History is important. Centuries ago this statement would have been a self-evident fact, for people identified themselves and others with the history of their clans, customs and practices. But the modern society is interested in where it is going rather than where it came from**. The world has witnessed rise and fall of civilizations due to the two essential factors, political desires and economic competition. There is no doubt that the society has been running on the wheels of economics and politics since time immemorial. Be it the most horrendous war or a peaceful conflict resolution, the greatest of allies or the silliest of hostilities, the list is endless as to how political-economic agendas have been driving our society.
Historical hesitation is not a new term to us. Ranging from personal to global structures, it finds its place all the way. It refers to the reluctance and unwillingness to interact caused by animosities, hostilities or clashes that took place in the past. Historical hesitations have channelized events in the world for a very long time. This article deals with how the countries in this anarchical international system are moving ahead and overcoming their historical hesitations. Despite beginning as a socialist country, India signed a Memorandum of Understanding on energy security with the capitalist USA. Similarly, with the history of the 1962 war and other significant animosities, India and China do cooperate when it comes to BRICS. It is also noticeable that India and Israel are now in a healthy relationship, despite India voting against the creation of Israel in the UN decades ago.
Contextually, there are incidents of political affairs dominating the economic aspect and vice versa. In the current global scenario, we can clearly notice a certain trend of international economic-political engagements that aim to overcome/eliminate historical hesitations. The globalized world is evolving at a rapid pace to bring more and more countries under its fold. This has fetched us a global village with states signing economic agreements and Political accords regardless of the animosities and tensions that they had in the past years. The focal objective now lies in furthering relations to secure economic gains on a quid pro quo level.
The present Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited USA four times with still two years due for the completion of his tenure. Likewise the former president of USA Barack Obama has graced the occasion of Republic day in India. These visits are symbolic to a great extent. The leaders represent the intentions of the government, their visits have diplomatic purpose.
Right from 1954 when US made India’s arch rival Pakistan a part of CENTO, to India being indirectly close to USSR during the cold war period, to Nixon government supporting Pakistan in the 1971 war focus, to America perceiving India’s policy of Non-alignment negatively, to Nehru rejecting America’s third party mediation in the Kashmir issue, are a few thorny spheres between India and USA. On the backdrop of this, the situation is very different now.
Despite of a not so friendly history between the two countries, we can clearly see changes in the approach. With the LPG policy, India opened itself to the outside world which is now the main governing factor behind the international economic order. The socialist attitude that Indian economy had begun with started dissolving after the collapse of USSR. Subsequently, the ties with USA improved. Today, there are more than 100 treaties signed between India and USA. The Indo-US Nuclear deal, Section 123 agreement, MoU on terrorist screening policy, Logistics exchange memorandum of agreement etc. are a few agreements to name.
The issues on which both the countries differ are not completely erased. But, an understanding of the worldwide scenario is developed, with both the countries realizing the importance of constructing bridges to fill the historical trust deficit.
On the eastern front, India and China have had their patches of being friends or foes. We have all heard the slogan hindi-chini bhai bhai, but are also aware of the 1962 war between both the countries. India was one of the first non-socialist state to establish diplomatic relations with China, but gradually they found themselves opposed to each other . India has always opposed Chinese expansionist stance.The irony lies in the fact that while Chinese president Xi Jinping visited India in September 2014, the troops of both the countries squared off in Ladakh.
The current foreign policies show sweeping departure from the historical crises. Even with the state armies facing each other at the border, the soft power is being taken very positively. India and China are two ancient civilizations, known for their culture and philosophy. Today there is extensive focus on bilateral trade between the countries. On issues of common interest, India and China are overcoming the historical hesitations. Prime example is the ongoing negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which potentially could change the dynamics of economic integration in Asia-Pacific.
There is cooperation between the countries on environmental issues. The withdrawal of USA from the Paris Climate Agreement has put the limelight on China and India to cut down on the carbon footprint. There is an understanding that economic success requires favorable international environment. With India and China pulling each other down, they will be clearing way for the developed countries. These two countries are vital stakeholders in preserving an open, integrated and stable global trade regime. BRICS is one example of cooperation in the trade sector. A lot of mutual challenges like terrorism, maritime security, extremism, radicalism etc. exists between them which calls for support and alignment. In 2014, the countries issued a joint statement on building a closer development partnership according to which they will explore new areas of economic cooperation through strategic dialogue in the field of investment, infrastructure, energy conservation and environment protection.
India and Israel have had a different kind of history with no muscle confrontation as such. Historically, India voted against the partitioning of Palestine plan 1947, and voted against Israel admission to United Nations in 1949. Despite recognizing Israel as a state in 1950, India avoided to establish full fledge diplomatic relations with it due to India’s support to the cause of Palestine. India condemns Israeli military attacks in Palestine.
Since 1992, India and Israel ties turned over a new leaf with the opening of the diplomatic channel. It was in 2002 that LK Advani became the first Indian minister to visit Israel. Presently, India is the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment, and Israel is second largest defense supplier to India. The relationship is expanding with India refraining from voting against Israel in several UN resolutions. The two countries are negotiating on bilateral trade agreements in the IT sector, and agriculture. Israel has offered to help India in its clean Ganga project and supports India in its counter terrorism actions. Several special force units are trained in Israel. Recent Modi trip to Israel is being looked at as a measure to further cement ties. It indicated India de-hyphening Israel and Palestine.
Mr. Modi during his visit to Israel said “Thriving two-way trade and investment flows were the bed rock of a strong partnership”. And this quote puts in nutshell as to why leaders and countries are pro overcoming historical hesitations.
The aforementioned cases build on the substance of how countries are overcoming historical hesitations realizing its significance in the contemporary global context. All the cases represent a varied kind of historical baggage, India and USA with USA being the superpower, India and China with both striving in the Asian geopolitics, and India and Israel with never a military confrontation. Even though the historical hesitation is discrete in all the cases, the reasons for deciding to cooperate lies in economic-political advantages.
The hyper globalists think of this as the kind of development required to counter global issues of poverty, terrorism and environment. The sceptics on the other hand believe that this type of advancement is taking place for the benefit of the few powerful countries. Whereas the transformationalist hold a balanced view towards the economic and political progress through these measures of collaboration.
The world has been brought together into a sphere of economic agreements and political negotiations. However, this is not a universal phenomenon. There are still few countries that are adding up to the historical baggage instead of overcoming it. But the ones who are overcoming the historical hesitations are rays of hope to global stability and peace. We see the logic of international society weaves the international politics and national interest, and this is the main cause of removing the historical burden. While in the international realm, each country strives to be the powerful but for the national interest, they have to negotiate for economic prosperity and political strength.
Baral, J K. 2012. "Conflict and Cooperation in Indo-China relations." Journal of defense studies 78-93.
Daren Acemoglu, James A Robinson. 2013. "Economics versus Politics: Pitfalls of Policy advice." Journal of Economic perspectives 173-192.
Harsh V. Pant, Yogesh Joshi. 2017. "Indo-US relations after Modi." International Affairs.
Julianne Smith, Adam Twardowski. 2017. "The future of US-Russia relations." Centre for new American security.
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