Post Mortem

New Delhi’s changing dynamics vis-a-vis geopolitics

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/22/2020 12:49:00 PM IST

 A report titled ‘Energy Futures in Asia’ published by the United States’ Department of Defense in 2004 analysed the energy security and energy vulnerabilities of India and China and their energy demand that might influence strategic development in Asia. The United States under Obama administration acknowledged that the 21st Century will be an era of South and East Asia prompting shifting of attention from the Atlantic to the Pacific through its rebalancing policy called “Pivot to Asia”. After a brief period of intermission, President Trump picked up where Obama left and passed the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA) in 2018. The ARIA seeks to promote security and economic interests and values of the United States and envisage recommitting itself to the allies and strategic partner and sustained partnership in Asia.

Brian Harding and Kim Mai Tran observed that Southeast Asia region could pip European Union and Japan to become the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2050 at the current annual growth rate of about five percent. Besides, the Southeast Asia market is being admired as one of the largest and fastest-growing markets in the world, attracting trading opportunities and deepening diplomatic engagements in the coming decades. It also offers the platform for ‘advancement of democracy and human rights’ with the region being a hotspot of young but diverse states accompanied by weak economic and political foundations. Rise of middle class (approx. 350 million people by 2050) is an added advantage of the region.

Prashanth Parameswaran in his “ASEAN’s role in a US Indo-Pacific Strategy” underlines the importance of Southeast Asian region which is strategically placed at the right centre of the Indian Ocean in connecting with the Pacific Ocean, a sub-region of a broader Indo-Pacific strategic environment. With the South China Sea hosting close to one third of global shipping passes and the presence of some of the world’s busiest waterways, the Southeast Asia is undoubtedly a new stage of power play of big economies.

 Trump’s anti-globalism rhetoric and his commitment to ‘Make America Great Again’ had been construed as a suiting development for other geopolitical players to intervene the world affairs, especially China. The gradual degeneration of American presence, particularly in Southeast Asia created space for aggressive Chinese intrusion into critical areas facilitating Beijing to “expand its state-driven economic model and reorder the region in its favour”.

In what could be seen as reaction to President Xi Jinping’s overreach and in an attempt to re-establish trust with its allies and partners as part of Washington’s counter narratives to Beijing’s model of global order, the US Department of Defense as an extension of ARIA brought out “Indo-Pacific Strategy Report” which mapped US’ interests and future course of actions in the region. Freedom and openness in a rule-based order share centrality to the Indo-Pacific Strategy.

Washington’s reliance on New Delhi in this security-centric re-entry into East and South Asia is conspicuous by the use of the term ‘Indo-Pacific’. In the words of Dingding Chen, India has been vocal about the concept of Indo-Pacific Strategy as such align with New Delhi’s ambition in expanding its presence and interests in Southeast Asia in line with its Act East Policy while taking its political, economic and military relationship with the nation-states of the region to a new high. Both the United States and India therefore confluence on the need for cooperation in this region.

Against the backdrop of the increasing concentration of major powers in Indo-Pacific region, Southeast Asia posit itself as strategically sensitive expanse and the securing of which is vital to the advancement of interests by nations party to the twenty-first century geopolitical play. Simultaneously, New Delhi has been prodded to, though indecisively, assume a leadership role in regional security forums. Prominent of which are Quadrilateral security dialogue (commonly called as Quad), Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IORAC). 

Nevertheless, the much dubbed ‘internal disturbance’ along the porous frontiers has been a continuous irritation in the way of New Delhi’s progressive presence in its geopolitical ventures. Most analysts subscribed to the hypothesis that scrapping of Article 370 was from the angle of security front as contrasted with development concern. New Delhi exulted confidence in divided opinions on that matter by the world leaders, in some ways. 

With the northwestern border almost secure, atleast in theory, the attention then shift to Northeastern frontier which is dotted with volatile security arrangement and intra and international crimes running along the unfenced border. Containment of extremism (in the parlance of mainstream dialogue) in Nagaland would mean an end to insurgency and its collateral cost in whole of the Northeastern region. This perceived supposition, when accomplished, shall serve New Delhi its two objectives: (a) a peaceful Northeastern region could be employed as a buffer zone in the conduct of commerce with the economically diverse Southeast Asian nations and further east in circumventing China’s ascendancy, (b) the China factor in dealing with the affairs of the Northeastern states shall naturally cease to exist, opening a wide array of opportunities for New Delhi to hold a tight grip on its eastern frontier and gaining the confidence of relatively young democracies of South and Southeast Asia in posturing its image as an emerging and reliable regional power.

 These twin foundational structures of New Delhi’s regional ambition are believed to have been the cause of recent inroads into the Naga Political conundrum. Gathering of information, especially of the innocent government employees, at an unprecedented volume is surely a concern. Could it be for the purpose of gagging of voices of dissent or towards surveillance of its citizens, either way, it signalled existence of trust deficit between the state and the centre, and between the political groups and New Delhi. In case of the former, invoking Article 356 of the Constitution is imminent whereupon voice of the people is at the whims of the Parliament. In such case scenario, we have seen that re-alignment of constitutional provisions along with territorial demarcation have been set as precedents, if the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir alluded us to some hints. 

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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