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SOURCE: WION

In medieval India, the royal courts buzzed with foreign dignitaries. Back then, India was a trading hub. A military power with huge standing armies. So, Indian friendship was a strategic goal. Today, centuries later, we are witnessing a revival. A global realignment is underway and India finds itself at the centre of it.  

New Delhi is preparing for a busy summer, a summer of diplomacy. It started with a Quad summit in March. It was the first head of state-level meeting. For India, it was a new chapter. Remember, New Delhi is a non-aligned country. It has stayed away from political alliances. The Quad is the closest India has come to joining one. So, has India abandoned its commitment to neutrality? 

Far from it, the Quad is an exercise in deterrence. It does not seek power in the Indo-Pacific. It just wants China to follow the rules as the only Quad member that shares a border with China, the stakes are higher for India but so are the opportunities.  

The West sees India as a bulwark against China’s rise and for a change, they are right. In the next few years, New Delhi could become one of the most powerful capitals in the world. Today, India hosted top officials from the US and Russia. 

Not many countries in the world can do that but New Delhi is neutral turf. It has excellent ties with Moscow and Washington. Lavrov has left, Kerry will leave in a few days but India’s summer of diplomacy isn’t quite over. 

Later this month, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be paying a visit. He will arrive as Britain’s first post-Brexit prime minister. His intentions are clear. The UK is thinking beyond Europe. It wants in on the Indo-Pacific and India fits the bill: a massive trading machine with strong regional influence.

So, here’s a quick round-up of who has visited India. First, the Pentagon Chief Lloyd Austin, then Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov. 

US climate envoy John Kerry and capping the summer will be Boris Johnson. What does this train of foreign leaders symbolise? 

India’s rise, its position of pre-eminence across the board. Just think about the scope. From Delhi, the democratic axis can keep a check on China. They can keenly monitor the Afghan peace process and at the same time, keep an eye on Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. The bottom line is it pays to be a stable and prospering democracy. Who will the world trust to guard the peace in Afghanistan? 

A country that is one bad week away from a military coup? Or the largest democracy in the world? 

It’s a no-brainer. The world needs New Delhi to ensure ever-lasting peace in Afghanistan but like all partnerships, this is a two-way street. India too needs world powers in its corner, especially in defence.  

Russia’s ties with India were forged over time. It is something America will have to contend with. Take the S-400 missile system for instance. Later this year, India will take delivery of the Russian missiles. This will put New Delhi in America’s CAATSA bracket. CAATSA stands for Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. 

In theory, the US could sanction India, once the Russian missiles arrive but will America actually do so? 

That’s a whole different question. Joe Biden has certain foreign policy pet peeves, such as climate change, the Iran nuclear deal and the Indo-Pacific. He can’t achieve any of these without Indian support. So, there is a growing caucus in Washington that wants a sanctions-waiver for India. The CAATSA is supposed to target America’s adversaries. Is that really how Joe Biden wants to categorise India? As an adversary? Highly unlikely. The world’s interests are converging with india’s. These are exciting times in New Delhi’s south block. World powers are courting the Indian leadership. Climate, peace, defence, you name it. They want New Delhi on board. If India plays its cards right, the summer of diplomacy could mark the beginning of pax indica, a world order built around India.