US India Global Review 2018

8 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW APRIL-JUNE 2018 I ndia’s decision to join a renewed quadrilateral security dialogue with the United States, Japan and Australia on the margins of the East Asia Summit in November 2017 has raised many political eyebrows around the world. Is India aban- doning its tradition of non-align- ment and tilting towards the United States and the West? Is Delhi tempted by President Donald Trump’s new geopolitical construct, Indo-Pacific? These fears about India are entirely misplaced. Delhi has no intention of abandoning its inde- pendent foreign policy. But India, like any other state, does respond to structural changes in the distri- bution of power around it. Recall that Delhi signed a treaty of peace and friendship with Moscow in 1971 in the wake of Sino-US rap- prochement. After the end of the Cold War, India sought to hedge against the unipolar moment. Washington’s threats to roll back India’s nuclear programme and the talk about intervening in Delhi’s dispute with Islamabad over Jammu and Kashmir meant Delhi had good reasons to join the Eurasian coali- tion led by Moscow and backed by Beijing. Much has happened since then for India to reconsider its approach to the regional balance of power. If the principal external challenge to India in the 1990s seemed to come from the United States, there is no avoiding the Look East policy By C. Raja Mohan ACTING EAST India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos September 7, 2016. Photo: REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun