• Owen Swift

Episode 24. Who is India's Biggest Strategic Enemy?

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Rundown:

India is set to be a world powerhouse, on track to take the number one slot in population and top three spot in economic power by 2050. For many in India’s neighbourhood however, India’s gain is their loss, and they will be working hard to counteract India’s dramatic rise. This week we take a look into the power struggle in South Asia, and analyse who is most likely to be India’s main strategic rival going forward.

Guests:

Swaminathan Aiyar

  • Renowned Indian Economist

  • Senior Research Fellow at the CATO Institute

  • Consulting Editor for the Economic Times of India

Dhruva Jaishankar

  • Director of the Strategic and Security thinktank ORF

  • Senior Fellow at the Lowe Institute

  • Former fellow at the Brookings Institute

Harsh V. Pant

  • Professor of International Relations at Kings College

  • Head of the Strategic Studies Program at ORF

  • Honorary Director at the Delhi School of Transitional Affairs

Part 1: Surrounded (02:53)

  • Swaminathan Aiyar takes us around India's geographic neighbourhood, helping us to understand India's conflicts and internal divisions over the past few decades.

  • We also dive into the political makeup and geopolitical alignments of India's neighbours; including Sri Lanka's Hambantota port, the pro-China government in Nepal, Tibet's historical relationship with India and of course the close relationship between Beijing and Islamabad.

  • We contextualise India's economic progress and growth in comparison to the rest of Asia, particularly China.

  • We look at India's relationships historically and today with the world's great powers; their historic cold-war era connection with Russia and how that continues today, and the difficulties in their relationship with the United States that neither want to acknowledge.

Part 2: Buying Enemies (27:14)

  • In this part with Dhruva Jaishankar we focus in on China; border disputes, territory claims, arms sales to India's neighbours, opposition in international insitutions and trade deficits.

  • We look at the recent border violence between the two nations in the context of 25 years of buildup, and the prospects for large scale conflict between China and India.

  • Dhruva helps us understand the real world potential of the Quad and analyse the ideas for the forms it might take; from a loose diplomatic association all the way to a full blown alliance.

  • We compare the Indian Ocean strategies of the two nations; China's Belt and Road and India's development of relationships with nations like Singapore and Malaysia.

Part 3: A 'One Country' Foreign Policy (51:48)

  • Harsh V. Pant takes us through the history of India's conflict with Pakistan, tracing it from the partition of the British Raj through to the modern day where the threat of nuclear warfare is always present.

  • Kashmir is the key to the relationship between New Delhi and Islamabad. We look at each country's positioning and priorities in the region and the complex geographic, strategic and demographic aspects of the issue.

  • We also look at the water management issue in the region, which concerns all the countries who draw from the Indus.

  • Finally we look at how power is balanced in South Asia; that it's not just a question of aligning to China or India, but that other world powers are relevant, as is the independent decision making of smaller states.

The Red Line's India Reading List:

We’ve put together some further reading for those of you looking for more resources to help you get across the geopolitics of India.


Books:

The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan

Yasmin Khan


Choices: Inside the Making of Indias Foreign Policy

Shivshankar Menon


Business and Politics in India (Modern South Asia)

Christopher Jaffrelot


Articles/Journals:

For episode transcripts, monthly geopolitics Q&A’s, member-only videos and to support the show, check out our Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/theredlinepodcast


This episode is dedicated to Patreon members Michael Heim, and Matthew A Pryatel.