India needs to focus eastward: Ram Madhav


India has “realised” that its future lies in Asia, said BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, making a distinction from the “American way” of conducting foreign policy, in comments seen as a rare departure from the government’s traditionally close ties with the U.S. and Western allies.

“The so-called ‘American Way’ will no longer be at work in the region. It is the play of the civilisations that will be at work. India has to make cultural and civilisational linkages an important part of its diplomacy,” said Mr. Madhav, seen as a key player and track-two negotiator in the NDA government’s foreign policy making structure.

Strategic shift

“[India] has to completely reorient its strategic mindset. Strategic shift is needed from Westward Ho to Eastward Thinking; from Land-based thinking to Ocean-centric thinking,” he added.

Mr. Madhav outlined “twelve realisations” about the Indo-Pacific region at the Ministry of External Affairs’ annual conference, the “Raisina Dialogue”, on Wednesday. He was participating in a high-powered panel that included U.S. Deputy Assistant for National Security to President Donald Trump Nadia Schadlow, and Ministers from Australia and Singapore, Christopher Pyne and Maliki Osman respectively.

Mr. Madhav said the “global power axis” had now moved from the Pacific-Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific with almost half of the world’s population, half the container traffic, 40% of off-shore oil reserves, and most of the world’s defence spending coming from the Asian region.

The BJP leader also called for support for India’s “proactive role in the region”, saying New Delhi would not be a “spectator” as China pushed its Belt and Road initiative forward. He called the project a “Neo-Marshall plan” in a veiled reference to the carving up of post-war Europe as akin to Chinese infrastructure projects in Asia and Africa.