Outlines of a Multipolar World

NEW DELHI/BERLIN | | indien

NEW DELHI/BERLIN (Own report) - Berlin seeks to use Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's current visit to Germany to strengthen India's ties to the western camp in the West's struggle for global influence against Russia and China. Years ago, the Federal Republic of Germany had established a "Strategic Partnership" with this Southern Asian nation. This partnership will now to be reinforced, particularly at the economic level. Recently, New Delhi has expanded not only its cooperation with some of the western countries, but above all, it has strengthened its ties to Russia and China. India does not participate in the west-imposed sanctions on Moscow, but does participate in the foundation of global institutions - including the BRICS-Development Bank as well as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) - opposing the existing western hegemony. Western strategists' plans of pitting New Delhi against Beijing, to insure western global hegemony, have been unsuccessful so far. Berlin now seeks to relaunch the effort.

Reception in Germany

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his first visit to Germany with his participation in the opening ceremonies of the Hannover Messe, at which India is this year's "Partner Nation." Modi is accompanied by a business delegation of around 130 people. One of his objectives on this trip is to expand bilateral economic relations. Today, following a second appearance at the Hannover Messe, he will travel on to Berlin for talks with Germany's Minister of the Economy, Sigmar Gabriel and, tomorrow, with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Angela Merkel, who had already received him for dinner at the Messe yesterday, will then greet him with military honors at the Chancellery. Originally, Modi had planned his first visit to Berlin already for mid-July 2014, less than two months after coming to office. However, Merkel snubbed him. Instead of receiving India's Prime Minster on his stopover in Berlin, she chose to fly to Brazil for the FIFA World Cup finals. A spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi commented fretfully, he finds it "very interesting" that Germans are "not only football fans but are interested in linking it up with diplomacy."[1]

Jointly Against China?

During his first year of incumbency, Modis' foreign policy only partially complied with western aspirations. For years, western strategists have been trying to use the traditional rivalries between the two Asian powers, India and China, more or less to pit New Delhi against Beijing. Their efforts appeared to be bearing fruit, when the new Indian Prime Minister concluded comprehensive agreements with the government leaders of Japan and Australia in late summer 2014. With Tokyo, Modi agreed on intensifying cooperation in foreign and military policy and, particularly, on holding joint naval maneuvers designed to control Asian maritime routes. With the Australian Prime Minister, he also agreed to organize joint maritime war exercises.[2] A visit to India by US President Barack Obama, in late January of this year, attracted worldwide attention. Obama was received in New Delhi on "Republic Day," one of the three Indian national holidays. Both sides agreed to intensify significantly their economic cooperation as well as cooperation in the nuclear and arms industries. US observers were already speculating that the 2007 "quadrilateral security dialogue" may be resumed. At the time, the USA, Japan, Australia and India had launched close military cooperation and joint military exercises in the Bay of Bengal.[3] However, the project was buried after less than two years.

"India's Most Important Military Partner"

However, Modi's foreign policy is simultaneously pursuing opposite trends, as can be seen in his policy toward Russia. In spite of Berlin's pressure, New Delhi refuses to join in the sanctions against Russia imposed by Washington and Brussels. In a joint statement issued last December, during the Russian President's visit to India, Modi and Putin declared, "India and Russia oppose economic sanctions that do not have the approval of the United Nations Security Council."[4] The Indian government had not objected to Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov accompanying Vladimir Putin on his visit. Aksyonov was among the first persons placed on the West's sanctions list in March 2014. In the wings during Putin's visit, Aksyonov negotiated what is known as an "Indian Crimean Partnership" with Indian businesspersons. Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi agreed to expand their economic and nuclear cooperation and signed new arms deals. "We want to take this relation to the next level," declared India's Prime Minister. Regardless of its selective cooperation with the West, "Russia will remain our most important defence partner."[5]

"Strategic Coordination"

Modi's China policy is also in no way to the West's linking. Last September, he and Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China, agreed to expand Indian-Chinese economic relations. China is already India's most important trading partner. Indian companies will now have greater access to the Chinese market, for example, for pharmaceutical and agricultural products. Beijing will also help New Delhi renew its railway system and construct industrial parks. Chinese investments will reach about 20 billion US dollars over the next five years - significantly more than the ten billion Euros German companies had invested directly of indirectly in India until now. India and China will also cooperate closely in the field of civilian nuclear energy and aerospace. "As two important forces in a world that moves towards multipolarity, we need to become global partners having strategic coordination," the Chinese President wrote in an important Indian daily at the occasion of his visit to New Delhi last September.[6] Narendra Modi will visit Beijing in mid-Mai. The visit will provide further indications on future developments in Indian-Chinese cooperation.

Against Western Hegemony

Their close and effective collaboration within other frameworks is also very conducive to the bilateral cooperation between India and China. Last July, the BRICS countries [7] launched their New Development Bank and monetary fund - as a counter model to the Western dominated and hegemonic institutions, World Bank and IMF. The upcoming BRICS summit scheduled to be held in Russia on July 9th and 10th, will most likely nominate an Indian to become the first President of their new Development Bank. India also has observer status at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a security alliance including Russia, China and four other Central Asian countries.[8] The SCO plans to decide on more extensive global activities at its upcoming summit - also to be held in Russia on July 9th and 10th. Finally, India is participating in the establishment of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is planning to finance projects in Central and Southeast Asia - also in competition to the World Bank. Germany is participating in the establishment of AIIB, to keep from being completely excluded from this development.

Strategic Partner?

Berlin seeks to use the Indian Prime Minister's visit in Germany to strengthen New Delhi's ties to the West. Already in Mai 2000, both countries had signed an "Agenda for Indo-German Partnership in the 21st Century." In April 2006, a "Joint Statement" was signed on the "Strategic Partnership" between Germany and India. Since 2011, Berlin and New Delhi have been holding regular intergovernmental consultations. This is a "new quality," declared Berlin's ambassador in New Delhi. India is "one of only three non-European countries, with which Germany maintains such comprehensive consultations."[9] Whether Germany or the other Western countries will succeed in binding India tighter to the West through an expansion of cooperation, thereby, driving a wedge between New Delhi, on the one hand, and Moscow and Beijing, on the other, is an important question of international relations for years and decades to come. This is the subject of Berlin's current negotiations with the Indian Prime Minister.

[1] Shubhajit Roy: PM Narendra Modi in Berlin, Merkel at FIFA final. indianexpress.com 10.07.2014.
[2] See Anti-China Cooperation.
[3] Ellen Barry: Modi and Obama, Hugging for India's Security. www.nytimes.com 27.01.2015.
[4] Suhasini Haidar: U.S. upset at India-Russia deals. www.thehindu.com 13.12.2014.
[5] Russia to remain India's most important defence partner: Modi. timesofindia.indiatimes.com 11.12.2015.
[6] Xi Jinping: Towards an Asian century of prosperity. www.thehindu.com 17.09.2014.
[7] BRICS: Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa.
[8] SCO members are China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan; and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, India; Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status.
[9] Deutschland und Indien: Strategische Partner. www.india.diplo.de.