Collaboration with US imperialism is a danger to the Indian people and to peace and security in the region
External Affairs Minister Jaishankar visited New York and Washington DC from 24-28 May. This was the first high level visit from the Indian government to the US after the government of Joe Biden took office in January.
During his visit, Jaishankar met with his counterpart Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. He also met with the Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines. He also had meetings with a couple of groups of businessmen, and a discussion with a prominent think tank, the Hoover Institution.
Growing collaboration between the Indian state and US imperialism
This visit must be viewed against the background of the increasing collaboration between the Indian state and US imperialism over the last couple of decades. A landmark in this collaboration was the Indo-US nuclear deal struck in 2005 between the Manmohan Singh government and the George Bush government. The relationship got even closer after 2016, in which period several major agreements were signed to strengthen military collaboration. The growing closeness between the Indian state and US imperialism has taken place under both the UPA and NDA governments in India and both Republican and Democratic administrations in the US. This shows that it represents a fundamental alignment between the interests of the ruling Indian bourgeoisie and US imperialism.
What is the reason for the increasing alignment between the Indian state and the US?
With the launch of the policy of privatisation and liberalisation through globalisation in the early 1990s, the Indian monopoly bourgeoisie began to nurture ambitions of becoming a big global power. In the post-Cold War world, it saw its best chance of achieving this through a policy of growing closeness to the US. It systematically began to realign its foreign policy in this direction, going against the strong tradition of opposition to US imperialism among the Indian people.
US imperialism, on its part, sees the main obstacle in its drive to assert its global dominance today as coming from an increasingly powerful China. It has sought to put in place a grouping of countries that can act as a counterweight to China. It sees India, with its size and position in Asia next to China, as such a counterweight. It has been putting pressure on India to be part of such a grouping, offering in return some concessions like “recognition” of India as a nuclear power, assorted military hardware and some intelligence inputs. The Indian state is being willingly drawn into a US-led anti-China front.
In recent years, the US has been trying hard to formalise this grouping through a formation known as the Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue). This includes the US, Japan and Australia — which are already longstanding military allies — as well as India. Although it is claimed that this is not a military alliance, these four countries among other things conduct military exercises together with the purpose of containing China’s presence in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean region. The Quad was formed in 2007, at a time when there had been a period of prolonged peace on the border between India and China and when economic relations between them were surging ahead. There is no doubt that India joining the Quad grouping led by an increasingly belligerent US has significantly contributed to tensions between India and China in the last few years.
While going along with the Quad — which under Biden’s government has been elevated to a summit-level dialogue — the Indian state has still kept its foot in other groupings which include China and Russia, such as BRICS and SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation). In fact, very shortly after returning from the US, Jaishankar chaired the BRICS ministerial level meeting, and will also be participating in a meeting of the SCO.
Outcome of the visit
Various analysts have pointed out that, despite the US and Indian governments waxing eloquent about how much they value their partnership, Jaishankar did not come back with any substantial gains from the US.
In spite of this being the first high level visit by an Indian representative to meet the new US administration, neither President Biden or the Vice-President met Jaishankar even briefly. Even his counterpart, Secretary of State Blinken, was away from the US when Jaishankar arrived, and the External Affairs Minister had to cool his heels in New York instead of the capital Washington for the first half of his visit.
No deals or concrete offers of assistance were announced during this visit, even to help the Modi government tide over the worsening Covid crisis in India. There was no joint press conference or even joint press statement after the visit. Instead the offices of the US Secretary of State and Secretary of Defence separately read out two very brief statements. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs issued no statement after the visit. On two major areas of concern for the Modi government — the dispute with China on the border after last year’s clash at Galwan, and India’s role vis-a-vis Afghanistan after the US completes the pullout of its military forces there — the US gave no public reassurances. Instead, Blinken only mentioned the Quad and its role in maintaining “a free and open Indo-Pacific”. Jaishankar did not publicly mention the Quad in his official statements, but in his interaction with the Hoover Institution, he stressed the importance of “multipolarity” (many power centres, and not just one) in the world — a concept not liked by the US.
The fact that Jaishankar’s main meetings in the US were with the heads of the foreign policy, military and intelligence departments shows that it is in these areas that India-US relations are developing. This is very dangerous for the Indian people, and will greatly complicate India’s ties with other countries of the region in particular. The US would clearly want India to come more openly on board an anti-China front, whether in the form of the Quad or something else, and is putting pressure in that direction. It would like to see a weakening of any kind of cooperation among India, China and Russia. Since it has already entangled India in its military and intelligence networks, it will use this leverage in pursuit of its own interests of global domination. The Indian people should be very vigilant and actively oppose the growing collaboration between the Indian state and US imperialism.