India-NATO alliance : Opportunities and Issues – UPSC GS2

  • NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 North American and European countries.
  • Its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
  • India, as per its non-alignment strategy, still maintains a distance from the NATO alliance.
  • This stand is not in line with some steps taken by India
  • India is doing military exercises with countries like China and USA.
  • India already has military engagements with many NATO members, such as the US, Britain, and France.
What are the arguments favouring India NATO Alliance?
  • Engagement with NATO could facilitate productive developments against terrorism, changing geopolitics, the evolving nature of military conflict, the role of emerging military technologies, and new military doctrines.
  • It would be easier for India to deal with the military establishments of its 30 NATO member states.
  • On a bilateral front, each of the members of NATO can support in strengthening India’s national capabilities.
  • The Idea of Non-alignment after the Cold War years has little relevance. For example, after the Cold War years, NATO built partnerships with many neutral and non-aligned states.
  • Most of the NATO members are well-established partners of India. For example, India has military exchanges with many members of NATO — including the US, Britain, and France
  • For the European and NATO members to play any role in the Indo-Pacific, they need partners like India, Australia, and Japan.
  • If India wants to draw Russia into discussions on the Indo-Pacific then, engagement with NATO is significant. Because, NATO has regular consultations with both Russia and China.
  • Russia and China have intensive bilateral engagement with EuropeIndia cannot afford to miss out.
  • India’s worry that joining NATO will upset Russia-India relation is groundless. As engagement with Quad and a closer alliance with the US have already strained India-Russia relations. Further, deepening ties between China and Russia calls for India’s application of Strategic Autonomy.
Why India didn’t give much attention to Join NATO?
  • India has viewed European Powers with suspicion. This mindset is due to India’s historical struggle against European powers-The France, Portuguese, Dutch.
  • India’s reliance on Russia during the Cold War years due to the political divide between the west.
  • After the end of the Cold War, the India-Europe tie could not be strengthened due to a lack of high-level political interest. This prevented India from taking full advantage of a re-emerging Europe.
What are the present issues in the NATO alliance?
  1. It is divided on how to share the military burden and balance between NATO and the EU’s willingness for an independent military role.
  2. There is no convergence in decision-making in matters related to Russia, the Middle East, and China.
  3. Conflicts among NATO members have increased. For example, Greece and Turkey.
  4. NATO’s recent adventures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have not been successful.
Way Forward
  • The present government efforts to end the prolonged political neglect of Europe is a significant improvement in building India-Europe ties. For example,
    • Deepening maritime partnership with France since 2018.
    • Joining the Franco-German Alliance for Multilateralism in 2019
  • Further India needs to strengthen this by joining NATO.

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