India-Eurasia Ties: Strategies of New Regionalism

Vladivostok: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin visit the Zvezda ship-building facility which is being expanded and has scope for foreign investment on Sep 4, 2019. The facility, located in Russia's Far East, was used to decommission the nuclear submarines of erstwhile Soviet Union after the end of Cold War and is now in the process of building scores of ships. (Photo: IANS)

STRATEGIC EYE: A column on current affairs – relating to India and/or Canada and looking at ways to promote Indo-Canadian relations in many spheres.

By Nivedita Das Kundu*

Emerging Partnership between India and Eurasia, framed under the label of new regionalism, its discussions have tended to investigate the institutions, policies, and economic relations that underpin such region-building approaches.

In particular, India’s engagement in various regional contexts uncovers the role of othering as a central feature of the nascent  processes of region-building.  Encyclopedic definition of Eurasia is the landmass composed of the continents of Europe and Asia. Eurasia is also used in international politics as a neutral way to refer to the post-Soviet States.

India and Eurasian states preference for multipolarity and encouragement for the promotion of groupings like SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) RIC (Russia-India-China), BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa), are intended to create groups where India along with other regional countries can discuss issues and concerns pertaining to the region.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Russia’s far eastern city of Vladivostok on September 5th to attend 20th India-Russia annual summit followed by 5th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) showed that today India-Russia relationship has evolved into an equal partnership. India and Russia has reached new level of friendship and cooperation through mutual trust and understanding.

India values the political and diplomatic support it continues to get from Russia on vital issues. In today’s complicated and fast changing geopolitical situation, both countries have wisely diversified their foreign policy options, yet have been careful not to abandon a mutually beneficial partnership built up over decades.

India-Russia cooperation is going on smoothly and steadily in various sectors. Cooperation in the defence sector is still the strongest link. Even today around 50% of the defense equipment used by the Indian defense forces is of Russian origin.

During recent summit both India and Russia reaffirmed their intention to expand the scope of collaboration in various sectors and avail the opportunities for expanding mutual capabilities. It seems now Russia’s Far East will serve as a vital point for connecting India and Russia through maritime links. Now India has introduced its “Act Far East Policy,” and through new maritime connectivity between Vladivostok and Chennai sea route, they will further develop maritime links between the two nations. India even announced $1 billion line of credit for growing this significant regional project.

India is also looking forward to cooperate with Russia in the Arctic. India has been following the developments in the Arctic region with interest and is also ready to play a significant role in the Arctic Council being an observer nation. The geopolitics of Arctic is becoming complicated over the period of time.

It is the responsibility of the Arctic nations to support the conservation, management and governance of Arctic resources.

The competition for getting easy access to the Northern Sea Route for international trade and commerce is increasing over the years.

However, there is a need to address simultaneously the security concerns related to piracy and terrorism that has been increasing along with the prospect for the increased trade and transportation.

On issues and concerns related to Arctic, India can even join Canada and both India and Canada can address certain vital issues related to Arctic.

Today the developments in Arctic presents an opportunity to speak out for ecological protection, a position that runs contrary to the resource scramble, a position that promotes resource use, conservation and precaution in the region, in view of the warming of the Arctic.

India by becoming observer is  able to take part in various activities related to Arctic. As far as, the Arctic is concerned, India is a signatory to the “1925 Treaty”, concerning the Archipelago of Spitsbergen of the ‘Svalbard Treaty’. India is among the 10 countries that have a research Centre in the Svalbard Islands in the Arctic for studying the warming and melting effects.

Amidst all these positive developments there is a hope that friendship and the strategic partnership between the regional powers will scale new heights and it will grow, thrive and blossom in the coming years.

@Nivedita Das Kundu, Ph.D, is an international relations expert and strategic and foreign policy analyst.