Dilemmas of India’s great power ambitions

Source– The post is based on the article “Dilemmas of India’s great power ambitions” published in “The Indian Express” on 24th July 2023.

Syllabus: GS32- International relations

Relevance: Issues related to Indian foreign policy

News- The article explains the dilemma for India in projecting itself a global power.

What are the strengths of India on the economic and strategic front?

India’s foreign exchange reserves are around $600 billion. India is not worried about war with Pakistan.

There is higher GDP growth and significant poverty reduction has been achieved.

India is now ranked as the world’s fifth largest economy. It has one of the largest militaries in the world with over a hundred nuclear weapons.

Relationship with the US is strong. India has strong relationships with several powerful states around the world.

India is also one of the pivotal swing powers of the contemporary international system. It is strategically located.

There is talk of India’s role in world politics in the context of great power politics around the Ukraine. Both Russia and the West want India to be on their side.

There is demand for mediation by India in issue to bring an end to the war.

India employs the rhetoric of mediation during global crises. It positions itself as a connecting link between the north and south, as well as the east and west. This implies its significant role as a major player in world politics.

The nation’s national power has witnessed a remarkable rise. It is now a formidable force with the ability and aspirations to shape the international system.

What are the weaknesses of India on the economic and strategic front?

India GDP per capita was $1,947 in 2021. It was $2,227 for Bangladesh. It is more than that of India even though Bangladesh is only the 40th largest military in the world.

India faces major infrastructural and governance issues. Ease of doing business may have improved, but starting a business without a bribe is still not easy.

There exists regional, caste, ethnic and religious divisions. India’s domestic challenges will continue to distract the attention of its political leaders from global problems.

India’s political class will have to reduce poverty and improve the well-being of Indians living under the poverty line. It will divert its attention from external engagements.

When the political class has little concern about the country’s foreign and security policy, career bureaucrats manage them. They follow a traditionalist approach and don’t take risky decisions. The foreign policy tends to be on autopilot without political will.

A weak domestic economy prevents politicians from allocating adequate resources for foreign policy objectives.

As per the Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs, “despite an increase in the overall budget allocation, the allocation made to MEA in percentage terms is showing a downward turn during the last four years.

Such allocation does not take into consideration the country’s rising aspirations and growing global stature.

What is the way forward for Indian foreign policy?

India’s domestic inabilities will limit its ability to influence the world order.

If a country is not a rule shaper, it will be a rule taker. India will have to influence and shape the global order to meet its foreign policy objectives. It will impact its economic growth, security environment and geopolitical and geo economic interests.

India’s influence on the world order is undeniable. In today’s interconnected world, a nation’s global impact and its domestic growth are linked to each other.

India’s role in shaping international politics should be influenced by its domestic context. Its global involvement must prioritise the welfare of its citizens. Strategic isolation is not a viable choice.

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