World endorses PM Modi’s call for economic development for peace
By DC Pathak
At the heart of India’s foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the mandate that bilateral relations with all should be based on mutual security and economic interests, and that this principle should also be extended to multilateral cooperation everywhere. where necessary – provided that all such pacts would be in accordance with the cause of world peace.
Sequentially, security will always come before economic interest, but what Modi’s approach to international relations has achieved is to establish that economic development has also inherently served the security agenda. .
In a world given to a ruthless policy of one-upmanship, Prime Minister Modi can be said to have managed to strike a chord with India’s philosophy of “Sarvajan Hitaya, Sarvajan Sukhaya” while managing the affairs of the nation. This can only come from a leader with integrity, total dedication to the public cause and a nurturing vision.
The good news is that the merit of Indian politics is already showing on several fronts – with India-US relations marking the natural friendship between the world’s two largest democracies, India’s crucial stance of positive non-alignment with the military confrontation between Ukraine and Russia based on an understanding of the national concerns of both sides, and Modi’s leading role at the recent Quad Summit in Tokyo, where the concept of security-development interface – rather than security and economic growth as separate dimensions – became the center of the world level stage for the first time.
Prime Minister Modi has always projected Quad as an instrument for promoting “rules-based order” in the Indo-Pacific and as a forum for enhancing mutual cooperation between countries in the region – even as the India joined this powerful group of democratic nations of the world to oppose China’s aggressive designs in this maritime zone.
From India’s perspective, it also amounted to establishing a first barrier to any hostile activity by the Chinese in the Indian Ocean. India, however, wanted security cooperation under the Quad to be strengthened by more effective economic participation between the countries of the region to counter the Chinese attempt to dominate them.
The signing of the agreement on May 24 in Tokyo in the presence of US President Joe Biden for the launch of the Indo Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) involving nine other countries in the region in addition to members of the Quad, is an affirmation of the Indian approach to the path of economic friendships for world peace and development and a response of the democratic world to the dictatorships of the time.
China’s unusually strong denunciation of this US decision to strengthen economic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific is an admission by the former that this development would effectively block China’s strategy of using the economic route to achieve to political influence here.
Prime Minister Modi underscored the positive nature of India’s overall strategy when he pointed out that “despite the adverse Covid-19 situation, we have strengthened our coordination for vaccine delivery, climate action, community resilience supply chain, disaster response, economic cooperation and other places.’ This, he said, “had helped establish peace, prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific.”
It is remarkable that the Tokyo summit did not allow the Ukrainian-Russian military conflict to cast its shadow over Quad’s primary mission of countering an expansionist China in the Indo-Pacific. The leaders’ joint statement, released after the May 24 summit, reiterated their unwavering determination to work towards a free and open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific, but it also broadened the scope of the forum by stating that “Quad is a strong commitment to bring tangible benefits to the region” and to preserve the latter from “all forms of military, economic and political coercion”.
Noting that participants were “reacting in their own way” to the conflict in Ukraine and the ongoing humanitarian crisis there, the statement revealed that the impact of these events on the Indo-Pacific had been assessed and that leaders were all in favor of giving priority to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region.
The Tokyo summit broadened the scope of economic cooperation in the region by setting future strategy on issues ranging from economic recovery in individual countries to collaboration on the development of critical technologies.
The leaders even reflected on the ways and means of strengthening the capacities of the countries of the region to deal with the debt problem and appreciated the meetings held by the development financing institutions and agencies of the Quad partners to better connect the ‘Indo-Pacific.
The summit planned to work towards deepening collaboration in identified areas such as regional and digital connectivity, clean energy and climate, including disaster resilience in energy-related facilities, in the interest in sustainable and inclusive growth in the region.
He took note of how the digital world is exposed to sophisticated cyber threats and emphasized a collective approach to strengthen cybersecurity.
Quad partners have decided to coordinate capacity building programs in the Indo-Pacific under the Quad Cybersecurity Partnership. They pledged to focus on harnessing emerging technologies for regional prosperity and security.
Cooperation on 5G supplier diversification was highlighted and joint efforts to leverage complementary strengths to create a competitive market for semiconductors and other critical technologies were highlighted.
In short, the Quad summit has taken the joint effort in the Indo-Pacific economic and security spheres to a new level, in line with India’s strategic thinking.
The summit statement echoed India’s position that at the center of the international order is international law, including the Charter of the United Nations, that respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States should be maintained and that all countries should seek peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law.
India’s stamp was clearly visible in the unequivocal retribution of terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations, the denunciation of the use of terrorist proxies and a categorical condemnation of the terrorist attacks of 26/11 in Mumbai and the 2016 Pathankot Air Base attack.
The declaration demanded that Afghan territory never again be used to threaten or attack a country or to harbor and train terrorists. Full convergence between India and the United States on terrorism was in evidence in Tokyo.
Quad executives also expressed their appreciation for India’s pioneering role in the production and distribution of the Covid vaccine under the Quad Vaccination Initiative.
The importance of economic development in addition to security cooperation was highlighted with specific mention of “the shared effort to build critical infrastructure to boost productivity and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region”.
Quad is apparently adopting a strategy to counter the Chinese game plan of strengthening its grip on the region through economic pacts.
The Tokyo summit has become a new milestone in India-US relations. President Biden appears to have put the focus back on China amid the Ukraine-Russia dispute when he stressed that “the quad is not just a passing fad, it means business.”
He attacked Russia for its invasion of Ukraine – saying it was trying to extinguish a culture – and argued that Ukraine was not just a European problem but a global one but made no specific comment on the issue. India urged the group to make a greater effort to ‘stop Vladimir Putin’s aggression’.
Biden, in fact, was extremely excited to meet Prime Minister Modi “in person” again – he remarked that India-US friendship had entered a new chapter and India-US ties would be among “the narrowest in the world”.
Modi described India’s relationship with the United States as “truly a partnership of trust” and said he was confident that this friendship will continue to be a force promoting global peace and stability.
President Biden has profusely praised India’s democratic functioning and bracketed India with the United States to provide leadership to the democratic world against the threat of dictatorships and autocracies.
Prime Minister Modi’s handling of international relations is working exceptionally well for India. It will add to India’s reputation and prestige if it offers the services of interlocutors in mediating peaceful negotiations between Ukraine and Russia under the auspices of the UN.
(The author is a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau. Opinions expressed are personal)