India’s World :Emerging Global Scenario and India
In the immediate after math of World War, a certain structure has emerged and US was at the heart of that structure. That was challenged soon enough by the Soviet Union. After the Cold war ended, for a period, it seemed that there will be a unipolar world. That is being challenged today. In many respect, American power is pre-eminent. Its scientific and technology strength , will be their might. China, Japan and India are doing well, but as long as that hegemony remains, American power will not be challenged.
China is set to become the largest economy soon, but what is the nature of that economy, that needs to be witnessed. While the world is changing, we need to adapt to this changing world. But Americans have immense power still.
The Russia Factor!
American power is not in decline. The US economy since 1969 has fluctuated between 22-25% of global GDP, today it is a little over 25%. The Chinese rise is very heavily dependent on the USA. What has happened is that Europe and Russia have declined. Japan has stagnated, and that space has been filled by countries like China and India primarily.
This brings in that the second point. That is the challenge of whole Eurasia being united under some power. From the days of Napoleon, they have been against unification of Eurasia and its dominance by any one power.
The French, Germans tried it, today China is trying it. The western policy is forcing Russia into Chinese embrace, which they are not very happy about. They want good relations with China, but they are very uneasy about Belt and Road Initiative, and also the plethora of institutions opened up by China. And the reason is that they concerned about the inroads in Chinese strategy. There are different maps doing rounds, and not many project Russia as a major partner. They are being squeezed into Chinese hands. That is one of the reasons Russians are looking towards India, and India should be mindful of these changes, both at global level and bilateral level, and see if there is a way of working out a new basis of relationship with the Russians.
Is economic power the only factor important for being a superpower?
Economy is an essential part of it, but it is not all. It was after Pokhran 2 that India and USA signed the nuclear deal, and things turned around big time for us. All issues are part of it. USA despite its slowing economy is way higher.
The scenario post Trump and Brexit – opportunities for India
India does not have a tradition to become allies with anyone. We have good relations with all major powers. We should not blindly become junior partners of America. Though, there is enough space for China and India to grow, but in some way, natural competition is always there, and that competition has become really severe now. And, in order to meet that we have to build a web of relationships, which will serve our interests in Asia, across the waters of Indian Ocean and beyond. We have to re-look our ties with Russia, we cannot let these ties languish. It requires deft navigation at the moment. Lastly, there is much to gain from American partnership. It doesn’t mean we blindly follow them. There are areas where our interests do not meet, so be it.
In all this, we are doing well. So, we are not aligned with anyone. But what is worrisome is that, what is the backing in India in developing a consensus on the path we want to follow.
How significant is the military might?
Military might is very important. Some critics are sceptical that our NAM policy has landed us up in good space. Many a time, at all our critical junctures, we have dropped non alignment. The reason should be pretty clear, that if we want someone to stand for us in difficulty, we ought to do the same for them. What has been significantly missing in India’s Foreign Policy, particularly, post 1991 has been the failure to take a stand, one way or the other on critical issues. From our perspective, we should be clear, we are not going to reach a strategic understanding with China, in the short run. And therefore, our options at the sea have to be with Asia Pacific countries like Australia, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, etc. The problem is we are bringing nothing to the table. We need to have a little give and take, we have not internalised that in our foreign policy. Economy is under performing , and reason is that we are not fixing the tax policy of the country. If we were to change the tax policies together with demonetisation and GST, we can unleash the economy. If you’re spending 1.6% of GDP on defence, you are not a viable partner for anybody. Military power is still the currency of international relations. And we are not even able to come to terms with Pakistan challenge. Not only conventional defence, it is about time we pay attention to our strategic groups as well. There is no other way to deal with the challenges.
Do we need a re-think of NAM?
India is the only major power which does not belong to any group. You have to have partners for development. We have a lot of friends, but we lack in institutional partners. The Non-aligned movement has not become irrelevant, it has to be re-worked. It has its own benefits. It was conceptualised at a time when our interests coincided with many of the economic issues relevant at that time, with a host of developing countries. But as now we are developing, our interests do not coincide directly with the developing world. So, we are in a process of transition. On many issues, the kind of approaches will not serve our interest. We have to look at the differences too. We should not dismiss it out rightly.
We should deal with the important countries. We need to re-look at our structure of engagement with the outside world, and understand, if you don’t go to a person’s funeral, they won’t come to yours. So, this is how it works. We have to make certain commitments to achieve our goals. We have one big thing that we are offering to the world, our market. Perhaps we ought to give them something more. We have to extract things too from other countries. In NAM, flexibility should be available.