D.C. Pathak | 27 Mar, 2023
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It is an established principle that if you get the 'macro-picture' right
you will be less troubled by 'details' - even when some of them look
unsettling at first sight. It is a sign of civilisational confidence of
India that it has for its G20 Presidency adopted the motto - 'Vasudhaiva
Kutumbakam', which means 'the whole world is one family'.
can be more comprehensive and higher as the global mission for a world
conference, than this thought embracing the entire humanity. A basic
advantage here - from India's point of view - is that any 'small
thinking' will show itself to all, producing if anything, a certain
degree of embarrassment for the dissenter. It is in line with this
approach that India favours reformed Multilateralism as a desirable idea
to define international relations.
In one word this is
multilateralism that produces a positive environment and no negative
fall out at all. It goes to the credit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
that his foreign policy is marked by a consistent adherence to three
seminal ideas that added up to this kind of multilateralism.
is India's belief in a multi-polar world. This helps to diffuse the
danger of the reappearance of the Cold War that was basically the
product of a bipolar world order.
Multiplicity of major powers
makes it more likely that they would make a competitive contribution for
improving the world economy and global peace - in their keenness to
project a good image for themselves, internationally.
India's independent foreign policy that made Prime Minister Modi the
first world leader to reach out to both Russian President Vladimir Putin
and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and advise them upfront to
stop the armed conflict in favour of negotiated peace.
the year long Ukraine-Russia confrontation, India has retained its image
as a world counsel for peace because it maintained that 'this is not an
era of war', abstained from anti-Russia resolutions in the UN and also
did not endorse the supply of war equipment and arms to Ukraine by the
US-led West in the proxy mode that had only prolonged the war-like
India maintains that concerns of both Russia and
Ukraine have to be addressed for working out a peace pact between the
two neighbours. Significantly, India has in this period maintained the
best of relations with the US, the UK and Europe and with a strategic
finesse checked the drift of the world towards another Cold War between
US on one hand and the Russia-China combine, on the other.
second point about India's foreign policy that paved the way for a
reformed multilateralism is that the latter is a natural by-product of
India's favoured option of going in for bilateral relations which were
mutually beneficial to both sides in terms of economic and security
interests. This policy effortlessly pursued by the Modi regime had
ensured that bilateral relations were not at the cost of any other
The Sino-Pak axis on the other hand follows an opposite
philosophy as it is geared to executing plans 'against' India. The
unholy alliance between a Marxist dictatorship and a fundamentalist
regime is driven by hostility towards this country and is a perpetual
threat not only to the security of South Asia but to that of the entire
For upholding the case of Pakistan in
Afghanistan, China has in fact entered into a give-and-take arrangement
with Pakistan on Taliban Emirate and even gone along with the
Pak-sponsored faith- based terrorism that threatened global security.
democracies led by the US must realise that the motivation of faith
that Islamic extremists and radicals brought to bear on the new global
terror, has created a perpetual danger for the entire world. This threat
had to be countered jointly by all peace-loving countries through
exchange of Intelligence and coordinated action.
the name of Islam can enforce an 'asymmetric' war because the motivation
here was strong enough to produce 'suicide bombers' to take down the
opponent. India with its transparent advocacy of 'all religions being
given equal respect' provides a standing counter to the 'supremacist'
outlook of a particular faith - in the process it is best placed to act
as the anchor of world security against the new threat of
Even as the agenda of G20 is exclusively about
economic growth and elimination of the crippling gulf between the North
and South, security concerns plaguing the world have also to be
addressed during India's Presidency of the event.
It is a matter
of great satisfaction that G20 outreach is designed to fulfil the task
of shaping both the global economy as well as world security. To go
about it in a mission mode carries the stamp of the Modi government -
the latter in fact was living up to the 'sabjan sukhaye sabjan hitaye'
Finally, 'multilateralism' is not 'alignment' - it is
in fact a negation of the latter. An alignment is always 'against'
somebody or some country. Reformed multilateralism does not create
conflict and India goes for it with that mindset.
India is an
active participant in Quad because this forum stands for 'maintenance of
rules based order in the Indo-Pacific' - it is not against any
particular country but against unwarranted aggressiveness wherever it
came from. It needs to be mentioned that India's bilateral relations
with the US, Japan and Australia are on an upswing independently of the
geopolitical objective of Quad.
If India also sees in it a
preemptive arrangement to counter any hostile encroachment in the Indian
Ocean, there is nothing wrong with it. Since China seeks to 'win a war
without fighting a battle' through the strategy of salami slicing, India
has every right to expose and put down that hidden agenda of the
adversary and do whatever it takes to counter it.
working for the return of sanity in international relations and is set
to improve upon the traditional thinking of somehow preserving national
interests even when that meant not caring for the global commons. India
has an opportunity of playing this profound role at the world stage and
it is a matter of pride that Prime Minister Modi had the political will
to rally the international opinion in favour of maintaining global peace
so that the cause of economic advancement of the world as a whole,
could be served.
In a way the slogan of 'Sabka Saath Sabka
Vikas' at home is in complete sync with the G20 call of 'Vasudhaiva
Kutumbakam'. If it can establish the feasibility of reconciliation
between national growth and human advancement across the globe, G20
would be achieving an unprecedented mission where the world would truly
be one- eliminating the menace of conflict and divisions forced in the
name of religion, region and race. This would be happening for the first
time in the post- Cold War era. Think20 is providing the much needed
ideation to the G20 events to enable the latter to fulfil this mission.
enlarging into multilateralism without causing harm to any national
entity is perhaps a political philosophy whose time had come - it shows
the determination at the national level, to do what was right. While
every nation has to have military strength to safeguard its sovereignty,
seeking prosperity and gains through arms export and economic
destruction of a rival has its limitations - those having such a mindset
should realise that.
Some countries will always be richer than
others but they all must work for a sustainable human existence in order
to minimise conflict and violence that detracted from the idea of
making the world a better place for everybody.
The good news is
that the approach of India steers clear of ideological contradictions
that had marred international and national politics so far and shows a
new light to the world on the strength of its civilisational moorings.
ultimately is rule for the people and whether it is the regional
setting that produced the Ukraine- Russia armed conflict or an alliance
like Sino-Pak axis that was driven by malice against India, the vision
set by the thought of universal good and human dignity would win the
battle for the people.
India has set this higher mission and
there is every hope that at the end of India's G20 Presidency it will
make a difference to the world. The world can do with injecting some
'philosophy' of life in 'realpolitik'.
To sum up, India has come
of age as a major power influencing geopolitical trends. It is an
advocate of world peace but also a believer in a firm rebuttal of the
attempts of a few to disturb it for their own vested interests or
hegemonist traits. It looks upon multilateralism as a constructive
pathway to economic well- being that would keep the international
community from armed combat and destruction.
in the economy may bring in advantages but these should not lead to a
temptation for usurping other 'territories' or 'subjugating' people.
Prime Minister Modi's pithy reminder that this is not an era of war, has
made an impact on the world and certainly checked the trend of third
parties covertly adding fuel to the fire in an ongoing conflict.
brings in long-term gains while wars produce losses for all parties. A
complication in the times we live in, has risen because of the advent of
proxy wars that technology - particularly social media and cyber space -
had aided. It enabled covert offensives to succeed in creating a sense
of victory in combat because violence and destruction went undetected or
remained unattributable in specific terms.
therefore, not only to facilitate mutual economic advancement but also
highlight the importance of exchange of Intelligence for countering
terrorism and other forms of proxy war. It stands to reason that liaison
at the level of National Security Advisors so successfully achieved by
India, is becoming the bedrock of India's international relations and
foreign policy strategies. This confirms the reality that global
security presaged the world's economic development and that the two had
to be pursued with equal vigour.
(The writer is a former Director of Intelligence Bureau. Views expressed are personal)
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