Mainstream Weekly

Home > 2023 > America using Quad and G7 to achieve its goal to keep China away from (...)

Mainstream, VOL 61 No 22, May 27, 2023

America using Quad and G7 to achieve its goal to keep China away from Russia | Arun Srivastava

Sunday 28 May 2023, by Arun Srivastava


by Arun Srivastava

Probably this was for the first time that Narendra Modi’s self-eulogy did not find significant takers. On his return from Australia, taking a swipe at his opposition detractors, Modi reminisced about his pleasant triumph, how the incumbent PM as well as the former PM and the rest of the opposition leaders of Australia hailed him but the opposition leaders in India were opposing his move to inaugurate the newly constructed parliament house.

In his own perception, he may be right. But his comment has two divergent dimensions. Australians had assembled to hail the visiting prime minister of India, their friendly country. But the Indian opposition is protesting his autocratic attitude to subvert the constitution and its functioning. What they have been trying to tell the people of the country, look here is a prime minister who is out to denigrate the office of the President, now held by a Dalit leader Draupadi Murmu. As per the Constitutional provisions, it is the prerogative of the President to inaugurate the newly constructed house. But ironically Modi is hell-bent to deny this opportunity to her. Is it not that he desires to have his name embedded on the plaque?

Undoubtedly this mirrors the complex with which Modi sufferers. It is an open secret that he always tries to assert his personal identity. He is against allowing any other person or leader to hog the limelight. This also underscores the sense of self-doubt that afflicts him. One thing is absolutely explicit his action to inaugurate the Parliament on May 28 will change the dynamics of politics, but certainly not for good. While the element of aggrandisement has been the key driving factor behind his every decision, he at the same time has been using his total allegiance to RSS to promote his interest. He had chosen May 28 for the inauguration as it is the birthdate of RSS ideologue Savarkar. Through this action, he would continue to be right person to take forward the rightist politics and ideology of RSS. What an irony the Indian Parliament, the symbol of the democratic institution will reborn on this day.

In fact, it has been Modi’s intense desire to identify himself with the rightist Western forces, particularly the USA, that he undertook the journey to Australia. Quad meet was scheduled to take place in Australia. As US President Joe Biden had some urgent engagements at home, he rushed back home. For Biden finalizing a deal to increase the U.S. borrowing limit before the government runs out of cash to pay its bills had attained more serious proportion than attending the meeting of the Quad leaders. It is not that the financial crisis did not become visible only after Biden landed in Hiroshima. It must have been building for some time. He could have settled the issue before landing in Hiroshima.

However, before leaving for the US, Biden had assured that he would continue to hold consultations with the heads of Australia, Japan, and India. It is really astonishing what made Biden come out with this assurance. Biden also squeezed in meetings aimed at challenging China’s build-out across the Indo-Pacific. Nevertheless, Biden’s decision to pull out of the Quad Meet reflects poorly on US credibility and reinforces doubts about its resolve. Significantly the Quad meeting was intended to signal unity in the face of Chinese attempts to challenge the existing regional order. Instead, China will be further emboldened by this act.

Alive to the spirit of Quad Narendra Modi kept his date with Anthony Albanese, the president of Australia, and rushed to Sydney where the Quad meet was to be held on May 24. Incidentally, after a casual meeting was already held at the sidelines of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Modi’s visit was purely of the nature of a personal call. A deeper look would make it clear that Modi’s visit to Australia had two purposes; to give shape to the US mission to contain China’s spread in Indo Pacific region, and second, to pacify the discontent and anger of the Aussies people against him.

During the March visit of Anthony Albanese to India, Modi had expressed his anger at vandalism on Hindu temples by pro-Khalistan groups.. This has an adverse impact on the bilateral relations. Modi’s action had even enraged the Australian media. “The Australian”, in a report headlined ‘Indian PM criticises Albanese over recent Melbourne Hindu temple attacks’, pointed out that Albanese “received a public scolding from another world leader while conducting business overseas.” India was not happy with the Australian establishment’s decision to underplay the activities of the Sikh separatist groups. While assuaging the feelings of the Australian prominently featured at the agenda, he was also too eager to meet the rightist wing of diaspora. Diaspora members across the world have been the major source for funds, skills, and influence. With a 2024 Lok Sabha election fast approaching, Modi wants to mobilise this section to help the BJP to a third consecutive victory.

What a pity a section of the media experts and columnists look at Modi’s visit as a major gain and image booster for Modi. Unfortunately, they missed the point that Modi’s visit simply added to the growing chasm between the divided diaspora. The majority of them are intrinsically opposed to BJP and critical of its policies, especially of its attitude towards Indian Muslims, trampling of human rights, cracking down of the democratic institution and the government’s inability to check the severe decline of the economy. The anger gripping the diaspora members got manifested in posters that had sprung up around Sydney offering $10,000 for the citizen’s arrest of the “Hindu Terrorist Modi” and graffiti has been slapped on a Hindu temple in western Sydney reading: “Declare Modi Terrorist”. The diaspora members are highly critical of RSS and BJP’s attempt to polarise the community in Australia. They are also critical of BJP for finishing the pluralist character of the country, the secular conception of India, and trying to replace it with its aggressive Hindu nationalism.

While the Biden administration id keen to keep China in good humour with the ominous intention to pit it against Russia, it has entrusted the task to checkmate its spread in Indo Pacific region to the Quad members. It is indeed a tough task for India. It cannot dare to antagonise both the countries, China and Russia. Apparently Albanese and Modi showed too much bonhomie and Albanese even addressed Modi as “boss”, the fact remains relations between the two countries are at a critical juncture.

Sustained by a mutual interest in balancing China and ensuring a stable order in the Indo-Pacific, Australia, and India appear poised to consolidate the growing expansion of their partnership. But India’s relationship with China and Russia has been a major factor. Only in November 2022, they signed the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement, or ECTA, in an effort to strengthen trade ties. Besides the two are involved in a range of multilateral mechanisms and regional groupings.

In a major diplomatic move, the US has invited Modi on June 22. This would be a sort of litmus test to the loyalty of India towards USA. Rick Rossow, senior Adviser and Chair in US-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies recently told that India has been on the hot seat a little bit in Washington. “It is partially because of its reluctance to take a stronger stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, for a lot of people in Washington, that’s become a defining moment. But (for) the Biden administration, it hasn’t. They have decided to play the long game,” he said.

The Biden administration is trying to bring the relationship to a new level, both in terms of security and commercial relations. VISA problem has been dragging for some time. Rossow said; “ two things urgently need to be repaired. One of them is the long wait time for visa interviews in India, which has gotten worse in recent weeks. This is impacting people-to-people ties and second is the challenges facing the commercial front. Seems that every time that one of us is leaning a little bit more pro-trade or investor friendly, the other one’s not”.

This is a loud and clear message for Modi. Rossow summed up the USA mood; “So, if you think about the Indian economy and security, the United States is a critical partner for where India is today and where it’ll be in the future. A lot of those, of course, the United States would echo as well. This is certainly not a one-sided relationship”.

Meanwhile, China is also broad basing its presence in Asia. Increasing relation between China and countries in central Asia, increasing educational and cultural exchanges, and creating mechanisms like the Central Asia–China Business Council are likely to further consolidate of China’s dominant regional role. At a recent summit, China assured the central Asia countries to insulate the mostly authoritarian leaders from Western economic and political pressure to move towards democracy and protect their sovereignty and territorial integrity against any Russian adventurism. The enthusiasm with which the five Central Asian presidents have welcomed China’s initiatives indicates the extent to which they are keen to embrace China notwithstanding the prevalence of anti-China sentiment in the region.

Though the Indian media and even a section of the Australian media present a rosy picture of Modi’s welcome in Australia, the ground-level reports reaching here are not so blushing. The organizers had claimed that 25,000 people had arrived at the stadium while its capacity is only 18,500. The reports mention, however, the next day, the President had to face bitter questions from the media “Was it appropriate to share a stage with a leader with tyrannical tendencies.”

Modi visited Australia in 2014 just after becoming the prime minister and this was his second visit, after ten years, just ahead of his seeking re-election for the top job in 2024. Though during these ten years, the dynamics of politics have undergone a significant paradigm shift, the latest visit owed to Beijing’s burgeoning power and ambition. It is the China factor that has worked as glue to fortify the bipartite relationship between Australia and India.

China’s hunger for coal and iron and its effort to consolidate its economic power posed a serious challenge to the economic interest of India and Australia. As both countries have been concerned of their safety and security, they made advances in the areas of defense and security. They now hold annual leaders’ summits and talks. The Australian army, air force, navy, and special forces regularly carry out exercises with the Indian forces.

If the nature of interactions amongst the G7 leaders was any indicator, it gave the impression that no G7 country has a positive solution to offer for ending the Ukraine and Russia conflict. Significantly Biden told; “Russia started this war, and Russia could end it today by withdrawing its troops from Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and ceasing its assault. Together with our partner countries, we reiterated a need for a just peace that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, both core principles of the U.N. Charter.”

The American desire to keep China in its fold has been so acute that Biden did not intend to precipitate the issue of the Chinese military getting more active in the Taiwan Strait, which may increase leading up to Taiwan’s presidential election next January. Biden had a diplomatic reply; “we should have an open hotline. At the Bali conference, that’s what President Xi and I agreed we were going to do and meet on.” Biden used the G7 and Quad to underscore how important America’s global leadership is.

Perceptions are building that Biden was not inclined to go beyond certain limit for strengthening the Quad. The Quad leaders on their own initiative inked a pact pledging to deepen their partnership on developing the raw materials used in clean energy technologies as they each seek to move supply away from reliance on China. They also issued a joint statement outlining new areas of cooperation in space, trade, and defense.

How far and to what extent India has gained from the two summits is yet not clear. Though Biden is reported to have said, of course quoting sources, many good things of Narendra Modi, on the ground what is visible is lesser involvement of India in the decision-making process.

No doubt role of Modi government had turned susceptible in the eyes of some of the Quad member countries. The reason for this reservation was reluctance of Modi government to criticise Russia on Ukraine issue. Even in the UN meets India has not been voting against Russia. The Quad countries hold that to show its solidarity to the Quad, India like others should have condemned Russia for attacking Ukraine.

It is also being pointed out that India has been buying crude oil from Russia at cheaper price and after refining it at its end was selling the same to the Western countries at higher prices. It is absolutely clear that the Quad countries nurse wrong notions. From the business point of view, India was not at fault. These countries of course could discuss the issue of not opposing Russia with the Indian diplomats and officials.

The participation of India at G7 meet is also viewed as an attempt by the developed countries as a part of its effort to pull India away from its close strategic relationship with Russia. It is clear that India is not in conformity to the western countries’ policies to isolate Russia. India desires that the developed countries should evolve a solution to the current impasse, instead of threatening Russia.

Quad, composed of the United States, Australia, India, and Japan, is not a formal alliance. It is a loose grouping. Japan initially emphasized the democratic identity of the four nations. In the wake of recent criticism by various international civil rights groups and commissions of deteriorating democratic values and denial of human rights by the Modi government has turned some of the Gy7 and Quad countries to go slow.

Some leading world experts have started voicing concern over the relevance of Quad and even G7. They feel; Continued alignment on Russia sanctions is impressive, but it’s time to finish the job; Quad crumbles without a corner and what will the G7 do when China next attempts economic coercion? Shockingly the Hiroshima meet while did not witness any initiative to resolve the Ukraine crisis. Instead the Biden administration used Hiroshima to allow the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

ISSN (Mainstream Online) : 2582-7316 | Privacy Policy|
Notice: Mainstream Weekly appears online only.