Can Washington Trust Modi's India As Key Ally in Asia?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the summit meeting of the China-Russia sponsored Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan this week. India is a full member of this alliance which has been created to counter the US dominance in Asia. At the same time, New Delhi has also joined QUAD, a group of 4 nations (Australia, India, Japan and US) formed by the United States  to counter China's rise. Simultaneous membership of these two competing alliances is raising serious questions about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's real intentions and trustworthiness. Is this Indian policy shift from "non-alignment" to "all-alignment" sustainable? 

2022 SCO Summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Source: Xinhua

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO): 

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a political, economic and security organization designed to counter US dominance. It was founded by Beijing and Moscow in 2001. Currently, it has 8 members: China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Iran has signed a memorandum of commitment this week signaling its intention to join the SCO, underscoring the growing alignment between the U.S.'s top adversaries. India's participation in this alliance seems strange given its simultaneous membership of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. 

Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD): 

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) is a strategic security dialogue between Australia, India, Japan, and the United States that was initiated in 2007 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to counter growing Chinese influence in Asia. India upset Japan recently when it joined the Russia-led Vostok-2022 military exercises held around a group of islands known as the southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan -- a territorial dispute that dates back to the end of World War II, according to Bloomberg. India scaled back its participation in the war games -- especially staying out of the naval exercises -- in response to the Japanese objections but it left a bad taste. 

Non-Alignment to All-Alignment: 

The contradictions inherent in the membership of both of these competing alliances are already being exposed by Mr. Modi's large and rapidly growing purchases of Russian energy and weapons despite western sanctions.  “India’s neutral public positioning on the invasion has raised difficult questions in Washington DC about our alignment of values and interests,” said Richard Rossow, a senior adviser on India policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Bloomberg News. “Such engagements -- especially if they trigger new or expanded areas of cooperation that benefit Russia -- will further erode interest among Washington policy makers for providing India a ‘pass’ on tough sanctions decision.”

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Comment by Riaz Haq on June 20, 2023 at 8:31pm

India, US need to refresh ties in new world of ‘frenemies’, says Jaishankar | Latest News India

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-us-need-to-refresh-...

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday said India and the United States will need to “refresh” ties as the old globalized world order built after 1945 gives way to an emerging arrangement marked by a “proliferation of frenemies”, friends who differ and competitors who cooperate.

The minister said the emerging order will be “multipolar” and “intensely competitive and driven by balance of power” instead of one based on “shared endeavours” and “collective security”. Competing powers will work together based on “convergence” of interests, not “congruence”.

The new era, the minister said, “calls for both India and the United States to press the refresh button of their relationship as the really important relationships in the world are the less transactional ones. They are driven by global assessments and are based on strengthening each other”.

Jaishankar did not explain what about the current state of India-US ties had prompted his call for hitting the refresh button, but he went on to express confidence in the state of the relationship.



“Recent events in our ties confirm that the deep convergences developed over the last two decades are now in full play. I am confident that a strategic appreciation of the emerging global landscape would only bring us closer.”



India’s relations with the US have been more transactional on President Donald Trump’s watch than in the past, as is true for all the other US relations.

The two sides are negotiating a trade deal to end current and outstanding issues going back by decades. They have also sought to manage competing interests regarding India’s traditional ties with Russia and Iran, one an arch-rival and the other a sworn enemy.

Jaishankar, who is highly regarded as a strategic thinker and is well known in US academia and policy circles, was speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a leading US think-tank, on “Preparing for a Different Era”, and his vision of a changing world order.

The foreign minister has had a series of think-tank events at which he has spoken expansively on all aspects of international relations with India in the middle — the US, Europe, China, the Gulf and the neighborhood. The host of one of them — not the CSIS — remarked the minister’s pronouncements could be the start of “the Jaishankar Doctrine”.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 22, 2023 at 4:27pm

India may soon be forced to choose between Brics and the West


https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3231774/india-may-soon...

India has so far managed to stick to its non-aligned policy, but with China’s vision looking to win out in the Brics grouping, it will have to pick a side
If it chooses the West, New Delhi will stand on the wrong side of history, while Brics could benefit from the inclusion of Iran

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India’s foreign policy embodies elements of the thought of Chanakya, the philosopher and statesman from 300 BC, whose realist ideals helped create the first pan-Indian empire. His interpretation of human nature often led to a pragmatic but pessimistic outlook on the state’s functioning, one in which the national interest was key.


In his Arathshastra, he elucidated his Rajamandala theory, which sheds light on India’s foreign policy. He recommended forming alliances with countries surrounding the state’s hostile neighbours and preventing them from becoming too powerful and threatening its security.


There are echoes of this approach in Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s statement that, “this is a time for us to engage America, manage China, cultivate Europe, reassure Russia, bring Japan into play, draw neighbours in, extend the neighbourhood, and expand traditional constituencies of support”. He says India’s foreign policy today involves advancing its national interests by “exploiting opportunities created by global contradictions”.


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The loss of India may only be a short-term concern as Iran could be a valuable replacement for the “I’ in Brics. Iran shares many of the same concerns as China and Russia as it has borne the brunt of US-led isolationist tactics. Tehran has drawn closer to Moscow and expanded defence and economic ties, making it a key stakeholder for any alternative global framework.
India faces a crucial decision in the next decade: either embrace China’s mutually beneficial approach or risk being caught in a zero-sum game orchestrated by the US. Attempting to have it both ways is not a viable long-term strategy, and following an ancient playbook will relegate it to the pages of history.
Sameed Basha is a defence and political analyst with a master’s degree in international relations from Deakin University, Australia

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 12, 2023 at 8:21am

#Modi’s #India no Friend of the West . Biggest aspect of #Hindutva is “xenophobia. It may be muted “when and where the military and political strength of the foreigner” is overwhelming but thrives on an “incessant campaign of slander and denigration" #G20

by Pankaj Mishra

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2023/09/11/modi-s-new-india...

India is, suddenly, Bharat, and it could be asked, as Shakespeare wrote, what’s in a name? But Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who embraced the Sanskrit name for his country in the same week that he played lavish host to the G-20 summit in New Delhi, is trying hard to project India as a “vishwaguru” (guru to the world). It is time to examine his claims more closely, and also to see the present and the future of his “New India” without comforting illusions.

Take, for instance, the booklet, “Bharat, the Mother of Democracy,” presented by Modi’s government to visiting dignitaries at the G-20. According to it, ancient Hindu sages and kings were partisans of equality, inclusivity, and harmony. Even modern feminism was anticipated by the 5,000-year-old bronze statue of an “independent and liberated” dancing girl.

Such claims are part of an elaborate narrative that is decisively shaping the outlook of many Indians today — one in which a once-dynamic Hindu civilization was ravaged by vicious Muslims and exploitative Westerners.


In Modi’s own account, Hindus were enslaved by Muslim invaders for 750 years and then for an additional 250 years by white British colonialists — a version of history used in India today to justify the degradation of Muslim and Christian minorities, the destruction of mosques and British-built buildings, the purging of textbooks, and now the unofficial renaming of India.

Modi’s own popularity, unconnected to his party’s variable fortunes, stems from what is a potent promise in a country full of humiliated peoples: to destroy the corrupt old political order and, as he put it in his Independence Day speech last month, to ensure a fully modernized New India enjoys a “golden” period “for the next 1,000 years.”

Such millenarian bombast — also echoed in the speeches of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping — belongs to a longer tradition of anti-Western demagogues proclaiming themselves heirs to distinguished ancient civilizations, including the Germans and Italians who sought to build the Thousand-Year Reich and the Third Rome, respectively.

It is a common mistake to suppose that German and Italians Fascists rejected modernity in favor of an idealized past. On the contrary, they pursued, often with help of Western nations they derided as “decadent,” ultra-modern technologies, modernist architectural plans, advanced transport systems and awesome public works. Like Hindu nationalists today, they used mass media, sporting events, and scientific breakthroughs to raise the pitch of collective emotion and project the image of a united and resurgent people.

Of course, since technological and military power still clearly lay with Britain, France and the US, the peoples failing to catch up with the West tried to feel superior to it in the realm of culture and philosophy. Invoking their great ethnic or racial past even as they sought grandiosely to supervise the future of the modern world, they became exemplars of what the American historian Jeffrey Herf has called “reactionary modernism.”

Presenting ancient Indians as pioneering democrats and feminists (also, the world’s earliest plastic surgeons), Modi belongs to this extended family of catch-up nationalists. His nation, too, seeks to blend neo-traditionalism with modernization while measuring itself, with volatile feelings of insecurity and resentment, against a weakened but still superior West.

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