Modi’s Adventures in Wonderland

31.05.2016

Under the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India’s government is unfortunately going to act as a bridge for Western hegemony in the multipolar world. Historically, it is a fact that India has remained part of the multipolar world economically and institutionally, but under Prime Minster Modi, the strategic tilt appears to be heading towards the well-wishers of the unipolar world: the USA and Saudi Arabia. It appears that India is going to take a u-turn by joining the US-led anti-regional alliance to block the upcoming regional development project that has reached its neighborhood. Modi’s current move to join the US-led anti-China coalition drew increasing concern domestically as well as internationally, as the region is already on the verge of war over territorial disputes. The grand vision of a Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union provided an opportunity through a proposed roadmap of peace to create an economic alliance with balance or without balance, particularly in the Asian Nuclear Triangular (Sino-Indo-Pak). That’s why Russia made an effort to pull together the world’s economic giants, China and India, in the new emerging economies BRICS platform so that they could minimize their internal differences by endorsing economic development. Russia also tried to gather together China, Pakistan, and India by providing them with a friendly working mechanism under the umbrella of the Eurasian security bloc and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which could similarly patch up their disputes by respecting each other’s sovereignty in order to get mutual economic benefits through regional integration.

This essay aims to cover the new, emerging challenges to multipolarity in the world by focusing on this new alignment, which is under threat as a result of the US/NATO-led “Hybrid War” that aims to sabotage the maturing partnership between the Silk Road and Eurasian Economic Union.  

US Strategy In Offsetting The Multipolar World

The West’s continuous exploitation of non-Western nations through political, economic, and strategic institutions such as NATO, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank (WB) has forced the non-aligned world to create alternatives. It is a fact that these Western organs of power have acquired their hegemony due to their global businesses and other resources. The well-wishers of the multipolar world under the leadership of Russia and China proposed to establish an economic order to counter the Western hegemony. For this purpose, the security bloc of the Eurasian world, the SCO, was established to rival NATO. China’s Silk Road vision of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative aimed to link together the Eurasian landmasses via trade and energy corridors. Beside this, to counter the IMF and World Bank monopoly, the world’s biggest emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – developed an economic partnership called BRICS. Moreover, China added almost 60 multipolar states to its Asian Infrastructure Invest Bank (AIIB). All of these multipolar institutions are emerging as alternate power centers, slowly shifting global power away from the imperial centers of the unipolar-Western world.

The successful founding of these institutions raised concerns for the unipolar world. Therefore, the USA utilized the manual of Unconventional Warfare (UW) to prevent the spread of multipolarity across the globe. The manual states “The intent of U.S. UW efforts is to exploit a hostile power’s political, military, economic, and psychological vulnerabilities by developing and sustaining resistance forces to accomplish U.S. strategic objectives.” Historically, the military concept for the employment of UW was primarily in support of resistance movements during general war scenarios. While this concept remains valid, the operational environment since the end of World War II has increasingly required U.S. forces to conduct UW in scenarios short of general war (limited war).

The Hybrid War Against BRICS

The US–led Hybrid War was unleashed against BRICS after the organization’s leaders announced the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB) during the Fortaleza Summit in Brazil, which aimed to break the monopoly of Washington, Wall Street, London, and Brussels over multipolar states. The announcement of the NDB prompted these imperial centers to wage a covert war, as a result of which they destroyed the Malaysia Airline flight 17 (MH17) over the conflict zone of Ukraine in order to blame the architect of the new world, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Another aim was to justify the anti-Russian economic sanctions. Along with the sanctions, the US is trying to circle Russia’s borders through the expansion of NATO in Eastern Europe.  

Following a similar pattern, the US is resorting to the creation of an Asian NATO-like project in order to contain China. The US military is encircling China by fueling China’s neighboring territorial disputes. With the help of Japan and South Korea, the US military is isolating China and is also arming tiny states around its borders.

And now Brazil is also under attack through the visible Color Revolution that is linked to Hybrid War. Brazil’s elite and its judiciary became the tool of regime change in the country through their effective use of media, as witnessed by the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. The author and renowned political journalist Andrew Korybko concluded in his article titled The Constitutional Coup-Color Revolution Two-Step In Brazil that “The regime change scenario currently underway there is emblematic of a new type of subversive interplay between the NSA, ‘constitutional coup’ actors, and Color Revolutionaries, and it might disturbingly foreshadow a coming trend of state-wide destabilization that could soon be rolled out elsewhere against other multipolar targets”.

Modi’s Moves And The Challenge For The Multipolar World

The Hybrid War against BRICS has now reached India. Prime Minister Modi’s moves to align India with the US and Saudi Arabia have become alarming and dangerous for the whole multipolar world. The Indian tilt towards the unipolar world has become a great challenge.

Ashton Carter’s Visit Exposed Modi’s Double Game

The shift in Indian diplomacy came after the visit of US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to an Indian naval base and aboard the Russian-made INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier in Goa in April. Carter’s visit was a clear message that India is going to join the US-led security vision of the Asia-Pacific because both countries are working to finalize the proposed “Logistic Service Agreement”. When finalized, this would allow the two militaries to use each other’s land, air, and naval bases for resupplies, repair, and rest.  

The India-United States Joint declaration on the visit of Secretary of Defense Carter to India was a statement of direct support for the new India-US Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region and the maritime security objectives therein, as both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in the area of maritime security. In this context, they reaffirmed their desire to expeditiously conclude a “white shipping” technical arrangement to improve data sharing on commercial shipping traffic. They agreed to commence navy-to-navy discussions on submarine safety and anti-submarine warfare.  They also agreed to launch a bilateral Maritime Security Dialogue, co-chaired by officials at the joint secretary/assistant secretary-level of the Indian Ministries of Defense and External Affairs and the U.S. Departments of Defense and State. 

The joint declaration also indicated that Raksha Mantri Parrikar and Secretary Carter reviewed the progress and reiterated their commitment to pursue co-development and co-production of advanced defense articles under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).  In this context, they agreed to initiate two new DTTI pathfinder projects on digital helmet-mounted displays and the joint biological tactical detection system.  They commended the on-going discussions at the Jet Engine Technology Joint Working Group (JETJWG) and the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation (JWGACTC). They agreed to work towards greater cooperation in the field of cutting-edge defense technologies, including deepening consultations on aircraft carrier design and operations and jet engine technology. They noted the understanding reached to conclude an information exchange annex (IEA) to enhance data and information sharing specific to aircraft carriers.

This new development between India and the US shows the pragmatic shift under Modi’s India to develop a new strategic partnership with USA, while tilting away from her all-weather friend, Russia. It is a fact that the strategic partnership with Russia helped India to become a nuclear power. The realignment with the US is a clear message that India is going to replace Russia with the US as its new strategic partner.  

Indian Policy To Contain China And Pakistan

As I have already discussed in my article “Russia in SAARC”, India is worried about the growing Chinese influence in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). India has hegemonic designs for South Asia and will go an extra mile to maintain its influence. India went all the way to Iran to develop the Chabahar port to link to Afghanistan and Central Asia. In actuality, it was countering the Sino-Pak initiative to link Afghanistan and the Central Asian States through Pakistan’s deep seaport of Gwadar, which has been developed by China.

Pakistan has offered its two seaports of Karachi and Gwadar to the SCO so that the maximum potential of regional economic integration could be achieved. Pakistan’s geographic location is very strategic as it connects Central Asia with West Asia, China, and the Middle East, which is why it is termed the “zipper” of the multipolar blocs. Pakistan’s Gwadar port provides easy land access to all the landlocked SCO countries in helping them reach international maritime trade routes, which is why Russia and Iran are working on the North-South corridor to connect South Asia to Central Asia via railroad and energy grids. India also wants to connect itself to Central Asia through the Chabahar port that allows it to bypass the land route connection through Pakistan. Under the umbrella of the SCO, Iran is interested in connecting Chabahar and Gwadar with railways, roads, and energy pipelines.

These two projected SCO strategic ports are located at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz, which is considered one of the most strategic straits in the world, but, unfortunately, these sister ports of Gwadar and Chabahar are situated in the low-level insurgency region of Baluchistan. Both countries –Pakistan and Iran – are facing Baloch separatist movements.  In the Iranian province of Sistan e Baluchistan, a separatist movement has turned into a sectarian one under Saudi influence, while in Pakistan officials blame Indian support for the unrest of Baloch rebels. Therefore, Pakistan has protested that India is attempting to sabotage the China-Pakistan economic corridor through militancy and separatism.

Indian blueprints against China can be seen not only in Pakistan, but also in South Asia, the Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia. After China’s Silk Road announcement, India adopted an aggressive behavior against Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.  The Chittagong port deal that China had earlier clinched with Bangladesh was cancelled by Dhaka due to Indian pressure. Besides this, India has also pressured the Maldives not to allow any potential Chinese military buildup.

China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean has increased India’s anxiety. Instead of cooperating with China for regional integration, India has planned a military buildup on its Andaman and Nicobar islands that are situated on the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal (Indian Ocean). The strategic geographic location of these islands not only provides India with dominance in the Indian Ocean, but also contains growing Chinese influence through the enhancement of maritime cooperation with Australia and the US.

Indian military buildup on the Nicobar Islands, referred to as “Baaz” (Hawk), has increased Indian supremacy on one side of the Strait of Malacca, while on the other side, the US is already playing a dirty game in the South China Sea islands issue with the help of Japan, South Korea, and other tiny states.

Nearly 80 percent of China’s oil requirements come from African and Gulf Countries through the Indian Ocean. The consignments pass through these Indian islands (checkpoints) before entering the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Experts believe that the Indian military buildup at the mouth of the Strait of Malacca is part of the US grand strategy to contain China, which is why the Indian tilt towards the US is being termed as an attempt to trample the multipolarity of the globe and undermine the new vision being pursued by Russia and China through the joint mechanism of Asian-Pacific Security.

India was on board with Russia and China as a member of BRICS and the SCO, but unfortunately Modi’s current move to bring India into the line of the unipolar well-wishers seems dangerous for multipolarity.

Violation Of The Ufa Declaration And Revival Of The World War II Era

Russia was fully aware of this subtle Indian policy tilt, which is why being the architecture of the multipolar world provided an opportunity through BRICS and SCO to minimize regional differences as a means of maximizing common economic and strategic benefits.

Therefore, during the BRICS/SCO summits in Ufa, the multipolar world leaders (BRICS, SCO, and the Eurasian Economic Union), agreed to achieve sustainable economic growth through international cooperation and an enhanced use of regional integration mechanisms in order to improve the welfare and prosperity of their people. The Ufa Declaration that was adopted by the BRICS leaders clearly discourages double standards and its leaders agreed, “We insist that international law provides tools for achieving international justice, based on principles of good faith and sovereign equality. We emphasize the need for universal adherence to principles and rules of international law in their interrelation and integrity, discarding resorting to “double standards” and avoiding placing the interests of some countries above others”.

But unfortunately, Indian “double standards” against China and Pakistan sabotaged Russian efforts to bring peace to the Asian Nuclear Triangular. Besides this, India is going to revive World War II era airfields along the Chinese border. This Indian move will lead the region to total destruction while it is also a clear-cut massage that under Modi’s government, India is going to join the Asian NATO-like project to contain China through confronting Pakistan.

Grand Eurasian Vision And India

The unipolar-led Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) have been badly exposed. America is blackmailing the current ruling regimes of the world to sign them, and that’s why protests in Europe have erupted in order to prevent the ruling governments from surrendering their countries to the US through the TTIP business deal. According to reports, more than 70% of Germans reject TTIP. Experts believe that TTIP is only beneficial for America while other countries will suffer, which was proven when leaked documents pertaining to the agreement revealed that Washington was blocking European car exports into the US as a means of forcing the 508-million-population EU to buy more environmentally risky US farm produce.

According to Indian parliamentary data, India has rejected being a part of TTIP and TTP, but there are also reports that secret negotiations are ongoing between India and US. If India does in fact join, it will be risky for the Indian people and its industries because the US wants to increase the exports of its domestic products to the international market through this deal. It is a fact that China is a major force in every single market across the world and now the US and EU wants to counter it. India is their favorite country for doing so because it is the second most populated one in the world and has enormous economic potential. Therefore, America is trying to drive India away from its neighboring economic giant of China so that the Indian market could be saved for US products.

China offers better trade and investment opportunities for India because its large population is also the biggest market for Indian products. China’s Silk Road provides India with the shortest routes to reach the rest of the world. Therefore, Chinese president Xi Jinping sees China as a 'factory' and India as a 'back office' of global growth. He wrote about this in his article last year that was published in Indian media, in which he says, "As the two engines of the Asian economy, we need to become cooperation partners spearheading growth".  Unfortunately, India has rejected Xi’s vision about mutual growth for the prosperity of Asia.

India has not only rejected China’s One Belt One Road initiative, but is also teaming up with the anti-China coalition to block these initiatives in the region. Under this situation, it is the responsibility of Russia to come forward in engaging India through its Grand Eurasian vision because India for a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union.

Russia is the only country that provides alternatives to breaking the Western hegemony over the world, so if India is not willing to work with China, in this case Russia is a better opportunity for it. History is witness that the Indian establishment always looked towards Russia to counter China, and now Russia and China have joined together to secure the world by providing alternates through new multipolar world institutions. This new Russian-Chinese union on international affairs and regional issues unnerved the Indians. America is trying to fill the vacuum by attracting India through trade and investment measures, but it does not mean that the Russian alignment with China is against India. As a sincere friend, Russia has given full opportunities to India to bring it on par with China as a part of the multipolar world. There is a chance for India and China to minimize their differences through BRICS and the SCO.

Russia has also invited India to be a part of the Asian-Pacific security mechanism so that Western hegemony over Asia could be curtailed. Unfortunately, the current Indian move has created disturbance because India has hinted that it is going team up with the US to counter regional developments in Asia.

The Indian Double Play And Russia

India is looking to Russia due to its influence over Central Asia and because they both can fulfill the Indian dire need for energy. Russia has offered to supply 10 million tons of crude oil per year or 200,000 barrels per day to India. Moreover, Russia has also offered low-priced LNG gas supply to India.

If Russia can become the biggest energy partner of China, then it also has the same potential for India. Russia is already working on different means for energy transportation to the subcontinent (Indo-Pak) so that South Asian nations could benefit from low-priced energy.   

Beside energy, the North-South corridor can help India become the influential partner of the Eurasian Economic Union, but for this purpose, India should have to play sensibly. India’s current tilt towards Saudi Arabia is also alarming for Russia as well as for Iran.  

Saudi Arabia and the USA are facilitating India in South Asia in order to counter China, so as a result they can demand that India help them achieve Western objectives in Central Asia. India is already using the hostile situation in Afghanistan against Pakistan and China.  Indian support for the Uyghur militant group East Turkestan Islamic Moment (ETIM) has also been uncovered last month when India hosted anti-China groups during a meeting in Dharamsala. The author and the Journalist Andrew Korybko has exposed Modi’s double play as he says, “Prime Minister Modi will certainly have a lot of explaining to do now that it's been proven that the anti-China group that he's hosting in Dharamsala is also anti-Russian. "Initiatives For China/Citizen Power For China" is such a strong backer of the radical extra-judicial "Global Magnitsky Act" that they even sponsored a high-profile conference about it just last summer”.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to address a joint session of the US Congress on June 8th and this address will be most significant regarding Indian diplomatic engagement. This address will reveal India’s future diplomatic trajectory.   

If Modi will adopt the US approach to containing the region, it will lose the golden opportunity to be a part of the North-South Corridor that connects Mumbai with Moscow via Baku and Tehran. While in this situation, the Indian aspiration to build the Iranian Chabahar port will also be remain a dream because Iran will never allow India to use its soil against China, Pakistan, or any other regional country.  

If India under the Modi government acts as tool to fracture the Eurasian blocs of BRICS or the SCO on the behest of the US, it will lose its friendly relations with Iran and Russia. At the same time, Indians cannot afford to be detached from regional countries. Modi’s adventure to naturally put multipolar India on the track of the unipolar world will only lead to destruction.

What Russia Must Do

The people of India consider Russia as their best friend and they prefer Russia to America. The Western NGOs and thinks tanks worked a lot to divert the Indian perception towards the US and West. The new strategic tilt of India will allow it to become a bridge for the unipolar world to strike against the Russian-led multipolar world institutions. Indian facilitation for Western hegemony will create cracks in the Russo-Indo partnership.

Although, Russia is the only hope for India since it’s been playing the role of mediator between China and India. For this purpose, Russia formulated the tri-lateral Russia-China-India (RIC) mechanism so that both economic giants of BRICS could pull together for the betterment of the multipolar world. Now is the time for Russia to maximally engage India so that Modi’s bid to realign with the anti-regional coalition could be prevented. Russia should use all means at its disposal, although this is a challenge for Russia because it does not have much political and economic influence on India as compared to the US and the West. This is because India was their colony before the partition of 1947 and all the problems that South Asia is suffering under right now are a ‘gift’ from the days of British rule. If Modi returns his country to the times of de-facto colonial rule, it would unacceptable for most Indians.

Moscow has shifted its foreign policy to reflect the current transition to a multipolar world, so it’s necessary for Russia to give special attention to South Asia. Moscow has already engaged most of the South Asian nations through the SCO, but this is a time to enhance multifunctional cooperation with India and its neighboring states. Russia should use diplomatic and political pressure on India to keep it in the multipolar world.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit India to attend the 8th BRICS Summit that will be held in Goa on October 15th-16th. This upcoming event is very noteworthy in regards to how BRICS deals with Modi’s India as an ally of the US