As the world order eyes two new super powers, here’s what it means for the Indian subcontinent
International order is never static. It depends on the power position of countries. After World War II, the international order became more bipolar as the USA and USSR emerged as the two poles of power. The USSR disintegration in the early 1990s had provided an opportunity to the USA to maintain and sustain its hegemonic behaviour and to act as an ‘ocean of power’ into which every stream which decides and defines global order is to submerge.
In a unipolar world the ‘game of expression of power’ is played as per the whim of a single powerful country. The USA has enjoyed this position for a long time. Now it is time for a change. Newer players like China, India, Brazil, Turkey, Japan, and Australia are changing the game. The arena for power expression has also changed. Regions like Indo Pacific and Eurasia are the new power centres.
Eurasia is the largest continental area comprising 93 countries of Europe and Asia. Covering about 36% of the world’s continental landmass, it is home to over 5 billion people. Collective arrangements like the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), Conference of Interaction and Confidence-building measures in Asia (CICA), and China’s One Belt One Road initiative (OBOR) can catapult the region to a ‘super continent’.
The new great game
China and the USA are the two new poles of power with the latter viewing China as its competitor on the world stage. Growing animosity between the two countries has led China and Russia to cement their relationship to counter the USA.
Both countries are not only improving their bilateral relationship but also seem to want to harmonise their vision under the EEU of Russia and OBOR of China. In fact, both are now committed towards the ‘Greater Eurasian partnership’.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former American diplomat had stated, “A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions viz European Union, Central Asia and ASEAN.” The EU is already integrated with the EEU and to an extent with OBOR. The EU is soon expected to become a part of the Eurasia power block.
Middle powers like India, Turkey, Japan, Iran, and Australia are leaning towards the USA and China as per their interests. India to counter China’s maritime ambitions in the Indian Ocean region and to ensure ‘freedom of navigation’ has become part of Quad. So have Japan and Australia. These countries along with the USA are confining themselves to the Indo Pacific region. China and Russia as a countermeasure are developing Eurasia as a power block.
Options for India
In this ‘new great game’, India cannot be neutral. As the second power centre viz, China India has a border dispute. Also, Quad takes India closer towards the US and Western power. But neither the USA nor the Quad can address the dispute along the 3,500-kilometre land border with China. India needs to maintain a balance between the USA and China and to a greater extent between the Indo Pacific region and Eurasia.
India can act as a bridge between the Indo Pacific region and Eurasia power block. For this India needs to maintain linkage with China and especially with Russia.
Every game depends on the skill and intention of the players. This ‘new great game’ is taking the world order towards a new stage. India cannot afford to ignore it and must act as an important player to define the direction of this Eurasian partnership.
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