Tuesday, October 20, 2020

India’s loss of Farzad-B is only the beginning — M. K. Bhadrakumar

But the loss of Farzad-B is only the beginning. The India-Iran relationship awaits a strategic setback. Looking ahead, the forthcoming Malabar Exercise with Australia’s participation heralds a tumultuous period ahead where India and Iran’s core interests will no longer be reconcilable.

Without doubt, India’s Quad strategy will complicate its relations with Iran. None of the Persian Gulf states (or Israel) will want to be part of the Quad, either, since they are in the same predicament as the ASEAN countries — stakeholders in a thriving economic partnership with China.…

India, struggling economically, is throwing in with the other "democracies," against China and Iran. This vastly complicates India's relations with Russia. Brilliant move or monumental blunder. Only time will tell. 

PM Modi is trying to play both the US and Russia. Not going to work. India will have to make a strategic choice, which potentially excludes it from much of Asia. The US, Australia and Japan, the other members of the Quad, are not going to do much to help India economically. India is too unstable politically, for one thing, and it is in the midst of sectarian struggle between the Hindu majority and the Islamic minority (backed by nuclear Pakistan).

And then there is this:

To be sure, the unfolding militarisation of the Indian Ocean” will only be seen as an expansionist policy by a host of regional powers — not only China but also Pakistan, Iran and, possibly, Russia — and most littoral states along Africa’s east coast.

It will isolate India in its region and will provoke counter-strategies eventually to contain India’s ambitions. After all, there is nothing like absolute security. No amount of waffling by Indian diplomats that Quad is not be regarded as anything more than the BRICS or SCO will convince India’s neighbours.

All this is especially significant  for the world system since India and China both have a billon plus population. The degree of their success or failure, or just limping along, will have a broad and deep influence on the rest of the world in this century, either pushing the ROW forward or creating a drag. 

However, the comparison between India and China is not one-to-one. They are very different systems. So far, China is kicking ass economically with the largest economy in the world measured on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP). Conversely, India is still struggling as a developing country that hasn't yet hit on a successful development strategy or a political system that is manageable.

Both are civilizational states with very ancient histories. But China has a single language and long imperial history underlying its meritocratic administrative system. India was not united under one rule until the British Raj and that has turned out to be a very mixed blessing, for it puts India at odds with its civilizational history. In addition, only the upper tiers adopted the British manner of life, creating a separation between the tiers of society that does not exist in China. Social mobility is further limited by the remnant of a caste system, making liberal reform difficult.

India Punchline
India’s loss of Farzad-B is only the beginning
M. K. Bhadrakumar | retired diplomat with the Indian Foreign Service

See also

The Hindu (India)
Quad should eventually become formalised, says top U.S. Official (Asian NATO under US)
Sriram Lakshman

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