BIMSTEC is of special importance to India as it is a crucial link between the Neighbourhood First and Act East policies. This almost 25 year old multilateral can contribute to the Indo-Pacific region by addressing challenges in strategic areas of regional connectivity, security cooperation, free trade, and geoeconomic ties with external partners.
The Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, held in Melbourne on February 11, revealed an ambitious plan for economic and developmental affairs, beyond the security concerns posed by China. Despite differing approaches towards Myanmar and Ukraine, the Quad countries are strengthening their cooperation while maintaining strategic autonomy.
The Quad Foreign Ministers' meeting held on February 11 is the latest example of growing geopolitical cooperation. Several loci of power have emerged, indicating the end of the post-Cold War western hegemony. China's rise and alliance with Russia hints at a bipolar tendency in this nascent global multipolarity. India must ensure power distribution in Asia by sharpening its diplomacy to achieve its own interest - true multipolarity in Asia.
It has been a year since the democratically elected Myanmar government was overthrown in a military coup. Since then, economic instability and the pandemic have taken a toll on the nation. ASEAN's mediatory endeavours and Western sanctions have shown limited results. New Delhi's diplomacy must support ASEAN, while remaining pragmatic and protecting its interests in the country.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla's visit to Myanmar has implications for New Delhi's recognition of the new military government in Naypyidaw. India can support ASEAN to stabilise Myanmar, while also checking Chinese influence in that country. For stability in the neighbourhood is crucial to India's own security.
Nine great powers and a number of important multilaterals have vested interests in the Indo-Pacific. Given the U.S.-China standoff in the region, the role of new groupings like the Quad and AUKUS is significant. The time is ripe for India to use its position in the region, and convert its humanitarian duties into economic and strategic opportunities in 2022.
Last month, an Indian delegation led by Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla, visited Myanmar and met with the military leadership. Bilateral discussions prioritised border security, economic cooperation and refugee issues. New Delhi must carefully balance its relations with Naypyitaw, with a dual focus on cross-border projects and restabilising democratic rule in the country.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla is on a crucial visit to Nyapitaw, meeting with the military government and opposition for the first time since the military coup this year. This is part of New Delhi's diplomatic agenda for Myanmar, which includes border management and striking a balance between strengthening democracy and supporting the military, amid dynamic regional geopolitics.
The expansion in membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is an opportunity to review, possibly revise and widen the scope of its Charter to make it more suited to address the concerns of all its members, including new ones like India. This paper recommends what the changes in the SCO Charter ought to be by comparing it with the successful ASEAN charter.
Now that the India-U.S. 2+2 meeting has ended, Indian officials are preparing for a hectic season of summiteering in November, from the SCO to the BRICS and the G20. All will give India global attention, and help the country prepare its positioning at home and abroad.