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Saturday, April 13, 2024

India’s Alignment with the US: Implications for Regional Alliances

As India deepens its ties with the US, questions arise about the compatibility of its interests within these multilateral frameworks. This analysis delves into the implications of India's strategic shift, exploring the potential challenges it poses to regional cooperation and the balance of power.

The intricate web of divergent interests has positioned India as a misfit within the region. Examining the “Joint Statement from the United States and India” following Indian Prime Minister Modi’s recent visit to the USA, it appears that the statement, seemingly drafted by an Indian diplomat and endorsed by the US without question, suggests an evident influence of Indian officials within the US administration, particularly in the State Department. This infiltration of Indian personnel into American governance, academia, business, and healthcare, while serving American interests, also naturally and rationally caters to India’s own concerns.

As a diplomat and analyst, I have observed numerous joint statements issued by the US State Department with various nations. However, this particular statement exhibits distinctive characteristics in terms of its nature, style, and even tone. Unlike the typical diplomatic and generic nature of joint statements, which tend to avoid contentious issues and offense toward third parties, this statement delves into specifics and employs a rather unique tone. Its focus is primarily on optimistic bilateral matters, but it goes beyond the usual conventions.

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Understanding the matter better

From this joint statement, it is clear that India has made a conscious decision to align itself with the United States. The strategic partnership, defense relations, and political ties with America have been explicitly defined. Recent actions by India further solidify this viewpoint. For instance, the decision to hold the SCO Summit virtually can be attributed to American pressure or advice, as the US is not keen on having Chinese or Russian leadership present in India. The virtual format was a tactic to downplay the impact of India’s refusal to host President Xi of China and President Putin of Russia.

India’s refusal to allow Iran’s entry into the SCO also reflects the influence or pressure exerted by the United States. While India had previously benefited from circumventing sanctions on Iran and procuring cheaper fuel, its alignment with the US compelled it to create obstacles for Iran’s SCO membership. Additionally, India’s reluctance to consider a common currency within BRICS can also be attributed to American influence or advice. The introduction of an alternative currency would challenge the dominance of the US dollar, an outcome the US would vehemently oppose, hence employing India to create internal hurdles within BRICS.

India’s track record of transforming SAARC into a dysfunctional alliance raises concerns about its compatibility with BRICS and SCO. While India benefits from American supremacy and diligently safeguards American interests, its role within SCO and BRICS becomes more challenging. These regional alliances were established to counter the hegemony of a singular major power like the USA. However, India’s alignment with the US may compromise its position in BRICS and SCO, as its interests lie primarily with the United States.

The recent expansion of BRICS and SCO is an expression of frustration among developing countries with regard to the dominance and interference of a superpower like the United States. However, India’s current trajectory seems to disregard the significance of maintaining cordial relations with its immediate neighbors and regional counterparts. Prioritizing distant nations such as the US, Australia, and Japan, while disregarding neighboring countries, is impractical and unlikely to be sustainable in the long term.

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It is imperative for India’s neighbors to unite against Indian coercion and reject its aggressive policies. Regional powers should carefully assess India’s behavior and policies before engaging in any agreements. BRICS and SCO must reassess India’s role within these alliances, considering the possibility of expulsion if India persists in protecting American interests and obstructing the progress of SCO and BRICS. Smart and thoughtful evaluations, with proactive contributions from Russia and China, are necessary for the future trajectory of these alliances.

 

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, and Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com). 

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.