Q) “From substantive defence engagement to regional questions in Central Asia, Afghanistan and West Asia, a conversation with Russia remains an important element of Indian foreign policy.” Discuss the importance of multilateral forums. What are the challenges relating to it for India?
In international relations, multilateralism refers to an alliance of multiple countries pursuing a common goal.
Importance of Multilateral Forums:
- From substantive defence engagement to regional questions in Central Asia, Afghanistan and West Asia, a conversation with Russia remains an important element of Indian foreign policy.
- The multilateral forums are important as they foster continued India-Russia cooperation at the bilateral and multilateral levels. * India and Russia, particularly since the 2018 Sochi informal summit have spent the past few years strengthening their partnership.
- India’s External Affairs Minister has noted that we live in a ‘curious world’ where one cannot view engagement with different parties as a ‘zero-sum game’. The zero-sum game essentially means gain for one of the players and loss for the other.
- As a result, worsening India-China ties or a growing China-Russia relationship would not automatically mean a breakdown of the India-Russia strategic partnership
Challenges for India
Both India and Russia recognize the value of having a diversified portfolio of ties.
- The combination of a changing regional order, closer Russia-China ties and India’s alignment with the United States and other like-minded countries to manage China’s rise has the potential to create hurdles for India-Russia cooperation in Asia.
- India would like to secure Russian support in this changing Asian regional order. However, Russia has seen China become its key partner as relations with the West have hit a new post-Cold War low since 2014.
- The U.S. policy towards Russia has further pushed it towards China. This has resulted in strengthening China’s rising power, to the detriment of both Indian and western interests.
- India on its part has sought to include Russia in its vision of the Indo-Pacific that does not see the region as ‘a strategy or as a club of limited members’.
- Russia has acknowledged that the Indo-Pacific does not include the aim of containment of another power, however, it has been critical of the American conception of the region that in its strategy classifies China as a revisionist power.
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