This is India's view of the multipolar world order. In reality, a multipolar world may not be one characterized by respect for international law and national sovereignty, but rather one marked by additional chaos and conflict. More so, there is no certainty that a multipolar world would be more beneficial to India.
Indian responses to various de-dollarization attempts (that could theoretically lead to a more multipolar world) can serve as an example. New Delhi is looking at Chinese and Russian de-dollarization attempts with mixed feelings. Some in India think that the de-dollarization of global trade is not necessarily a bad idea given how the US and its allies have weaponized globalization, trade and the dollar to arm-twist other countries. India has in the past suffered due to US sanctions against Iran and it could again suffer due to those against Russia. Others however point out that de-dollarization would be disadvantageous to India in the long run since any non-dollar alternatives are likely to be dominated by China.
A recent Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) report noted that, in the past, India has expressed interest in jointly exploring (with Russia and China) an alternative to SWIFT to enable trading with countries under US sanctions. There have been talks about India considering linking with a financial messaging service developed by Russia (SPFS, or System for Transfer of Financial Messages, Russia's SWIFT equivalent) after the Crimea invasion of 2014. Reports also indicate that SPFS could eventually connect with China’s CIPS (Cross-Border Interbank Payment System, the Chinese version of SWIFT). While India is not averse to SPFS as it would help evade sanctions on Russia, its difficulty arises from China’s CIPS.
Russia and China have also tried to get more support for de-dollarization at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which is a China-dominated forum (both India and Russia are part of it, too). For instance, two years ago, SCO members discussed the importance of using national currencies for trade among themselves and even deliberated on the possible establishment of a development bank and development fund.
While in the short run, de-dollarization would help India evade sanctions on countries like Iran and Russia, it could in the long run lead to a chaotic global financial system (besides the fact that this system will eventually become more China-centric). Under normal circumstances, New Delhi would have welcomed alternative payment forms as these would provide it with more options. But it realizes that rushing into a non-dollar system would eventually hurt its interests given the China angle. This underlines how multipolarity comes with inherent complications. India faces a double dilemma. First, because of the US/Western sanctions on Russia, it would find it hard to trade with Russia (also if it continues its economic engagement with Russia, it could face second-order sanctions from the US). And second, if India uses SPFS (Russia’s SWIFT equivalent) to work with Russian firms, it would eventually expose India to a China-led monitory system that India wishes to categorically avoid. That said, the widespread belief in India about the imminent arrival of a multipolar world is a mistaken one. Rather, we are looking at the slow emergence of a bipolar world order, this time dominated by the US and China. The issue of de-dollarization is just one example.
Ukraine war and India's alliance choices
If China's rise as an aggressive superpower already pushed India to rethink traditional alliance choices, Russia’s Ukraine war has brought further complications. As pointed out above, India traditionally avoided entering into alliances except when there was a contingency. However, the rise of China and its aggression on the line of actual control (LAC) with India has led to a need to get closer to the US and its allies through the QUAD, Indo-Pacific, and other formats. Ukraine will likely lead to more rethinking in New Delhi about strategic alliance. Over time, the war and its consequences are also likely to gradually decouple India from Russia, bringing New Delhi closer to the US and its allies.
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