Hard Sovereignty and its consequences

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: International Relations

Synopsis: India’s posture as hard sovereignty will be harmful to India’s national interest in the long run.


Some recent developments in India suggest that India has developed a new posture of engagement with the world i.e. The hard sovereignty. This posture suggests that any outsider cannot involve in India’s internal affairs.

This posture will be harmful to the country as well as the external relations of India.

What was the issue? 

  • Some recent developments in India have attracted international criticisms. Such as abrogation of article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, the enforcement of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens and the Delhi riots.
  • The centre has repeatedly asserted that these issues are India’s internal matters and outside criticisms are not welcome on these issues.
  • Against this backdrop, recently the External Affairs Ministry issued an official statement. In it, the ministry expressed displeasure over the social media remarks by global celebrities on farmers’ protests.
  • Moreover, It was followed by the tweets of India’s well-known personalities Such as Sachin Tendulkar. These tweets had a message that outsiders have no right to participate in India’s internal issues, only Indians could ‘decide’ for India.
  • These statements illustrate the use of hard sovereignty to protect India’s domestic polity.

How the use of Hard sovereignty will impact India’s national interest?

Since independence, India has guarded its sovereignty against outside interference. However, it was used to achieve progressive goals and acted as a bulwark against the misuse of power by powerful nations.

In contrast, the recent posture of hard sovereignty seeks to attack international criticism over unpleasant domestic developments. This is a case of hyper-nationalism, and it will harm the national interest.

  1. First, India aims to increase its status and strategic influence in the global sphere. However, it depends on the relation with liberal democracies.
    • On the strategic front, five of India’s key partners in the Indo-Pacific are democracies (Japan, Australia, the U.S., the U.K., and France). All of them share common norms and beliefs that human rights are universal. These countries are the source of the majority of the criticisms received by India in the past 2 years.
    • If India resorts to hard sovereignty over domestic issues, it will face frictions in its diplomatic relations. This will restrict India’s chance for increasing its status and strategic influence in the global sphere.
  2. Second, hard sovereignty will strengthen the narrow-mindedness in India and affect the morale of non-violent social movements. These movements are necessary for keeping democracies in a good health.
    • Social movements do not follow the orders and trends of sovereign states. Hence, they source their support through transnational solidarities to bring important policy corrections within and across states. For example, Black Lives Matter movement.
  3. Finally, it will provide a ground to our neighbouring countries for criticizing India’s policy, on the grounds of inconsistency with its stand in international forums. For example, the CAA, 2019 was criticized by India’s Muslim-majority neighbours for its non-secular treatment towards its minorities.
    • It will reduce India’s choices of seeking international support for human rights violation in the neighbourhood. For example, Human rights violation in Balochistan, Rohingya issue etc.

We need to guard ourselves against interventions coming from vested interests. However, we also need to distinguish good criticism from the bad. To retain India’s position as the soft power capital we need to allow and listen to critics that are important to sustain India’s democracy.

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