India’s Top Diplomat Took A Swipe At The West For Not Recognizing His Country’s Official Map

Astute observers will note that India’s top diplomat only directed his critique against some of the Quad countries, not Russia, and in the context of defending Delhi’s comprehensive expansion of its strategic relations with Moscow at that. This wasn’t incidental either since the reality is that Russia actually endorses India’s official map unlike some of that country’s Quad partners as evidenced by publicly financed Sputnik sharing this depiction in its cartographical representation of the SCO’s members.

Indian External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was recently speaking at a media event when he took a swipe at the West, and particularly some of India’s Quad partners, for not recognizing his country’s official map. The context in which he shared his comments was in defense of India’s pragmatic policy of principled neutrality towards the New Cold War, which is responsible for turbocharging its rise as a globally significant Great Power across the course of the Ukrainian Conflict.

India’s top diplomat was talking about the differences between the Quad’s members when he reminded his interlocutor how not all of them support Delhi’s stance towards Afghanistan and Pakistan. EAM Jaishankar then wryly remarked that “some of them don’t even endorse my map, forget about my position.” This wasn’t just an off-the-cuff comment but importantly occurred at the same event where he also said that the West has to “live with [India’s policy towards Russia]”, which was widely reported.

This isn’t the first time that he stood up for his country’s sovereign right to formulate its policies according to however its democratically elected and universally recognized leadership believes is the best way to advance its objective national interests. Earlier in the summer he reminded the West that the world doesn’t revolve around it, and several months later he defended India’s purchase of discounted Russian oil in the face of the West’s nasty infowar smears about Delhi’s intentions.

While his “live with it” remark generated much more attention in the international media than his quip about how some of the Quad countries don’t even endorse India’s map, the latter was arguably of equal importance. Casual observers might have forgotten that India is embroiled in fierce territorial disputes not just with Pakistan, but also with China too. Beijing administers part of Kashmir that Delhi claims as its own while Delhi administers part of Arunachal Pradesh that Beijing claims as part of South Tibet.

Considering these long-running and still-unresolved territorial disputes, as well as the fact that Western countries generally have close relations with all three claimants, that de facto New Cold War bloc tends to depict the territory that each side controls in their official maps of South Asia. Their intent is clearly to balance between these parties by presenting a pretense of neutrality, but for as pragmatic as that approach might seem on paper, it inadvertently worked to erode India’s confidence in them in practice.

Each party would of course prefer for the maximum number of countries across the world to endorse their territorial claims (especially those areas that they don’t exert control over on the ground) in the official maps that they publish, but this rarely happens in reality due to the abovementioned reason. Up until now, all parties have pretty much settled for their partners depicting just the territories that they control, with the exception of China’s claim to Taiwan, which will now be elaborated upon.

The People’s Republic is in such a tight relationship of complex mutual economic interdependence with the West that it’s capable of tacitly leveraging its massive market for the purpose of pressuring its partners to depict its claim to that rogue island under pain of a boycott if they don’t. The vast majority of the world recognizes Beijing as the only legitimate government of China, ergo why its leadership could encourage the masses not to purchase the products of those countries who question this.

The legal pretext is thus present as a result of those countries’ official position towards China at the UN, hence why they don’t dare to cross it since they know very well that a major boycott could follow against their companies’ products in the world’s largest market if they do. Be that as it is, since China’s control of the part of Kashmir that it calls Aksai China and its claims to India’s region of Arunachal Pradesh that it calls South Tibet are contested by another UN member, they’re depicted as disputed.

India hitherto passively accepted the West’s cartographical depiction of those two regions as contested for this same seemingly pragmatic reason despite some diplomatic protests that have become increasingly frequent in recent years. Regarding that emerging trend, it’s the result of India’s newfound grand strategic importance to the West vis a vis this de facto New Cold War bloc’s unofficial policy of “decoupling” from China to an extent by re-offshoring their production to that South Asian state.

While India won’t hold the Damocles’ sword of a major boycott over the heads of those companies whose countries don’t depict its claims in their official maps like China does vis a vis Taiwan, it’s clearly become much more confident publicly defending those selfsame claims over the past year. This explains EAM Jaishankar’s latest swipe against the West over this sensitive issue after he seems to have been emboldened by how recent events turbocharged India’s rise as a globally significant Great Power.

Astute observers will note that India’s top diplomat only directed his critique against some of the Quad countries, not Russia, and in the context of defending Delhi’s comprehensive expansion of its strategic relations with Moscow at that. This wasn’t incidental either since the reality is that Russia actually endorses India’s official map unlike some of that country’s Quad partners as evidenced by publicly financed Sputnik sharing this depiction in its cartographical representation of the SCO’s members.

India media quickly picked up on this, predictably praised Russia, and even cited unnamed sources to report that Moscow had politely rebuffed Beijing’s behind-the-scenes pressure to change its depiction so that it aligns with the West’s by designating those two regions as disputed. Astute observers know that despite the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership serving as one of the world’s most powerful engines of multipolarity, these two Great Powers have always disagreed on this issue and always will.

The reason is simple, and it’s that they’re mature enough to continue cooperating with one another in spite of rare differences over sensitive issues of grand strategic concern to each of them. The Chinese leadership regards its national security interests as being served by continuing to administer what it calls Aksai China and claiming India’s Arunachal Pradesh as South Tibet, while the Russian leadership regards its national security as being served by wholeheartedly continuing to endorse India’s position on them.

Beijing’s calculations are self-explanatory since it claims those regions as its own territory while Moscow’s are explained by it consistently considering India as a friendly, gentle, and non-hostile counterweight for pragmatically managing China’s rise from the early Old Cold War onwards. Delhi sincerely appreciates the Kremlin’s position on this sensitive issue of similarly self-explanatory national security interest and accordingly rewards Russia by privileging it as among its top partners in the world.

The preceding insight should help casual observers better understand how deep the emotional element of the Russian-Indian Strategic Partnership truly is, especially in contrast to some of the Quad countries refusing to endorse India’s official map, ergo one of the many reasons why Delhi won’t ever dump Moscow. The dual principles of enlightened self-interest and strategic morality that guide India’s contemporary policymaking would be contradicted by capitulating to Western pressure on this issue.

After all, it wouldn’t be enlightened, moral, or in India’s strategic self-interest to betray the same country who’s consistently endorsed its official map just to please those that never have. What’s most remarkable about this isn’t just that the West has finally come to accept that it’ll never break the Russian-Indian bond, but so too have China and Pakistan, which would obviously prefer for Moscow not to endorse Delhi’s claims at the expense of their own but nevertheless don’t let that impede their ties.

China continues cooperating with Russia at the grand strategic level due to their shared interests in accelerating the erosion of the US’ unipolar hegemony, albeit with Beijing preferring to do so gradually while Moscow was compelled by circumstances to do so dramatically. As for Pakistan, it recognizes that the absence of cordial relations with Russia could complicate its leadership’s plans to pioneer closer connectivity with Central Asia, not to mention sustainably ensuring their energy security.

These pragmatic self-interested calculations explain why both China and Pakistan continue their mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia in spite of Moscow endorsing India’s official map at the expense of their respective territorial claims. This geostrategic observation speaks to the fact that the entire world has accepted the impossibility of breaking the Russian-Indian Strategic Partnership, hence why everyone is learning to “live with it” exactly as EAM Jaishankar recently remarked.

Via https://korybko.substack.com/p/indias-top-diplomat-took-a-swipe