Book review: South Asia Conundrum: The Great Power Gambit

Date01 December 2021
Published date01 December 2021
DOI10.1177/23477970211039144
Book Reviews 439
Reference
Smith, S. (2019). Japan rearmed: The politics of military power. Harvard University Press.
Alice Dell’Era
Florida International University
Miami, FL, USA.
E-mail: adell013@fiu.edu
B. M. Jain. 2019. South Asia Conundrum: The Great Power Gambit.
Lanham, USA: Lexington Books. 171 pp. ISBN 978-1-4985-7175-3.
DOI: 10.1177/23477970211039144
The title of B. M. Jain’s new book, South Asia Conundrum: The Great Power
Gambit, sums up the developments in the region very aptly. South Asia has
witnessed a number of developments and changes which have put it at the centre
of global political map. Since the Cold War, South Asia has been at the centre
of the great power rivalry and even today the rising powers are vying for an
opportunity to gain influence and foothold in the region.
The book rightly highlights that South Asia has been a major pawn in the great
power game during the Cold War and after. Most notably, the Soviet Union’s
interest in Afghanistan which ultimately led to its defeat, left the region highly
volatile and unstable. This was followed by the United States’ invasion of
Afghanistan under its ‘war against terror’ post-9/11. Both the United States and
the erstwhile Soviet Union have attempted to understand and control the Afghan
situation. However, both of them in their own way have further complicated the
situation. The Afghan issue is a multi-dimensional and complicated problem. The
rise of Taliban and other terror outfits have further complicated the situation. For
peace to be restored in Afghanistan there needs to be coordination and commitment
on the part of the countries involved. The United States, Russia, India, Pakistan
and China, all need to work together. However, we have seen that every country
has its own personal need as priority. The half-hearted efforts by Pakistan and the
one-dimensional agenda of the United States have not delivered the desired
results. This is one issue which has had its repercussions globally and especially
on South Asia.
Another major development has been the rise of China, both economically and
militarily. In the last decade China has been making strong efforts to increase its
influence and foothold in South Asia. The ‘all weather friendship’ between China
and Pakistan has further strengthened with the implementation of the China
Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is a big part of Beijing’s grand Belt
and Road Initiative (BRI), which was announced by Xi Jinping in 2013. In
addition to this, Beijing is also trying to build relationships with other countries.
Since the BRI, Nepal and Sri Lanka have come closer to Beijing. There has been
massive increase in Chinese investments in South Asia. To add to this, there have
been reports of Chinese influencing the domestic politics of some countries and

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