Insights Weekly Essay Writing Challenge Day – 11

Every week a topic is given to you to write an essay on it. Now, we are in Eleventh week (previous topics) and the topic for this week is:

Is India too soft to become a global power?

You should write it today itself. Before you pen it, brainstorm on the topic, jot down all the ideas that comes to your mind, make interconnections, make a flow chart and organize all the ideas to make your essay coherent.

Finally, write it down. It will be good if you first write it on a paper and then type it here.  Writing it and then typing it helps you remember everything for a long time.

Reference:

31 Comments

Filed under DEMOCRACY, ESSAY WRITING CHALLENGE, IAS, QUESTIONS FOR MAINS, SECURE-2014, UPSC, UPSC Mains GS Strategy

31 responses to “Insights Weekly Essay Writing Challenge Day – 11

  1. Essay week 11

    Is India too soft to become a global power?

    (No sources referred)

    A global power can be defined as one which has the capability to influence global governance and is necessary to ensure a world order. United States, Russia, U.K., China and some others may rightly be called as global powers for their strategic and politico-economic leverage. Historical evidence suggests that these powers have not been soft at all in their course to power struggle. Softness may be defined as the opposite of assertiveness and activeness in this power struggle. It is a term often used to define Indian foreign policy. But, such a simplistic and overarching labelling does not take into account the historical perspective; the geo-political and economic imperatives. Though softness may be valid in the global sense, it can not be so regionally – where India is a regional power in South and South-East Asia. To determine whether India can become a global power in owing to its softness: a historical evaluation of India’s regional rise; the inherent paradoxes; its position on the international political landscape coupled with a contemporary global evaluation would be necessary.

    Regional Analysis

    The numerous wars fought by India with its neighbours Pakistan and China speak for itself. India has actively defended its territorial integrity while maintaining a regional order. The 1971 war to liberate Bangladesh from Pakistan is a testament to this fact. India’s continous intervention in Maldives’ and Nepal’s polity to check the autocratic and monarchic elements is another testament. It has strived to secure and safeguard the rights of minorities in Sri Lanka through political and military intervention, But, simultaneously, its passivity in the Afghanistan war in the late 1970s may well be noted.

    It is clear that India has a regional strategy and it is well placed in South Asia. But, its position has not been solely established based on political and military clout; economic clout also had a major role to play. Its softness or toughness in the geo-politics has little relevance today. For, its relations with neighbours has often suffered and soured. In fact, economic engagements are guiding and shaping the power relationships.

    Globally, however, the Indian strategy was different and so has been the outcome.

    Global Analysis

    India’s leadership amid cold war owing to its policy of Non- Alignment (NAM) has been commendable and is respected globally.But, non-alignment did not mean neutrality or isolation. India has intervened to safeguard peace and stop wars between cold war rival factions belonging to U.S. and U.S.S.R.. The intensive engagements with then newly de-colonized nations was conceived to promote an equitable world order. The idea of the New International Economic Order(NIEO) was one such endeavour. Though, it did not succeed but left a powerful impression on the global strategic discourse.

    Interestingly, India also tested Nuclear weapons in the 1970s and faced the wrath of the West by way of economic sanctions.. It did not sign, among very few nations, the Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT) owing to its biases. These placed it as strategically independent and respected for its principled stand on issues.

    But, on many occasions India remained soft or passive. The military interventions in Yugoslavia, Iraq, the Iran wars and the growing U.S. hegemony were not opposed or challenged by India. In fact, it is often alleged that India subdued its NAM policy and sided with the U.S. on occasions. Reasonably, neither was India then capable enough nor was it beneficial to oppose the U.S.

    International politics has changed considerably since then and economic clout often defines the share in global power- not softness or toughness.

    Even though India has not been very active or persuasive on major contemporary issues relating to Syria, Iran and Egypt – it has taken a categorical stand on each of them. Its growing influence in international politics is discernible by the following. It has emerged as a major destination for global investment. Its rise has saved the world from plunging into a deep economic crisis by spectacular economic growth- as evident in Europe and the West. Its membership of BRICS, housing 40% of world’s GDP and 60% of world’s population, gives it immense political voice. The global South( economic rise of southern nations and their growing cooperation) is one of the defining partnerships giving much-needed leverage to India.

    Thus, major global powers have supported India’s permanent membership in key insitutions as UNSC, Missile Technology Control Regime(MTCR), Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) and Asia-Pacific Economic Council(APEC). Moreover, India’s resolve to make the global economic and internet governance more democratic is backed by all developing nations. This cover reforms in economic bodies like IMF, World Bank, UNCTAD and WTO. Indeed, India fulfills major criteria such as demography(population), geo-strategic location and economic strength to undertake or lead such reform processes.

    Overall Strategic Analysis

    Thus, there can be little doubt that presently India is well placed in the global political and economic landscape. Its non-intervention in major contemporary issues or softness should be seen in the light of domestic imperatives and its foreign policy.

    India is grappling with several internal socio-economic challenges. Resolving them is its first priority, even though they are linked in some way to its international position. The diplomatic energy of India is often channelized to resolve these issues and thus little attention can be devoted to other global phenomena. Indian leadership at best attempts to shield India from such phenomena. For instance, the deposing of the democratically elected former President of Egypt Mr. Morsy, was not opposed vociferously by India, only condemned. But, the issues emanating there from such as political instability leading to potential oil price hikes has been taken care of by making alternative arrangements.

    Moreover, the leadership is well aware of non-softness in jeopardizing health relations with nations, e.g. Sri Lanka and Pakistan. It is also well informed of the high-handedness of the U.S. in resolving global issues and its consequences. The U.S. often bears the reactive brunt of its actions without solving the problems it acted for. Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and the recent potential strike in Syria exemplify this. These exacerbated the reputation and credibility of and trust in the U.S., especially in the case of Syria and Iraq. On the other hand, the balanced Russian diplomacy led the way for potentially resolving the conflict. It marks the win of sensible diplomacy.

    Conclusion

    It is well understood today in international circles that diplomatic and economic influence matter the most and not high-handedness or toughness. Experience shows that soft and tough/hard diplomacy are very subjective words with a temporal connotation. What is soft in the short-run may become the most robust stand in the long-run. Its opposite is also true that what is tough may not augur well. India’s foreign policy has thus been calibrated well with changing times, both regionally and globally. It must not be forgotten that not much time has elapsed since India’s independence. And, India’s position in just 66 years is satisfactory. It only needs to focus, as it has been doing, on domestic socio-economic imperatives and balancing them wittingly with global challenges and opportunities – just as China also did. This strategy has the potential to put India in the global circles of power- where soft in not always weak.

    • do not write headings in essay(just my opinion)

      • But i see them widely in essays written in magazines, websites and newspapers. I consulted insights on this. He said its fine unless its a comment on some quotation.

        • http://anaydwivedi.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/85/ Hope this link will help u in essay writing(may be use of connectives emerges due to ne headings…. m not sure). Yes agree with u abt magazines, website etc essays but i hv not seen any of my friend or most of aspirant writing headings. (i cannot tell surely but i hvn’t seen anyone & thus suggested u agst it)

          • y it is showing ur comment is awaiting moderation?

            • Because it contains a hyperlink. Insights has change some settings regarding posting links.

              • Akand Sitra

                Awesome essay. I loved the last line. And personally, I think headings are fine. Ive seen them in a lot of essays.
                I have one doubt though, what is the optimum word limit? How long should an essay typically be?

                200 marks – 2000 words?
                250 marks – 2500 words?
                Ive seen people tell that 1000-1500 words is more than enough.

                • I always try to finish it as concisely as possible. Any topic should not take more than 1000-1500 words. It also gives you enough time to think, plan and revise your essay.

                  Anything more than that would make the examiner disinterested in reading ahead. It would also signal that one can not write succinctly. So, sticking to this limit is beneficial from all possible angles.

    • Rahul

      I think the topic demands something to be said about the benefits of being a “soft power” over being a hard power. And that India isn’t a soft power merely by political or strategic compulsions but more so by a conscious & calibrated choice. Soft power, which is defined as “A persuasive approach to international relations, typically involving the use of economic or cultural influence”. India need not & should not be a hard power at all. You have used “soft” to be as same as “passive”. Personally, i would take a different approach to show that being a soft power doesn’t mean being passive but being active in way that boosts confidence & trust and not suspicion & distrust (as is the case with China & US).

      • Agree with you Rahul. Softness has different facets. I would have been better had i touched them all.

        Btw i have showed under the sub-heading Overall Strategic Analysis – “benefits of being a “soft power” over being a hard power.And that India isn’t a soft power merely by political or strategic compulsions but more so by a conscious & calibrated choice. ”

        Thanks for your feedback.

    • navbir sidhu

      marvellous seems to be written by a PRO on world relations..wud easliy land 130-140 out of 250

    • navbir sidhu

      and IMHO, also as pointed by others i felt it did have the necessary depth but felt a little short on coverage..
      power has to be seen on number of fronts..u hv basically covered the political front..touched a little upon the economic front which also requires much more attention..and also on the rising issues of IP regimes , enviornment issues,internet governance issues also add further emphasis to the SOFT powers

    • neeraj

      After reading urs, I feel mine as worthless..

      • Neeraj,
        I just read your essay and i would disagree with you. In fact, you have touched many other areas which i have not. However, there is a lot to do on the structure of your essay. It also needs a little reorientation at few stages.

        You have presented a point of view in your essay based on your own understanding. No point of view is worthless, they actually add to the existing point of views.

        Please do not feel so, if you have put in a lot of effort. Besides, it is possible that International Relations is not your stronghold. But, it is mine and different people have strengths in different areas. I used to feel at times that even my answers were worthless- after reading other’s answers- when it came to certain other areas.

        I have got disheartened at several stages in my preparation because of similar issues. But, trust me, i have risen up every time with even more courage and determination.

        I am always reminded of what Bruce Wayne’s father used to say in the movie Batman Begins : ” And why do we fall, Bruce? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

    • Neerja

      well framed essay. Good introduction and conclusion..
      These are some points which I feel should need a mention which shows india being a soft state:
      delay in vietnam india oil exploration project due to chinese reservations, recent incursions on border by china, inability of INDIA to take a stand against pakistan despite having solid proof of its involvement in terrorist activities, killing of indian soldiers by pakistan, cancellation of GMR airport project by maldives, srilanka’s hesitation in implementing 13th amendment act as per india sri lanka 1987 accord, delay in bringing reforms in UNSC despite india’s consistent efforts.

      Correct me if there’s something wrong.

  2. In regional analysis u cd hav added points regarding border disputes and terrorist activities supported by neighbouring nations in our country with India’s response to it.
    At global front india’s stand on climate change, india’s growing economic clout cd hav been further emphasised.Example of specific countries like Israel who follow zero tolerance policy cd be highlighted.
    India’s cultural history of nonviolence,india as melting pot of diff cultures , tolerance ; role of regional parties which affect india’s stand on various issues like srilanka ;
    Role of india’s diaspora , india being worlds largest democracy these points cd be highlighted.

    On the whole in my opinion essay was excellent , good flow , more points cd be added but it was a great effort on your part.

    • Very good points Ayush. They are very relevant but just didn’t strike me when i was jotting down points, especially those on tolerance, largest democracy and a very active and skilled diaspora.

      Thanks. Will include them.

  3. Sham

    India- Superpower , meaning and means

    The word “Superpower” has its genesis in in the events of world war II and post politics. It has different meaning and different implications for different superpowers (P5). For US and USSR it was a mean to control the world politics which was being divided into Capitalism and Communism. For UK and France which had lost its financial and military clout to US and USSR was moreover a status and tail of old legacy. China got superpower status with the help of US and returned the favour by opening markets for US companies. India has completely different goal and objective for being recognised as a superpower and so are her means to achieve that objective. India looks at superpower status as the one who can ensure world order can and take actions against any wrong aggressions apart from dissent.
    Since independence India’s foreign policy and affairs has revolved around very narrow objective but not narrow minded. Then recently got freedom was most possessed and goals were development and security. These objectives helped Nehru and Co to formulate the policies internal and as well as external. NAM was outcome of this deep rooted thought process, to make the voice at world level significant. Since then India while making any experiments or changes in foreign policies take a sincere look at the guiding principles of internal development, security and peaceful co-existence. India is still walking on the path cemented by Gandhian thought “Means are more important than end” and these principles are means.
    India which can be defined by 4Ds – Democracy, Diversity, Disparities and Developmental aspirations and these are ingredients for foreign policies. 3 pillars of foreign policy Peaceful Neighbourhood, Stable and Good relations with all world powers and To Work on Global challenges i.e. terrorism, climate, food security are built on 4D concept. These three pillars give India space, time and resources to tackle its internal problems of poverty and growth. It would be really a misinformed statement to say that India has its stance very soft in international arena because India’s case is sui-generis.
    In international affairs India’s role is like a sinusoidal wave which was rising initially and then fell down.
    On the journey India had to fight 4 wars with Pakistan and 1 with China. India’s stand during Kashmir insurgency was timely and integrated Kashmir with India. China war was a basically stab in the back by China and political scientist had written it a step for China to get world attention. 1971 war with Pakistan, again a significant step by India which gave the world a new country Bangladesh and solved the problem of migrants. India’s soft stand towards its neighbours is guided by Gujral Doctrine which stated that India should act as a “Big Brother” in the South Asia region and for that if she has to give more to its neighbours it should not shy. India gave firm reply to Pakistan again during Kargil War and had pushed it to a corner. All delegations for Pakistan go with single mandate to curb the cross border terrorism. India knows that another war for tiny mistakes of Pakistan will not solved the problem when Pakistan herself is feeling the brunt of terrorism. Nuclear tests and rejection of NPT and CTBT were to tell the world that India is free to take tough decisions for her own security.
    Post 1990 change in economic policies put India on the path of growth trajectory and international think tanks observed an upwardly turning wave. First time India tasted the growth of 8-9% consistently. It gave the world a confidence in India’s economic potential and gave India a goal how it can play a bigger role at world stage. India once again started taking decisions from bigger goal perspective and that goal was to be part of UNSC.
    To achieve this goal India is working at three levels – Bilateral, Multilateral and Minilaterals. Biggest boost came when US supported India because of amicable relation. Using Bilateral relations India is collecting the support of all 3rd world countries. 3rd world looks at India as a gap filler between North-South divide. Delhi has realised how it can play the role of power balancer in Indian Ocean region from where 60% of the goods are transacted. India’s position in between gulf countries and ASEAN countries enhances its responsibility towards region’s peace and prosperity. ASEAN has already started approaching India to balance the clout of China in the region. India has univocally criticised the Iraq attack and any interference in the internal matters of Syria.
    In minilateral forums like BRICS India is firming its support from China and Russia. India has formed the group G4(India, Germany, Japan and Brazil) and all countries are making their voice collectively louder. IBSA is another forum which India is part, which was formed by largest democracies of 3 different continents and helping India to get support of African and CELAC countries.
    India is consistent participant of UN peacekeeping forces and has sent her forces the resolve the issues in Uganda, Egypt, Srilanka and many more. To tackle climate problem India is always front runner and has suggested historic responsibility clause. India is contributing in infrastructure and capacity building efforts of 3rd world countries along with UN agencies. Infrastructure development and Institution building on Afghanistan is one of the many noteworthy cases.
    Worlds largest democracy, achievements is space technology, peaceful use of nuclear energy, large diaspora are few of the reasons make India’s case stronger. But to demonstrate these clearly notified significant achievements India does not require any loud action. Answer to question whether it wants to “Yes, a firm Yes” but means will not come out of any internal or external compulsions. Gandhi had taken back NCM because of Chouri Choura incident when freedom seemed very imminent and then waited for 26 years and India still follows the same principles with pride.

  4. vipul

    Is India too soft to become a global power?
    Joseph Nye said that Power is the ability to change the behavior of others to get what you want and there are 3 ways to exercise the power 1)Use of coercion 2)Use of Money 3)Use of soft power(attraction).Post world war 2,World saw the emergence of two global super powers US & USSR. Both the countries used their military strength & money capabilities to enforce their dominance. In 1991, USSR was disintegrated in to 15 separate countries that left the world to be dominated by one global super power , US. But last decade has witnessed the axis of global power shifting from western world towards the emerging economies China, India, Brazil etc.
    India economic growth story has been one of the most significant achievement of recent times. India is now the world 4th largest economy. India has second largest military personnel in Asia and its annual defense budget is touching nearly 50 billion USD. India is the world’s largest arm importer and increasingly conducting military exercises in order to boost it security profile. With stockpile of nuclear warheads, ballistic missile etc., India’s military clout is second to none. India is increasingly using its diplomatic pressure on forums such as UN, IMF etc. for the reforms to accommodate its aspirations to play a bigger role on international platforms. India is world largest functioning democracy .India democratic credential have convinced western countries to favor Indian emergence as a counter balance to China.US dilution of nuclear proliferation treaty to accommodate India shows how important has India become in view of world powerful nations. In 1991, India could avoid the financial turmoil due to condition loan support provided by the IMF. In 2012, India commitment to provide 10 billion USD contribution to IMF speaks for the complete reversal of India’s role in last two decades. ASEAN countries have frequently put forth their wish to see India playing a bigger role in the region to counter balance the emergence of China. If we analyze emerging India on the conventional parameters such as economic & military capabilities, political stability for being a super power, there is no doubt that India is ready to assert its new identity as global power. While most of the Scholars are convinced about emergence of China as a global power, India is yet to prove its mettle.

    While the credential may lead one to assume India as an emerging global power, ground realities are not much convincing. In past, India had frequently exercised its power at regional level. In 1971, India intervened in East Pakistan that led to creation of Bangladesh. In 1980s, India increasingly intervened in Sri Lanka by sending its peace keeping force to contain the militant groups. In 1996, Indian interference succeeded to stop the coup against then President in Maldives. There is no doubt that some of India intervention backfired but India still maintained its image as a regional power.
    But in recent past, India has appeared to be too soft to exercise its power even against intended provocations. India has been the constant target of terrorist activities sponsored & planned by its western neighbor, Pakistan. Despite successive terrorist attacks & substantial proofs of Pakistan involvement in such acts, India has failed to take any confident stand against Pakistan. India –Sri lanka relationship has been too much influenced by domestic Tamil demands. Arrests of Indian fisherman by the Sri Lankan navy has almost become a daily breakfast news. Last year, Maldives cancelled the airport development contract given to an Indian company GMR. India relationship with Nepal is already at its low. India-Bhutan relationship has recently come under pressure in wake of China interference. China increasing influence, be it investment infrastructure projects or arms supports to India neighboring countries further undermine the India emergence as regional player. All such incidence makes one believes that India is even losing its grip on south Asian region let alone the dream of becoming global power.
    Global power of yester years used their power to protect their corporate interests. Global powers always retaliated any acts of provocation aggressively and used their diplomatic pressure to influence the foreign policies of their neighbors. For ex: China has shown no hesitation in using military power to deal with regional issues in east & South China Sea. China has been more vocal on its differences with the global powers US & its allies on range of resolutions. China is increasingly using its cash piles to strengthen its diplomatic clout and to buy the land, mineral, oil resources in far-away places. India relatively soft stance in its international relationship is a far different than expected of a global power.
    Some scholar believe that India strategy in international relationship is still following the legacy of Non-aligned movement and Nehru policy of Panchsheel that gave India world-wide recognition during cold war era. They believe that 21st century India lacks the pragmatic approach to deal with the emerging world order.
    Another section of scholar believe that India should focus more on its increasing soft power in place of hard power (military and money power). According to them ,India can use intangible indicators such as its culture, civilization, yoga, arts form & literature,independent judiciary,vibrant civil society etc. to seek higher status and influence globally. Indian bollywood movies are already liked & loved by people living in far away countries such as Algeria, China, Japan, Afghansitan etc.Indian television program ‘Kyonki Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi’ was the instant hit in Afghansitan. Despite multiple wars and regular border hiccups, Indian movie & music star are as popular in Pakistan as in India. Scholars do believe that soft power gives legitimacy and credibility to a state to play the leadership role in the world. Soft power appears to be one area where India has greater & immediate scope to surpass its competitors in race to global powers.
    Soft power is generally not aimed to achieve a specific goal rather it helps to create an enabling political environment for a country’s foreign policy. For ex: Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) program was launched in the 1960s.Program largely focused on training and capacity building in partner countries and was able to create an entire generation of Indian-trained civil servants in numerous countries that not only helped to forge the friendly bilateral relations but also voiced their support for India on international platforms. Soft power has its significant role in International relationship but it is a day dreaming to consider it as the sole mean of becoming a global super power. Several issues such as terrorism, piracy, naxalism etc. cannot be resolved by soft power alone. Hard & soft power complements each other in establishing a country image as a global power. Tulsidas’s statement that Bhay Binu Hot Na preeti, seems apt in context of balancing use of hard & soft power. India needs to use its assertiveness & soft power in adequate proportion if it seeks to play a role of global power.

  5. Gour Hari

    India has been uniquely placed on the world stage. Once home to one of the most ancient civilisation and best educational universities, India had insurmountable prestige throughout the globe. The scientific development was par excellence. It gave the first democracy to the world at the time when there was feudal war going on in the other part of the world. In spiritualism, India is the guide and guru for the rest of the world. Thus India has given many things to the world and India stands for many firsts in the history. India has been the global leader but in a different way.
    Today, there is no doubt that India is better placed to play crucial role in the world arena to shape the world order. Its economic might and huge population base has set the platform for India to influence the world and no one can dare to ignore India anymore. India is having best technologies of the world. We have a booming IT sector which often acts as interface with the western nations. On every parameter, India’s stature is growing and there prospect for playing a greater role at international level. It is quite humane to raise doubt by asking question and introspecting the real situation. Here, the question being raised is that looking at the past of Indian diplomacy and it’s too soft character, would it be possible for India to play the role of global leader?
    Labelling India as ‘too soft’ state would be not appropriate and it would be a gross misinterpretation of our foreign policy. India time and again has acted accordingly to her need. In Non Alignment Movement (NAM), we stood firm with our policy of opposition to bipartisan politics of the world and refused to be played down by any of the two major player of the time. During the war for liberation in Bangladesh, India stood with the democratic forces of Bangladesh, in spite of the intimidating threat by America. We have shown strong retaliation to Pakistan, whenever they followed the path of violence and war. In the nuclear world, there was need for nuclear weapon for security and strategic balance. India not once but twice tested nuclear weapon in spite of pressure for major powers of the world and successfully faced the imposed economic and political sanctions. So it would be a flawed conclusion that India is too soft. But yes, we have our incapability to indulge in seer military options and violence and in coming days it would be a boon for India.
    However, it cannot be denied that we are facing many internal and external problems on the several fronts. Cross border terrorism and infiltration for Indo-Pak border is one of the serious problem. Naxalism, poverty, caste conflict, riots etc are major internal problems which do not allow India to keep constant focus on her foreign policy. These all problems are real and will slow India’s pace in any walk, be it internal, regional or international.
    But, we should not forget that we are a young democracy and we have still not made consensus on various things as it takes time for bringing consensus. We need to build consensus on majority of topics that play crucial role in social as well as political sphere, be it caste, role of religion in politics or state’s role in social life. This will take time to bring consensus and settle things and solve the problems as these are continuous process. The situation does not take away the clout India enjoys during the current time at global level because of various reasons. In spite of everything, India has real opportunity to play the role.
    There is a stereotype attached with global power as a gift from the historical perception. When we think about global power, we think about America as epitome of the characteristics of global power. The highhandedness of America in dealing with countries not agreeing to their whims and fancies is considered one of the most important characteristics of global power. The likelihoodness of a global power without having all the attributes that of America is having is very much real. In order to act as global power, a nation needs to have economic might, technological and scientific prowess and military power. In addition to these highlighted characteristics, tolerance, faith of other countries on you and a will power to move together is very much necessary. India fulfils almost all the criteria except the aggressive attitude. This deficiency of indulgence in violence with pragmatism will actually set the future course of global leadership.
    The world has faced enough wars and its consequences in the two world wars. Looking at the modern pile up of arsenal in the countries, no one even wants to imagine about the third one. The nuclear weapons and technological developments have put the human existence at risk. There is need for a nation who can actually show the path of tolerance, cooperation and accommodation. India has always taken the middle path i.e. of mediation and reconciliation in solving problems. The tenets of ‘Madhyam-Marga’ would decide the future course of our existence. There is no doubt that India is a nation whose foundation lies in peace and non-violence. We have never incapacitated any civilisation or religion.
    These characteristics should not be construed as too soft. We have followed the principle and in doing so we have shown spine and opposed the mighty powers of the time if needed. There are examples of Vietnam and Korea where we raised the voice and played crucial role. The coming time will be more competitive and there will be throat cutting race for resource and market. The developing nations are now growing and they need more resources than ever and developed countries will not leave their past privileges. In such a scenario, a nation with character that India possesses can only lead the world and create harmony.
    The rise of developing nations will shift the growth centre from the developed to developing nations. The voice of developing nations consequently will be stronger than ever. India being a developing country has similar concern. India has shown the cumulative concern of the developing countries at WTO and UNFCCC. The G-77 and G-33 are such forums where India collaborates with developing countries. Thus the rise of developing countries and the leadership role played by India would make India closer towards global leadership.
    There is one more concern that the faith of nations on India is high. Wherever Indian delegation goes, receives respect and love from the state dignitaries and more importantly from their citizens. If we compare with china things become much vivid. Because of our unique culture and history, India has carved a special and strategic position. Indian Diaspora around the world has created a lot of feel good factor in those countries. The craze for yoga and Bollywood has also contribution in making the incredible India picture around the globe.
    The concept of hard power or military power will wane away soon and a soft power with pragmatic attitude and adequate military strength and economic might will come into the forefront. India with its unique quality of tolerance, cooperation and accommodation is in a better position to lead the world which is very fluid and uncertain. The idea of looking America as global power and her attributes as only characteristics of global power is flawed. The changing situation has provided India a better opportunity to become a global power. The blend of increasing economic might of India with other aforesaid characteristics is an appropriate combination for global leadership. India only needs to set her house in order and once done, the carpet is set for India to take on as a global leader.

  6. RV

    The two world wars culminated in the establishment of U.S. and USSR as the new global powerhouse replacing the traditional monopoly of Europe. Growing friction between the two brought forth the multiple facets of hard and soft diplomacy employed against each other leading to an arms race and subsequent Cold War. United States through skilful diplomacy , coercion and self advocated wars perpetuated its global influence and maintained its overshadowing influence globally . USSR following a similar route disintegrated at the peak of its power due to unviable economic and social policies and artful opportunism of the United States.
    Today the United States speaks of the “ Asian Pivot “ and the rebalancing of Asia and has accorded India the status of strategic partner , “natural ally”. The question being asked though not explicitly is whether India is ready to walk astride with the United States . Can it display the skills and the muscle China has shown in proclaiming the G-2 ? Or is it too soft , mired in its own problems , grappling with new issues to take its rightful position at the horse shoe table ?Answer to the question needs to be analyzed by considering India’s achievements and failures at Intra national, Regional and Global issues and forums .
    Intra national
    India today is on forkroads on intranational issues today.The growing population can be a demographic burden or a demographic dividend. The naysayers have been predicting balkanisation of the country since independence which today India needs to effectively combat rising above the party lines . Poverty , inequality ,nutrition , lack of education violence against women is on the rise along with many other issues . However India has been taking slow but incremental step to mitigate these problems and with growing awareness of political rights and pressure by civil societies to bring in new legislation these issues will be tamed . Programmes like MNREGA , Bharat Nirmaan and , Crime Amendment Bill , POCSO , Food security Bill showcase some of the most audacious steps taken in human history to empower the citizenry and to label such a State weak would be myopic and reek of bigotry.
    It has often been alleged that India does not adopt country specific resolution due to the fear of being subjected to the same medicine in wake of growing violence in the country and inability to tame in the secessionist and radical movements. However India suitably answered her critics through adopting the UN Resolution on Sri Lanka and has initiated bilateral talks with the country to ensure suitable implementation of the LLRC report and the 13th Amendment. To address the issues of LWE in the country India has initiated both developmental and confrontational programmes.
    Roshni , Programme on Rural Roads ,PM accelerated programme for N.E. , Infrastructure development , welfare initiatives by CRPF have all been initiated under the welfare umbrella to address the connectivity and development issues of the laggard areas. Special units like Grey hound , widespread militarization of LWE districts , employment f UAV’s have been initiated to tackle the menace of violence propagated in the region.
    Thus India has sent a clear message to people questioning her ability to protect her own people .
    Regional
    India has had a history of being surrounded by hostile neighbours since the very beginning. However in recent times with the colossal strides taken on economic and military scale the neighbours have adopted a much more conciliatory approach. Yes there have been intrusions by Pakistan and China but nowhere is the provocation close to the old times which precipitated into wars.
    China inspite of its massive economic and military prowess has recognised the importance of peaceful rise with India and their transition from describing border issues as “difficult issues left from history” to a more amicable position of resorting issues through bilateral talks resonate their intention. India has been a traditional promoter of peace and dialogue and has reciprocated well. However learning a lesson from historical breach of 1962 we have also strengthened our capability to restrain and retort to any aggressive action and the recent Himalaya Mountain Corps initiative shows our attention to this issue. India has refused to be cowed down by Chinese pressure and has continued its alliance with Vietnam over exploration in the South China Sea. It has even contested with China in a bid to secure energy resources all over the world. Hence to view India’s stand to be weak or to say soft diplomacy weakens our ability to compete and gain our rightful place is unsubstantiated.
    Pakistan today is facing terrorism on an unprecedented scale and the institutions it once chaperoned have turned out to be Frankenstein’s monster ! India has successfully flushed out the militants from J&K to a huge extent and brought peace to the valley . Recent infiltration attempts on the border too were hardened down by the military. The Sharif-Singh meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. meet in New York has been used to paint India incapable of showing toughness towards repeated incursions by Pakistan. Such allegations are parochial and playing right into the hands of anti-India elements, for a peaceful relation with Pakistan is not just a leisure but a necessity for India.
    India’s cultural , economic and social indulgement in the neighbouring countries through people to people contacts , scholarships for students , ITEC programme and participation in their nation building like Afghanistan and Bangladesh have earned us goodwill of the people . This is of prime importance to ensure stability and continued fruitful relations with the neighbours.
    On the economic front India has asserted its position and today is playing a key role in the realization of the RCEP with Asean + 6 countries . India has relied on rich cultural history that it shares with the S.E. Asian states and through tactful diplomacy has included Australia , Japan and South Korea for further engagements in the region . Such engagements are a clear show of our mastery over soft diplomatic powers and are essential for us to rise at the International level.
    International
    At the International scale India has played a key role in ensuring negotiations through peaceful means and has contributed greatly to the peace keep forces in various countries. It has been a traditional harbringer of peace and was the leader of the NAM movement which aimed at stopping the acrid mobilization of the world into military blocs . The NAM’s policy was not just to stop the cold war but also to perpetuate peace and democratic ideals on a global expanse.
    India’s vacillating stand on Syria in current times , lack of appetite to take strong actions against human rights violations in the gone years like in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Iran have often been questioned. Many have alleged India to bow down to the U.S. pressure in recent times in their quest to gain greater say on world issues and a permanent UN seat.
    However Indian policy of supporting the United States according to me is not an aberration or a projection of a meek state. Infact it was the need of the hour as conducive economic environment with the United States is essential for our growth. India limiting its import from Iran or voting against their nuclear programme should be seen in the light of India’s proven stand against proliferation of nuclear weapons to destablizie the world. Infact India has always advocated a weapons free world but the so called hard powers are unable to think of such a proposition . India has defied U.S. and continued its alliance with Iran and the PLO. Similarly India has walked a tight rope to maintain the goodwill of the Middle eastern States as well as enagaging with Israel for precious weapons technology.
    China and India have competed on various issues but when it comes to negotiations on WTO and climate issues India has shown pragmatic stand with the South Bloc countries against our largest Economic partners like U.S. and E.U. India has vociferously demanded the easing of subsidies for agriculture and strict implementation of the CBDR mechanism accepted for climate issues using the G33 platform. India has aggressively criticized the monolpoly over the World Bank and IMF by the West and has prompted restricting of the world institutions including the voting rights followed. In wake of the economic slowdown and volatility of currency BRICS has shown unprecedented leadership and dissent in setting up the BRICS Bank and BRICS Fund as an answer to IMF and West hegemony.
    India has effectively lobbied for its diaspora who have contributed to the success of many nations and provide one of the largest remittances in the world to India.The dispora in return has effectively lobbied for pursuing in the interest of their homeland. India has used its soft skills through the projection of its traditional knowledge and culture which has evoked interest amongst all and India has been holding shows in various countries including central Asian republics, China , Russia and others.
    Conclusion :
    India’s projection as a soft power is no where an impediment to its rise. Infact its helping nature and dedication to nation building through setting up of institutes in Central Asian Republics and novel initiatives of tele medicine , training and scholarship have earned them benefits including greater access to their natural resources and lasting strategic partners. It is India’s soft power that has forged a close relation with Iran and Afghanistan who are playing an important role in India’s Energy Security and fighting terrorism in the region.
    It is beyond doubt that India needs to increase its strategic engagements with the country. Our dismally low number of diplomats , slow pace of decision making and weak coordination between the various ministries needs to be strengthened . At the same time India needs to take a more proactive and wilful engagement in the transitions our neighbours like Maldives and Nepal are experiencing without transgressing on their sovereignty.
    With its increasing economic might , dedicated and skilled citizenry coupled with its ancient principles of mutual non-aggression and mutual growth India is destined to be an able and effective global leader.

  7. Risky Straw

    In 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru organised the Asian Relations Conference in New Delhi. He invited most of the leaders of Asia who were, like India, on the cusp of their own Independence. During the course of Nehru’s speech at the Conference, he made reference to what he called the “Asian Century”. He believed that Asia was on the threshold of regaining its dominance in world affairs. Today, in hindsight, one cannot but marvel at the vision of Nehru. It would be fair to say, that he envisaged for India, a place at the high table of International affairs. A man, who was yet to be anointed as the Prime Minister in his country, was already making his first moves regarding its standing as a global power.
    India’s vision to become a global power has always been limited by its own capabilities. History shows that there have been two global powers in the modern post industrialized world. Britain was the first during the 18th and 19th centuries. It achieved this global power by dominating trade on the high seas. In the age of mercantilism, Britain had big advantages in technology and naval superiority. This lasted till WW1. After WW1, Britain rapidly lost her international global power to her Western ally, USA. The United States emerged as a global power only after WW2. Its superior university system, its exceptionally talented populace, its far reaching liberal polity and its open arms policy to immigrants were big factors behind its strength.
    In all fairness it has to be accepted that Nehru’s India punched well above its weight in international affairs. That it did so, was more a reflection of the stature of Nehru, than that of his young nation. Truly, even Nehru recognized this when he reflected that unless we solved our internal problems we would never be taken seriously on the external front. However, the core foreign policy of Nehru, which was marked by a sense of morality, Non-Alignment, anti-colonialism and anti-racism were to stay with India. The post Nehru years in India were marked by slow rates of growth, high unemployment, and regional divides based on language and unpopular elected Governments. During the post 1965 war, India was forced to offload excess grain from the USA for feeding its teeming millions. Later it faced challenges regarding its economy, inflation and growth rate through most of the next 25 years. For a country that was supposed to become a global power, India was having a hard time feeding its own people.
    It was only after India affected the economic reforms that it so badly needed in 1991, that it looked at changing its foreign policy. From a moral framework based on democracy and human rights it moved to a foreign policy based on pragmatism. Relations with Burma, which were earlier broken because of its human rights violations, were repaired. It made a conscious Look East policy decision, where it interacted with its immediate neighbours in Eastern Asia. It established full diplomatic ties with ASEAN countries and gave more priorities to its neighbourhood. No longer was India interested in esoteric matters that it was not involved in. In other words, it moved from a values based foreign policy to that based on its self-interests.
    Since then India has been acutely aware of its limitations on the world stage. It has been cautious while coming to decisions. It has requested for unanimity in International fora. It has often pleaded a middle path when it comes to crucial decisions. At each stage India has been driven by its own self-interest. It has refused to heed the call of the United States and put pressure on Myanmar to release Ang San Su Ki. It had voted neutral in the UN vote on sending troops to Libya. It flip flopped on sending troops to Iraq before finally deciding against it. It continues to maintain good relations with both Israel and Palestine, yet has not clearly mentioned on whose side it stands. It is cautious while reacting to any provocation from Pakistan regarding cross border terrorism. It is probably the only country, who is adopting a posture of patience when it is a victim of cross border terrorism from its western neighbor. Incursions in its Chinese border are often met by diplomatic gestures and handshakes. It has been accused of voting against Iran at the UN in 2009 under US pressure.
    On the other hand there have been many decisions where the country has been bold. It had lead the block of developing nations in opposing agriculture subsidies of developed countries and jeopardizing, the Doha round of talks at the WTO. In spite of considerable pressure, it has adopted a nuclear weapons and a nuclear policy. It has steadfastly refused to sign the NPT, as it believes it to be discriminatory. It has refused to dilute its nuclear law for allowing western countries to invest in India’s nuclear sector. It has over the past two decades consistently maintained its vision of a connected East Asia. The Look East policy has been a grand success and it has successfully integrated itself with that part of the economy. It has steadily build a case for its entry into the United Nations Security council. That the US president on his last visit to India, publicly backed the proposal, is an indication of its powers of persuasion. It has a modern three phase space programme and is today among the top four economies in the world on a PPP basis.
    Indeed India has been uncharacteristically aggressive when it comes to matters of trade. In spite of provocation from China in its trade borders, it has nearly $100bn trade going along with it. It has used its bilateral good offices in Japan, to get it to invest in Indian Infrastructure. The Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor and the Delhi metro are two outstanding examples of combining diplomacy with commerce. Lack of Uranium in India meant that a full-fledged civil nuclear programme was not possible unless trade commenced with the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. That explains why the Indo-US nuclear deal was a high priority for the nation. The Look East policy is not just an expansion of diplomatic interests, but an expansion of trade lines along the Asia Pacific. India has heavily engaged with the ASEAN during the course of finding newer markets for its products. It has been active in collaborating with the high growth developing economies under the rubric of the BRICS meet. It has been majorly involved in setting up the SAARC, the SAFTA and a bevy of Trade engagements with East Asia. Most notable among them are Common Economic Partnership or Cooperation Agreements ( CEPA and CECA) along with Japan, Malaysia, South Korea. Apart from this it also has FTA’s with ASEAN and Sri Lanka. All this vindicates a central thesis. That is, India is picking and choosing its battles on the world stage.
    In matters of defence India has had agreements for joint exercises with US ( Malabar exercises), Singapore ( SIMBEX), Russia and France. More recently the National Security advisor of India has outlined a framework from where India and US can share data when it comes to intelligence and cyber security. The Indo-US Nuclear deal market the entry of India at the high table of countries trading Uranium. Ironically in 1974, India’s nuclear tests in Pokhran were the reason behind establishing the Nuclear Suppliers Group and restricting sale of Uranium to India. Today the same United States, which condemned the tests in 1974 and 1998, has offered India a chance to sit along with the high priests of nuclear commerce.
    Apart from all this India has taken a leaf out of the book of the United States. It has understood the importance of soft power. Soft power can be defined as the power of a country in the global world on account of its culture, traditions, and diaspora. India has exported many artifacts worthy of soft power. Yoga, Bollywood, Carnatic and Hindustani music, classical dance, Ayurveda, IIT’s ,IIM’s, and a successful Indian diaspora abroad have contributed immensely to the soft power of the country.
    Today, India stands at an interesting juncture in world affairs. After the financial crisis of 2008, it has been widely believed that the dominance of the United States is coming to an end. China and India for the better part of the last 8 years have been the fastest growing economies in the world. For all their difference the approach to international affairs for both China and India has not been very different. China, though opened up its markets under Deng Xioping in 1978, much earlier than India. Since then until today, it has focused single handedly on building its economy. In fact it became a part of the WTO only in 2001 when it felt it was finally ready to compete internationally. India has had a similar approach. Over the last 20 years she has tried to focus on getting her economy back on track. It has made great strides in reducing poverty over the last two decades. From around 50% in 1990, the poverty rate today stands at around 29%. India knows that every hungry belly it has makes its voice weaker on the global stage. It understands its limitations and is not apologetic about being pragmatic. This should not be confused with being soft. An arms race with Pakistan would be debilitating for both countries- hence it prefers dialogue. A vote against Syria or Libya might make its position with respect to future oil supplies untenable. It believes in discretion. For the sake of cementing its nuclear agreement with the US, it is willing to be persuaded on small matters like voting against Iran. However, this would not dilute its core policy towards Iran. It does not wish to take a stand between Israel and Palestine- Israel has often proved to be invaluable in counter terrorist and defence help while Palestine is a sensitive issue to a large number of Indian Muslims. India cannot afford to pick sides. The strategic costs are too high.
    With its GDP growth, nuclear programme, space programme and soft power India is already an economic power. While an economic power is based on statistics like trade, GDP, population a global power needs to be recognized by the world. In other words India needs to be acknowledged today as a vibrant, responsible democracy that is serious about its vision of the world. It needs to climb the last few steps of the diplomatic ladder to become this global power. For this apart from deft feet, it will need a vision for the future of the world. The conception that Nehru gave nearly seventy years ago, of the “Asian Century” might be a good place to start.

  8. neeraj

    Is India too soft to become a global power?
    India, in recent years has been touted to become a global leader. Based on PPP, it has the fourth biggest economy in the world. The contribution of Indian diaspora in every field over the globe has been remarkable. Also, India has been a champion of cause of the developing countries. But, its reputation and influence in its neighbourhood has been decreasing. China has been a major competitor in the race of power, influence and economy. Recently, our subservient attitude towards US in Foreign policy matters has maligned our reputation as a champion of NAM. Also, our soft nature in dealing with cross border terrorism has brought us as a soft state.
    The lenient treatment of the terrorist of the Kandhar airplane hijacking was one of the earliest example of India being a soft state on terrorism. This acted as a boost for the terrorist outfits and a slew of attacks on targets such as Indian Parliament, Varanasi blasts, Mumbai attacks etc took place. The govt was not able to nab the terrorists in these cases and some fake encounter cases were made up by the police to cover up for their shortcomings. When compared to action taken by US in regards to the 9/11 attacks, India comes out as a very soft state. Also beheading of our soldiers at the border has created a ruckus in the country. Though recent expedition of the capital punishment of Kasab and Afjal Guru (accused of 11/9 and parliament attacks respectively) has tried to mitigate this image, still a lot needs to be done to mitigate this image. Pressure on diplomatic level needs to be deftly undertaken to get results. To be a global power India needs to deal effectively with the menace of terrorism. It can only project itself as a global power if it can keep its border and people safe.
    The borders of India are repeatedly being violated by our neighbor China. The recent incursion of the Chinese army in the Daulat Beg Oldie has raised serious concerns about security issues. Though India was able to deftly handle the situation at a diplomatic level, it has been pointed out by some leading newspapers that India had to move back its army in Siachin. If true, it is a setback to our reputation at the global level. Also, recent dam projects by China on rivers which flow into India is also being constantly neglected by Indian Govt. China is also making highway at the border adjacent to Siachin. This can be a serious security threat. Though, India has formed a Special force to counter incursions in Arunanchal Pradesh and recent landing of heaviest support plane at the border, these measures have been said to be of no practical advantage by the critics. India needs to ascertain its influence in neighbouring countries to be considered a global power.
    Also, its reputation in neighbouring countries has taken a beating. Nepal has criticized India for medaling in its internal democratic politics. Relations with Sri Lanka have deteriorated after India’s vote against it in the UN over human right issues of the Tamilians. Recent cancellation of contracts in Maldives and awarding them to China has diluted our maritime power. Though enclave issue with Bangladesh has been successfully negotiated, the final approval from the Parliament has still to be affected. The riverine issue has been pushed back because of internal politics in West Bengal. Also, our loyal neighbour Bhutan has turned to China for assistance. The recent democratically elected govt in Myanmar has also not given due significance to relationship with India. Also, free trade with ASEAN has not yet been signed. To assert its hegemony, India needs to have a good relationship with its neighbours, most of whom are developing. It can increase its influence by helping their cause as in China sea, industrial development, providing market for the goods, negotiating FTAs for their goods etc. Also, it would have to counter China and Pakistan in Afganistan after the withdrawal of troops by US in 2014.
    India’s relation with African countries has been harmonious and its trade has been increasing. Also, India has some stakes in these developing countries in form of industrial and agricultural tie ups. But recent arrival of China, which has bagged some of the important contracts has decreased its influence. India needs to assert itself as not only an industrial partner but also a champion of social causes in Africa.
    India’s relationship with its strongest strategic partner Russia has been on decline. Recently, Russia signed a deal with china to sell state of the art defence equipments. This would increase China’s hegemony in the South Asian region. India needs to work on its defence arsenal with Russia and expedite the research on FGFAs to counter the deal with china. Also, it should enhance its cultural and industrial ties with Russia.
    Also diplomatic relations with Europe and US should be enhanced. India has been working on treaties with the western countries. France is one of the oldest allies. Relations with US have been improving. After the sanctions in 1999 against nuclear test, India has come closer to US and other Western countries. The 123 nuclear agreements is a testimony to its increasing clout. Also, the approval to sell uranium to India by NSG is a major success. US and France are partners in developing nuclear power plants in India. Also deals with France for Rafale fighter planes have increased its clout in the airspace. But matters like Hyde Act, furore over buying Rafale in UK etc has raised serious concerns. India should keep its sovereignty above everything in negotiating deals with the western world. Recently, India was able to voice its concern and has used its diplomacy to deftly handle the Italian Marine Issue. It has increased the clout of India in the Western world.
    India has been subservient to US in terms of its foreign policy. It has towed the line with US in UN against Iran, Syria, Sri Lanka etc. Though, in recent cases of internet snooping, India has been among the top five nations for collection of not only metadata but also reading of content and bugging of Indian diplomatic institutions in US, the attitude of Indian Govt. was at most indifferent. Though countries like Brazil and Latin American has raised high pitched concern and even its most loyal allies in Europe has condemned these incidents, India did not even raised a formal protest against US. India was also the only country to formally deny political asylum to Snowden who was the whistle blower of the Prism program of US. This has maligned our reputation as the Champions of the NAM and has degraded our status in International Community.
    On forum like UN, India’s presence has been strongly felt as the champion of the developing and poor world. India has been hardly pressing for reform on Agricultural and Industrial trade at WTO. IPR related issues has been raised and inspite of strong opposition from the developed world, India has been able to get some concessions. Environmental concerns have been strongly raised by India and many concessions have been granted in Kyoto protocol from the developed world. Inspite of these concessions, a lot more has to be done. US has still not ratified the Kyoto protocol. India needs to keep up the good work its been doing and be a leader in championing the cause of developing nations.
    Economically, India is on decline. Though, the decline in GDP has been attributed to global slowdown, but issues like rising CAD and Fiscal deficit has to be curbed. Also, devaluing currency has put a huge pressure on our import budget. S&P has warned India to lower its rating to junk status if currency devaluation is not curbed. RBI has taken some steps to curb the declining currency and has imposed taxes to curb the oil and gold imports. India needs to find alternative source of energy like biodiesel etc to decrease its import burden due to increasing oil prices. Also, it needs to enhance its MSMEs and manufacturing industry to get out of the current financial turmoil. Economically weak country cannot be a global power. India should work hard to reach the 8% GDP mark and assert its status as a economic power.
    Trade with other countries needs to be enhanced and measures should be taken to boost the exports. India needs raw material for its industries and so trade needs to be enhanced. Bilateral Trade Agreements should be undertaken and concessions should be achieved. To reduce burden from oil imports, we can resort to Iran which allows for trade in Indian Currency. India has to face humiliation in world court by an Australian company against CIL (state owned coal company). India needs to be careful in negotiating terms and conditions in an international deal and must adhere to the best practices. Strong trade relations can strengthen our reputation in the global scene.
    Corruption has also taken a toll on the reputation of the country. According to Transparency International, India is among one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Cases of lobbying have been voiced and dubious allotment of resources has put the govt. to shame. Transparency in allocating the resources will help attract foreign companies and ensure inflow of foreign capital. Also, integrity in administration will help us deal with deteriorating trust in our market. Also, corruption cases needs to be firmly dealt with and made an example of. Though RTI has brought in some hope, Lokpal still needs to be passed. India has been reluctant to be hard on cases of corruption. Improving our record on corruption will go a long way in improving the country’s image in the global world.
    Also, social issues like rape have brought a bad name to our country. Delhi has been touted as the rape capital of the world. Petty thefts have also been a concern. Tourism dept. has to face the brunt of these social issues. Foreigners are afraid to venture into this beautiful and diverse land and India is losing valuable foreign currency which can help the financial status of people dependent on tourism. India must help to sort out these issues to improve its reputation in the tourism industry.
    India has been touted as a soft power. Though India has done greatly on the economic, environment and military front, she needs to assert herself strongly on issues that matters to her on global forums. She should not shy away from taking up issues which it has been reluctant to take up till now. She should be a champion of developing countries and should take up projects for development of her neighbours and the developing world. It should have an independent foreign policy and should be devout promoter of NAM. India has the potential to be a global power, all it needs is the political will.

  9. Keerthi Narayan

    The significant economic growth achieved in the past two decades has created a new vision for India in the global stage. Many political observers believe that China and India are going to replace the West’s domination in the global political arena in the next 50 years. At the same time, India’s critics hold a view that unlike China, India does not possess the character to assert itself as a global power. They believe that India is a soft state.

    It is true that India has not shown the characters of a global power, but it is not because of India’s incapacity but because of its very own nature. India does not want to acquire and assert such characters which are required to become a global power. Global powers like the US, Britain and Russia have compromised on many values that India cherishes, in order to dominate the global polity. India’s so called softness is a result of its long and rich history, the people’s culture, the legacy of its nationalistic movement and the resulting foreign policy and its socio-economic structure.

    The world history is full of examples for domination. Ever since the beginning of modern politics, one nation or other other has dominated the global scene. The Britain was the forerunner in this regard. Since the 1600s till the World War I, it was the undisputed leader of the world. It used its ‘far ahead of the time’ political system, industrial prowess, naval supremacy to establish colonies all around the world. Post World War II, the US and the USSR emerged as superpowers. They used their economic power to influence nations in the form of aid and formed spheres of influence. This continued till the 1990s when the USSR collapsed. Post 1990, the US has projected itself as a world leader. Since then, the US has intervened in the internal affairs of many nations, setting up puppet regimes, staging coups, providing support to rebel groups and if required it has intervened militarily also. The South American continent and the oil rich West Asian nations have been its playgrounds.

    If we analyse the cases of the UK, the US and the USSR and their periods of domination, it can be found out that there are certain commonalities that these states exhibhit. Nations in their aspiration to be the leading global power have resorted to activities like exploitation of resources of other countries for economic and miltary superiority, unfair overthrowal of democratic governments, establishing ideological and physical control over other nations for self interests, funding international organisations to influence them etc. To put in simple words, in order to become a global power, a nation is required to resort to such unfair practices.

    This is where India stands unique. India’s physical geography, its long and unique history, the socio economic and cultural set up of the people give it a character which contradicts with those required of a global power.

    India has natural boundaries. It has been surrounded three sides by large water bodies and the Himalayan range acts as indomitable boundary from the north to the north east. The only way of invading the sub continent is through the north west. It is through this route that the various invasions of ancient and medieval times took place. The British, the French and the Portugese came through the sea route. India has always been a land which was invaded and not a land which invaded another. Aggression and claiming a territory which is beyond these natural boundaries has never been a policy of the various rulers of the land. On the contrary, the people of the sub-continent have accultured and assimilated the various foreign elements into their own. The Mughals who came as invaders settled down in this land and the people accepted their suzerainty. In fact, all such assimilation has resulted in the formation of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society with a composite culture. So, in the quest of becoming a global power, displaying aggression or invading a foreign territory does not align with India’s historical legacy.

    Becoming a global power means many things. There are lot of tussles and disagreements between nations over various issues and big powers are expected to and take sides in such issues. Often fairness and legitimacy are sidelined and country’s interests form the priority in deciding such stands. The US intervention in Afghanistan in the pretext of eradicating terrorism, its operations in Iraq in the disguise of overthrowing an authoritarian regime are few examples. India has always maintained that that it would not interfere in the internal affairs of other nations and the political system of a country is to be according to the will of its people. In fact, such non-interference policy of India is deep rooted. Its foreign policy is a result of its nationalistic struggle against Britain. Having lingered under the colonial might of Britain for centuries, the modern makers of India set principles like non-aggression, non-interference, non-alignment with power blocks and peaceful co-existence as the pillars of India’s foreign policy.
    However, this does not prevent India from making legitimate claims and taking appropriate stands. India’s claim that J&K is an integral part of the nation, India’s support for Palestinian people, India’s support to Iran for using its nuclear facilities for civilian purposes etc are examples.
    So while rightfully taking appropriate stands and expressing support for democratic, humanitarian causes, India foreign policy correctly guides it to stay away from dominating any region, let alone the whole world.

    Besides, India prefers to focus its energies in uplifting the living conditions of its people rather than spending scarce resources in funding organisations for undue influence. For a country which ranks poorly in terms of human development indices, the first priority ought to be streamlining its resources for the welfare of its people. Critical sectors like education, health, infrastructure, women’s empowerment need enormous investments. So rather than aggressive external outlook which gains India nothing but superficial fame and glory, a self assessing critical internal analysis is what India’s need of the hour and India has correctly understood this fact.

    Softness, at the outset, sounds similar to weakness. India is not a weak nation. It has not hesitated to use its military when its territorial integrity was compromised. It has also not tolerated injustice in its proximity. The Kargil victory over Pakistani infiltration and support to Bangladesh in its freedom struggle are examples. But in a world where developed nations which have attained considerable politcal, economic and citizenry maturity, take attention seeking stands, a developing country’s careful, pragmatic and peace loving introspection is likely to be dubbed as “softness”. But as seen, India’s geography, long and rich history, the national movement, the culture of its people and its socio economic set up give it an identity -’A soft but not weak nation of peace loving people.’ India has carved out a niche for itself among the world’s countries as a fair, peace loving, democracy making rapid strides towards human development. India does not aspire to become a powerful nation but a happy nation.

    • N. Ramakrishnan

      In the essay, it is stated that the status of ‘global power’ could be acquired only through unfair means/domination. Para No.3 & 4 extensively dealt with how the so-called global powers came into being. It is also stated that no gain would accrue by being a ‘super-power’ and India would be better off by prioritising developmental requirements rather than aspiring to become a global power. In my view, these points fall short in answering whether India is fit to become a global power. More benign meaning may be attributed to the status of global power as such status could help in eradicating poverty and uplifting the poor as happened with China. Did China use unfair means to become a global power? Is it correct to equate softness with ineligibility to become a global power? In Para 7, it was stated that India was strict in enforcing its own principles in foreign relations, yet the discussion seemingly found India not meeting the global power status criteria. Commanding one-sixth of the world population, democracy, growing economic clout and ethnic diversity make India a fit candidate to become a global power although political and social backwardness still exist. The softness associated with India would only make it a responsible power rather than a reckless one.

      • indrakanti srinivasu

        first let me understand what does it mean by being a global power? gone are the days of political or economic leverage by being stronger than other…. today the whole world is at the stake of insecurity…be it climate change or,resource depletion or food starvation…..!!! really the powerful one will address the global citizen’s problem… influence the strategies,policy decisions….

        India, having dealing with social,economic,ethnic diversity ..is striving to bring unity in prosperity..with inclusive growth in its aiming planning purpose. having tasted disparities and development problems, chauvinism..may be all softer steps are opt.

        the point i’d like to stress is in any essay before jumping, it is better to clearly establish the purpose!!!

  10. dhanunjaya.s

    I have intrest this exams

  11. sirisha

    shall I know what is the meaning for the question

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