The other big highlight of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit was India successfully de-hyphenating itself from Pakistan on the global stage

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong pitch for democracy and democracy driven world order in his thundering speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The projection was that of a strong, stable, fearless nation that was willing to shoulder the responsibility of a better world and work with other democracies in safeguarding and upholding the rights of every nation. There was an assertion and reiteration of commitment to upholding global values. India for a while has been actively pitching for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council (UNSC) and assuming a more active role in the functioning of the UN. Prime Minister Modi goaded the UN to wake up, evolve and reform in order to remain relevant.

This comes at a time when the UN has been perceived as mute, weak and indecisive in its position on the developments in Afghanistan. The UN has also been criticised for its inability to act against China on COVID-19 spread, its brazen exhibition of expansionism and violation of territorial integrity of nations, including India, and for being largely mute to the ‘Demographic Genocide’ in East Turkestan (Xinjiang).

India De-Hyphenates Itself From Pakistan

There were two other highlights that deserve mention. One is India successfully de-hyphenating itself from Pakistan. Pakistan has always tried to piggyback on India and attach itself with us. Its strategy has been to join issues with India using Jammu and Kashmir and pin its ails with us. Time and again, India has also walked into the trap. But since 2014 there has been a clear effort to slowly de-link India from Pakistan. Direct references to Pakistan have been avoided. Positioning of India’s role in the region has been painstakingly crafted. India is now projected and seen as a strong regional entity. A stable, growing democratic set-up with the ability to take on an authoritarian, expansionist CCP-led China.

Also responses to Pakistan’s rhetoric and mendacious diatribe have been delivered by young, talented officials. A brilliant strategic move to show Pakistan its place. That India’s first secretary at the UN is enough to expose the ‘arsonist’ posing as a ‘firefighter’. So while Prime Minister Modi engages with top leaders of the world and pitches India as the safe, friendly, reliable alternative to China, Pakistan is reduced to a footnote. Pakistan is referenced with terrorism, a failed state and a puppet in the hands of China. This is a significant shift from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when Pakistan was seen as a competitor or alternative to India. Going forward, we need to endeavour to stay on this path. Vishwaguru Vs University of Jihad. Inclusive Vs Exclusive. Progressive vs Regressive. Diffusion of this narrative must not be allowed. We must deny Pakistan a chance to join issues with us and bask in borrowed glory.

Quad And Economic Security

The other highlight has been the significance given to Quad. There are many who doubted its use and efficacy given the announcement of a militarised option, AUKUS. But a closer inspection shows that Quad and AUKUS will complement each other. One will augment the cause of the other. Australia has challenges both as a military entity and as an economy heavily reliant on China. It needs the Anglo-Saxon alliance to militarily be able to counter increasing Chinese activity in its waters. Quad, on the other hand, will allow work towards economic security. Quad will take some time to settle. Much depends on India and Japan on how they drive Quad. But clearly Quad taking shape and getting active is disconcerting for the Chinese. The more CCP tries to dismiss Quad, the stronger its need and significance.

For now Quad is going to focus on economy, infrastructure, future tech and trade. One hopes that the US will now re-divert a large portion of its expenditure in Afghanistan towards the cause of Quad and AUKUS. Estimates suggest that America has sunk close to $290 million every day over the last 20 years in Afghanistan. If America can commit even half that amount over the next two years towards Quad, we would have upwards of $50 billion. The four nations can build a corpus and give it the shape of a Quad bank to help nations in this region emerge out of CCP’s debt trap.

To start with, a $100-billion reserve can usher in a significant geo-political shift in the Indo-Pacific. With low interest rate, development-driven agenda and with the overall spirit of collaboration rather than domination, it will help wean away a lot of nations that find themselves unwillingly tied to the CCP-led China. Nations like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Vietnam etc. will find engaging with the Quad bank attractive. Quad bank will also help enable strategically important initiatives in the region while having an effective monitoring and control over implementation. The future demands a different kind of multilateralism. Bharat could just be the fulcrum around which a new, collaborative and cooperative world order evolves.