A country’s stability is measured through three parameters: energy security, financial security and physical security. In the current global scenario where protectionist governments are on the rise in the US, Turkey, Brazil, and the like, the foothold of multilateralism, and the peace entailed with it, is shrinking, fueled with global climatic woes.
The United States and the European Union were the beacons of multilateralism in the world. But the rise of Donald Trump in the US, Brexit and growth of many populist parties in EU bloc has been a threat to multilateralism. And with the decentralization of terrorism and burgeoning migrant crisis, protectionism is here to stay and spread. The shift in US policy to protectionism is changing the equation. Now more countries are being vocal about the skewed world order which is in favour of developed countries. It has both positive and negative effects on India.
Aggressive China and the unpredictable US have made Asian countries like Japan, South Korea etc. look towards India for market, security and cooperation. The Chinese aggression, especially in the South China Sea, was a reminder to the doubting few. As both India and others face similar issues, cooperation can become more dynamic and productive.
South Korea, an export economy, has been seeking more cooperation with India. They are looking for a new market amidst a trade war. Whereas Japanese financial institutions have been providing support for many new ventures in India ranging from the bullet train to nutritional schemes. The push for nuclear cooperation by Japan was a landmark achievement and it also has been pursuing security cooperation through QUAD.
ASEAN countries have been pushing for economic cooperation through RCEP. Even though the Bangkok summit was not fruitful but a step towards the right direction has been taken to increase India’s assertiveness in the South Asian economy. India is an integral part of this mix, as a huge consumer market is a lucrative opportunity.
The issue of dominance of developed countries in institutions such as WTO, UN, ICC, is affecting their reputation badly. More and more countries are being vocal against their high handedness. African Union has been an active supporter of India is pushing for UNSC reforms. India is opening up more foreign missions in Africa and new opportunities are presenting as African countries are looking for an alternative to China and the existing order.
Multilateralism is waning day by day in the current world order. But it is an opportunity for India to take the leadership role and lead the world. The spearheading of Solar Alliance, South Asia satellite etc. were appropriate steps towards that goal. As Jeffery Tucker said,” Where there is commerce there is peace”. But in the nationalistic fervour present today the government should not forget scopes and hopes of what a country could achieve through multilateralism. Multilateral trade can become a venue to exercise both soft powers as well as hard power.