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India & NATO

  May 08, 2021

India & NATO

Q Why is it in News ? 

A There has been various talks about India should engage with NATO at various Global platforms

Q Why India avoided engagement with NATO in the past?  

  • India’s real problem is not with NATO, but with India’s difficulty in thinking strategically about Europe.
  • Through the colonial era, India viewed Europe through British eyes.
  • After Independence, India tended to see Europe through the Russian lens.
  • The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union demanded a fresh approach to Europe.
  • But India could not devote the kind of strategic attention that Europe demanded.
  • The bureaucratisation of the engagement between Delhi and Brussels and the lack of high-level political interest prevented India from taking full advantage of a re-emerging Europe.
  • In the last few years, Delhi has begun to develop an independent European framework, but has some distance to go in consolidating it.

Q  How can Indian End political neglect of Europe?

  • India has certainly sought to end prolonged political neglect of Europe.
  • The deepening maritime partnership with France since 2018 is an example.
  • Joining the Franco-German Alliance for Multilateralism in 2019 is another.
  • India’s first summit with Nordic nations in 2018 was a recognition that Europe is not a monolith but a continent of sub-regions.
  • India’s engagement with Central Europe’s Visegrad Four also highlighted the fact that Europe is not monolith.

Q Why India should engage NATO ?  

  • During the Cold War, India’s refusal was premised on its non-alignment.
  • That argument had little justification once the Cold War ended during 1989-91.
  • An India-NATO dialogue would simply mean having regular contact with a military alliance, most of whose members are well-established partners of India.
  • If Delhi is eager to draw a reluctant Russia into discussions on the Indo-Pacific, it makes little sense in avoiding engagement with NATO.
  • If Delhi does military exercises with China and Pakistan — under the rubric of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), why should talking to NATO be anathema?
  • To play any role in the Indo-Pacific, Europe and NATO need partners like India, Australia and Japan.
  • Delhi, in turn, knows that no single power can produce stability and security in the Indo-Pacific.
  • India’s enthusiasm for the Quad is a recognition of the need to build coalitions.
  • A sustained dialogue between India and NATO could facilitate productive exchanges in a range of areas, including terrorism, changing geopolitics; the evolving nature of military conflict, the role of emerging military technologies, and new military doctrines.
  • More broadly, an institutionalised engagement with NATO should make it easier for Delhi to deal with the military establishments of its 30 member states.
  • On a bilateral front, each of the members has much to offer in strengthening India’s national capabilities.

Q What about Russia? 

  • Russia has not made a secret of its allergy to the Quad and Delhi’s growing closeness with Washington.
  • Putting NATO into that mix is unlikely to make much difference.
  • Delhi, in turn, can’t be happy with the deepening ties between Moscow and Beijing.
  • As mature states, India and Russia know they have to insulate their bilateral relationship from the larger structural trends buffeting the world today.
  • Meanwhile, both Russia and China have intensive bilateral engagement with Europe.