India's Host of Friends
Writing for India’s The Telegraph, Kanwal Sibal, a former foreign secretary of India and member of EWI’s board of directors, discusses India’s need for balanced relationships between the U.S., France, Russia and China.
“India’s ‘strategic relationship’ with each of these countries requires tending,” states Sibal.
Sibal discusses the formation of the India-France relationship after India’s 1998 nuclear tests: “France sensed the opportunity that had emerged to forge a strategic relationship with an independent-minded country that could be a partner in promoting multipolarity as a response to U.S. unilateralism.”
The India-Russia relationship, which had drifted during the Yeltsin years, was renewed under Putin: “Putin saw the strategic need for Russia to restore its traditional ties with India as part of a more balanced foreign policy that reflected Russia’s Asia dimension.”
The India-U.S. relationship is complicated by nuclear weapons, U.S. arms supplies to Pakistan, and the growing economic interdependence between the U.S. and China. Despite many shared values such as democracy, religious tolerance and respect for human rights, “the burden of responsibility to eliminate the negative elements from the India-U.S. relationship still remains with the U.S.,” Sibal claims.
Sibal believes that Barack Obama should announce his support for India’s permanent membership to the Security Council during his upcoming visit, in order to strengthen the bilateral relationship.
Sibal concludes, “India would need to finely tune the balance of its defense ties with each of these strategic partners to ensure that all three contribute to India security optimally.”