Prof PR Chari
Speakers (Young Scholars)
Dr J Jeganaathan, Research Officer, IPCS
Anil Kumar, Doctoral Candidate, Delhi University
Simi Mehta, Research Scholar, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Amb Teresita Schaffer, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Amb Howard Shaffer, Senior Counsellor, Edmund A Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies organized the ‘IPCS Colloquy # 50: Young Voices, Alternative Ideas’ on 21 February 2012. The Colloquy was themed on ‘Emerging India: Mapping the Trajectory’. Three aspects of an emerging India were discussed – India’s relations with its neighbours, India’s China Policy and India-US Strategic Partnership. The resource persons for the colloquy were Ambassador’s Howard and Teresita Schaffer.
The IPCS Colloquy is an effort to enable young scholars brainstorm on a topical issue. The objectives are to discuss an issue, explore tangents and engage in a constructive deliberation. The event was part of the IPCS Colloquy series, which since 2008 offers a platform for young scholars to share their ideas.
India and its Neighbourhood – Big Brother and Brittle Sisters
Dr J Jeganaathan
India is an emerging power characterized by robust political institutions, a functional democracy, rising economic power (with a GDP of 8.5 per cent), large military prowess, nuclear weapons capability, population diversity and a rapidly growing human capital. India’s neighbourhood is characterized by politically volatile and economically fragile countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives and Sri Lanka. Bhutan is an exception. Most of these ‘brittle sisters’ lack political heterogeneity and have weak institutions. Each of these countries pose a different challenge to India; Afghanistan poses geo-strategic challenges, Pakistan questions India’s territorial integrity (Kashmir), Nepal becomes a concern for left-wing extremism and Maoism, Bangladesh burdens it with refugee influx, organised crime and human-trafficking and Sri Lanka stirs the ethnic-Tamil problem. On the contrary India, the big brother, is considered a hegemonic power vying to usurp the socio-political-cultural identities of its smaller neighbours and dictates political order in the region. This perception is pushing them towards China, who represents the big balancer to Indian hegemony.
Of immediate concern to India are two countries – Pakistan and Afghanistan. Achieving political stability and security in a war-torn Afghanistan, particularly after 2014, will be India’s priority policy towards Afghanistan. Pakistan’s domestic political developments and support to terrorism will be a key concern for India. Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka fall in India’s medium term concerns. Water-sharing is a issue of conflict with both Nepal and Bangladesh, apart from the political imbroglio and cross-border trafficking posing security threats from these countries respectively.
The South Asian region is vital to India politically, economically and geopolitically. Domestic turbulences in individual states have a bearing on the entire region. India is on the right track with its current three-pronged strategy: wait-and-watch policy, moderate interference in the internal affairs of neighbouring states and soft-power approach.
India’s China Policy
Contrary to common perception, India does have a China policy. For India, China is a bigger threat than Pakistan. India refuses to play second fiddle to China regionally or internationally. After 1998, India adopted the policy of internal and external balancing. Internal balancing means increasing economic prowess and mobilizing internal resources to enhance state power. Since 1998, India has followed this as a text book procedure, evident in its ambitious plan of upgrading military strength. External balancing includes strengthening alliances.
So far India has been engaged in soft balancing, which includes both internal and external balancing; it can be seen in its relations with the US and in its Look East Policy. Soft balancing allows realignment and non-alignment. Despite animosity, India and China have shown a remarkable level of engagement in the last decade. India’s behavior towards China could be described as ‘reciprocal’ (India did not reschedule the Buddhist Conference, permitted the Dalai Lama to visit Tawang and continues to explore oil in the South China Sea). India has given up the policy of appeasing China.
India-US Strategic Partnership
Simi Mehta and Tovika Swu
Today, IR has a new trump card - the phrase “strategic partnership”. Strategic Partnership involves promotion of mutual understanding, strengthening the rule-based systems of global governance, promotion of regional and global security, respect for the rule of law including human rights and increasing economic and social sustainability. India-US relations have moved from estrangement and mistrust to engagement. The bilateral relations have rapidly expanded in two key areas – security/ defence and economic cooperation. Defence cooperation gained momentum particularly with the Kicklighter-Rodriguez initiative, the Next Steps in the Strategic Partnership (2004) followed by the New Framework Agreement for the US-India Defence Relationship (2005). Efforts have also converged in the domain of maritime security.
Areas of converging interests:
Indian Ocean: This region is vital for major global trade, international energy security and regional stability. The US QDR (April 2009) regards India as the key security provider in the Indian Ocean region. Piracy, maritime terrorism and increasing Chinese naval power expansion are shared threats by India and the US.
Space Cooperation: US National Space Policy 2010 provides opportunities for cooperation with India. The US was a major research partner in India’s moon mission Chandrayaan I, of which the payloads were also carried from NASA. In February 2011 the US-India Business Council (USIBC) launched the tenth Executive Aerospace & Defence Mission at Aero India 2011.
Counter-terrorism: The India-US Joint Working Group (JWG) on terrorism was established in early 2000. Cooperation involves military exercises, personnel exchanges, high level unit visits, military education and training, intelligence-sharing and cooperation in the field of cyber-defence. Prime Minister Singh and President Obama committed to redouble collective efforts to fight terrorism and strengthen global consensus and legal regimes.
Defence Trade and Technology: In his visit to India, President Obama concluded defence trade deals worth US $ 10 billion.
Trade in High Technology: Trade in high technology takes place under the aegis of the US-India High-Technology Cooperation Group (HTGC), including trade in “dual use” goods and technologies such as biotechnology and nanotechnology.
Besides this India-US strategic cooperation extends onto supporting democracy and liberal economic policies and building a more coherent global international society based on solidarity.
India’s China policy is still in transition; it will take at least a decade to acquire the national strength to talk to China on equal terms. The Indian stand on east-Malacca shows India’s growing assertion.
A counter-analysis would be that India is being only rhetorically assertive but militarily foolish. India’s policy is a dangerous as it is a ‘reactive’ one based on insecurities.
India should not follow the US policy of promoting democracies, most particularly in its neighbourhood. This can pan out into a good strategy. India’s policies towards its neighbours have matured recently. India is correctly building understanding of its region, attending to the right diplomatic leverages and calculating its opportunities. A hard/ military policy will not work in South Asia.
There cannot be a comprehensive neighbourhood policy. India will have to deal with each of its neighbours separately since each of the countries is different from the other.
Remarks by the Resource Person
Amb Teresita Schaffer
The strategic context to India-US relations came only at the end of the Cold War; relations expanded with India’s improving economic performance. The US strategic vision evolved further in the 21st century. Implicit in the Bush Administration and now even in the Obama administration’s vision is the idea of rising India and rising China; both governments have been careful that in developing relations with India they do not antagonize China. In fact, one of the most successful India-US dialogues has been one on East Asia. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs has a well-established expertise on China, that the US can benefit from through association. Such dialogues should also extend to discuss West Asia. However, there is a philosophical divide between Indian and American foreign policy. While most countries accept the US’ ‘leadership’, strategic autonomy is India’s touchstone.
The Sino-Indian relations can no longer be studied from purely a narrow bilateral context. The impact of India’s and China’s security will have to be assessed in a multi-lateral capacity that includes their region and their extended neighbourhood.
Remarks by Resource Person
Amb Howard Shaffer
A rising India is important to the US’ Asia-centric policies. India is not likely to become any less important to the US even after the upcoming elections. It is believed that over the years the India-US strategic partnership has strengthened but at the same time may have got degraded by overuse. The devil in the bilateral relation of the countries is their relations with Pakistan. Pakistan feels threatened by growing Indo-American ties. India-US relations have their own problems; many economic problems have gone unresolved for decades.
Remarks by the Chair
Prof PR Chari
Internal politics of states also shape their relations with other states. India’s hegemonic image in the region has also been a result of its domestic politicking, which must be factored in while looking at India’s relations with the US or its neighbours. Similarly, the civil society in South Asia, which is becoming more assertive, has to be seen as an important player. Here, the impact of the Arab Spring or the Colour Revolutions on the region is vital for consideration. In South Asia, like elsewhere in the world, conflict has moved into the internal/ intra-state sphere and inter-state conflicts or wars between states have become an unlikely phenomenon. The US policy towards, what it calls, the Asian Pivot is that of containment and counter-containment.
Report drafted by Tanvi Kulkarni, Research Officer, IPCS