The ‘India pole’ in international politics

Source– The post is based on the article “The ‘India pole’ in international politics” published in The Hindu on 23rd November 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- International relations

Relevance: Foreign policy of India

News- The article explains the Indian foreign policy.

Why is India reluctant to take sides in international affairs?

The reason is that India views itself as a pole in the international system, and not as a satellite state or a camp follower.

The origins of this thought can be found in the character of the country’s long struggle for independence.

The pre and post-Independence articulations of leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhiji, and Bal Gangadhar Tilak on international politics contained this thought.

The primacy India inherited as the legatee state of the British empire in South Asia gave strength to this thought. India’s ancient civilisational sense and the Non-Aligned Movement experiment, have contributed to India’s desire for a unique foreign policy identity.

What are the priorities of the Indian foreign policy establishment?

India’s non-alignment is often misunderstood as neutrality. However, it is not neutrality, but the ability to take a position on a given issue on a case-by-case basis.

New Delhi does not fall in line with either of the camps. India’s recent or past statements on issues of global importance like Ukraine or Iraq, North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s aerial campaign in Serbia, or UNSC shows its position.

It indicates that it tends to take positions that not just suit its interests but are also informed by its sense of being a unique player on the global stage.

What is the classic view of polarity?

The classical view of polarity is domination of the international system by the great powers. It seeks balances of power by them, and alliance-building based on ideology

What does being a pole mean for India?

India, however, has a different view of itself as a pole. It has not actively sought to dominate the South Asian regional subsystem even when it could. Its balancing behaviour has been subpar.

It has refused to build alliances in the classical sense of the term, or sought camp followers or allegiances. Even its occasional balancing behaviour was contingent on emergencies.

It believes that it has a strategic periphery in South Asia where it has a natural claim to primacy. It discourages interference by other powers in that space. It welcomes the rule of law and regional order.

What should be considered by the international community?

India is a pivotal power in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. It has the ability to help tackle security, climate and other challenges of global consequence.

Western powers must, therefore, treat India as a partner rather than as a cheerleader. They should mainstream India into global institutions such as the UNSC. It should consult India rather than dictate to India which side to take.

Print Friendly and PDF