A mid the Ukraine crisis which has divided the world into two blocks, world leaders and diplomats are making a beeline for New Delhi to step up engagement with the Narendra Modi Government. India’s neutral position on the war has left to a raft of diplomacy in the past few weeks, with China’s Foreign Minister visiting for the first time since 2019 and now Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is seeking to enhance engagement.
Meanwhile, Liz Truss, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, was in the National Capital to request the Narendra Modi Government to rethink its policy towards Russia. Her visit coincided with Lavrov’s who is likely to sign many pacts with Bharat on crude oil sale. Britain wants progress in talks to develop defence-related trade, including innovative security technology, strengthening defence ties with the world’s largest democracy. Acknowledging Bharat’s growing economic might, Truss said: “Deeper ties between Britain and India will boost security in the Indo-Pacific and globally, and create jobs and opportunities in both countries.”
She further added: “This matters even more in the context of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and underlines the need for free democracies to work closer together in areas like defence, trade and cybersecurity.
The Minister described India as an economic and tech powerhouse, the world’s largest democracy and a great friend of Britain. “I want to build an even closer relationship between our two nations,” she said.
Although Lavrov’s visit had not gone down well with the US – it has criticised Bharat for being ‘shaky’ – it has not given up its hope, sources in the Ministry of External Affairs said.
‘India is an economic and tech powerhouse, the world’s largest democracy and a great friend of Britain, and I want to build an even closer relationship between our two nations’ — Liz Truss, Foreign Secretary, the UK
Ahead of Lavrov’s visit, US Deputy National Security Advisor Daleep Singh visited Bharat on March 30 and 31 to discuss the consequences of Russia’s unjustified war against Ukraine and the development of an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
Earlier this month, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited Bharat, while Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also held a video summit with PM Modi. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a call with his counterpart, S Jaishankar, to discuss “the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine” among other issues.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been talking to all leaders and listening to their positions but taking decisions keeping Bharat’s domestic interests in view. This position has earned the praise of even Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan who said, “India’s foreign policy is dictated by its domestic interests.” Responding to this, the Ministry of External Affairs said it is not only Pakistan, Bharat’s foreign policy is praised by many others.
The dexterity with which Bharat played its cards during the initial days of the war is praiseworthy. Prime Minister Modi spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin at least four times ever since the war broke out. The conversation between the two leaders helped evacuation of our citizens from war-hit Ukraine. Prime Minister Modi also spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, seeking his help in the evacuation process. Bharat was the only country that managed to evacuate all its citizens, even as other major countries left their citizens in the lurch in Ukraine. Bharat’s Tricolour emerged as a shield against attacks by rival militaries. Besides evacuating its citizens, Bharat managed to save nationals of other countries stranded in war-wrecked Ukraine.
India’s emergence as a power of some consequence has improved New Delhi’s ability to take advantage of new possibilities and limit some of the negative fallout. India’s success now depends on how quickly it can restructure its traditional worldview — C Raja Mohan, Foreign Policy expert
There is a greater appreciation of Bharat’s position on issues. Bharat would bat an eyelid when its security is jeopardised. Bharat snubbed the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi who wanted to have a meeting with Prime Minister Modi. Bharat politely rejected his request and remained non-committal on PM Modi’s personal presence in BRICS Summit to be held in China. Bharat had conveyed that it cannot be business as usual with Beijing until the status quo is restored along the border. This message was drilled in by Prime Minister Modi in his virtual summit with the Australian PM.
The accidental firing of a missile into Pakistan is another case in point. On this issue also, despite Pakistan making noise, the world accepted Bharat’s position on the issue.
Bharat finds itself at the intersection of traditional geopolitical challenges and emerging regional and global trends. The current global situation offers great opportunities for Bharat. As C Raja Mohan, Foreign Policy expert, writes: “If Delhi’s deepening conflict with Beijing underlines the new challenges, the growing intensity of India’s strategic cooperation symbolises the new opportunities. Further, India’s emergence as a power of some consequence has improved New Delhi’s ability to take advantage of new possibilities and limit some of the negative fallout. India’s success now depends on how quickly it can restructure its traditional worldview.”
Bharat is set to shape the future of the world in terms of security and economy. As it is embarking on a mission to make itself an economic powerhouse, Bharat is gearing up to play its role as a key player for global peace and prosperity.