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Need for International Realism

  • 31 August, 2020

  • 5 Min Read

Need for International Realism


  • The 21st Century has been heralded as the Asian Century, with China and India in the vanguard. However, serving national interests gets into conflict with adherence to internationalism by the two countries.
  • Further, China’s aggressive posturing vis-a-vis India in the recent Galwan valley clash or under construction China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been a major foriegn policy challenge of India.
  • Thus, as highlighted by India’s External Affairs Minister, the major challenge that India now faces is to manage a more powerful neighbour while ensuring its own rise.
  • Though Internationalism has always been a key pillar of India’s foreign policy, there is a need for a more realistic foreign policy with respect to China.

Need for International Realism

  • Over-dependence on China: Due to a huge trade deficit India has developed a dependence on Chinese goods.
    • Given this fact, India pulled out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), as there was a contradiction between India’s national commercial interests and a China-led Asian economic regionalism
  • China’s expansionism: China is behaving like an ‘irredentist power’ or ‘expansionist power’, seeking to expand its frontiers to the limits that existed in the Qing Dynasty.
    • China has been inclined for long to nibble at territories in the western, middle and eastern segments of the Indian border.
    • Through the BRI project, China’s intent is to dominate the geostrategic space in its neighbourhood and across Asia & Europe.
  • Influence of China: After the Cold War, India re-embraced Asianism in the 1990s when it unveiled the Look East Policy and joined the Asian regional institutions led by ASEAN.
    • This pursuit of economic regionalism in East Asia and emphasis on a multi-polar world had severely underestimated the economic and political consequences of China’s rapid rise.
    • This can be depicted by China's policy of containment of India through Strings of pearls and CPEC.
  • Undermining of Global Institutions: The liberal internationalist effort at constructing supra-national institutions that seek to maintain international order, now faces big setbacks.
    • This can be seen through ineffective UN system and Brexit.
    • Also, today strategic coherence of the Non-Aligned Movement has declined.

Way Forward:

  • India has to follow Realist international foreign policy with China and envisage bandwagoning with like-minded countries, so to maintain an equilibrium in balance of power and regional peace.
  • Leveraging its Relationship with Western Countries: India is already a “quasi-ally” of the U.S. and has strategic relationships with many European countries.
  • India should use every possible means to prevent China from reaching the Indian Ocean.
  • Strategic convergence between India and countries like the U.S, Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia is needed to frame a Indo-Pacific Strategy and balance China’s military and economic power.
  • Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), can also be extended to include like-minded countries.
  • Also, proposals to expand international organisations such as the G-7 and include India will be helpful in balancing China’s influence in international affairs.
  • There is an urgent need to strengthen Mountain Strike Corps divisions and establish a theatre command.
  • Adopting Diplomatic Offensive. India needs to highlight its peaceful intentions in stark contrast to China’s aggressive policies and tactics.
  • India can revive NAM to achieve this end.
  • Neighbourhood First Policy: India must pay particular attention to countries in its neighbourhood, such as Nepal and Bangladesh, and allies such as Iran and Vietnam.
  • India should take pole position in propagating ‘Himalayan Buddhism’ which China has been seeking to subvert to achieve its ends.
  • Becoming Self-Reliant. India needs to decouple its economic dependence from Chinese imports and achieve self-reliance


Source: TH

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