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RIC, a Triangle that is Still Important | Rationale for Formation

Context:

RIC, a triangle that is still important

India decided to attend a (virtual) meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Russia, India and China (RIC).

RIC was 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.”

Rationale for formation: 

In the early 2000s, the three countries were positioning themselves for a transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world order.

  • 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.
  • Their support for democratisation of the global economic and financial architecture moved to the agenda of BRIC (with the addition of Brazil).

Importance of the grouping:

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

Strategic value for India 

  • India is in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is driven by Russia and China and includes four Central Asian countries.
  • Central Asia is strategically located, bordering our turbulent neighbourhood.
  • 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.

Way ahead:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.

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