Millennium Post

Fulcrum of peace

India, which still banks on its age-old idea of global fraternity, has an onerous task of taking conflicting nations on board in the next G20 summit

Fulcrum of peace

A Russian journalist once told President Vladimir Putin that Saudi Arabia has always been a friend and ally of America. In reply, Putin threw back a question, "Always? Forever?".

Russia has been trying to establish its relations with Saudi Arabia since 2018. There has been a meeting held between Putin and Mohammed Bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi.

Philip Short, a veteran journalist & biographer, in his book on Putin, writes that Putin feels that this war wouldn't be waged forever. There would be scope for understanding between Moscow and Kyiv. Even, a sense of bitterness would fall back between the US and Russia. But the question is, how long would that amity, devoid of bitterness prevail? In 1848, the then British Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston said, there is nothing known as a "permanent friend" or "permanent enemy" in the world. In 2022, after the Ukraine conflict, Putin also said the same.

India is expected to play a pivotal role in the 2023 G-20 Summit. During the last summit, Narendra Modi was presented with a symbolic hammer ceremonially by the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo. But in 2023, the platter of responsibility for Narendra Modi would be more.

At the recent 'G-20' Summit, the Russia-Ukraine conflict became the matter of highest concern. War is not supported by any nation, but in the context of this war, there is a clear and stiff line of polarization between the North and the South. Differences of opinion between Western Europe and Moscow are growing deep. Putin himself was not present at the Summit. Instead, he had sent his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The Russian Minister produced strong statements at the summit in favour of the war. He urged to forbid any political point of view to this war. In the Summit's declaration mandate, the issue to establish International law successfully was upheld. Threats of nuclear aggression would not be supported by any means.

Earlier in September, during a conversation, Modi said to Putin that this is not the era of war. India has been urging on the necessity to reduce tensions over Geo-political contentions. It is of immediate concern to attend to the grave problems like price hikes in food commodities and energy resources leading towards an economic imbalance globally or creating further possibilities to recover from the pandemic rather than spilling bullets. Satyajit Ray rightly expressed, "Tora Juddho Kore korbi ki Ta Bol"? (What great would you attain by fighting a war?).

In 2023, there would be nearly two hundred events and programs to be organized in various states across India, regarding the 'G-20' Summit. Meanwhile, Congress Leader Jairam Ramesh made his remark over this plan of Narendra Modi, referring to him as an 'Event manager' devoted to carrying out the 'festivity' of 'G-20' Summit, just to exhibit the power of the Nation to the entire world, that too before the elections. What I feel is, to let events and eventualities centring on the G-20 prevail, but utmost priority should be given to the peace process, which would incorporate a ceasefire over this Russia-Ukraine war. Narendra Modi has to set the priority.

It's been nine months now and the war continues. Russia withdrew its troops from Kherson. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, after reconsolidating the territory, has declared saying, "This is the beginning of the end of the war". Despite being a supporter of "NATO", the Ukraine Forces have not yet succeeded in gaining ultimate success in its military surge. Russia has been invading all across using airspace, via land or sea routes. Due to China's backing of Russia, technically, the UN Security Council is helpless here. It is a general scenario where a nation's foreign policy is effectuated by its economy and the amount of stability or instability existing in its internal political situation. This is why, when Narendra Modi conveys the "One World, One Family, One Future" concept at the 'G-20', it attains a special significance, as this policy is deeply rooted in the genre of India's ancient idealism; the pluralist outlook which India has always nurtured. Although, there have been allegations against Modi himself, on matters of intolerance and solidarity, inside the country.

In the pages of Putin's biography, Philip Short says that wars create a nationalist influence over the general mass of Russia. It happened during the regime of Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev. The intermittent relationship between America, Russia and China holds much importance to Russia. Putin thinks China is an emerging superpower. The US has comparatively weakened. So it is the right time for Russia to come to an understanding with the US.

Amidst this global unrest, the meeting between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping is very significant. It has been unwise for those inside India who have raised question and objection as well, against Modi's expression of cordiality towards Xi Jinping by shaking hands with him at the recent 'G-20'. At the next summit, in 2023, Modi would preside. He would also head the next Shanghai Cooperation Organization. It would be important to observe how China would enact this. Would Xi be directly present at the Summits? Or would he send his Foreign Minister or opt to be virtually present? As a 'host' to the summit, it is the ethical responsibility of Narendra Modi to express his cordiality and gestures to every guest, so that the summit could preside with an august ethos. A tone of conflict does seem to persist during the meeting between Biden and Jinping. As India is a part of the 'Quad'-Axis, this forthcoming summit would relay a very clear picture of where and how the system of mutual understanding works. A passage for bilateral talk should always be open. As there is a mutual interaction between Australia, India, Japan and the US based on Quadrilateral Security, this axis strains China to an extent.

Now, even after so many conflicting ideas and idealisms, the Biden-Xi meeting is possible. India has to follow the same. Being a non-NATO member, Modi can maintain good terms with the US. At the same time, also with Russia. Modi has been against the war. He has been taking efforts to mediate but maintaining his good faith with Israel-Europe alongside. Similar is the cordial engagements with Saudi Arabia and Iran.

To my opinion, this is the classical and actual neutral-axis politics, which was referred to as the Non-Aligned Movement during Nehru's regime. But this terminology has been dismissed, because even though Nehru spoke about neutrality, it was seen how India had been an ally to the Soviets during the Cold Wars, and acted as a "safety valve" to the Soviets. The same partiality was also carried forward during Indira Gandhi's time.

In the forthcoming G-20 Summit, Narendra Modi's priority needs to be, his participation in the peace process that would stop the Russia-Ukraine War, and that too maintaining his political impartiality.

Views expressed are personal

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