How has PM Modi changed India? One may talk about politics of development or social welfare. However, the biggest change is that PM Modi has ensured that India matters to the world due to its status as an emerging power. And this was recently on display when British PM Boris Johnson was on a visit to India. The same sentiment is now getting echoed during the Argentine Foreign Minister’s visit.
In what seems like an endorsement of India’s status as an emerging superpower under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, Argentina has sought India’s help in resolving the Falkland or Malvinas island issue between Argentina and the United Kingdom.
The latest attempt by Argentina to rope in India for mediating the conflict establishes New Delhi’s global role as a power that can resolve contentious disputes and long-ranging conflicts.
India’s status as a mediator
Only recently, India’s position as a global power in mediating territorial disputes was established during British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to India.
Read more: Boris is in India, not as a goodwill gesture but to save his prized island
Boris Johnson’s India visit had interestingly coincided with an eight-day visit to India by Mauritius PM Pravind Jugnauth.
As it so happened, the simultaneous visits by the two Prime Ministers brought into focus the Diego Garcia dispute. Britain continues to occupy the Chagos Islands in Mauritius, despite protests by the archipelago’s inhabitants.
Read more: Hinduism in Mauritius: A mini-India near Africa
Today, the Diego Garcia Island chain on the Chagos archipelago is home to a strategic US military base. And therefore, the UK doesn’t want to give it up. Mauritius, on the other hand, claims sovereignty over it. Therefore, the simultaneous visits by Jugnauth and Johnson were an indication that the two leaders want India to meditate and find a solution to their dispute.
Now the Argentinians approach India
Perhaps taking a clue from Jugnauth’s India visit, the Argentinians too decided to seek India’s assistance in resolving one of their conflicts.
Just like Mauritius, Argentina too shares a colonial-era territorial conflict with the British- the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) dispute. Therefore, during his visit to India, Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero has been found showering praise on India and recognising New Delhi’s traditional support to resolve the “territorial dispute”.
The Falkland Dispute
What the Argentinians want India to resolve is a complex conflict. The Falkland Islands are amongst the most hotly contested territories across the world.
Located in the South Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Argentina, the archipelago was colonised by several European powers including Britain, France and Spain in the 18th century. The British gained control of the archipelago in the mid-18th century and following a series of conflicts with Argentina, the Falkland Islands became a British crown territory in 1840.
The archipelago gave the British a strategic advantage during the two World Wars and therefore, the UK decided to retain it even after the Second World War. On the other hand, the Argentinians kept asserting their sovereignty over the archipelago.
In fact, negotiations between the two countries failed and they went to war in 1982 over this archipelago. By the end of the war, 650 Argentine soldiers and 255 British troops had lost their lives. In any case, the British managed to retain their control over the archipelago and Argentina is therefore making a conscious effort to get India to resolve the conflict.
Cafiero said, “Argentina and India share same anti–colonial heritage and values”. The Argentine Foreign Minister also launched “The Commission for Dialogue” with the UK on the Falkland Islands during his India visit in the presence of a large number of envoys.
During an interview, Cafiero further elaborated, “Indeed the role of India is historical in supporting Argentina’s claim, India is part of the UN Decolonization commission and it is also part of other fora that are addressing these problems.”
He added, “It’s not a matter of good or bad relationship with a government or a country, it’s the international community and among it India that wishes that we find a diplomatic solution and we all know we need to solve this controversy because the UK carried out this usurpation of our land 189 years ago and colonialism is something that is really anachronic, so we need to find a peaceful solution based on dialogue.”
For countries like Mauritius and Argentina, India is clearly emerging as a go-to power for resolving contentious disputes. And there is a good reason for this. Firstly, countries like Argentina and Mauritius look toward India as a fair power that can counterbalance neo-imperialism.
And secondly, they are in awe of India’s rise as an influential global power under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership. They know that superpowers of yesteryear like the United Kingdom cannot afford to upset India and if New Delhi gets involved, then centuries-old conflicts like the one in the Falkland Islands might just get resolved.