The end of the Cold War has put the smaller South Asian nations back on the US’ radar. The US-India civil nuclear agreement has proved that it is engraving a new model for South Asia under Indian supremacy. The sole purpose of US-Indian ties is to control the Chinese influence in the region which will result in a fiasco. The recent US-Indian agreement regarding information exchange has created anxiety in the region. The agreement will imbalance the power in South Asia which is neither in the interests of the US nor India. it has created a geopolitical and socio-economic fissure in the region.
While comparing China with the rest of the South Asian states, it is gluing any nation, small or large, into China-led organizations.
US is overlooking the two major South Asian factors by inclining towards India. Firstly, the Indian neighbors have never been on good terms with it. Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka, including Bhutan, never entirely acknowledge Indian supremacy and most likely never will due to historical, economic and political reasons. Secondly, India is utterly unable to convince or compel these countries to live under Indian umbrella due to geopolitical, socio-economic and military limitations. These two factors are favoring Chinese which may generate a tricky situation for the US.
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United State’s tactic of underpinning these states through Indo-Pacific strategy is very exigent. Its stance on Chinese investment in the region is not reasonable for China’s sake. Indian neighbors are more inclined towards China rather than the US. It might have learnt from the US-Pakistan fractional relations. One of main purposes of the Indo-Pak war of 1971 was to split the country into two parts for India’s desire to establish its supremacy in South Asia. As a result, Bangladesh was separated from Pakistan which later on proved disadvantageous. On realization of failure, its relationship with Bangladesh took a topsy-turvy turn. Indian establishment cynically aspired to move on by tempering the geopolitical and socio-economic conditions of the neighbors. Historical and cultural legacy of the sub-continent is shows that psychologically they aspire to be on an equal basis, which is not acceptable to the Hindu state.
Inclination towards China
The India’s habit of bullying the smaller states mixed with the rest of the factors compelled the South Asian states to move to China. Instead of social, economic, geographical and regional webs, India has failed both, in terms of progress and relations with its neighbors. India has fallen to the ground due to its imperialistic policies towards both the groups namely the BBIN (Bhutan-Bangladesh-India Nepal) or the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative of Multi-sectoral and Economic Cooperation).
The US must reshape its Indo-Pacific strategy by involving the main regional blocs to ensure the protection of its interests in the region
The traditional regional bloc SAARC, an initiative taken by smaller nations, was hindered by India. Significantly, India’s archrival Pakistan being a member of SAARC, the forum remained dysfunctional. While comparing China with the rest of the South Asian states, it is gluing any nation, small or large, into China-led organizations. It is a clear indication that China-lead sub-regional bloc is pleasing the smaller neighbors of India. India is trying its utmost to forestall the setting by engaging with China under the US umbrella which is going to end in smoke sooner or later. US and India both, are coming closer with the sole aim of stopping China.
New South Asian bloc
Modi’s Hinduism has pushed the neighbors further away from the margin of any support. The door is wide open for China, Pakistan, Iran and the rest of the South Asian states to step forward and make a new bloc in South Asia. India is incapable to avert such bloc. India is welcoming US in the region to reshape regional supremacy after the USSR. It is a fact that no state be it big or small can ever tap its feet with the India mindset for a long run. The Indian dreams of international relations with powerful countries to reassert its imperialistic domination will add fuel to the fire. They will be left with no alternative than allying with China.
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There is a need to formulate a new plurilateral model for South Asia through regional and structural change. The model must include all states’ mutual interests by involving regional and extra-regional powers. It is an utmost requirement to build sub-regional muscles through negotiation and cooperation among the large and small South Asian states. China can easily assemble NBSM (Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives) because they neither share the Kashmir issue nor have nuclear bombs. This bloc has a population of 215 million, spreading from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean via the Bay of Bengal.
NBSM is linked with China either through optical fiber or Chinese satellite systems. Their telecommunication system is based on Chinese technology. NBSM is going to be a beneficiary of China’s 5G technology sooner or later. It is transformational in the sense that India’s geographical ascendancy will not be the sole principal factor shaping the region. Modi’s Hindu state internally and externally is posing a serious threat to regional stability. The Indian military high ups have left no stone unturned in pushing the nation to a war zone. The Hindu fanatics in India have shrunk the communities to four walls which is cutting India knee deep internally. The US must reshape its Indo-Pacific strategy by involving the main regional blocs to ensure the protection of its interests in the region. The US strategy for intra-regional cooperation and inter-regional activity will be helpful. US and India must join hands in solving the long-standing Kashmir issue and by strengthening neighbors, it will not only solve Indian security concerns but can also hinder Chinese involvement in the region.
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The author is an English professor and a freelance columnist. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.