Introduction:The present article discuss about the new geopolitical dynamism in the globalised Southeast Asia and the challenges posed by it in front of India’s Foreign policy.
Topics:General Studies, Paper- II
- The Japanese invitation to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka last week at G7 summit underlines the remarkable rise in Tokyo’s strategic interest in the Subcontinent. It also highlights the growing salience of South Asian nations on the international stage.
- China has already begun to integrate India’s neighbours into its larger international and regional strategies. E.g. The $ 46 billion China-Pakistan economic corridor, “dialogue partner” status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
- As other powers begin to devote quality time to engaging South Asian nations, India must lend additional depth and energy to its current “neighbourhood first” strategy in the globalisation of the Subcontinent.
- Since independence, India has been compelled to pay special attention to Pakistan. An Islamic identity, critical geopolitical location, association with Western military alliances and the possession of nuclear weapons have given Pakistan much weight in regional affairs.
- India has also devoted considerable energy towards Afghanistan. It has become a vital part of India’s strategy towards Pakistan and the battle against violent religious extremism.
- With its focus on the Af-Pak region, however, Delhi has tended to miss the growing strategic significance of the other nations in the neighbourhood.
- Bangladesh is today one of the fastest growing economies of the world and is open to massive investments in the infrastructure sector. China and Japan are competing vigorously for project contracts in Bangladesh. It is being seen as a bridge between South Asia, China and Southeast Asia.
- Long viewed as India’s buffers to the north, Bhutan and Nepal have now become theatres of contestation with China.
- Sri Lanka is rediscovering its central location in the Indian Ocean, as all major powers like China, US and Japan pay unprecedented attention to Colombo.
- Maldives, which straddles the vital sea lines of communication in the Indian Ocean, has now become a highly coveted piece of maritime real estate as China turns its gaze upon the Indian Ocean.
- India no longer has the luxury of viewing the region as India’s “backyard”. It must begin to recognise the growing gulf between its claims of primacy in the region and the growing economic, political and military influence of China in the Subcontinent.
- The new international opportunities have allowed the ruling elites in our neighbourhood to pursue greater “strategic autonomy” from India. This means India will have to work harder than ever before to retain its historic leverages in the neighbourhood.
- The economic geography of the Subcontinent was inherently in India’s favour. But we lost the advantage and the present efforts are no match to the Chinese efforts to reconfigure the economic geography of the Subcontinent.
- India’s “neighbourhood first” strategy is complicated by its deep involvement in the internal politics of the South Asian nations. In the changed scenario, neighbours are seeking intervention of other powers. Delhi, therefore, will have to rethink the nature of its intervention in the internal affairs of its neighbours.
- India must stop seeing itself as the “lone ranger” in South Asia. While it must necessarily compete with rival powers when they threaten its interests, it must also learn to collaborate with friendly powers, wherever possible, in shaping the regional environment. This requires a new mindset in Delhi that focuses on strategic regional outcomes rather than the right to unilateral means.
Question: The reference to South Asian nations, apart from India and Pakistan, as “smaller nations” is largely inaccurate. As other powers are engaging with these nations, India must change its “neighbour first” policy. Comment.
- The population data shows that South Asian nations are not small by any means.
- Engagement of other nations with South asian nations.
- Challenges to India
- The way forward for a pragmatic foreign policy