An Asian security deal led by New Delhi

In March 2020, India announced its first national lockdown, a phenomenon both unprecedented and unimaginable. Over the following months, across the West, similar measures were introduced as health infrastructure collapsed and death tolls rose as the COVID-19 pandemic raged.

Between March and October 2020, the West scrambled to hold China accountable, push supply chains away from the world’s largest factory, sanctions and tariffs, and a global investigation into the leak. from the Wuhan laboratory. Two years later, nothing has happened. This was India’s essential lesson in geopolitical power and the resulting economic dependence.

If Doklam and Galwan were lessons in the indigenization of defence, Beijing’s rapid political takeover of Hong Kong and the unplanned exit, rendering all American efforts in Afghanistan over the past two decades futile, recalled the decline of the Western supremacy in world affairs.

The colossal failure of the West, especially the countries of the European Union, to project a unified response against the invasion of Ukraine has only stated the obvious. Moreover, with the Taiwan attack almost imminent after October, India, in the future, must imagine a security order in Asia that does not depend entirely on the White House.

There are economic management lessons to be learned from India’s four main neighbours, starting with China. After 2008, Beijing relied on real estate and infrastructure to artificially inflate growth. Today, while the offer slightly exceeds the demand, 20% of real estate groups are close to defaulting on payment.

The economies of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, limiting their exports to a few sectors, mainly textiles, were vulnerable enough to be swept away by the pandemic and a phase of inflation. Pakistan is a lesson in what a young nation should not aspire to. Fortunately, India prevailed and its economic thinking followed the wheel of time. Well, almost.

The next 25 years will see a change in the world order. Events in Ukraine and the Taiwan Strait earlier this month only accelerated the change. The question now, before India and before the leaders of New Delhi, is quite simple. How does the world’s largest free market prepare for a world order led by an aging China as Western society withers around its societal follies?

For the Narendra Modi-led government, the writing on the wall is clear, and that is to lay the groundwork for a New Delhi-led Asian security deal that encompasses the Indo-Pacific and against Beijing. It’s not a choice; it will take 10 years later, maybe sooner.

A few scenarios are plausible.

First, China takes control of Taiwan militarily and politically, controls the Taiwan Strait, critical to global supply chains and trade, and challenges the Yankees on the Korean Peninsula via North Korea.

Second, an aging China is imploding under the weight of its economic rifts as it continues to be the world’s export factory, given its stranglehold on the supply chains of rare earth metals and semi- drivers, but with diluted military ambitions in the Indo-Pacific.

In either scenario, the West, from America to Japan and from Europe to Australia, would look to India to play a crucial role in any security deal.

India, however, has a lot of catching up to do, and although the process is underway as the government invites companies to build for and from here, there is zero room to manoeuvre.

Compared to China’s global exports of $2.65 trillion, India’s exports are less than one-eighth, with a negative trade balance. The foundation of any security deal in 10 or 20 years would depend on India’s economic partnerships with key nations, especially Russia and Japan, to begin with. Economic integration must be intensified with the other countries of Southeast Asia, because no security agreement is complete without them.

India’s path to geopolitical power is through its economic assertion, so some reimagining on this front is warranted. For the next 10 years, India must be obsessed with the idea of ​​creating wealth, not just for its big industries, but for the smallest entrepreneur in the most remote corner of India.

Today, the West did not question India’s oil imports from Russia. As a $10 trillion economy, say in 2035, the third largest in the world, India will manage its uncontested and unquestionable sphere of influence in a multipolar world and be China’s sole counter power in Asia, thus becoming a key ally for the West. . Soft power will also have a key role to play here, as it did for the United States after World War II and China after 2008.

[email protected] will not be about ensuring toilets, homes or piped water connections for all, but will be a tipping point for a civilization that would have completed a hundred years since colonial rule and would now seek to assert itself in a polar multi-world, competing with an aging China, a weakened Japan and Russia, a divided European home, and who knows where the newfound awakening of American society may lead their country.

If the past 25 years were about making India visible on the world stage, the next 25 years would be about developing India’s geopolitical and economic might. The relaunch of the QUAD was a step in the right direction, but learning from Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Ukraine and Taiwan, India must imagine its security considerations without relying entirely on the White House.

Our time has come. Rise and shine.

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