India must stick to its strategic orientation – analysis
India has completed a month of national closure caused by coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and the magnitude of socio-economic disruption and human deprivation has been considerable. Millions are now in misery. The amount and quality of damage and chaos that will occur before closure / success can be declared have not yet been estimated. Therefore, any reference to a post-Covid-19 world will be more like an aspiration and one can only hope that the pandemic will lessen soon.
However, the impact of the pandemic on politics, both domestic and global, has been the subject of lively discussion and several formulations have been advanced. It is similar to the five blind and the elephant, but in this case, the contour of the pachyderm (virus) is insidiously dynamic. One school claims that this is the beginning of the end of globalization and multilateralism and that the world has entered a period of prolonged confrontation. Exhibit A to prove this point is the current tension between the United States (USA) and China and the tough exchanges between Washington and Beijing.
The extension of this formulation is that cooperation, to the extent that it was achieved in post-September 11 global geopolitics, is now a thing of the past and bipolarity has returned (US-China), and may soon become in a sinicized world where China surpasses the USA. USA to become number one in the world in GDP. In the period before Covid-19, this date was supposed to be around 2030. Does this mean that Chinese unipolarity is on the anvil? Unlikely. These binaries are not valid in the current turbulence activated by Covid-19.
In an earlier context (2012), while visualizing global trends in 2030, he had put forward the proposition that the US-led international order was under strain. This is illustrated in the trade dependencies engendered by globalization and the strategic security dissonance among the major powers: the most visible manifestations of this were the United States and China; China Japan; and cracks between India and China. Therefore, it was assumed that the emerging global geopolitical landscape in 2030 would likely be a contrapolar world, where managing conflicting policies and opposing impulses would be the norm, save for any black swan event.
The coronavirus pandemic is that black swan event. The question now is whether polarity in itself is a valid benchmark in today’s geopolitical and strategic flow. The direct impact on human security due to the pandemic has been high and there have been more than 200,000 deaths worldwide. Among the main powers, EE. The USA, the Eurozone and China, where the virus originated, have witnessed deaths by the thousands and this number may grow.
Consequently, the internal politics of these nations will see a significant turnover driven by emotional nationalism. The sharp focus on this issue in the United States election campaign is a good example. China, the European Union, Russia and Japan will follow a similar path, where the credibility of the current leadership will be tested.
India is no exception and managing the pandemic and its consequences will be the most complex challenge for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The macroeconomic scene is grim and experts say the Indian economy will shrink in 2020, before recovering in 2021.
However, a macroeconomic trend is unlikely to change. In a pre-Covid-19 world, it was known that by 2030, the hierarchy of global GDP for a single state would be China, USA. USA And India. Despite the economic recession that will unfold due to the pandemic, the resulting post-Covid-19 GDP matrix will be the same, all other factors will be normal. This means that India, despite the current challenges, will be at the highest level of the global economy.
Therefore, despite the current turmoil and negative sentiment about China in particular, the wisest strategic orientation for India will be to create the necessary political-diplomatic and economic space to remain committed to the major powers and trade blocs, by insular that are. the short term.
India’s immediate priority is to manage the pandemic and save its most vulnerable citizens. The long-term strategic goal remains the same: the elimination of mass poverty and ensuring a more equitable distribution of its prosperity, while remaining committed to the liberal democratic path.
Therefore, the review and recalibration of India’s strategic direction must correspond to the realization of these objectives: the immediate in relation to saving the lives of its citizens affected by the pandemic; and the long-term improvement of human security indicators. This is what Chanakya identified as yogakshema (welfare) for 1.3 billion people.
India’s external orientation after the end of the Cold War has been to remain committed to major world nodes, but without aligning itself, particularly in the military domain. Following this path would be wiser in a post-pandemic context, even though internal opinion is advanced that Delhi should join with a group led by the United States that will lean on China to repair its numerous omissions that go back to the creation of Covid- 19 crisis in Doklam, support for Pakistan and blockade of India’s admission to the nuclear order.
The post-Covid-19 recalibration for India is in the domestic arena. It must remain focused on emerging as a credible and equitable socio-economic power that recognizes the principle of power, but adheres to the power of the normative principle.
C Uday Bhaskar is director of the Society for Policy Studies, New Delhi.
The opinions expressed are personal.