Message from Mandapam
India shields Russia and counters China’s hegemony
The G20 Summit reached a historic consensus on the joint Delhi declaration. One of India’s big achievements was getting the Western bloc to avoid condemnation of Russia over its attack on Ukraine. Russia had said it would block a joint G20 resolution that does not reflect its position. Indian diplomats worked hard to evolve a consensus on the draft’s language. As a result, Russia was let off with a light rap on the knuckles.
China, however, appeared to be at the receiving end of its hegemonistic moves. The announcement of the new economic corridor linking India with West Asia and Europe is a direct challenge to China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to achieve similar objectives. With the US firmly behind the new corridor, its close ally Italy opted out of China’s BRI at the G20. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also helped break the ice between the US and Saudi Arabia by bringing President Joe Biden and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman together for an impromptu hug and chat.
The Saudi prince had been drifting away from the US. The emerging US-EU-West Asia-India alliance is being watched closely by the China-Russia bloc. Prime Minister Modi made no bones about securing India’s interest vis-à-vis the growing Chinese influence in the region by having bilateral meetings with his Bangladesh and Mauritian counterparts. India seeks a closer engagement with Indian Ocean nations and its neighbours to counter China’s increasing presence. The cherry on the cake, however, was the bilateral with the US President. The meeting has sent an unmistakable signal of where India stands in the US-China tussle.
Special Session of Parliament
New bills likely to maintain G20, moon momentum
All eyes are now on the five-day special session of parliament starting next week. The government has not announced the session’s agenda, leading to wild speculations about what surprise Prime Minister Narendra Modi might spring. Sources said the One Nation One Poll bill is unlikely in the special session. But a beginning could be made with the Election Commission of India deciding to put off elections in the five states and advance elections in five other states whose term would expire next year and hold all ten state elections along with that of Lok Sabha next year. Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra and Odisha are due for elections next year. Sources said the Election Commission’s extraordinary powers under Article 324 of the Constitution are being examined for pushing back the December elections. The Prime Minister may use the special session to compliment his government on the successful moon mission and the G20 summit, sources said it is highly unlikely that he would rest on his laurels and not take steps to keep the momentum going till the likely inauguration of the Ram temple at Ayodhya early next year. The government may, therefore, push the implementation of women’s reservation, bring in the Uniform Civil Code, and even decide to drop the name India from the Constitution.