1) The comrades and their divergent perspectives

GS 2: International Relations

Context: In the given article the author talks about Chinese foreign policies towards India and crtically analyse Russia’s advocacy for China’s global vision.

What’s the matter?

  • Russian leadeship asserted that both the Indian and Chinese govt.’s are “responsible” enough to solve issues between their countries, while underlining the need to debar any “extra-regional power” to interfere in the process.
  • The implications of Russian advice for India are numerous and far-reaching as Moscow expects New Delhi to ignominiously give up all efforts to reverse Beijing’s encroachment strategies.
  •  Indians have learned to expect at Chinese hands an unremitting effort to undermine India’s global position — to destroy their confidence in themselves and the confidence of others in them — and to reduce India to a state of isolation and impotence in global affairs.

The Quad factor

  • Russian remarks can only be seen as reinforcing China’s claim that the Quadrilateral or Quad is aimed at containing Beijing’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Russia’s continued criticism of the Indo-Pacific and the Quad give ample evidence of the divergent perspectives of New Delhi and Russia on how to deal with China’s rise to global prominence.
  • Russia has rejected the Indo-Pacific construct in favour of the Asia-Pacific on the ground that the first is primarily an American initiative designed to contain both China and Russia.
  • In an unmistakable indication of India’s attempt to reimagine a new geostrategic maritime role for itself,  incorporation of the Indo-Pacific concept in Indian diplomacy means that India can no longer be confined between the Malacca Strait and Gulf of Aden.
  • Russia’s uncritical advocacy of China’s global vision that seems to have left New Delhi overly confounded.
  •  The Russian attitude toward China’s growing power and influence will be the touchstone of Russia’s relations with India.
  •  With the catastrophic rise of populist nationalism amidst the bankruptcy of globalisation, the resolution of the Sino-Indian boundary dispute appears a hopeless dream in the absence of a miracle.

Beginnings of looking West

  •  After the breaking of USSR, India soon realised Russia was much weaker than the erstwhile USSR and incapable of helping New Delhi balance potential threats from Beijing.
  •  India began to diversify its sources of external balancing. Russia began to cast Moscow as the leader of a supposed trilateral grouping of Russia-India-China against a U.S.-led unipolar world.
  • China’s dismissive attitude toward Indian capabilities, coupled with an emerging China-Pakistan nexus, prevented the success of this trilateral. India, instead, invested its diplomatic energies in rapprochement with the United States.
  •  India decided to get integrated in the economic order it once denounced.
  • As the logic of intensive engagement with the West was effectively established, strategic partnership with the U.S. was a logical corollary.
  • India’s cooperation with the U.S. has strengthened still further, in part against the perceived terrorism threat, but also in light of China’s growing assertiveness whose undesirable impacts are now being felt across the world.
  •  India has been searching for other major powers to balance against China as it does not have the sufficient means for hard balancing, India has deepened its ties with Japan and Australia in a way that is close to soft balancing.
  • Among all of India’s balancing efforts, the stupendous growth in ties with the U.S. has been the greatest source of concern for China which views the India-U.S. rapprochement as containment.
  • While India needs Russia’s partnership for its defence needs, New Delhi cannot endorse the Russian perspective on the Indo-Pacific and the Quad.

Maritime structures

  • The real ‘strategic triangle’ in the maritime domain will be that between New Delhi, Washington and Beijing.
  • Russia is yet to realise that it will gain immensely from the multilateralism that the Indo-Pacific seeks to promote, and being China’s junior partner only undermines Moscow’s great-power ambitions.
  •  Russian policy have arrived at a flawed assessment of the current situation.
  • Increasingly pro-Beijing Russia might adopt more aggressive blocking of India’s policy agendas. Thus,India is interested in a normalisation of relations between Washington and Moscow as it will help it steer ties among the great powers and also diminish Moscow’s propensity to closely coordinate its South Asian policies with Beijing.

India-China ties

  • Shared identities and beliefs in the principle of non-alignment, painful memories of colonial subjugation, opposition to great-power hegemony, and strong beliefs in sovereignty and strategic autonomy have been the key influencers in shaping India’s and China’s engagement.
  • But this has begun to change as Beijing is asserting its hegemony over Asia. In such circumstances, multilateral forums such as the Russia-India-China (RIC) grouping and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have little practical value for Indian diplomacy.
  •  Without China’s reciprocity, options before India are limited. The response cannot be just symbolic or rhetorical. The absence of any material evidence of reciprocity is bound to doom an attempt at Sino-Indian rapprochement.


China is undoubtedly the most powerful actor in its neighbour hood but it cannot simply have its way in shaping Asia’s new geopolitics. Beijing’s policies will still be constrained and altered in fundamental ways by India which cannot be expected to adopt a hopeless stance of remaining peripheral in its own strategic backyard.


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