Ukraine: India is at a crossroads to become a leader in the neighbourhood - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Ukraine: India is at a crossroads to become a leader in the neighbourhood

May 25, 2022 07:24 PM IST

India must pay close attention to ensure that a similar situation does not unfold in the neighbourhood. There are lessons from this modern-day conflict

Conflicts more often than not do not result in the peace that was envisaged. The reasons could be many and need to be understood and lessons learnt, lest we keep reinventing history, much to the chagrin of the citizens of the world who continue to suffer.

This long-drawn-out conflict is now seeing repercussions across a world that is still recovering from the Covid pandemic. (AP) PREMIUM
This long-drawn-out conflict is now seeing repercussions across a world that is still recovering from the Covid pandemic. (AP)

It might be easy to start a war, but what constitutes the end of this modern-day conflict is even harder to articulate. With the Russia-Ukraine conflict — or "special military operations" as Russia calls it — entering its third month, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

This long-drawn-out conflict is now seeing repercussions across a world that is still recovering from the Covid pandemic. Closer home, the eastern Ladakh crisis that led to casualties on both sides two years ago has resulted in a stalemate with the rival armies deployed face to face at a significant cost with no end in sight despite 15 rounds of border talks at the highest level.

Twenty years after the invasion of Afghanistan following the Global War On Terror (GWOT), the United States has pulled out while Afghanistan, continues to languish and it is questionable whether the objectives that were laid down by President George Bush have been achieved. The conflict in Ukraine may well become a turning point in history that could lead to a realignment between nation-States.

In these circumstances, it becomes important not only to understand the reasons that propelled the conflict, but also what India can do to ensure that a similar situation does not unfold in the neighbourhood.

Foreign policy

National interest assumes primacy in any nation’s foreign policy to secure its interests with economic, trade, diplomatic and military relations with its partners. The nature of governments or a government's ideology should not matter as long as the national interest is served.

India occupies an enviable position geographically, a continental power astride the Indian Ocean with the mighty Himalayan ranges offering a natural barrier to its north. A concerted effort towards development diplomacy with each of its neighbours, visa-free travel, and open borders that encourage tourism, education in premier institutes of the country, and medical facilities apart from free trade agreements would go a long way in building mutual trust in the neighbourhood.

Regional cooperation with extensive people-to-people connections was a vision of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. When speaking about neighbouring countries, he talked about “making borders irrelevant without redrawing them.” India’s foreign policy, with regard to its engagement in the neighbourhood, has more or less been bipartisan, irrespective of the government in power.

As the Ukraine conflict rages on, India must engage more proactively with a whole-of-government approach with its neighbours. This will ensure that the nation emerges as a net security provider in the region and will also promote peace and tranquillity along its borders.

Military relations and defence cooperation

Engagement among the armed forces of the neighbouring countries ensures that issues of interoperability, common understanding, and people-to-people contact nurtures relationships. For instance, when natural disasters or calamities strike, India has always been the first responder to provide help and succour in the region and beyond.

At the same time, the military capability to protect its borders from external aggression must reorient itself to the changing dynamics of war that permeate into the grey zone. There is a need to ensure synergy in the military domain with a concerted and coordinated approach that stems from a joint-but-singular vision to protect national interest at all costs.

The military capability must not only be synergised, but also be capable of waging war effectively through all domains including cyber, information, and space, apart from the traditional — land, maritime, and air. The national will, resolve, and capability must be demonstrably visible and exercised without refrain, should the need arise.

Former United States President Theodore Roosevelt’s famous quote, “Speak softly and carry a big stick — you will go far” couldn’t be more appropriate under the given circumstances. Increased defence cooperation in the neighbourhood through joint exercises, airshows, training, bilateral exchange visits, and staff talks would foster relationships that would not only preclude a conflict but also ensure peace and stability in the region.

Becoming a global leader

India, with its growing economy, an unprecedented demographic dividend, and an unrivalled capability in the services and information technology sector stands at the crossroads of history. It is from here that it can emerge as a regional and global leader which can make a difference.

As songwriter, musician, and peace activist, John Lennon, famously sang in 2010 “Give peace a chance”, India should do all it can to give peace a chance.

Anil Golani is additional director general, Centre for Air Power Studies

The views expressed are personal

Catch every big hit, every wicket with Crickit, a one stop destination for Live Scores, Match Stats, Infographics & much more. Explore now!

See more

Get Current Updates on India News, Elections 2024, Lok sabha election 2024 voting live , Karnataka election 2024 live in Bengaluru , Election 2024 Date along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world.

Continue reading with HT Premium Subscription

Daily E Paper I Premium Articles I Brunch E Magazine I Daily Infographics
freemium
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, July 18, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On