India's role increased between Russia and Ukraine… Modi got a big opportunity as soon as he became PM for the third time

Ananya Shroff
7 Min Read

Author: Harsh V PantAt the beginning of his new term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has got a good opportunity. This is the opportunity to mediate in a peace conference, which is being described in the West as the most important peace conference after the Second World War. Narendra Modi, who has secured a third consecutive term in the world's largest democracy, is today among the most senior and longest-ruling global leaders. The special thing is that India, which is considered the leading voice of the Global South, has already been a strong supporter of establishing peace between Russia and Ukraine.

Defenders of the Global South
Participation in the peace conference will establish India as a key advocate for the global South, particularly in addressing supply chain disruptions and energy crises and food insecurity. Therefore, India should emphasize the importance of democracy, diplomacy and dialogue as the three pillars for bringing peace to Ukraine and lasting stability to the region.

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Conference Time
This peace conference is taking place at a time when Modi is not only basking in the glow of a new mandate but also the aura of India's success in the G-20 leadership is intact. European countries, which had initially criticised India's stance for not directly condemning Russia, are also trying to woo it by toning down their criticism. Obviously, this conference is giving India and PM Modi a valuable opportunity to strengthen New Delhi's credentials as a global mediator through messages of peace.

The crisis of the global south
The Russia-Ukraine war has also diverted many crucial development funds from the Global South, further increasing the economic impact of the war on these countries. Obviously, with its non-aligned stance and relations with both countries, India can emerge as a leader of the Global South by playing an effective role in the peace talks.

Impact of G20 Presidency
Developing countries have been saying that rich countries should increase efforts to help their economies. These economies have been badly affected due to the Corona epidemic. War has further increased the challenges. An example of this is the reduction in official development assistance given to the Global South and the increasing debt burden on these economies. India's successful G-20 presidency in 2023, which made possible the joint declaration on the Russia-Ukraine war and ensured the entry of the African Union into the G-20, is a clear indication of India's growing influence in shaping the emerging global order.

The interest of Europe
Europe is also interested in India's potentially influential role. It is noteworthy that in recent times there is a growing realisation that European countries have not done much to win the trust of developing countries. In such a situation, when both the West and the global South acknowledge India's leadership and influence, it has a favourable opportunity to find a way out free from the burden of the past. If peace is established between Russia and Ukraine under India's leadership, economic security for the countries of the global South will increase and India's position as its leader will be strengthened.

The sword of food crisis
Imagine for a moment that if the war literally stops wheat exports from Russia and Ukraine, the countries of the Global South will see a huge reduction in its annual supply. There will be a reduction of 19% in South Asia, 57% in Sub-Saharan Africa, 26% in Southeast Asia and 39% in Central Asia, West Asia and North Africa. This will make the food crisis severe. The shock of sharp price rise due to sanctions on Russia, the world's major energy supplier, has already been felt. Although European governments can protect their citizens from these shocks, it is difficult for the economies of the Global South.

It is an occasion and a tradition too
India's unique position as a friend of both East and West and its aspiration to emerge as a leader of the global South in climate negotiations could create a potential formula for Russia-Ukraine peace. This summit is a golden opportunity for India to take a concrete step towards lasting peace in Eurasia and rebalance security relations with Europe.

Direct Talk with Russia
Note that the Indian Prime Minister has publicly told President Vladimir Putin that “this is not the time for war”. In this context, India’s ability to call on Russia as a reliable partner makes it an important voice in the current environment. India has also participated in US efforts to assess and deter the possibility of Russia’s use of nuclear weapons in late 2022.

india's interest
It is also in India's strategic interest to restore peace in Europe at the earliest. This war has put India in a difficult challenge to maintain a balance in its relations with Russia and the West. Peace talks led by the Indian Prime Minister will not only strengthen his personal credentials as a global leader, but India's successful mediation will also have long-term benefits. As an emerging power on the global international stage, such a leadership role is the need of the hour for New Delhi.

(The author is a professor at King's College, England)

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