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Ukraine crisis has a message for secessionists in Indian subcontinent

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Ankit Raj
Ankit Raj
A development professional. National resource person for rural development and good governance. Passionate about foreign policy and global politics. A poet by instinct.

On twitter, #WorldWar3 is trending since last couple of days. Russia is annexing Ukraine in itself. World is witnessing an obvious act of nationalism taking on globalism. The most interesting fact is that the working age population is witnessing this clean case of territorial consolidation for the first time. I am sure the theories of cyber-warfare, info-warfare, blood-less warfare etc are facing questions on their competency to alter or replace the traditional hard war. The revisit by a strong power to the first fundamental is giving a hard time to all alternative ideas. The personal conclusions will leave a deep impact in the planning of individuals about their lives. And the same is most likely to be leaning towards conservatism. Youth are the main stakeholders in it. And that’s how it is a direct long-lasting challenge to the globalization which is anchored by global-north.

There was an age when the global common was to be a dominion of British Crown. When people revolted, the criteria was changed to be in line with the British crown or similar power centres. United States chose economy as the lense to draw the global common. Hence, majority of the world is in a rat race of being knowledge economy. And perhaps, that is the root of the confidence for President Joe Biden to make a statement that US will make sure that Russia does not grow on its weapon technology. But at the same time, he could not do anything to stop the war waged by President Putin. Striking fact of the episode is that the whole world was well informed in advance about the timing of attack by the Russian forces on Ukraine and yet it got shocked when the attack happened. Now that gives so many messages to various stakeholder in the global security framework.

Ukrainian government is pleading help from all the major powers of the world except China. But all have extended nothing other than words. And it seems that by the time, EU and USA reach to a consensus of making an intervention, Ukraine will have become a part of Russia. The Ukrainian envoy in India made a strong shout out for help and his words were, I quote, “India should fully assume its global role”. Post which we witnessed that the Cabinet Committee on Security convened under the chairmanship of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. But, the question is why did it not convene before that pleading?

And the more striking development is that PM Modi had a phone call with Russian president and underlined that war should be stopped immediately and parties should go to negotiation table. He completely ignored Ukraine – well, there is a historical followup for that decision. Moreover, the world witnessed a rare moment where India stood with China and abstained to vote on the motion of USA against Russia in the UNSC. Following which, interestingly, the State Department of USA made a stunning statement, and I quote “We share important interests with India. We share important values with India. And we know India has a relationship with Russia that is distinct from the relationship that we have with Russia. Of course, that is okay”. This whole development has a strong message for the separatists or secessionists in the south Asian region especially when it comes to Indian subcontinent.

Everybody wants to marry with sovereignty. But, its a fact that it is harder to maintain sovereignty than to earn it. And the increasing dominance of bigger powers, even if we don’t like, is driving the world towards being the “Big-guys’ game”. It eventually means a complete control of few big nations over the whole world. Rather than being a fight for resources, it has become a fight of identity. Now when we zoom into the recent incidents in Indian subcontinent, multiple disruptions seem to be having roots in the similar cult. The presence of Sikh secessionists in farmers agitation, bloody murders by Kashmiri secessionists in Jammu and Kashmir despite a strong control of Government of India, activities of Tamil separatists from time to time, secessionist activities in the north-eastern states and religious secessionists playing cards in various regions are some of the vital ones. The stance by PM Modi to not go against Russia in this act of retaliation to a new kind secessionism by Ukraine, despite having a deeply romantic relationship with USA must sends an electric curent to all the secessionists. 

Technically, the presence of India in Global order is revamped and it has been underlined strongly during COVID pandemic. One can’t ignore a nation which is the 7th biggest in its size in the world and having a strong legitimacy of running a reasonably successful democracy like no other. It would not be an exaggeration to identify India as an Island of success when we take other nations through the test of democracy on this planet. And, the major point to note here is that, despite democracy and human rights now being more norms than exceptions, the Government of India perhaps has done away with the identity of being just a soft power. The Minister of External affairs, Dr. S. Jaishankar wrote in his book named The India Way, and I quote, “In contemporary parlance, the expression ‘soft-state’ describes a nation’s inability or unwillingness to do what is necessary.”

There cannot be a more clear expression about the change in the vector of building India’s flesh. Repeated assertions in Indian parliament by the current establishment underlining commitment of the annexation of Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir adds to the expression. Hence, it is clear that the Office of the Prime Minister, Office of the Minister of External Affairs and Office of Home Minister is absolutely at one page in terms of shaping India’s physical position when it is aligned at its head and heart to rise on global stage.

Morally and politically, there are all chances that the move of giving a clean chit to Russia will be questioned. The strongest base for the same is Article 51(a) of the constitution of India which says that the State will endeavour to promote international peace and security. But it must be noted that the recommendation in the consitution is not exclusive and extreme. The primary responsiblity of the safety and security of Ukrainians was of the establishment of Ukraine. It should have not taken disrectpectful position to Russia if it had no enough strength to defend its position. And the constitution of India recommends in Article 51(b) for the State to endeavour to maintain just and honourable relations between nations.

The word ‘just’ has been placed before the word ‘honourable’ and that makes the government of India to strive for justice in the global order. It simply cannot be blackmailed by the vulnerablity of Ukraine in the name of human rights and do injustice with Russian population. Amidst a paradigm where nations are drunk with expansionism supported secessionism, India can’t go for an indecisive trip. Somewhere it has to take clear stance. In this case, it has choosen to honour its interest which is based on mutual respect and consistent support.

It should not be taken otherwise. India’s rise has been slower and has to navigate through difficult waters. And to keep the journey on, it is left with no option other than demonstrating global relevance. For which, it will leave no space or softness for any organized group of individuals, big or small, to disrespect its position. It is natural for any power which transits its position from being ‘a part of multilateralism’ to being ‘a pole in multipolarism’. With the advent and realisation of the idea of Atmanirbhar Bharat, the honeymoon period of globalization seems to be setting up and so is the period of multilateralism in India’s case. The world should not be surprised if India uses iron-fist to enforce its interest like the other ‘Big-guys’ and the same message must be noted by the secessionists having eyes on various parts of it.

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Ankit Raj
Ankit Raj
A development professional. National resource person for rural development and good governance. Passionate about foreign policy and global politics. A poet by instinct.
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