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International Relations GS Paper II by Viraj Rane (150 Words)

  • Category
    GS -II
  • Test Date
    2022-06-28 07:00:00
  • Evaluated
    Yes

Instruction:

  • Attempt One question out of the given two.
  • The test carries 15 marks.
  • Write Your answer in 150 words.
  • Any page left blank in the answer-book must be crossed out clearly.
  • Evaluated Copy will be re-uploaded on the same thread after 2 days of uploading the copy.
  • Discussion of the question and one to one answer improvement session of evaluated copies will be conducted through Google Meet with concerned faculty. You will be informed via mail or SMS for the discussion.

Question #1. The SCO provides India a convenient channel for its outreach, trade, and strategic ties, to Central Asian countries. Discuss throwing light on major challenges faced by India in this regard.

Question #2. The sudden capture of power in Afghanistan by the Taliban has substantially changed the geopolitics of the region. What will be the likely impact of this change on India and what are the policy options available with India?

(Examiner will pay special attention to the candidate's grasp of his/her material, its relevance to the subject chosen, and to his/ her ability to think constructively and to present his/her ideas concisely, logically and effectively).

Model Answer

Question #1. The SCO provides India a convenient channel for its outreach, trade, and strategic ties, to Central Asian countries. Discuss throwing light on major challenges faced by India in this regard.

Approach:

  • Introduce by giving a brief definition of SCO and when India joined the organization. (40 Words)
  • Enumerate the opportunities that SCO provides India for engagement with Central Asian countries. (90 Words)
  • Enumerate the hurdles India face within the organization (80 Words)
  • Conclusion  (40 Words)

Hints:

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic organisation aiming to maintain peace, security and stability in the region. It was created in 2001. India became a member in 2017.

Currently, the SCO covers 40%of the global population, nearly 20% of the global GDP and 22% of the world’s land mass.

Opportunities for India

  • Natural resources:
    • The Central Asian region is richly endowed with vital minerals and natural resources.
    • With the landlocked states of Central Asia, and Uzbekistan even doubly landlocked, accessing these resources becomes difficult. SCO provides a convenient channel
  • Energy security:
    • SCO has many energy-rich Central Asian countries and Russia.
    • It can help India cater its energy needs and prevent an Iran-US like situation and look for Iran’s alternatives.
    • It can help India in the construction of the TAPI pipeline to fulfill its natural gas needs.
  • Economic potential:
    • SCO can be used as a route to assess the markets of the member countries and other Central Asian countries for India’s IT, telecommunications, banking, finance and pharmaceutical industries.
    • The members can work together to formulate a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union.
  • Foreign Policies:
    • India has an opportunity to play an active role in the diplomacy of its extended neighbourhood.
    • It will help India to be a major pan-Asian player, which is currently boxed in the South Asian Region.
    • China, Pakistan and Russia are already in engagement with the Taliban. India can volunteer to work upon a stable solution for the Afghanistan crisis, much needed for peace in the region.
  • Contain Terrorism:
    • India is its major victim of state-sponsored Terrorism.
    • India can utilise Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in gaining vital intelligence inputs on the movement of terror outfits, drug-trafficking, cyber security and Public information of the region.

Challenges faced by India at the SCO:

  • India’s limited influence: India’s ability to assert itself would be limited and it may have to play second fiddle since China and Russia are co-founders of SCO and its dominant powers.
  • Balancing act: India may also have to either dilute its growing partnership with the West or engage in a delicate balancing act – as SCO has traditionally adopted an anti-Western posture.
  • Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
    • India has expressed its strict reservations against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and has not accepted the BRI of China. 
    • Since, all the group members except India have endorsed BRI, it makes India standalone on its position.
  • China-Pakistan axis
    • China’s strategic and economic  interests may keep its alignments closer with Pakistan and this will prove detrimental for India

Conclusion

Group diplomacy is always more complex than bilateral diplomacy. With SCO, China's influence is overwhelmingly supported by other members, especially Pakistan. With the Taliban now in the seat of power in Kabul, it will be further challenging and therefore necessary for India to engage in group diplomacy. If India is not able to exploit the economic potential of the region, its inclusion to the organisation will be a missed opportunity. SCO provides a great opportunity for promotion of India’s regional interests for ensuring sustainable nation-building through development partnerships, maintaining sovereignty, and preventing the region from being a hub of terrorism and extremism.

 

Q2. The sudden capture of power in Afghanistan by the Taliban has substantially changed the geopolitics of the region. What will be the likely impact of this change on India and what are the policy options available with India?

Approach:

  • Introduce by giving a brief overview of Afghanistan and its location. (30 Words)
  • Briefly enumerate the changing scenario in Afghanistan. (40 Words)
  • Enumerate the impact this change will have on India (70 Words)
  • Enumerate policy options that India has. (80 Words)
  • Conclusion (30 Words)

Hints:

Afghanistan is a landlocked country, on the crossroads of Central and South Asia. It is of particular importance to India, due to its strategic location for trade with Central Asian countries.

Changing scenario in Afghanistan

  • The USA came to Afghanistan in 2001, after the 09/11 attack on twin towers in the USA. It came with the objective of eliminating terrorists in the country.
  • As the USA’s policy is now shifting to East Asia (Pivot to Asia), due to the emergence of China, it decided to leave Afghanistan and end the long drawn 20 years war.
  • As the USA left, the Taliban swiftly brought the country under its control and now has formed a Government in Afghanistan.

Impact on India:

  • The withdrawal of the US alters the balance of power in favour of the Taliban, which will have strategic, security and political implications for India, like
  • Investment: India has a major stake in the stability of Afghanistan. India has invested considerable resources in Afghanistan's development.
  • Taliban supported by Pakistan: An increased political and military role for the Taliban and the expansion of its territorial control should be of great concern to India since the Taliban is widely believed to be a protégé of Islamabad.
  • Connectivity to Central Asia: As Afghanistan is the gateway to Central Asia, the deal might dampen India’s interest in Central Asia.
  • Terrorist Outfits: Withdrawal of US troops could result in the breeding of fertile ground for various anti-India terrorist outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jaish-e-Mohammed.
  • Leverage to Pakistani establishment
  • Refugee crisis

Policy options with India:

  • Talking with the Taliban: Talking to Taliban would allow India to seek security guarantees from the insurgents in return for continued development assistance or other pledges as well as explore the possibility of the Taliban’s autonomy from Pakistan.

At this point, talking to the Taliban looks inevitable. But India should not overlook the deep ties between Pakistan’s security establishment and the Haqqani Network, a major faction within the Taliban.

  • Regional solution: There is a convergence of interests between India and three key regional players — China, Russia and Iran — in seeing a political settlement in Afghanistan.

None of these countries would like to see the Taliban letting terrorist groups settle on its territory.

Thus, there is a need for cooperation from like minded countries on this front.

  • Short Term and Long Term Goal: India’s immediate goal should be the safety and security of its personnel and investments.

The long-term goal should be finding a political solution to the crisis. None of this can be achieved unless it works together with the regional powers.

  • Russian Support: Russia has cultivated links with the Taliban in recent years. India would need Russia’s support in any form of direct engagement with the Taliban.
  • Significance of Iran: Iran shares a long border with Afghanistan and has close resemblance of ethnic minorities.

The original objective of India’s Chabahar project in Iran was to create a direct access to Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.

This direct access is critical for India in all different scenarios — move supplies to Afghanistan in larger quantities, retain its presence in the event of a civil war or carry out covert operations if the Taliban take power by force.

However, the US's pressure on India is a roadblock in good relations between the two countries.

  • Bonhomie with China: India should talk with China, with the objective of finding a political settlement and lasting stability in Afghanistan.

Conclusion

An independent, sovereign, democratic, pluralistic and inclusive Afghanistan is crucial for peace and stability in the region. But India also needs to accept that the Taliban is a reality in Afghanistan. India should find a balanced approach to deal with Afghanistan in collaboration with Russia and Iran, such that its twin objectives of national security and peaceful Afghanistan are achieved.

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