India Can Never Become A Geopolitical Pawn
Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Veteran, Special Forces
A naïve unnamed diplomat, at an unnamed event, unequivocally made a very silly statement that for the USA, India is not a strategic counterweight to China. India is only one-fifth of China’s economy, and therefore the only geopolitical power that can compete with China would be the United States.
This diplomat should go through the 7000 years of recorded history of the World carefully (and not only what the Europeans have recorded much much later by deliberately and suitably editing it). He will see that for more than 90% of the period, India had been the dominating economic power of the World. India had also ensured peaceful trade in the entire Indo Pacific for most of that period and so must have had the most dominating military and Naval power of that time too.
India has once again started moving upwards and in next 20 years will become a military power, which will be second to none. Economically too, it should be displacing one of the existing top two and this is not just a prophesy.
Therefore today, it is for the USA to ensure that the robust partnership between New Delhi and Washington rests on the pillars of Equality and friendship as they are two largest democracies of this world. The partnership must mitigate all threats to threat, and ensure a free and open OCEANIC trade in all the Oceans of this world.
The US-India ties are bound to grow due to people to people connection between the two countries. Apart from India’s growing economy, the growing population of Indian Americans at the highest echelons of the public and private sector, should further increase the understanding of shared democratic values.
The US in the past, may have considered the British Empire, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and the Soviet Union, as economic competitors but after the World War 2 none of them came close to dislodging Washington from the economic totem pole. However today the USA is feeling the heat from China whose economy is already near $14 trillion, ie 60 percent of the US economy. Also as of January this year China is estimated to own close to $1.095 trillion, approximately 4 percent, of the $28 trillion US national debt, exceeding that of Japan’s possession.
Now the above diplomat,should also be noting that in the past and right up to beginning of 17th Century, it was India which had economically been at the top with China at No 2 place. Of course the USA at that time was not even” born “.
In light of the above, it’s no wonder that institutions like DC-based think-tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) go wrong grossly when they release reports on how Washington should seek to counter a rising China, with India as its “natural ally, sorry strategic partner”. They should rather cut out all the bullshit and just seek India’s friendship based on equality.
Both countries have already had tit for tat tariff war since 2019. India was hit hard by the former US President Trump’s aluminium and steel tariffs. Naturally New Delhi slapped tariffs on 28 US products after Washington withdrew its 46-year General System of Preferences (GSP) in June 2019. By withdrawing the GPS, India was removed from being exempt from billions of dollars’ worth of US taxes and levies. It does not matter, India has still moved ahead economically. It is the USA which has been losing the Indian market.
However, India cannot be anyone’s counterweight. India values its strategic autonomy, just like its traditional non-aligned stance since the Cold War. While the recent border skirmishes and tensions in Galwan Valley, Ladakh have strained ties between New Delhi and Beijing, India has shown that it is fully capable of taking on China, when required.
Though the unnamed diplomat is bang on by stating that “The Quad without India would be seen as anti-China just as BRICS without India would be seen as anti-US”. The diplomat has thus alluded to India being the placating force as Beijing and Washington continue to lock horns.