image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

Increasing Importance of India in the New World Order

Following recent meeting between the Chinese leader, Xi Ping, and President Putin of Russia, the lines of global alliances are becoming clearer. The challenges ahead on all fronts are massive and no country can afford to ignore them.

In the emerging world order, the position of India is more important now than ever before. India stands to gain much if its democratic institutions and processes are seen to be working.

Let us look at the larger global picture. According to reports, following the 3 days Moscow visit by Xi Ping, the Chinese leader, the two super powers laid out their vision for the world in a nine-point joint statement that covered everything from Taiwan to climate change and relations with Mongolia, often depicting the United States as the obstacle to a better, fairer world.

China is now firmly on the Russian side as the senior economic partner. There is no expectation now that China would act as some sort of peacemaker to end the Ukraine war. This pact between two dictatorships makes the world even more divided for the foreseeable future after the start of the Ukraine war in February 2022. In the wake of recent Sino-Russian talks and final understanding between the two super powers, Russia has announced the movement of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus next to Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. The two global blocks are now face to face in a nuclear posture. The dividing line stretches from Finland in the north to Georgia in the south-west of Russia.

To summarise, China and Russia are now political, diplomatic, economic and military partners. They will attract other smaller countries either aligning openly with this Sino-Russian block or by keeping a non-aligned stance to their advantage. From the Chinese viewpoint, its partnership with Russia will counter American-led efforts to contain Chinese expansion.

In view of the above global scenario, the Western countries see India as an important counterweight to China. Both countries have large populations and are the fastest growing economies. Despite the internal communal politics of India, the country is seen as the largest democracy. However, that is not to say that there is no unease in the West about the human rights record of India. Hindu Rashtra nationalist agenda of the ruling party is increasingly being challenged by minority communities and moderate Hindu intellectuals in India. The prolonged protest by the farmers of India led by Panjabi farmers has not helped the democratic image of the country nor the current law and order situation in Panjab. Most independent observers following recent events in Panjab, seem to agree that, at best, the Panjab situation has not been managed well and too often likened to pre-1984 events. Indian mainstream media has lost much credibility during this time.

Yet, as we have seen, this is a time when the importance of India as a balancing force in global geo-politics has increased. The constructive way forward for India is to sort out internal problems by ensuring constitutional safeguards for all communities and to demonstrate to the world that democratic processes are working. That will require much political will and major overhaul of what is seen as a colonial style official mentality and administration. Let there be rule of law.

Gurmukh Singh OBE

Principal Civil Servant Retd (UK)