily in the western Pacific and the South China Sea which are far from the core of the Eurasian theater.
- A nightmare scenario for India could be Pakistan increasingly integratedwithin the Eurasian geopolitical logic.
- India’s primary focus have been on other countries as it does not share borders with any of the Central Asian countries but stability in the region is still important for India.
Future of India-Eurasia Relations
- India’s “Neighbourhood First” approach aims to reinforce India’s alliances in the neighbourhood by building on cultural and religious ties, providing development and humanitarian assistance and improving infrastructure connectivity in the region.
- India is looking to strengthen its role in a number of regional multilateral organisations, including the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN); the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC); the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC); the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA); and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
- India’s focus should recognize the diversity of relationships that are possible i.e. economic, defence, and connectivity and India needs to identify areas where it can contribute effectively, while being mindful of its own internal needs, and recognizing its strengths that tend to lie in the maritime sector.
- India’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has increased the scope for cooperation, especially in security matters, with all the Central Asia countries i.e. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
- In order to counter Chinese aggression, India requires a much subtler grand strategy that factors in a major ongoing geopolitical development i.e. the rise of Eurasia.
- The border clashes with China are likely only the first glimpse of a strategic bind that India is being forced into which requires a response far more nuanced than placing most bets on the Indo-Pacific.
- Bolstering deterrence and simultaneously walking the talk on multi-alignment may be the answer and by re-centering Eurasia i.e. repairing fraying relations with Iran, striking a hard geopolitical bargain with Russia, and perhaps even the unspeakable, outreach toward Pakistan.
Source: The Indian Express