The Goldilocks Principle and the Jaishankar Doctrine

So, years ago, India’s External Affairs Minister Dr Jaishankar had explained an interesting idea, which inspired a lot of my current works on the Indo-Pacific, Indian foreign policy and even international law cum global governance. He explains in a meet for the Atlantic Council about the Goldilocks Principle. Here is the video embedded below:

The reason this video fascinated my interest was that Dr Jaishankar’s Doctrine as the host called it in the video makes a lot of real sense. Generally, when we analyse the history of the cold war, we assume that colonialism largely shaped the rules-based international order, leading to the rise of the anti-colonial and non-aligned movements across the globe, obviously backed by either the Soviets or the NAM members. Sometimes, these “anti-West” narratives and groups usually acted as buffer groupings which could affect the way several NATO countries used to grow and expand across. India too was a beneficiary and fiduciary to these buffer groupings. I had recently come across this expositional text by Wilson Center where we see how the Chinese Embassy in India examines India’s foreign policy in the 1960s, before the Sino-Indo war had culminated in 1962. The claims made by the Chinese were that India under former PM Nehru was already attempting to cut down the anti-colonial interests of the Sino-Soviet and the NAM bloc countries, by serving some aspects of the US and the UK (overall, the NATO countries). When I relate with this exposition made by Dr Jaishankar, adding up to his recent book “The India Way”, I must appreciate his brilliant understanding of the West here.

So, now let us come back to the current geopolitical churning happening in Europe due to Russia’s attacks in Ukraine.

If Russia makes mistakes and the US is successful in pushing Russia towards CCP, India despite being neutral will be associated more with the West. The US is the master of divide-and-rule. So much so that even Europe is not able to rise above. India knows this, smartly.

I have been critical of the way the Anglosphere has approached India and Asian powers, especially their stakeholders. However, the developments in the US-India 2+2 meeting speak otherwise. The churning which is happening in the West is a clear reflection of reconciliation which will shape the India-West relationship for long.

We do not know exactly the future of these middle powers:

  1. India
  2. The Abraham Accords Countries
  3. Europe

So, we cannot predict how will the US and China survive. It will be a long quibble.

Earlier, I would have agreed with the pro-EUropeanists and even the Eurasianists. Now I feel if Europe cannot become non-aligned, independent or multi aligned, it would not even reap from the new order, nor can it survive the Trans Atlantic configuration. It is becoming clear that the US is trying to hedge its strategic investments in defence and security from Europe towards Asia. To the counter-arguments that the US is decreasing its presence in the Pacific, we still have to see how will the US Indo Pacific Command will shape, especially the 7th Fleet. I am not into defence so would abstain much comments on this. I however admit to see some trend coming up, to strengthen India’s naval capacities, for sure.

So beyond your narrative of colonialism-decoloniality (since these narratives despite having some factual basis are political advocacy psyops), the fact is that India’s engagement with the West is strategic, and not based on some brown sahib effect. India needs to therefore become a multi-aligned, neutral power, which can engage with the West as freely as possible.

It simply means that while India constructs severe counter dependencies, to hedge the risks that emanate from its relationship with the “Westosphere”, it has to ensure that it keeps emanating on the part of management and proclivity that shapes the relationship at the level of various stakeholders. That will largely shape India’s openness and domestic chains resilience much. This article by Surya Kanegaonkar on why the Quad will benefit from India-Russia ties would make a lot of sense.

Someone had rightly commented — that a post-colonial India is very much capable to usher the same Western tools of governance innovation (divide and rule being one of them) to become stronger despite lacking resources in some ways.

Someone had rightly commented — that a post-colonial India is very much capable to usher the same Western tools of governance innovation (divide and rule being one of them) to become stronger despite lacking resources in some ways.

One more thing to note here — to refer to a criticism by Priyank from Rashtram about India’s foreign policy goals not being much institutional and foresought — I guess that problem can be addressed. I am already seeing convergence of interdisciplinary interests of Indian value.

So this is a funny take to end, but I will admit — India learns slowly, but the day it learns better, it survives the hardest.



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