By Dr. Satyavan Saurabh
The year 2020 has been a challenging one on many fronts due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. Despite the epidemic, several important summits were held, at these summits, India played a leading role in discussing possible solutions to the problem. Not only on the epidemic front, but China has faced many challenges for India and even in the Indian Ocean. India took some bold steps to stand up. New Delhi was joined by many like-minded countries in trying to get away from China. The quad has been strengthened and Australia joined the Malabar practice. There was more than aired along with the year.
India has focused on being self-sufficient due to the epidemic. Such as running out of RCEP and the government’s attempt to strengthen the domestic manufacturing sector. We have reached breaking with China after many years. The current focus is on countering economic collapse and China’s aggression. The Indian Army has occupied strategic positions on the heights in Ladakh, showing China the “We are ready to face you”.
Medical diplomacy has brought new additions to India’s foreign policy through vaccine production, the supply of medicines, PPE kits, and ventilators. To divert attention from China, relationships with our partner countries are being established through sustainable, flexible, and reliable supply chains. Pakistan has used terrorism as the cornerstone of its foreign policy against India to wage a proxy war using non-state actors. We have responded to terrorist launch pads inside Pakistan. Now India needs to constantly deal with the duel between China and Pakistan. India has used multilateral forums such as BRICS, SAARC, ASEAN, SCO to underline our global role. The Quad has emerged as a strong body to counter China’s presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
During the last century, Indian strategic thinking was highly focused on Pakistan and security considerations emanating from there. However, India’s military prudence in recent decades is firm on the view that the Sino-Pakistan military threat is a real possibility. Chinese infiltration in Ladakh in May 2020 and deadlock in negotiations have now made the Chinese military threat more clear and real. But some media reports had indicated that Pakistan had moved 20,000 troops to Gilgit-Baltistan, matching China’s deployment in eastern Ladakh. Given this, it would make sense for India to be prepared for the two-front threat.
Sino-Pakistan military contacts are increasing. Sino-Pakistan relations are not new, but they still have more serious effects than ever before. China has always viewed Pakistan as a counter to India’s influence in South Asia. China, through its checkbook diplomacy, wants to exercise this hegemony over South-Asian neighbors. In this quest, China would like to waste India’s economic resources on border collisions. Thus China may have a strategy to reduce India’s role in its neighborhood. In the last few years, relations between China and Pakistan have strengthened and there is great synergy in their strategic thinking. This can be understood from the fact that China has invested extensively in Pakistan through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Also, military cooperation is increasing, with China accounting for 73% of Pakistan’s total arms imports between 2015-2019.
As such, India will need close liaison with the political leadership to develop security principles. Our focus is very much on major platforms like aircraft, ships, and tanks and not enough on future technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, cyber, electronic warfare, etc. We have to strike the right balance based on a detailed assessment of the war-fighting strategies of China and Pakistan. Improve relations in South Asian neighbors: To begin with India, it will do a good job to improve relations with its neighbors, so that China and Pakistan do not attempt to involve and force India into the region. The government’s current preoccupation with major powers in West Asia, including Iran, should be enhanced to ensure energy security, increase maritime cooperation, and increase goodwill in extended neighborhoods.
Reform in relations with Russia should ensure that its relations with Russia are not sacrificed in favor of United States relations with India so that Russia can play an important role in reducing the severity of a regional gang against India. A political outreach for Kashmir will have to work on a plan to go a long way towards that end to pacify the suffering citizens.
We need to fight with Pakistan and China while engaging in global institutions like one-minded countries to promote multilateralism that reforms the world order. India has shown its altruism to the world through its medical diplomacy. Also, India has come close to large countries such as Aus, Japan, and the USA to counter China’s growing strength to maintain peaceful borders with China, India, and the Pacific region. China is a major strategic threat to India, a growing and aggressive superpower and China’s containerization with Pakistan is a threat to India’s strategy. In this context, certainly, the threat of war cannot be ignored and hence we need to develop both theory and capability to deal with this contingency.
(Dr. Satyavan Saurabh is a research scholar, poet, independent journalist and columnist. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at [email protected])