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RIC – beginning and changing dynamics

RIC – beginning and changing dynamics

UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus: GS-2-   Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s
interests.

RIC – beginning and changing dynamics

India decided to attend a (virtual) meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Russia, India and China (RIC). Amid the tensions on the Line of Actual Control, the dominant calls were for a more decisive westward shift in India’s foreign policy.

A RIC meeting seemed incongruous in this setting.

The leaders’ statements at the meeting reflected their divergent preoccupations.

  1. China: The Chinese Minister called for opposing bullying practices, rejecting power politics and supporting the rule of law in international relations. This was an irony as China itself has not respected the international rules.
  2. Russia: Russia’s Foreign Minister criticised unilateral coercive measures to settle scores with geopolitical rivals and topple regimes.
  3. India: India’s External Affairs Minister pointedly emphasised that for a durable world order, major powers should respect international law and recognise the legitimate interest of partners.

RIC beginnings:

  •  The RIC dialogue commenced in the early 2000s.
  •  At that time, the three countries were positioning themselves for a transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world order.
  •  It was not an anti-U.S. construct.
  •  All three countries considered their relationship with the United States an essential prop to their global ambitions.

Non-western:

The RIC shared some non-West (as distinct from anti-West) perspectives on the global order, such as

  •  An emphasis on sovereignty and territorial integrity,
  •  impatience with homilies on social policies
  •  Opposition to regime change from abroad.
  • Their support for democratisation of the global economic and financial architecture moved to the agenda of BRIC (with the addition of Brazil).

Upswing in India’s relations with Russia and China:

  •  The initial years of the RIC dialogue coincided with an upswing in India’s relations with Russia and China.
  •  The advent of President Vladimir Putin reinforced the political, defence and energy pillars of the India-Russia strategic partnership.
  •  With China, the 2003 decision to bring a political approach to the boundary dispute and to develop other cooperation, encouraged a multi-sectoral surge in relations.
  •  An agreement in 2005, identifying political parameters applicable in an eventual border settlement, implicitly recognised India’s interests in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Simultaneous rise of Indo-US ties:
  •  Simultaneously, India’s relations with the U.S. surged, encompassing trade and investment, a landmark civil nuclear deal and a burgeoning defence relationship that met India’s objective of diversifying military acquisitions away from a near-total dependence on Russia.
  •  There was a strategic sub-text: as China was rapidly emerging as a challenger to its global pre-eminence, the U.S. saw value in partnering with a democratic India in Asia.

Change in India – China relationship:

China went back on the 2005 agreement, launched the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, worked to undermine India’s influence in its neighbourhood and expanded its military and economic presence in the Indian Ocean.

  Agreement on the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the Boundary Question, a pact the two governments had signed in April 2005: The 2005 pact had considered the two sides’ “strategic and reasonable interests”It had said any settlement “should safeguard due interests of populations in border areas”Both sides have asked their special representatives to reach consensus on definition of LACDefence ministries, military leaders to undertake regular visits to each other’s countries.

Change in India – Russia relationship:

  •  The texture of the relationship with Russia also changed, as India-U.S. collaboration widened — in defence and the Indo-Pacific.
  •  As S.-Russia relations imploded in 2014 (after the annexation/accession of Crimea), Russia’s pushback against the U.S. included cultivating the Taliban in Afghanistan and enlisting Pakistan’s support for it.
  •  The western campaign to isolate Russia drove it into a much closer embrace of China — particularly in defence cooperation.
  • Thus, the RIC claim of overlapping or similar approaches to key international issues, sounds hollow today.

Autonomy needed:

The current India-China stand-off has intensified calls for India to fast-track partnership with the U.S. This is an unexceptionable objective, but is not a silver bullet. National security cannot be fully outsourced. India’s quest for autonomy of action is based on its geographical realities, historical legacies and global ambitions — not a residual Cold War mindset.

Source:”Indian Express”.


POSSIBLE UPSC CSE MAINS QUESTION:

The Solidarity among Russia, China and India that began with RIC dialogue has now changed based on the priorities and internal dissension between them. Critically analyse.