- Globally transformative events occurred in the years 2020 and 2021. Indeed, nowhere could it be more evident than in the Indo-Pacific region, which is undergoing rapid transformation on several fronts and levels.
- The conclusion is that even in the next year, a rules-based international order is a distant prospect. Rather than that, global events are likely to be dominated by unpredictability and impermanence.
- With domestic crises blazing in India’s strategically vital areas and ongoing stand-offs with China, India’s best course of action is to increase its diplomatic flexibility while using pre-existing groups and good bilateral connections against China.
The Difficulties of a Changing World Order
- To be sure, the globe has lately seen the emergence of authoritarian leaders in a number of nations. However, this is not a novel phenomena.
- China has abandoned the policy of ‘one country, two systems,’ depriving Hong Kong of its independence and drawing international condemnation.
- The second significant danger of war in 2022 derives from the continuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine — the latter of which is supported by the United States and NATO soldiers.
- The Taliban’s re-establishment in Afghanistan has shifted the balance of power significantly in an already problematic area on India’s periphery.
- Adding to these worries is recent indications that radical Islamist operations are reviving on India’s eastern edge, namely in Indonesia.
- China’s participation is perhaps the most disruptive, considering the threat it presents to the established international order.
- On the military front, China is openly challenging the United States’ superiority in a number of sectors, including ‘state-of-the-art weapons’ such as hypersonic technology.
- China’s economic profile has deteriorated significantly over the last year and may result in fresh conflicts in the Asia-Pacific area in 2022.
- The constant dual threat posed by Pakistan and China laid the groundwork for a difficult continental dimension to India’s security. The militarization of the frontiers with Pakistan and China has escalated.
- In 2022, violations over the Line of Actual Control in several parts of Ladakh are likely to be extended.
- In Central Asia, India will have a dilemma over how to handle its old affinity with Russia in light of the dramatic shift in India-US ties in recent years.
- In West Asia, India’s problem is to reconcile its participation in the Second Quad (India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States) with the region’s competing interests.
The Path Forward
- What India and India’s foreign policy need to do is display more adaptability in order to handle existing contradictions.
- It is critical that India finds sensible solutions to a slew of challenges that it cannot ignore for much longer.
- India must avoid cognitive bias-induced blind spots and take care to appropriately interpret signals.
- India’s leaders and diplomats must not only assess the hazards that exist, but also be prepared to handle them.
- India must decide how to effectively react to China’s sabre-rattling.
- India would need to bolster its military posture, both to deter China and to demonstrate to India’s neighbours that it can stand up to China.
- At the same time, India should concentrate on preventing China’s naval force projection in the Indian Ocean region. Much will rely on India’s response to the circumstance in this fight of wits and might.
- India should achieve what China cannot, namely establish regional connectivity, offer its markets, schools, and services to its neighbours, and establish itself as a source of economic and political stability on the subcontinent.
- Quad-style collaborations may potentially be extended to include Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam. This will undoubtedly bolster its ability to compete with China in the Indo-Pacific.
- Africa’s eastern and southern continents, as well as the Indian Ocean island nations, need sustained governmental attention and financial resources.
- The ASEAN member states are caught in the crossfire of China’s aggressiveness and escalating great power competition, and hence have the most work to perform. Multilateral consultations between the Quad countries and the ASEAN states are required.
- On a more personal level, India must strengthen ties with major Southeast Asian partners such as Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand.
India has performed well in terms of humanitarian obligations during the epidemic. In 2022, the nation’s attention will be on converting them intelligently into economic and strategic possibilities on its perimeter.