New Paradigms and India’s Geopolitical Standing

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The new international system that emerged after the Cold War was perceived by scholars such as Francis Fukuyama as “the century of absolute dominance of the United States of America (USA)”, while it was called the “age of anarchy and disorder” by scholars such as Robert Kaplan.

A structure such as the multipolar world system established between the USA and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) has no equivalent today, and for this reason, it would not be wrong to call the period we are in as the “era of turbulence” or “the search for new hegemony”. The international system, which tends to evolve towards a multipolar structure; has led to increase in the importance of regional actors and the consideration of newly established multi-state associations. In addition, new strategies and paradigms are also discussed within the global system.

While the “Free and Open Indo Pacific Strategy”, which started with the rhetoric of Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and was frequently emphasized during the period of US President Donald Trump, constituted the sea leg of the struggle for dominance, the Asian-based “New Heartland Struggle” starting the Belt-Road Project initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 and particularly with the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan creates the land leg of the struggle for dominance.

In these two different struggles, states take place as one of the main actors in a certain big game and play significant role. However, India is in the forefront of the states that do not comply with this thesis and appear as a power that can be effective in the struggle for dominance in both areas.

Being one of the most vital countries of the Free and Open Indo Pacific Strategy, India has a noteworthy geographical power by being located in the center of the Indian Ocean, where global sea lines of communication pass.  The great Indian triangular located in the south of Asia, offers New Delhi a natural centrality opportunity in the North Indian Ocean. In the Indian Ocean, where external powers such as the USA, China, England, France, Japan want to increase their power, India is an internal power and is closer to vital chokepoint such as Malacca Strait than any other power. For this reason, New Delhi continues K.M Panikkar’s, known as the “father” of the Indian Naval Strategy, perspective and strategy which understands the importance of crossing points.

In addition to its role in the sea stage of the global struggle, India also plays an important role in the “New Heartland Struggle”, which we can call the “Land Struggle”. The aforementioned struggle appears as instability-stability and the spread of terrorism-the realization of economic connectivity projects.

The difficulty of Central Asian countries in accessing the oceans, where trade takes place to a large extent, despite having rich underground and above-ground resources, is known as a limiting factor in the development of commercial projects.At this point, the enhance in relations between India and Central Asian countries will not only create an opportunity for cooperation that both sides will gain, but will also make a significant contribution to regional peace.

It should be noted that India’s ties with Central Asia have steadily increased since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014. Modi demonstrated his interest by visiting five Central Asian States in 2015 and became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit all Central Asian states.[1]

As the retired ambassador of India, Ashok Saijjanhar, stated in his article:

“For India, Central Asia is a part of its extended neighbourhood with which India has enjoyed historical, cultural and civilizational ties spanning several millennia. India’s outreach to Central Asia is significant because the region is vital to India’s security, to meet its growing energy needs including through supply of uranium, as an expanding market for trade and investment, for cooperation in culture, defence, tourism and people- to- people links”.[2]

As a matter of fact, the ongoing Central Asia-India rapprochement shows that the benefits of this union are understood by both India and five Central Asia states.

The Power of India and a New Supply Chain Line

One of the most required conditions of being a global power in the international system is to ensure energy and trade security. Geography plays a crucial role in ensuring this security. India has a great advantage in energy supply due to its location. The proximity to the rich energy fields of the Middle East and Africa and the fact that it does not face any security problems during the supply line offer remarkable advantages to New Delhi. On the other hand, developments in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Natural Gas Pipeline (TAPI) will also contribute to India’s energy supply.

The increasing competition between the USA and China and some European countries having problems with Beijing have pushed the West to search for new strategies in recent years. At this point; with its production capacity, dynamic population, superiority in information technologies, geographical proximity to Europe, being Asia’s gateway to the Indian Ocean and its investments in the pharmaceutical industry, which has become increasingly important in recent years, India has been regarded as a “rising star of the World”.

The plans of global-scale companies to shift their production lines from China to other countries have brought about new supply chain discussions. Global companies see India as the “strongest candidate” as an alternative to Beijing. However, New Delhi, which is highly advantageous in terms of ensuring energy security, also needs to ensure the security of trade routes. The route of a cargo ships departing from India to Europe must be safe. Moreover, there should be a port of calls on this route where it can both take on supplies and sell its products to market.

This line strategy, which increases Beijing’s exports and provides safety sea line of communication to a great extent, is known as “String of Pearls”. Beijing has many commercial ports on this sea line, starting from the South China Sea and extending to Europe, making it the world’s largest exporter.

Establishing such a line for India, which is geographically closer to Europe both essential and easier compared to China. Considering the geographical locations and security situations of the countries on the route extending to the west, the views of the countries on these projects are evaluated and the optimal trade balance is taken into account, it would be correct to express the best suitable trade route we encounter as follows: “India-United Arab Emirates-Saudi Arabia-Lebanon-Israel-Turkey-Greece”. The new supply chain destinations to be established on this route will be the stars of New Delhi (Line of Stars). In this way, New Delhi, while entering the world market with a new vision, will also declare that it provides the security of supply chain.

The conjuncture is becoming increasingly favourable for the realization of this line in the last period. Relations between India and the UAE have been increasing rapidly and escalating the level of strategic partnership. Within the scope of Israel’s new opening policy, its policies towards the Middle East are improving and the commercial dimension comes into prominence. In this way, Israel will be a natural member of the Saudi Arabia-Lebanon-Israel line that will start from the UAE. Within the scope of the new opening policy that Turkey has started recently, its relations with the UAE tend to increase gradually. In addition, the normalization efforts between Turkey and Israel will be noted as a development that will both increase the relations and ensure the security of Line of Stars. Undoubtedly, the fact that Mersin Port in Turkey has a South-North transit transportation infrastructure will also make possible India’s access to Russia and Northern European countries and will offer alternative routes. Finally, this line, which will hold Greece as a final destination, will deliver “Made in India” products to the depth of Europe. If this line is realized, the economic integration of the countries of the region will raise and the increasing tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially in recent years, will leave its place to peace and prosperity.

Supply chains, which are becoming acceleratingly critical today, are one of the issues that concern the national security of countries. Because the efficiency or purchasing power of your production capacity is directly related to the safety of these sea and land lines of communication. States that desire to be global actor or become a pole in a multipolar system are needed to establish their own supply chains through cooperation. In today’s conjuncture where geography and time are favourable, New Delhi is a country that has the will and power to achieve this.

[1] Ashok Sajjanhar, “India-Central Asia dialogue set to open up exciting areas of partnership”, India Narrative,, (Erişim Tarihi: 23.12.2021).

[2] Ibid.

Mustafa Cem KOYUNCU
Mustafa Cem Koyuncu, Karabük Üniversitesinde Uluslararası İlişkiler bölümünde Master öğrencisi olup Hint-Pasifik Bölgesi, ABD-Çin Rekabeti, uluslararası güvenlik, jeopolitik ve stratejik araştırmalar alanları üzerinde çalışmalar yapmaktadır. Karabük Üniversitesi’nde eğitimine başlamadan önce, Boğaziçi Üniversitesinde Lisans eğitimini tamamlamıştır. Özel sektörde yöneticilik tecrübesi kazanmasının ardından Cem, kariyerine ANKASAM’da devam etmektedir. Cem ileri seviyede İngilizce bilmektedir.