Always a rule-maker (Hindu Summary-13th March 2018)

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Always a rule-maker

The Hindu

Context:

  • This is about the, inaugural International Solar Alliance (ISA) summit underlines India’s place in the new world order.
  • Global equitable sustainable development, which is the basis of the ISA, suggests a ‘third’ way to the inequality and environmental damage characterising the current U.S. and China-led models.

About ISA:

  • This vision follows from India’s call for ‘climate justice’, which reframes climate change as a social and not a physical problem.
  • The shift fills the gap in the thrust of the ‘Chinese dream’ and ‘America first’, both of which ignore sustainable development.
  • The challenge for India is to take advantage of global trends and push infrastructure, e-commerce, human capital and technology development to position itself in the emerging global economic triumvirate, which must operate within global ecological limits, and as a cyber global power.
  • India should now give primacy to rules that will chart a path for its own sustainable prosperity rather than seek congruent interests.

Jointly shaping new rules:

  • India and China have together been questioning the injustice of current global rules. They, along with other BRICS members, set up the BRICS Development Bank and established the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement.
  • In 2015, China launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank of which India is the second largest shareholder.
  • The RCEP, dominated by China and India, avoids rules on labour, environment and intellectual property rights espoused by the U.S., the European Union, and Japan.
  • New opportunities are emerging with Beijing’s willingness to discuss Delhi’s concerns about Pakistan and the BRI.
  • The aim should be to demarcate the border, a colonial legacy, and for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation to develop Asia-specific rules for non-aggression to institutionalise China’s stated support for non-hierarchical relations.

Maritime trade routes:

  • Indian Ocean trade routes, which have always connected the east and west, are an expanding conduits for half the world’s container traffic, one-third of bulk cargo transport, and nearly two-thirds of global maritime oil trade.
  • The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea was designed to maintain public order at sea, but is inadequate for current needs. A U.S. withdrawing from economic multilateralism needs India to shore up its strategic influence in Asia.
  • China is wary of India’s security understanding with ASEAN as it negotiates a Code of Conduct to meet challenges to its ‘Nine-Dash Line’.

Way forward:

  • In 2018, India will have to make hard choices. It will need to strike a balance between being a part of the Quad and partnering with Russia and China, as they are now considered the biggest threat by the U.S.
  • India should work with China to jointly set the new multilateral rules. Part of this dynamics is being played out in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), where India must consider longer-term and not immediate interests.