One Belt, One Road: Changing Asian Geo-Politics and India

Asia Paper November, 2022


The ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) has remarkably transformed discourse on geopolitics within the Asian context. As an initiative, the OBOR has embedded within itself a peculiar dynamic that propels China as the primary determinant of geopolitical cross-currents in Asia. Evolving into being termed ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI), this paper adheres to OBOR as primary reference, continuous in its metaphorical and temporal usage. Having won accolades and criticisms, Beijing is determined to construct a new ‘frame’ and ‘template’ for Asia, bypassing existing ‘structures’ and institutions. As scholars, the questions that arise from the OBOR are many: How is the OBOR different from existing arrangements? Why is Beijing highlighting OBOR and is it any different from earlier half-hearted attempts at knitting the region in a seamless manner? What are the theoretical implications of the OBOR? Is the OBOR an atypical construct or one that adheres to existing normative constructs? Will OBOR outlast the current leadership in Beijing with the individual stamp of Xi Jinping bearing a huge imprint on this initiative? What about India’s foreign policy decision-making? This new frame has to take into account the closer relations evolving between the United States and India — a relationship by no stretch of imagination without its discontinuities. This paper will dwell at length on this equation. For OBOR to be explicated, it necessitates the adoption of several approaches to tease the arguments — in favor and against — and this paper will strive to adopt a critical stance in evaluating OBOR theoretically, and in practice with a bearing on generating a prognosis for India.

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