Multilateral Cooperation With India: Prospects And Opportunities

Posted on December 24, 2010

By A M Radhika:

Very simply put, every country requires different things to survive. They trade what they have in abundance with other countries to get what they don’t have, in terms of food, energy, resources, weapons, raw materials, technology, services and even culture. However, international dominance shall not remain in the hands of one country alone considering the rapid growth and technological advancements in various countries, especially in defence. This means, it cannot be US, China or Russia alone and the days of triangulated rule are gone.

The dominance will now be distributed between three to four centres across the globe. Now depending on how the bigger nations collaborate or choose not to, the resultant world could be ONE of the following possibilities.

  1. A shared-bus system of nations with an international backbone allied to all nations branching off and feeding back
  2. A hierarchal network with a network of superpowers handling a sub-network of countries and so on, or
  3. A mesh of cooperating countries.

Nations have entirely different governance systems and bilateral talks will not suffice their resource requirements. To reach an agreement between more than two nations is an exercise much more demanding than the usual bilateral talks/agreement and is a diplomatic tightrope. Conditions put forth by countries involved in a multilateral talk always tend to remain constricted and inflexible, not to forget much influenced by the geographic status quo. This factor isn’t so powerful in bilateral talks for it’s only a two-way agreement in question with more or less singular exchanges. To see how India fares in these dynamics, for this discussion WikiLeaks and its influence will not be taken into consideration.

The United States policies visibly signal a deep distribution of security and resource hotspots. The other countries prefer not coming into the limelight as much. North Korea is emerging as a nuclear powerhouse. Here, Third World still exists but India, along with Brazil and Japan, is being pitted as valuable asset because of our rapid growth, technological capacities and agricultural base among other things. A permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council will obviously give us a huge international role to play and diplomatic talks with many more nations shall ensue to their as well as our benefit but there’s also a belief that we might shy away from critical responsibilities, a rather lack of confidence considering the nation’s internal politics, corruption and frequency of terror attacks. But then, India can potentially be a pioneer in negotiation of agreements involving more nations than two, especially is UNSC seat is allotted.

Now, India needs a balance sheet of what it really requires and what it has to offer. Depending on that, any call for cooperation between three to four nations can be sought. Fuel and equipment are two very major concerns. Therefore, Iran is a possible associate required and may have to be balanced with role-play in Afghanistan, along with Russia or Japan for the latter garnished with the existent educational exchange. The talks between Russia, India and China, on the other hand, the three gigantic pieces of geography are on but aren’t really yielding major outcomes because of the sheer population they represent. What we also need apart from fuel and equipments is heavy and accurate intelligence so that our security forces can be preventive. Indo-US collaboration in combating terrorism was a very enthusiastic start and requires maintenance. Banking on the strengths, food (or our agricultural capacity as more than a billion of the world population is threatened by starvation), export materials, technical skills, coastline advantage, Bollywood in passing cultural exchange etc can all be put on the platter with segregation.

As a subcontinent in ourselves at the excuse of stating the obvious, we also need to very quickly and absolutely remove stark jeopardizing elements like internal political drama, state level conflicts and insurgents, corruption and lack of action, acute wastage of resources, efforts and money, heavy technological reforms in how we combat natural catastrophes, environmental concerns and manage our space presence for our own benefit and well, cleanliness. Also, our efforts in providing relief aid to nations suffering from natural/unnatural catastrophes need to be pushed through as much as our engineering skills and involve more Indian nationals to make it a long-term finger-lock.

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