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The Colliding Visions of Modernity in a Multi-polar Realpolitik and India’s Evolving Dynamics

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

Modernity is quite distinct from antiquity. Its wholesome anticipation and transformation as a way of life has transcended from the North Atlantic to various civilisational societies across the world. The receipt of ideals, tools, ethical considerations and components of modernity in societies and governments had its own set of phases, two of which in the 20th century are obviously visible –end of the Cold War and the early days of the United Nations.

Now, it is obvious to point out the Eurocentric and Americophile origins of modernity to provide genuine criticism of several policies and actions that Western powers have been accountable for. However, looking at modernity with an alternative viewpoint has become necessary in the 21st century, since we are entering into a phase of academic scholarship in social sciences (not necessarily international relations), which may affect the way we look at modernity. This phase is usually referred to as a post-modern phase of human life (the genesis behind postmodernism), in different forms and tones across research and fictional contributions developed. A larger contribution to postmodernism is indebted to the Anglo-Saxon school of socio-political thinkers, whereas decoloniality, a sister political ideology to postmodernism is indebted to the works of Latin American scholars of politics, society and history, in the 21st century.

Interestingly, when the Cold War period had subsumed, we saw in the coming decades the rise of knock-offs or let us say, more adaptive visions of modernity in many spheres of life, adopted by various countries across the world. Although we usually credit the role of these “shades” of Modernity, be it related to legal systems, food culture, intellectual property issues, music, business development, etc., to the “West” in a colloquial sense, we tend to forget the core characteristic of modernity – mobility. Societies, cults, politicians, lawyers, analysts, and others who are integral to a modern “nation-state” generally adopt means of mobility, which help them grow and sustain, in their own forms and terms. We usually take the arguments made by Samuel Huntington in his book, The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of the World Order (1996), and limit the role of modernity to soft power, we never realise that in the realm of international relations, the way societies and thinkers mobilise, is all-comprehensive, properly catering to standards of evolution and cultural ingenuity.

A classic, common-sense example could be India’s ties with Israel and the US. With the United States, as the legacy of the Non-Aligned Movement fades, the way India now engages with the US is explorative, and central to creating hedged opportunities and counter-dependencies in the realpolitik. The relationship with Israel also reflects India’s explorative concerns, with a twist due to the significance of the West Asian geography. By nature, it is visible that countries are bending and transforming the rules of engagement and shaping their polities and societies in a three-tier way (as always) – domestic, global and local.

In this article, it is explored how a certain group of countries develop their own visions of modernity in critical spheres of human life, how they collide amidst the dilemmas of the realpolitik, and India’s evolving position in a multi-polar world, in that regard.

The Modern and the Post-Modern

A proper theorisation of some points is necessary to further the arguments in the article. Henceforth, the article addresses the following questions related to the role of modernity in international relations:

  • On what basis does modernity seek postmodernism & decoloniality as a transitory ideologies? Do these ideologies seek mobility?

  • How the trajectory of modernity is furthered to create and cultivate alternate visions of modernity at a global scale? What does this indicate?

  • Why & how do visions of modernity generally collide? Is this phenomenon a driver of change?

  • What is India’s evolving position on the transition stage of modernity in a multipolar world?

Now, there are 4 key idea frames or ideologies, which form the basis of the critical enquiry raised against the very concept of modernity. The idea frames are described as follows:

  • Modernity as coloniality (from the proposition that modernity is used as a means to colonise populations)

  • Post-coloniality (a thinking mechanism proposing a critical perspective to societies afflicted by colonialism without acknowledging the quantitative and limited role of colonialism)

  • Post-modernity (a thinking mechanism proposing a critical perspective to modernity and the modern way of life, on a definitive basis, claiming it to be colonial, yet claiming the heritage of the bi-products and contributions of modernity)

  • Decoloniality (a thinking mechanism proposing similar critical perspectives and making similar claims by proposing “nativist” claims to modern contributions; has more relations to the political and cultural decolonisation theories in social sciences)

To be clear, modernity has imperial (and colonial) origins in certain ways. There is acknowledgement that the reactionary and self-centred aspects of modernity has reflections in the way various social thinkers have looked upon non-Western societies and civilisations for long, which includes thinkers such as Emmanuel Kant, Karl Marx, George Bernard Shaw, and many more. In fact, there are surgical ways to approach such anomalies because we see such dilemmas even in the field of international law, where the concept of “civilised states” and “standard of civilisation” sought change or were rendered dysfunctional in a real-time scenario. If we look at the rest of the conceptions, it is necessary to understand their merits and drawbacks as well.

Now, all of them – post-coloniality, post-modernity and decoloniality are “detoxifying” ideologies, which can be used in such a way that critical instincts can be generated to address systemic flaws in modernity, be it in any sphere. However, there are limits to how modernity addresses such problems. Unfortunately, these three ideologies have no limits and beyond providing critical perspectives, they either lead us to bear with reductionist approaches which are counterproductive and dysfunctional in purpose or are too much ossified in their outcome perspectives. In both the cases, we see the tendency that mobility is lost, which, in scholarly terms, is problematic. Nevertheless, this tendency of “no limits” actually comes from the way North Atlantic countries have approached and shaped modernity per se.

The best example that could be taken into regard is the US Foreign Policy since the Cold War. There is no doubt that a lot of contributions to American international law are structuralist, partly inspired by European international law scholarship. However, while thinkers in France, Germany, Italy and Central Europe have had an adaptive approach, the revanchist tendency of the US policymakers and leaders pushed the boundaries too far, without circling back on the consequential aspects of their actions, policies, ideological stuntedness and lack of vision. In short, it may matter what is actually being done, and what reasoning backs the actions per se. However, beyond actions and reasons, the functionality and processing of such actions and reasons in a trajectory, by all means – shape – and form the essence of foreseeing risks further. The United States in this case, being liberal and limitedly constructivist, has to ask how will it approach its own functional truths, consequences and risks with time. It is also important to understand that actions do not happen in silos anymore, and their impact may have multi-sector, multi-domain implications.

Furthering the example of US Foreign Policy itself, let us ponder upon the transformation and transcendence of modernity across the world. Now, there are several aspects of modernity which are evolutionary as well, which could be adopted by societies across the world. India has too adopted certain aspects of modernity, for example. Nevertheless, understanding how such diverse modern visions develop begins from tracing the way Western countries look at the Orient. The outlook, by definition would begin with a confirmation bias angle, which could have been a case for any civilisation state (for example, China’s vision of UN reforms and the USSR’s approach to international law). When you already compensate within the frame of your own bias or assumptions (which has its own reasons), to engage with the Orient, the Orient may adapt with some aspects of your life. It does not necessarily translate to this notion that “everything foreign has to be strictly agreed with”.

Even if countries commit to something like this, it just never happens. After the USSR’s demise (for example), the Chinese Communist Party’s outlook on Marxism, for sure, has a China-centric outlook, which cannot be ignored. Looking inversely, Japan, being so close to the United States in the erstwhile Asia-Pacific (now Indo-Pacific) – despite internalising many American modern approaches to governance and life, has shaped its own East Asian and Japanese paradigms. The reason is simple – mobility is not a monolith in action. Expecting societies to become monolithic or robotic is a futile way to look at modernity and its evolutionary nature.

Transforming “Modernities”, Colluding Realities

Quoting Ambassador Shivshankar Menon’s views published in Foreign Policy on the Multi-polar world is necessary to expand forward:

[A]s the old order disintegrates and the new one struggles to be born, the advantage lies with states that clearly understand the balance of forces and have a conception of a cooperative future order that serves the common good. Unfortunately, the capacities of many major powers have diminished, and many of their leaders exhibit little interest in foreign affairs, managing crises, or solving transnational problems, precisely when widespread revisionism makes crises more likely and dangerous.

When the Cold War ended, and we entered into the 21st century, we saw a time when capacities from a resource-based perspective lost its charm to be dominant. It simply means that the world is not shaped by a few sectors, powers and leaders anymore. For example, we cannot compare to the origins of the European Coal and Steel Community with the technology jurisprudence the European Union has invoked in the Digital Markets Act, the AI Act and other tech legislations. Why? Beyond the point that these events and concepts involved are different, the anatomy of approach by design is different. In the former case, very few sectors could matter, while in the latter case, it seems that technology regulations by virtue are all-comprehensive that they’d rather cover as many sectors as possible. Interconnectedness, sometimes is a liability, or also a driver of receding capacities.

Nevertheless, nearly every major power and middle power has to question their foreign policy goals. Yes, geography does not lose its shine and prestige in the realpolitik. The problems we observe these days in a multi-polar world have to do with the conflicting notions of modernity, which bear their own fruit. These are some of the most important trends, as countries across the world, major powers or middle powers – are following through:

  • A Multipolar World has two extremes – one, where natural anarchy exists, and the other, where artificial anarchy or dysfunctionality is negligibly different from natural anarchy. It may be a cycle or a horseshoe-like loop as well. Unipolarity, bipolarity etc., are ethereal states which may become dominant or relevant to become insubordinate to any of the two extremes for a period.

  • At a global level, beyond the reach of US Foreign Policy tendencies, countries across the world are learning and unlearning the realities of the multi-polar world as we know.

  • The multilateral institutions that lead the rules-based international order are becoming shapeshifters, by either rendering their value to be dysfunctional, or enhancing their biding potential and capacities to the minimal level possible.

  • Ideology is no longer the driver of human progression. Technology and self-regulation are trying to replace the role of ideology, but adaptive outlooks, for sure are creating a cavity between ideology and tech & self-regulation’s worse formulations & animations. Every middle power and major power is addressing these questions.

Considering these trends, let us relate to the academic debates regarding the construct of “Pax Sinica” as opposed to “Pax Americana” and “Pax Britannia”. Samir Saran and Akhil Deo, in their book “Pax Sinica: Implications for the Indian Dawn(p. 188), discuss the relevance of the Indo-Pacific taking into light China’s ambitions as a global power:

[C]hina’s expansive geopolitical ambition has naturally given rise to opposition from others. As a self-described leading power, India was the first to vocalize discontent with the BRI and thereby set the template for the other critics that have emerged. From this growing global pushback against China’s geopolitical ambitions, a new conceptualization for Asia has emerged: the Indo-Pacific. While this was initially an American construct, India is undoubtedly one of the lynchpins of this new geography. The framing of this political geography is different from the imagined Asian century. The Indo-Pacific construct is driven by contest, conflict and competition, along with some cooperation to mitigate these adverse developments.

As rightly stated by the authors, the Indo-Pacific concept was a West-dominated, or America-dominated concept. Now, it has become a truly Indian conception with its own nuance and purpose. The “new geography” is important not just because there is a Chinese threat per se. This new geography, beyond China, also resembles a change in vision and perspective of Asian leadership, in many ways possible. The Asia-Pacific conception was always led by China and Japan, keeping some so-called “ASEAN-centrality”. The interesting change, which lies here is that Japan and ASEAN member-states have pivoted their Asiatic focus towards India and the Indian Ocean region. However, India has big shoes to fill, simply because it is not just about being a shapeshifter to balance Pax Americana and China. The Indo-Pacific, in my view, represents a rechanging, rekindling pathway to human transcendence in multiple sectors and perspectives, at the heart of which, we find India per se. The American viewpoints, biases, centres of influence and values, for sure would cast a shadow upon India’s Indo-Pacific approaches in many sectors and perspectives, undeniably. What should interest scholars is how will India approach modernity different from the rest of the world. This example, of the Indo-Pacific, is very similar to a new construct which Mohammad Soleiman, usually proposes – the Indo-Abrahamic construct. Here is an excerpt from his article on the “Indo-Abrahamic Alliance” entitled An Indo-Abrahamic alliance on the rise: How India, Israel, and the UAE are creating a new transregional order published by the Middle East Institute:

[T]he size, power, and influence of the Indo-Abrahamic states — India, Israel, and the UAE — have the potential to transform the region's geopolitics and geoeconomics. The multilateral dynamics have been taking shape over the past few years, but accelerated rapidly in 2020 with the Abraham Accords normalization agreements, Turkey’s pursuit of a more aggressive foreign policy, and the growing distance between Pakistan and the UAE. Although the three powers still have not embraced the grouping as a formal geopolitical bloc, an Indo-Abrahamic strategic dialogue is a close possibility. For instance, Greece has called for establishing a trilateral dialogue with India and the UAE, and it seems likely that this could be expanded to include Israel in the future given its integral role in Greece’s posture in the eastern Mediterranean. While geopolitics may be the primary reason for such an unprecedented transregional pact, the geoeconomic aspect should not be underestimated either.

Another mark of flexibility and importance, which can be taken into regard, could be seen in the Indo-Pacific strategies adopted by France and Australia. Both of them are a part of the Pax Americana and one of them is a Five Eyes Alliance country. However, their India engagement, central to the Indo-Pacific region is much more productive as compared to those of the United States and the European Union. Robert Kaplan in A Homeric Age of Statesmanship for the Wall Street Journal explains the counterproductive traits of the current US Foreign Policy:

[M]essrs. Kissinger, Shultz and Baker rose to their positions within a context of general intellectual seriousness. That culture has been absent for decades, owing in part to something Mr. Kissinger identifies in his most recent book, “Leadership.” Universities, he writes, produce only “activists and technicians,” who because of their particular obsessions lack in general wisdom. They have turned their obsessions into an ideology, with little regard for the national interest as millions of Americans understand it. They equate talk of geopolitics with cynicism, which explains the Biden administration’s downgrading of morally imperfect but otherwise vital allies such as Saudi Arabia and Singapore. The hair-splitting philosophical and technocratic culture of Washington also contributes to America’s foreign-policy decline. This, again, can be traced to the universities. What distinguishes Messrs. Kissinger, Shultz and Baker as a group are that it’s impossible to label them according to today’s rigid ideological standards. They were all realists but of an extremely elastic and internationalist kind that is missing from post-Cold War realism — which erroneously puts “restraint” on a pedestal.

Now, be it the efforts of the Mediterranean countries, the countries who have acceded to or have interest in the Abraham Accords (hereinafter Abraham Accord countries) and the Indo-Pacific powers, we all see a trend that most of the players (or key countries) including India are middle powers. It means that these middle powers are neither too much power-absorbent nor revanchist like the United States, Russia and China. Their tendencies are flexible and some of them might be a part of various blocs and minilateral arrangements. They do not have an ideologically blunt approach to diplomacy and engagement, which makes them consistently reasonable. Considering the Ukraine-Russia situation, the blip that happened between China and Taiwan recently, and some happenings in Armenia on Nagorno-Karabakh & the Gulf on oil prices, it could be a case that much of the offerings that countries can provide among themselves could be affected by how the Chinese, the Russians and the Americans pursue their actions. The middle powers, incidentally, in many ways, also resemble a factionless group of countries, which seek mutual global stability.

Interestingly, it is these countries, who are seeking alternative modern approaches to life, governance, geopolitics and geoeconomics. Amidst the presence of India and the middle powers, we also see bloc/faction countries such as Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Russia, Venezuela and others, whose hard line approach may be reasonable from a security and socio-protectionist outlook. However, their conjuring actions could not lead to sustainability as they wish to seek. Nevertheless, even the United States, Germany, Canada and Belgium could make these mistakes in the finance, socio-cultural, technology and economic outlooks, which is why middle powers and multi-alignment have importance in the realpolitik. A list of modern approaches to global governance (or modernities) is depicted:

  • Major Powers: United States’s “Build Back Better”, European Union’s “The New European Bauhaus” and China’s “dual circulation”

  • Middle Powers: India’s “Atmanirbhar Bharata”, Japan’s “Reiwa Era” vision on the outlines of their former PM Shinzo Abe and Gulf countries (including Israel)’s “Abraham Accords” model

All these conceptual visions which these powers seek, resemble that they intend to create strategic moats. A strategic moat, in simple terms is defined (for the purposes of this article) as follows:

A Strategic Moat is a space in any dimension or perspective of human reality, in which you work on any process or practice, in order to transform it, in the ways required or necessary.

In short, strategic moats are like the spaces where you create something, in order to cultivate them. Since, the realisation of a multi-polar world is still in its growing stage, among many middle powers, including India and major powers, including the US and China, it is important to discern that the renewal & metamorphosis of the “rules-based” world order and the emergence of new omnipotent and omnipresent arenas of conflict & development economies will transform the modern approaches of life, governance, geopolitics, sustainability, and many more areas of importance. It would not be an easy process because we are seeing trends such as disrupted supply chains, dysfunctional solutions on climate governance and financing and declining trust in the global financial institutions. Countries across the world are yet to learn that it is never about what is predictable or absolutely foreseeable or even what is controlled to be foreseen or actualised. Global stability and common good, beyond the traditional economics of war & development, in this modern world must embrace what processes they learn, why they adapt and grow.

India and Modernity: A Dynamic, Unpacked Indo-Pacific Power

To begin with the concluding part of this article, let us take into consideration this excerpt of a report I had co-authored for Global Law Assembly on India’s Indo-Pacific approach for reference:

India’s foreign policy reflects certainly bemused and dislocated power and competence projections. Yet, it is clear that while the Union Government might still claim that India abides by the principles of non-alignment, it can still transform its risk-centric multi-alignment tendency, by all means. Multi-alignment is not a political ideology, but a clear policy ethic, which governments can use to shape their core interests and capacities with time.

However, it is worth acknowledging that beyond the clarion calls of becoming a “Vishwaguru”, “Atmanirbhar” country and many other things, India, like many post-colonial states and societies – is somebody whose compatible and versatile presence in the realpolitik, from a socio-historical and socio-economic outlook, is underrated. Part of it could be blamed to the era of British colonialism, which again is not much substantive anymore. Another part of it, largely and rightfully could be pivoted to the incompetence of the Indian political and social thinkers and class, who could not go beyond Chanakya and Vivekananda’s visions of India to create the better ideas across several domains. It is not that India lacked that groupthink. We have had a history of diverse thinkers and knowledge systems (not just in the ancient times but also) in the medieval and colonial times. For example, Radhabinod Pal, a former member of the UN International Law Commission from India, who had participated in the bench to hold the historic Tokyo Trials, was an intriguing example in many ways. Ashis Nandy explains in his article entitled “The Strange Case of Radhabinod Pal's Judgment on Culpability”, (p. 65) his juristic angle, (which I may politely disagree with to an extent) as follows:

[H]ence Pal's judgment at Tokyo refers to the use of nuclear weapons and the firebombing of Japanese cities by the Allied powers, and offsets these acts against the accusations of immoral disregard for civil lives in the Japanese wartime leadership. Pal points out the larger political and economic forces released by the nation-state system, by modern warfare, by the dominant philosophy of international diplomacy, and by the West's racial attitude to Japan, all of which helped produce the political response of the accused. The West had to acknowledge that wartime Japan wanted to beat the West at its own game, that a significant part of Japanese imperialism was only a reflection of the West's disowned self. Like Aime Cesaire, who traced Nazi racism and violence to attempts to try out within Europe what Europe's colonial experiments in the non-European world had "legitimately" done over the centuries to its colonial subjects, Radhabinod Pal set the Japanese imperial guilt in this century in a larger global context. If the accused were guilty, the plaintiffs were guilty too.

This excerpt clearly explains some interesting tendencies of an average Indian thinker. One of the attitudes, for sure, is the anti-colonial sentiment against the British Raj, which makes considerable sense and justification. The second attitude could interest more, where we clearly see Pal contextualizing the political response of Japan, as a “reflection” of the modern self that the West according to Nandy, has “disowned”. Well, the merits of this understanding can be questioned, because it is not so absolutist as it is assumed. This shows that Pal’s outlook of modernity and tracing down political motivations, in the language of international law, is far-reaching. Now, a populist view towards such an understanding with biases would claim that Pal might have been some sort of an anti-colonialist or his views are so “resonating”. The part where Dharma and the concept of Dharma-sankata guides this “far-reaching” outlook is usually ignored by the milieu (sometimes even by several politicians and lawyers), which is not appropriate. Interestingly, Pal in his Dissenting Judgment on the Tokyo Trials, quoting Hans Kelsen, an international law jurist, states something intriguing:

[I] feel tempted in this connection to quote the views of Professor Hans Kelsen of the University of California which may have the effect of turning our eyes to one particular side of the picture likely to be lost sight of in a "floodlit court house where only one thing is made to stand out clear for all men to see, namely that the moral conscience of the world is there reasserting the moral dignity of the human race". […] The learned Professor says: "It is the jurisdiction of the victorious states over the war criminals of the enemy which the Three Power Declaration signed in Moscow demands […] But after the war will be over our minds will be open again to the consideration that criminal jurisdiction exercised by the injured states over enemy subjects is considered by the peoples of the delinquents as vengeance rather than justice, and is consequently not the best means to guarantee the future peace. The punishment of war criminals should be an act of international justice, not the satisfaction of a thirst for revenge. It does not quite comply with the idea of international justice that only the vanquished states are obliged to surrender their own subjects to the jurisdiction of an international tribunal for the punishment of war crimes. The victorious states too should be willing to transfer their jurisdiction over their own subjects who have offended the laws of warfare to the same independent and impartial international tribunal."

This excerpt clearly explains Radhabinod Pal’s excellent commitment to the field of international law, and his far-reaching outlook as to what is a rather honest purpose of international criminal law, properly. Another excerpt explains his understanding of the Hindu philosophy and its leaps and bounds, when taken into the modern law context in The History of Hindu Law in the Vedic Age and Post-Vedic Times Down to the Institutes of Manu (Calcutta, 1959), p. 447:

This view of human society however, did not ignore what we now call the material context of law law affiliated with human purpose and human benefit. […] Indeed these Rishis, while viewing law as of divine origin, conceive of it as the product not of "divine will" but of "divine reason", divine essence. "Divine will" might present itself as inscrutable, as arbitrary and beyond human understanding. "Divine reason" is not so.

In reality, we are aware that India is a unique position as an Indo-Pacific power. The significance of New Delhi is set to grow and improve with time, simply because their diplomatic capital is set to increase with time. The political economy would be used to create strategic and tactical fault lines. However, India’s multi-alignment tendency will benefit its growth in multiple sectors. There is a good chance for the Union Government to learn from the development trajectories of Israel, Singapore, UAE, Japan, Greece, France and other countries, who could become multi-aligned in future. Capacity-building in the case of India is gradualist, and it is a regular trend that India’s foreign policy approach invests in strategic hedging to transform its strategic autonomy (which of course is not a monolith). Now, there are some serious challenges ahead for India, because as a multi-aligned power, some questions still persist:

  • How will India shape global values and multilateral institutions?

  • How will India cultivate the trajectory of its US and Russia ties?

  • What are the values that India can offer to the world? And in what constructive ways?

  • How will India perceive modernity and the evolution of human societies?

These questions may seem utopian and not paradigmatic. However, these are the exact questions which the USSR and the US once had to face. Even China had to face these hard realities. Let us address these questions swiftly.

The first and second questions can be answered by looking at India’s policy ethic and skills. For sure, New Delhi is not equivalent to the US and China. Their diplomatic strength is being a periphery to key development, confidence-building and negotiation measures, if the substantive value is established. India can be a nodal power in its own language of dynamic neutrality, to avoid being a vassal ally or partner of any country, be it Russia or the United States. If we look at the Russia relationship, it is not limited to defence technology. It has roads to Central Asia, where India’s relations with Iran and CSTO member states shapes New Delhi’s security equation. The US relationship also involves security and intelligence (for example, during the situation in Galwan in June 2020). However, the Americans have effective soft power ties and there is a mutual bond which is built on an asymmetry of dependencies and counter-dependencies between India and the US. Similar could be said for the UK-India partnership in many ways. Here is an excerpt from the document entitled CABLE FROM THE CHINESE EMBASSY IN INDIA, 'OVERVIEW OF INDIA’S FOREIGN RELATIONS IN 1961, made publicly available by the Wilson Center:

[T]here have been extremely clear revelations of the growing rightist and reactionary tendency of India’s ruling circle in India’s foreign relations over the past year. Indian monopoly capitalists’ dependence on American monopoly capitalists grows deeper by the day. […] India is more brazenly wooing and influencing the Soviet Union and dividing the socialist camp; this kind of tactic both serves the needs of international anti-Communism and is intended to isolate and attack China. […] India employs all kinds of shameless tactics to sabotage anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist struggles, and there have also been new developments in its tendency toward foreign expansion; it especially seeks to use the approach of depending on US and expanding in Asia & Africa. […] When the American imperialists’ armed invasion of Cuba met with universal condemnation, Nehru alone maintained a shameful silence; [he] only made a few vague complaints about US after...then immediately corrected himself and said India cannot judge “who’s right and who’s wrong” […] The value of India — this big country sporting a non-aligned label — to America, has already surpassed that of ally Pakistan, which joined the military bloc. The Kennedy government has a policy of favoring India over Pakistan in Indo-Pakistani relations.

In an article on the Ukraine-Russia situation entitled Kyiv Calling Bandung: Non-Alignment’s Truant Politics, Swapna Kona Nayadu explains (and proposes) the purposive aspect of non-aligned radicalism (theoretically) which could also explain the benefits and constraints attributable to the South Block in New Delhi on their foreign policy avenues:

[T]he Russian invasion of Ukraine has somewhat disturbed this progressivist line of non-aligned political thought and could revive the era of non-aligned radicalism. Indeed, if non-aligned politics is to develop new modes of anti-imperialist critique going forward, non-aligned nations have no choice but to advocate for Ukraine’s right to self-determination, and particularly for negotiations on Ukrainian neutrality. Russian denial of Ukrainian voices speaking their own histories of oppression and trauma in the Soviet space is a colonial move. Similarly, and especially in the Eastern European context, American internationalism minimises democracy, pluralism and freedom when it doesn’t fit a circumscribed European or Western mould. Non-aligned politics has a legacy of provincializing both Russian and American narratives. It must extend its active support to post-Soviet actors.

It can be stated that the United States, Russia and China, have still not completely figured out their trajectories in the multi-polar world, especially in the case of the rules-based international order. India has a long-run opportunity to shape its positions by mitigating the ideological, political and diplomatic extremes of the US, European Union, Russia and China, while mediating through the same extremes of bloc powers such as Canada, Iran and others, gradually. Relations have been developed at a good pace, under the leadership of Dr S Jaishankar, with consistency, so this could be helpful. On the third question, it is obvious that Dharma has a major role to play in justifying India’s actions, excess or sufficient as they seem. Passing off the political economy’s rhetoric in India, because the rhetoric is populist, like in any major democracy across the world, the human and social element of Dharma for sure would inspire India’s domestic & foreign policy agendas with a soft touch, to build trust and pathways towards strategic hedging. There is no puritan approach involved. However, individual motivations and gaining social and governance mobility would surely modify the ethical stimulation of Dharma into the values that could become international, day by day. Balaji Srinivasan, investor and former CTO of Coinbase had once coined the term, International India, on which he had tweeted long back:

[O]ne of the most surprising things over the last 40 years has been watching India become more like the old America and vice versa. It’s the US that’s now filled with many smart people who just can’t get it together as a nation. And India that is on the civilizational ascent.

The fourth question is not so complex to answer. One of the approaches which we see is this curiosity of the Union Government in the Indian Knowledge Systems. However, it would not be productive if Indians as people, companies and institutions do not invest and create innovation solutions and economies. There are immense possibilities to this, and India for sure must seek policy indigeneity. It would be crucial to ask as to what functional truths will Indians and India adopt, and shape with time. It would be necessary to ask what choices and consequences are accepted, and why. Ossification has never helped a civilisation state like India, and reductionism, after experiencing from China and the Anglosphere, could be a good experience for Indians to confront visions of modernity. Beyond intellectual enquiry, entrepreneurial zeal and curiosity will shape India’s modernity visions, largely. Those visions may collide with those of Europe, West Asia and even Africa. However, India’s leadership will bring prosperity, strength and stability to the humankind, in every way, in the coming decades, considering the Indo-Pacific construct.


The opinions expressed in the articles published by The Bharat Pacific, are those of the authors (including our editors). They do not reflect the opinions or views of the Indian Society of Artificial Intelligence and Law Charitable Trust or its members.

The Indian Society of Artificial Intelligence and Law is a technology law research organisation founded by Abhivardhan in 2018. Our mission is to promote responsible development of artificial intelligence and its standardisation in India.


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