CONTEXT: The recent upheaval over AUKUS — the trilateral security pact between Australia, UK and USA, announced on September 15, 2021 — has disclosed the problems of group diplomacy.
THE SAARC- DILEMMA FOR INDIA BEFORE JOINING IT:
- That not joining the forum would appear as if India was against regional cooperation
- If joined, they may face their neighbours grouping up and using the SAARC to pressure India on various regional issues
- Such proposers may be suspected of aspiring to be regional leaders.
SAARC has become almost like a liability for India as the region was not mature enough to have a regional intermediary.
Today, the world has a number of groupings including:
- European Union
- African Union
- North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
- From G-2 to a real G-77, number of such groupings
WHY SUCH GROUPINGS ARE NOT USEFUL AND PRODUCTIVE?
- The time, money and energy spent on summoning the summits and a whole paraphernalia of ministerial, official and expert level meetings do not seem justified.
- Many among them do not have regional, ideological or thematic homogeneity to lend them a reason for forming a group.
- Bureaucracies, with United Nations salaries and perks, grow around these bodies, developing vested interests to perpetuate them.
- Such groups which do not have “sunset” clauses continue even after losing their importance
- Finding the agenda for such organisations and groups is again a difficult exercise.
For Example- The growing agenda of the United Nations includes everything from peace on earth to celestial bodies and even UFOs.
The rationale of some of the other new groups was unclear even when they were formed.
BRICS- it was feared that it would be an anti-American group -As expected. China established a bank, with the possibility of credit for its members . This development undermined the relevance of group of India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA), having several common interests like UN reforms, South-South cooperation etc.
Different STANDS in recent summits:-
On Afghanistan, in recent BRICS Summit– Russia and China were more sympathetic to the Taliban than the others.
AT SCO SUMMIT:- At the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, the SCO started off as a friendly group of China and some of the former Republics of the Soviet Union, but with India, Pakistan and Iran, it became a diverse group and no agreement could be reached.
India and other groupings
- The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC): Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand. The group remained dormant for many years till it was revived a few years ago as an alternative to SAARC.
- Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)- It also drags on without any significant progress.
- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)- NO great success so far
- QUAD and AUKUS– no great achievement so far
- In the process of working with the U.S. on Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), NSG, the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group, It ended up with membership of Wassenaar and the Australia Group, in which India was not interested.
India did not take Quad seriously till the Chinese threat became real in 2020, but New Delhi’s Ignorance led U.S. to form new alliances like a second Quad and then AUKUS to fortify itself with allies against China.
The reaction of France to AUKUS has raised the issue of loyalty among allies even after making it clear that it was meant only to enable the U.S. to transfer nuclear propelled submarine technology to Australia.
The multiplications of many alliances and groupings should be a matter of close inspection and research by many countries as per the latest trend initiated by the U.S.
India should also reconsider the abundance of groupings it has and rationalise them after a reality check, to get fruitful results and the required goals.