Indo-US Relations : Strategic Partnership or Something Else?
The increasing rounds of talks between India and US clearly show the latter’s outreach…to India and also the Indian subcontinent. The interactions have far increased in the recent months and years. It is surely a shift from the past US policies. However, the recent US interest in India is result of multitudes of happenings in Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. Most of these new interests are driven by compulsions…of losing grip in Indo-Pacific region. Analysts in US administration have also concluded that Pakistan is untrustworthy of their alliance, highly experienced in double-talk and double-crossing, with the assistance of other nations having anti-America philosophies. Hence, the new interest in India could be for short-time gains or for a long strategic approach. If it is the former cause driving the US towards India, it may become counterproductive in long run. It is well known that US has dumped many of its allies in past and may do in future too. However, if the US administration is seeking the strategic alliance with India, it will be mutually beneficial to both. The varied reasons for US compulsions are being mentioned below.
Firstly, US image has taken a serious beating in most, if not all its engagements in Asia…be it Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria or of late, in Turkey. It is unprecedented in the long American history that a country of miniscule like Iraq has asked the US forces to leave their territories where they have been their allies. Secondly, US Defence and foreign policy has also taken a serious beating in their dealing of Afghanistan. Taliban (and Pakistan) has clearly tricked them. Thirdly,US vulnerabilities and eschewed policies in the region have forced them to leave a void which will surely be exploited by Russia and the newly rising devil of the region…China. This will be extremely detrimental to the future US interests. It will be extremely difficult to regain a firm foothold in future. Fourthly, overambitious and extremely hard hitting US & NATO policies against Russia and flawed approach towards China has permitted them to come to centre-stage and to fill the power vacuum as world-power… and now threatening all. Last but not the least,the ever increasing Chinese hegemony in the region earlier ignored by the US and NATO, is worrisome for the world, not only for the USA.
Money power has propelled China’s recent rise. It has made China to debt-trap several nations the world over. In our region their increasing southward dominance in the Indian and Arabian Oceans are alarming. Pakistan has bitten the bait to such extent that soon they may risk their sovereignty and become a Chinese colony…as the Pakistani Autonomous Region of China…just like Tibet. Nepal too is has fallen in to the Chinese debt and Bangladesh too seems to be biting the bait to allow access to Chittagong port in the Bay of Bengal. From here the Chinese will start dictating…Sittwe (Myanmar) to follow the next. This is extremely crucial to the Chinese to retain their reach in Malacca Strait as well as Indian Ocean through already leased-out Sri Lankan port of Hambantota. It will also strengthen their other bases in Chabahar and the two leased out islands of Pakistan as well as an island of Sychelles.
The Chinese game-plan is comprehensive…detrimental to both Indian and the US interests…and the increasing numerical strength of the PLA Navy only substantiate the view. Marine water dominance of China is extremely worrisome…that Japan, Taiwan and even USA is feeling threatened. The Chinese dominance in the South China Sea (SCS) is on the verge of changing the power equilibrium of the two giants. Chinese occupied artificial islands in ‘Parcel and Spartley’ in the SCS and their increasing claim on the Japanese/Taiwani ‘Senkaku island’ will provide them their strength in the Pacific Ocean. They have already breached the defence of the American island Guam couple of times totally taking the USA by surprised. This is what has forced the Pentagon to weaponise their islands with heightened air/marine reconnaissance and Air to Ship as well as Air to Air missiles essentially for deterrence… for both defensive and offensive purposes.
The current PLA Navy’s numerical superiority against USA has made it difficult for USA to take on China. USA needs alliance of the like-minded nations of the region who are being threatened by the Chinese hegemony and have the resolve to resist. In this, a very rightful combination of Japan, India, Australia and USA is emerging as QUAD group…all being Democratic nations, all having significant military might, all adversely affected by the Chinese hegemony and all willing to take on the devil…the Chinese. There are some other ASEAN group whose sovereignty of the marine waters are under severe threat of Chinese encroachment. Non-united, they are living under the threat of Chinese reprisal. Voices of Vietnam, Philippines Malaysia and Indonesia have been muzzled in past. Their claims on own islands have been unilaterally been challenged by China who has shown two fingers to even the International Court of Justice ruling in SCS. These nations have seemingly resigned to their fate drawn by the devil in the form of 9 dashed lines. These nations either alone or even as a group are unable to take on the dragon. However, if a Security block of QUAD takes shape in the Indo-Pacific, there is no doubt that all these nations will be over-joyed to come on board as member States, to fight the Chinese hegemony.
All the above arguments confirm one single fact that US will have to boost its influence in the Indo-Pacific. It needs to cooperation of other nations in this region now more than ever before. India has shown its grit in the recent past that it cannot be bullied by the Chinese. Hence, US must reach all the Quad nations as Strategic allies. They need to make some positive investment…of standing firmly by their sides if ever threatened. The same stands to the individual Quad nations too. All other nations in the region bordering China must unite together as a group, as allies and stand together against any Chinese bully. Such alliance cannot be only in sea as the devil forces are breathing down the neck of all these individual nations on ground too. Does this amount to forming a military alliance? If yes, let that be it. The security situation in the region is grim…Pakistan against Afghanistan & India; China against India, Bhutan, Myanmar, Vietnam, Taiwan and Japan. China also severely threatening the economic interests of the member nations in the marine waters of the SCS. Last but not the least, China trying to occupy and control the entire SCS dominating and controlling the international water and the UNCLOS. The US will have to take lead as the binding force. Others will surely come on-board with full cooperation.
When it comes to the USA’s traditional view point towards India, there is a problem. This is the only country in the world which is housing the Hindu religion, entirely different from most others. This religion does not discriminate or convert others. It treads on the mantra of world-peace, but itself suffered the worst genocide under Muslim rulers for many centuries. Christian missionaries too came with agenda of converting Hindu but they have been somewhat devoid of Islamic cruelty of Jihad. Muslims partitioned India…in to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh. Hindu have suffered gradual genocides and vanished from those nations. It was Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation who had promised citizenship to the religiously persecuted communities who fled from those nations. This is why CAA was brought. It was highly inappropriate for the US lawmakers to make it a Human Rights issue.
Muslims population in India is increasing at decadal growth of 150% at the cost of the declining Hindu. In addition, the Indian Muslims are sheltering the huge number of Rohingya Muslim and illegal migrants of Bangladesh …numbering almost 4 Cr of them. This is why National Register for Citizens (NRC) was brought in Assam. USA lawmakers under the lobbying influence of Islamic nations, made it too a Human Rights issue which was a clear interference in our internal matters. Hindu apprehensions against Muslims is not based on medieval period atrocities and genocides alone. It has been experienced in British India, during partition, during various religious riots, in Kashmir and the worst of all, in 1990 genocide of Kashmiri Hindus in independent India. Muslim hatred against Hindu is evident in all Indian states where they are in substantial numbers…J&K, Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, UP and so on. Infact Muslims as a group invariablt start threatening the Hindus in the pockets of their numerical dominance anywhere. Indian Hindu have now taken a resolve not to tolerate any more pains at the hands of the Islamists. Hence, what seems to others as discrimination and a Human Right violation against Muslims, is actually an attempt to to safeguard ourselves. It is also to prevent Muslim & Christian missionaries from mass converting Hindu. It has started causing mass anger among the Hindu community.
USA in past trying to make a bogey of Human Rights violations esp against Muslim, is unacceptable. If Muslims threaten the survival of Hindu and followers of Indian religions on own land, there will be repercussions. There is no doubt that the changing religious demography of India is a clear threat. In the interest of the survival of the world’s 3rd largest population, Hindu must do everything possible. If making India a religious state for ‘Indian Religion’ is the only answer, may that be so. After all, all other religions too have dedicated religious states of their own…Islam, Christian, Jew, Buddhism. It may not be out of place to make India a religious state of “Religions of Indian Origins” … essentially for the Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikhs”. Other religions too are welcome on the Indian soil but they cannot be permitted to threaten the religions of the land. Hindu are the biggest tolerant group in the world and that is why other religions are flourishing here. No other religious groups living in Hindu majority society ever feel threatened but Hindu are often made to flee from Muslim dominated areas. Christian missionaries invariably lure the poor Hindu to convert. Human Rights or any other sloganeers will not be permitted to intervene in this basic theme of India.
After independence, the first Indian Govt under Nehru had taken a conscious decision to remain non-aligned. This is the reason India did-not tread the US path. Even now, India is self-sufficient to defend. Hence, we as a nation cannot be expected to fall in a NATO-like camp. Quad as a group of equals may be fine. India under PM Modi has taken resolve to improve the lives of our citizen through economic revival and ‘Atm-Nirbhar Bharat’. Past Pak & Chinese aggressions made us to spend a lot on importing Defence Hardware, but not anymore. No nation should see us as their arms-selling market. In the difficult times, Russia did come to our help and their military hardware were purchased by choice. Procurement of S-400 missiles cannot be made an issue in the new relation with US. The renewed US policy must take all these factors in to account and must not veer-off from the path of Strategic partnership on equal terms.
The present Indo-US relationship appears to be based on many considerations. USA wants an ally in the Indian ocean, in Asia, adjacent to their traditional foe, the Russians. Their love with Pakistani were betrayed time and again that made them to reconsider their strategies. They see a much stronger and reliable India as a gateway to Asia. The series of bilateral agreements with US as key strategic partner has brought the two democracies much closure. There has been several smaller strategic military cooperation signed between the two, incl those signed in the last month of the Trump administration through 2+2 agreement. India is also a buyer of some very essential US military hardware in the recent years for its defence. USA may think of selling the advanced technology military hardware through ‘Make in India’ program which will be beneficial and win-win for both. However, India must make it sure that there is no thread of US sanctions or withholding/denial clause tied to any of the US procurements. India is presently under a tight situation of increasing Chinese clouts and salami slicing of expansionism. This message has been conveyed to the Chinese in no uncertain terms following east-Ladakh stand-off. It is for the USA to make a conscious decision to seek Indian alliance on the mutually acceptable terms.