Sunday, July 14, 2024

Changing Indo-European perceptions

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India and Europe have had long contact with each other, in the 21st century, their respective perceptions are changing

The international order has undergone profound changes in the last few years. This change is more profound for Europe and India. The Russo-Ukraine war is clearly the gravest crisis that Europe has faced since World War II, the situation has been compounded by the China challenge. However, India hasn’t remained insulated from this event and other geopolitical conflicts particularly its border clash with China and periodic troubles with Pakistan.

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India and Europe, two ancient civilisational entities, one a nation-state known popularly as the subcontinent and the other a continent with distinct heritages are standing at a critical inflexion point in history. International politics is all about changes in the concept of power and sovereignty. Geopolitics forms a critical part of such a scheme of things. In that context, India and Europe find themselves juggling through the maze of complex geopolitical conflicts which is on one hand, radically trying to maintain the status quo liberal world order and on the other hand is seeing the revival of countervailing forces trying to change this ‘non-inclusive’ world order.

European Perceptions in the Changing World

While the Ukraine-Russia war has undoubtedly spurred Western unity, it is necessary to understand the potential undercurrents of such a unity, perception therefore matters a lot. Just as any human being makes a broad understanding of their surroundings through perception, so is the case with Europe.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has shaken the foundations of the liberal rules-based order in which democracy albeit one which meets and satisfies western particularly European and to some extent American standards are considered to be legitimate, while others are at best considered to be second class.

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The Euro-American unity is aimed at reviving the Pax Europaea order where European standards of democracy, education, human rights, culture, institutions would be shaped. Although the age of colonialism is long dead yet there is a distinct possibility of its ghost being revived through the so-called rules-based order (read Europeanised).

Indian Perception

India or to put it more subtly the Indic perception in the light of the current geopolitical conflicts is shaped by India’s historical experiences, ideas, and the long civilisational heritage of the country. The war in Europe, Chinese irredentist claims over Taiwan, China’s muscle flexing in the South China Sea has seen India taking a nuanced approach to each of these issues. While India’s stand on South China Sea dispute and Taiwan’s sovereignty has been marked by India’s emphasis on following the UN principles of sovereign equality of all states, in the Eurasian context, it has been markedly different.

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India has been following a tightrope diplomacy on the Ukrainian and Taiwan issue. While India hasn’t outrightly condemned the Russian aggression against Ukraine, it has however sought an impartial inquiry into human rights violations at Bucha7 and other parts of Ukraine by an independent and impartial international tribunal. In this context, it is necessary to note that India hasn’t toed the western line. India has refused to join the economic sanctions slapped by the West against Russia, it hasn’t endorsed the Russian expulsion from SWIFT banking system and has remained silent on the issue of imposing a price cap of $60 a barrel.


India and Europe are currently at crossroads, the development of global and domestic politics in India and the European countries in the post COVID period has been turbulent and uncertain, time is moving away rapidly, therefore it is imperative that India and Europe muster enough domestic support to deal with the changing nature of geopolitical conflicts in this globalised world.

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