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Russia, India and China (RIC) grouping:

Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Russia, India and China (RIC) grouping:

Context:

Amid the tensions on the Line of Actual Control, the dominant calls were for a more decisive westward shift in India’s foreign policy.

  • However, last month, India decided to attend a (virtual) meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Russia, India and China (RIC). This meeting seemed incongruous in this setting.

What is RIC?

Conceived by the then Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov in 1998.

The group was founded on the basis of “ending its subservient foreign policy guided by the U.S.,” and “renewing old ties with India and fostering the newly discovered friendship with China.”

Why was it formed?

  1. In the early 2000s, the three countries were positioning themselves for a transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world order.
  2. The RIC shared some non-West (as distinct from anti-West) perspectives on the global order, such as an emphasis on sovereignty and territorial integrity, impatience with homilies on social policies and opposition to regime change from abroad.
  3. Their support for democratisation of the global economic and financial architecture moved to the agenda of BRIC (with the addition of Brazil).

Significance and potential of the grouping:

  1. Together, the RIC countries occupy over 19 percent of the global landmass and contribute to over 33 percent of global GDP.
  2. All three are nuclear powers and two, Russia and China, are permanent members of the UN Security Council, while India aspires to be one.
  3. The trio could also contribute to creating a new economic structure for the world.
  4. They could work together on disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.

Present situation:

A lot has changed in recent times;

  • India’s relations with the U.S. surged, encompassing trade and investment, a landmark civil nuclear deal and a burgeoning defence relationship that met India’s objective of diversifying military acquisitions away from a near-total dependence on Russia.
  • China went back on the 2005 agreement, launched the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, worked to undermine India’s influence in its neighbourhood and expanded its military and economic presence in the Indian Ocean.
  • As U.S.-Russia relations imploded in 2014 (after the annexation/accession of Crimea), Russia’s pushback against the U.S. included cultivating the Taliban in Afghanistan and enlisting Pakistan’s support for it.

Importance of RIC for India:

RIC still has significance.

  1. India is in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is driven by Russia and China and includes four Central Asian countries.
  2. Central Asia is strategically located, bordering our turbulent neighbourhood.
  3. A sliver of land separates Tajikistan from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Pakistan’s membership of SCO and the potential admission of Iran and Afghanistan (as member states) heighten the significance of the SCO for India.

What needs to be done?

  1. It is important for India to shape the Russia-China dynamics in this region, to the extent possible. The Central Asian countries have signalled they would welcome such a dilution of the Russia-China duopoly.
  2. The ongoing India-Iran-Russia project for a sea/road/rail link from western India through Iran to Afghanistan and Central Asia, is an important initiative for achieving an effective Indian presence in Central Asia, alongside Russia and China.
  3. The defence and energy pillars of India’s partnership with Russia remain strong. Access to Russia’s abundant natural resources can enhance our materials security — the importance of which has been highlighted by COVID-19.
  4. With China too, we have to work bilaterally and multilaterally on a range of issues, even while firmly protecting our interests on the border, in technology and the economy.
  5. The Indo-Pacific is a geographic space of economic and security importance, in which a cooperative order should prevent the dominance of any external power.

Conclusion:

The current India-China stand-off has intensified calls for India to fast-track partnership with the U.S. This is an unexceptionable objective, but is not a silver bullet. National security cannot be fully outsourced. India’s quest for autonomy of action is based on its geographical realities, historical legacies and global ambitions — not a residual Cold War mindset.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is RIC group? When was it founded?
  2. WTO- establishment and objectives.
  3. What is G20?
  4. What is Paris agreement?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of RIC grouping.

Sources: the Hindu.