India has broken its own traditions by joining US-led strategic group. This will restrict Delhi’s options
Columns, Point of View

India has broken its own traditions by joining US-led strategic group. This will restrict Delhi’s options

November 21, 2017

By T.J.S. George

Did India gain from last week’s Southeast Asia summit? The big takeaway, as admitted by our External Affairs spokesmen, was a “deepening of engagement” with the US. This is useful upto a point. America is the only power with the capacity to checkmate an increasingly assertive China. But America’s interest in using this power for the common good is open to doubt. President Trump is basically an “America First” bargainer and he was quite happy bargaining his way into $235 billion business deals with China on his way to the ASEAN Summit. This narrow vision of the US President makes our big takeaway from the summit look not all that big.

In a broader strategic sense also, the wisdom of India joining a quadrilateral alliance against China is questionable. The ‘quad’ as it is now called was originally a pentagon, but Singapore, recognising the elephant in the room, withdrew. Australia is an existential ally of America. Japan, worried about China’s growing might, clutches every available straw but also tries to mend its ties with Beijing. India has the biggest stakes in the game with border disputes on the one hand and Pakistan’s scheming on the other. The traditional posture of non-alignment would have given India more space for   bilateral diplomacy.

The External Affairs Ministry claims that Southeast Asia sees India as a “dependable partner” and wants it to be “more assertive” with Beijing. This is self-deception. The fact is that, barring Vietnam, all countries in the region have reconciled to China’s dominance. Singapore’s is the most calculated switch for it plans to be a hub of Xi Jinping’s dream project, the Belt-and-Road network. The Philippines faced the ground reality in a different way. In August it had tried to put up a makeshift structure on a sandbank within its territorial waters. China despatched a naval force whereupon Manila stopped work and pulled out its troops. China isn’t open to any compromise.

READ ALSO  Grave new world of Xi, Trump

Vietnam is different because of history. Although China was on its side during the Vietnam wars, the two countries have been in conflict from the third century BCE. Modern guerrilla warfare was said to have been invented by the Trung sisters, who led the rebellion against China in 43 CE. After Vietnam defeated America, Chinese troops invaded its northern region leading to tens of thousands of deaths on both sides. China withdrew without victory. The ugly episode was the result of Vietnam destroying the tyrannical Pol Pot regime in Cambodia; China saw Pol Pot as an ally.

More consequential was a Chinese naval attack on Vietnamese boats in 1988. Tiny Vietnamese islands in the nearby waters were taken over by China. That was early warning about what has become China’s mainstream policy today: Militarising all islands in the region under the Chinese flag.

Vietnam is not big enough to engage China militarily. But then, it was not big enough to take on the US either. Yet, its barefoot army defeated the world’s most powerful war machine. The Vietnamese people’s spirit of independence combined with their genius for innovation will pose a challenge China may not face elsewhere. The Vietnamese will fight for more centuries if necessary.

From 1988 India has been involved in oil exploration off the Vietnamese coast, ignoring Chinese protests. This India-Vietnam collaboration has political advantages. But India’s best strategic option is to be in active negotiations with China. Relations with other countries, prudently managed, can strengthen India’s position in such negotiations like with the US, Russia, Europe and even Vietnam and major stand-alone powers like Iran.

READ ALSO  Akhilesh jumps over dynasty, gives UP new horizons; Alas, Rahul can do no such thing in Congress

This is where identification with just one power group led by the US becomes a liability. The US has a record of refusing to pass on technology of any kind to India whereas Russia has given high-end military ware along with technology transfer. Ironically, India’s deepening of engagement with the US seems to have coincided with a worsening of engagement with Russia.

Russian news portals have reported that India allowed an American technical team to inspect INS Chakra, the top-secret Russian nuclear submarine on lease to India from 2012. India has denied the report, but will Russian media play up such a story without political clearance from above? This happens when India wants another nuclear submarine from Russia.

The “Indo-US global strategic partnership” is good for the US, but India ought to develop ideas that are good for India. Being a junior member in a US-led quad is playing the US game. Smartness lies in getting others play the Indian game.

[email protected]

4 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “India has broken its own traditions by joining US-led strategic group. This will restrict Delhi’s options”

  1. John says:

    OMG! I don’t believe what I am reading! Is it Modi hatered blinded so much that our assertive stand against China’s bullying is interpreted as foolishness!? Or is it that Singapore and other smaller nations did not want to stand against China is the reason we should bend down too and let them do what they want? That has been our policy for 6 decades from Congress governments and China has grabbed our lands every year! That is the same strategy that Vadra was exercizing in Haryana under her mother in laws rule. No wonder theieves see nothing wrong! Yes, indis is not such a strong power as China, not because of our soldiers or our technology, but because of terror sympathisers and communists and terrorists who always sympathize our enemies and ready to sell our country for a song! In China, they exterminate such pests without any notice! While the entire world is looking at us with admiration for our stand agaist Chinese thievery, thus author is lamenting that we did something wrong! What is wrong witn thus picture!?

  2. Siva says:

    So, according to you, India should not have held its ground in the Doklam stand off and looked the other way like they did in the last 6 decades! Is that what is bothering you sir? And that is the foreign policy prescription you want to dole out? Why do we get the stinking feeling like you don’t like the messenger and so the message is to be hated? While the entire world,( except China, Pakistan and Congress gang with the JNU products ) lauded our government in not yielding to Chinese aggression like in the past, we have a bunch of clowns who keep questioning every move, our military, surgical strikes, our army’s capabilities and our government’s ability to do anything while we have all seen how lousy our performance under Congress and UPA governments! China did not have to do anything to encroach our land in the previous government! All they had to do was to talk to Rahul and Vadra and they could accommodate the deal for a fair price! Even amidst the dokla stand off our clown prince with his brother in law was having dinner wuth Chinese diplomats, clearly suggests his the prior government managed the show! Some people may be happy with that kind of deals but not all the people who love our nation! India is between two enemy nations! But the pain is enhanced by the internal enemies who keep criticising and handicap the governments every move and these enemies have the media blacking! So, they want to spin every good move by the government as a major disaster!

  3. Harsha says:

    this so called TJS GEORGE is a pakka anti-national , anti indian citizen. his articles are mindless & not the realistic info. WHY STAR OF MYSORE is inviting him to write an article in their prestigious paper ? SOM will lose there credibility if these anti-national keep on writing.

    • Amar says:

      Majority of journalists have some bias! That is ok but the true journalists overcome it, or at least try to hide it! But this columnist seems to proud of his bias to
      Be a puppet in the hands of some politicians and has converted this news paper to a pomplet of the anti modi brigade! He has even earned some awards for his loyalty! If you have any doubts, just read all his past columns! Every one of them reeks with Modi hatred!


Mysuru’s favorite and largest circulated English evening daily has kept the citizens of Mysuru informed and entertained since 1978. Over the past 41 years, Star of Mysore has been the newspaper that Mysureans reach for every evening to know about the happenings in Mysuru city. The newspaper has feature rich articles and dedicated pages targeted at readers across the demographic spectrum of Mysuru city. With a readership of over 2,50,000 Star of Mysore has been the best connection between it’s readers and their leaders; between advertisers and customers; between Mysuru and Mysureans.


Academy News Papers Private Limited, Publishers, Star of Mysore & Mysuru Mithra, 15-C, Industrial ‘A’ Layout, Bannimantap, Mysuru-570015. Phone no. – 0821 249 6520

To advertise on Star of Mysore, email us at

Online Edition: [email protected]
Print Editon: [email protected]
For News/Press Release: [email protected]