Modi, Putin, Xi: new triumvirate?
There’s a lesson for India’s prime minister-designate Narendra Modi in Beijing and Moscow’s recent bonhomie over the proposed ‘historic’ gas alliance. Not only has a resurgent China challenged US-led all-out economic blitzkrieg against Russia in the aftermath of the Ukrainian quagmire, it has also opted for a globally unfashionable but environmentally and geostrategically sound solution by mulling importing natural gas from its northern neighbour’s abundant fields. The coming together of China and Russia can swiftly rewrite the contours of international imagination and free Moscow of its dependence on European Union’s markets. On the other hand, it could strengthen the intra-Asian bloc, promote greater cooperation between the neighbours and ensure greater energy and military security for both. Hence, the current confidence building measure between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping in Shanghai is not just a highly ambitious move by both the global powers to mutually withstand global economic turbulence, it is also a sendoff to the US-dominated West of a new entente in international relations. Along with BRICS, ASEAN, China and Russia throwing their heavy weights behind each other is now a formidable challenge to American policy and mercantile hegemony, especially in the wake of proposed trade embargoes against Russia following the Crimean flashpoint.
What can the next prime minister of India learn from this ongoing development? Even though he has been proposing ‘continuity in change’ as far as the nation’s foreign policy is concerned, some well-thought reorientations would serve us well. While the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government was hellbent on bettering relations with the White House under George W Bush and Barack Obama, sweetening the pill for the Americans and playing the part of an obedient sidekick, there’s hope that Modi government would behave in more dispassionate manner. While cooperation over cross-border terrorism and foreign investment would still be on top of the charts, India under Modi could look to Russia and China for its energy and security needs, as well as bolster ties in defence, telecom and space exploration sectors. While Moscow has been a traditional ally, rebooting relations with China would act as a workable deterrent to Pakistan’s unpalatable overtures. It is obvious that Israel too would become a key partner as far as India’s defence and security market is concerned, but a balancing act is required so as not to antagonise the Asian powers. In fact, Modi’s image of a strong and decisive prime minister would sit well with Putin, who’s of a similar temper, while Xi would appreciate the PM-designate’s more technocratic side. Already a prominent Chinese daily has branded Modi as ‘India’s Nixon’ and not ‘India’s Abe’, the Japanese prime minister, who’s upping the ante against Beijing over resources in South China Sea. Given that the $ one-trillion gas alliance could prop up Moscow and Beijing and give up the requisite push on the superhighway of international relations, India too must follow suit and stress on trade instead of tradition. That said, the new-era of diplomatic relations should be about walking the tightrope between paying heed to ethical compulsions on one hand and forging new mutually beneficial alliances on the other. It is best to approach it with an open mind.