CONCEPT NOTE

The Security Summit takes place at an opportune moment when a new Government takes office in India following parliamentary elections. A review of India’s multilateral engagements appears inevitable, as rapidly evolving factors determining the “New World Order” take shape in a global environment greatly influenced by commerce, technology and military might be underpinned by moral civilisational values.

Distinguished panellists in various sessions at the two-day Summit in New Delhi will deliberate on this New World Order, and the influence India will wield in shaping it, as well as in projecting its own worldview. Various geopolitical architectures — from the “Indo Pacific” and the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) to the “Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation” (BIMSTEC) and the “Eurasia” concept — will be examined, as will India’s engagement with the UN, World Trade Organisation (WTO )and other multilateral bodies.

The conflict between materialistic, national goals and abiding, universal ethical values will also be debated in their application to issues ranging from open market economies to artificial intelligence to global warming to warcraft and its attendant development of modern weaponry on land, sea and space.

The speakers will explore the determinants of the foundation on which the New Order will stand; whether it will remain rooted in the Western liberal system of values or adapt to alternative approaches from ancient civilisations again rising in the East.

The East’s economic powers — notably China and India — will also be subject of discussion, focussing on how they challenge prevailing Western civilisational tenets, while they pursue advancement in commerce and technology, backed by military strength, for the material wellbeing of its citizens.

China’s offering in this space — through a belief in its rightful place at the head of tianxia, or “all under heaven”, thereby elevating it to the heart of power and civilisation — will also be studied.

Typically, China has chosen to execute this ambition through the seemingly materialistic concept of BRI, whose impact will be debated at the Conclave. BRI covers nearly 70 countries by land and sea, touching every element of global society, from shipping to agriculture, digital economy to tourism, politics to culture. It symbolises a new phase in China’s ambition as a superpower: to remake the world economy and position it at the centre of globalisation.

This doctrine is challenged by alternate visions including India’s BIMSTEC, which promotes connectivity linking Asia with Africa, as well as with the Indian and Pacific Oceans through trans-border corridors. It will enable India to break through the traditional confines of South Asia and leverage its Bay of Bengal identity.

There will be a discussion on the Old World Order and its attempt to evolve. Speakers at the Summit will assess the resilience of the existing US-led Order, and its effort to preserve a Post World War II dominance.

The US, whose military strength and centrality in the global financial and cyber systems gives it unmatched leverage over the rest of the world, has quickly responded to new challenges with an Indo Pacific architecture to connect the two oceans and the littoral landmasses. It is in this vast region that the world’s great growth engines — the US,  Russia, China, India, and Germany — power the bulk of global economic activity. Half the world’s yearly maritime trade traverses this region, it constitutes 61 percent of the global population, and has some 66 percent of global oil, 50 per cent of global container traffic and 33 per cent of global cargo trade passing through the Indian Ocean region. In its wake, a new alliance is taking form and substance. Called the “Quadrilateral”, it is made up of the US, India, Japan and Australia.

The focus on the World Order on the great Oceans, which includes the Atlantic, will be the subject of a deep, maritime discussion. These powerplays in a critical region have far-reaching consequences, in the hinterlands of Eurasia where a separate, enigmatic vision is taking shape.

With the disappearance of old, ideological battle lines and the establishment of trade links, a new geographic entity is emerging — Eurasia– embracing Asia and Europe. Led by a resurgent Germany, Eurasia embraces concerns such as energy supplies, which have in fact reconciled this vision with Russia’s own initiatives on the world stage, straining decades of close ties between western Europe and the US.

Whether a resurgent Germany under Chancellor Angela Merkel can help construct an inclusive, multipolar world — that has space for a Russian Federation led by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Asian giants, China and India — will also be debated. Also studied will be a possible revival of an ailing European Union through integration to a “Eurasian Supercontinent” that becomes the cornerstone of the new international order.

The summit will deliberate on the inclusive nature of a Eurasia concept and its attraction for a post Cold War Russia in its endeavour to be on the global stage, even as it finds partners outside the Western world to establish groupings such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS).

The advances in weaponised deployment in all its dimensions will be subject of discussion, including futuristic warplanes and nuclear submarines, drones, anti-ballistic missile systems and communications platforms to enhance military domination on land and sea, and in space.

Global Terrorism, including Cyber Warfare, will be closely scrutinised in its use by state and non-state actors.

Also examined will be the efforts of India, a major importer of weapons and military equipment, to develop a homegrown defence industry, as it opens up to the private sector.

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