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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024

Not only for India but also for the world… Why does PM Modi need to take big decisions in his/her third term?

Author: Ajay Bisaria
New Delhi:
Modi’s meeting with the G-7 heavyweights in Italy after a long and difficult election campaign was not just about Modi 3.0. It was also an opportunity to discuss global conflicts that are changing the world order. Modi met the leaders here but wisely skipped the Swiss-Ukraine peace summit that took place soon after. Though India sent a secretary-level delegation to the summit, India abstained from the joint statement issued for the Switzerland summit on peace in Ukraine. India did not even sign the joint statement. With Russia not at the table, the summit efforts did not move very far. But India would do well to study these peace efforts carefully.A Challenging World: India has fared well in the 21st century world, when there were sometimes one, sometimes two and sometimes different power centres. At present, different power centres are emerging. India too aspires to become one of them. However, a global pandemic, an economic slowdown, wars in Ukraine and Gaza and the threat of another conflict around Taiwan threaten to make India realize its dream of a developed economy by 2047. India will not only have to adapt to these challenges but also mitigate the growing geopolitical risks posed by these challenges to the global economy. India’s robust growth rate – over 8% in 2023-24 and 7% expected in 2024-25 – could be derailed by outbreaks of war. India will therefore need a foreign policy capable of mitigating the effects of global conflicts and a proactive strategy to deal with external shocks.

Pressure Politics: Two major powers, China and Russia, and Iran, are challenging the US-led global order. These political conflicts also pose risks to India’s growth. China is asserting itself against the US in Asia and beyond, while Russia is pushing against NATO expansion. Iran is challenging the US directly and through proxies as it confronts Israel. These competitions manifest in different ways: in Europe where Russia and Ukraine escalate the fighting but seek peace on their own terms; and in West Asia where civilian casualties have led all parties to pressure Israel and Hamas to come to the negotiating table, but no resolution is in sight.

What is the danger for India:
The most immediate concern for India is the strategic challenge at its doorstep. Our soldiers are standing eye to eye with Chinese soldiers. China’s aggressive tactics are posing a challenge to India. To counter this, India must use its full diplomatic arsenal. Forge partnerships and leverage organisations like the Quad to counter Chinese assertiveness. Chinese behaviour gives India additional reason to engage with Beijing’s main strategic rival, the US, and its biggest ally, Russia. India is somewhat remote from other areas of conflict, yet India needs to remain vigilant.

There are fewer other leaders like Modi today:
Today, apart from Modi, very few global politicians are influential and credible enough to speak with the heads of Israel and Palestine, Ukraine and Russia, the US and France in a single morning. But the country has limited experience and capacity in peacebuilding. The foreign ministry and think tanks need to further enhance capacity with peacebuilding teams comprising diplomats, experts and people dedicated to studying conflict who can learn from global peacebuilding experiences and devise conflict resolution strategies. Norway, for example, has a small but effective peace unit of about a dozen people, whose track record makes Oslo a synonym for peace. India can collaborate with like-minded powers (such as South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia) and traditional Western peacemakers (Switzerland, Norway, US). The time has come for India to pursue peace diplomacy and take calculated risks for global peace.
(The author is a former diplomat)
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