Opinion | India’s High-Stakes Geopolitical Chess in The Midst of Israel-Hamas Conflict – News18

Written By: Group Capt MJ Augustine Vinod VSM (Retd) & Vineet Maliakal
Last Updated: February 02, 2024, 18:33 IST
New Delhi, India
India’s got a tightrope to walk diplomatically. They’ve got to manage relationships in the Middle East while also keeping an eye on global opinions and alliances. (PTI/File)
India has got its hands full with protecting its ships in the Indian Ocean. Trouble in these waters spells trouble for India’s energy needs and its wallet. Next, we’re talking oil – India’s lifeline. As one of the top oil importers, India is keeping a nervous eye on those rising oil prices. If the conflict heats up, it could mean even higher prices and a bigger dent in India’s budget.
India has been actively moving towards green energy, reflecting a strong commitment to sustainable development and environmental responsibility. To offset this dependability, in recent years, India has made significant strides in harnessing renewable energy sources, notably solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. The government has launched various initiatives, including ambitious solar energy projects, to increase the share of renewables in its energy mix. These efforts are driven by India’s goals to reduce its carbon footprint, combat climate change, and ensure energy security. The transition to green energy also aligns with India’s international commitments under the Paris Agreement, showcasing its leadership in global environmental efforts. This shift not only contributes to global sustainability but also opens up new economic opportunities and job creation in the renewable energy sector. For now, will it be enough is the moot question.
The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor is like India’s golden ticket to less dependence on China. But with the conflict, this plan could hit a major roadblock, potentially shaking up India’s strategy.
And the cherry on top? The Indian Rupee feeling the pinch, thanks in part to those pesky oil prices. A weaker Rupee could mean everything gets more expensive and slow down India’s economic engine. The depreciation of the Indian Rupee can have significant implications for the country’s national elections. A falling rupee often reflects concerns about the nation’s economic health, potentially leading to increased inflation and a higher cost of imports. This situation can result in public discontent, particularly among those affected by rising prices and economic instability.
In the context of elections, political parties may leverage these economic challenges to criticise the incumbent government’s policies and propose alternative strategies. The government in power might face increased scrutiny over its economic management, influencing voter sentiment. Additionally, Opposition parties might use the falling rupee as a focal point for their campaigns, promising economic reforms and stabilisation measures. Therefore, the state of the currency can become a barometer of public opinion and a decisive factor in the electoral outcomes, shaping the political discourse and voter priorities.
As said earlier, India might need to play a quick game of musical chairs with its energy sources. This means looking beyond the Middle East for oil and gas, maybe eyeing other regions or even ramping up renewable energy efforts. It’s like suddenly realising you can’t always rely on your favourite takeout place and starting to cook at home.
India’s got a tightrope to walk diplomatically. They’ve got to manage relationships in the Middle East while also keeping an eye on global opinions and alliances. It’s like trying to be the popular kid in school who’s friends with everyone, but it’s a lot trickier.
India may have to shuffle its economic deck, potentially seeking new trade agreements or bolstering existing ones to mitigate any trade disruptions caused by the conflict. This means diversifying not just in terms of suppliers, but also markets for its goods, to ensure that its economic growth doesn’t miss a beat. It’s akin to a business that, upon losing its prime location, quickly sets up shop in multiple areas to not only recover but possibly expand its customer base.
With maritime security concerns, India might boost its naval presence or up its surveillance game in the Indian Ocean. It’s kind of like installing extra security cameras when your neighbourhood gets a bit sketchy.
India’s response to maritime security threats often extends beyond its own interests, showcasing its capability and willingness to conduct humanitarian operations. Recently, the Indian Navy stepped up as a regional guardian, conducting rescue operations for Iranian and Pakistani mariners in distress. This not only emphasises India’s commitment to peace and safety on the high seas but also serves as a strategic display of soft power, positioning India as a benevolent force in a region riddled with tensions.
These acts of assistance can pave the way for stronger regional ties and cooperation, setting a precedent for joint humanitarian efforts. India’s proactive stance in maritime rescues could potentially thaw frosty relations and encourage neighbouring countries to engage in collaborative security dialogues. It’s a move that subtly shifts the narrative from conflict to cooperation, possibly opening doors to previously hesitant diplomatic engagements.
India could reassess its foreign policy, maybe taking stronger stances or forging new alliances. This could reshape its global image and influence. Think of it as India possibly getting a makeover, not just in fashion but in its international personality.
The conflict might stir up internal debates and policy discussions within India, impacting domestic politics and potentially influencing upcoming elections. It’s like when a big news story hits, and suddenly everyone’s got an opinion at the dinner table.
As the Israel-Hamas conflict unfolds, it could ignite a series of international debates that resonate within India’s political arena. Opposition parties might seize this opportunity to critique the current government’s foreign policy decisions or propose alternative strategies. This becomes a stage for the Opposition to potentially rally support by presenting themselves as the voice of a different, perhaps more globally nuanced approach, akin to an underdog team outlining bold plays to win over fans.
Moreover, the conflict may also stir the pot of public sentiment in India, prompting the Opposition to align with popular opinion or dissent. By championing the concerns of the populace—whether it’s about oil prices, security, or India’s international standing—the Opposition could gain a foothold in shaping the domestic narrative. It’s similar to local politicians suddenly turning a community issue into a campaign rallying cry, aiming to connect with voters on shared grievances or nationalistic pride.
In conclusion, the Israel-Hamas conflict is more than just a distant geopolitical squabble for India; it’s a complex puzzle with pieces that affect India’s energy security, economic stability, and diplomatic relationships. As India navigates these choppy waters, it faces the challenge of diversifying its energy sources, maintaining a delicate diplomatic balance, bolstering maritime security, and potentially reshaping its foreign policy and internal political landscape. This situation is a test of India’s agility and strategic acumen on the global stage, akin to playing a high-stakes game where every move counts and the rules keep evolving.
Group Capt MJ Augustine Vinod VSM (retd) tweets at @mjavinod; Vineet Maliakal is COO, AutoMicroUAS. Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely that of the author. They do not necessarily reflect News18’s views.


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