India’s Foreign Policy Dimensions

One of the major dimensions of India’s foreign policy is to amplify its weight in the global governance scenario and emerge eventually as a policymaker in the international perspective. Under that wisdom, India’s civil nuclear programme with the then US president George W Bush’s administration was much for producing electricity as well as about redefining the country’s position on the global non-proliferation regime. However, the US support to India’s bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, can be best described as elusive. 

The US, instead, wants to test whether the country is a responsible stakeholder as regards negotiations on several issues ranging from international trade to climate change. From the Indian standpoint, these US benchmarks are undeniably self-serving and expressed by the latest intellectual rationale by a narcissist Washington. While India is ready to engage itself on such issues and take part more comprehensively in world decision-making bodies as per its own realisable self interest, it highly dispenses taking tests from anyone, even if it’s the all-powerful US. 

Another major foreign policy objective of the country involves strengthening the factors which are critical for India to become a credible power, both on the global and regional stage. Such an intention would comprise maintaining the current high rate of economic growth, consolidating the advantages in the knowledge industries, extending skills and education to the younger population and modernising its security agencies and armed forces. 

It needs no mention that on both the above fronts, New Delhi would require a more open and deeper cooperation with Washington via integration of the latter’s advanced technology sectors, liberalisation of trade, opening of the Indian education apparatus to American community colleges and varsities, US investments in Indian defence industry and the American expertise for upgrading the Indian intelligence gathering, sharing and processing. New Delhi has already engaged itself with Washington as regards these fronts. However, the results remain far below potential but encouraging nevertheless. 

Above anything else, the US has to recognise that it’s dealing with a more assertive India. The country, for long, saw itself as a knee-weak and developing nation, unwilling to loosen its colonial shackles. Only in the recent years, India has begun inching away from its previous emphasis on the chimera of a “strategic autonomy” for focussing its own role for shaping the global and more specifically the global environment. 

Even in the recent past, the country’s internal characteristic as a liberalised democracy was in conflict with the external image of a leader of global South pitted against the West. But a rising India, equipped with thriving entrepreneurial capitalism, expanding global interests and robust democracy, is all set to acquire a fresh identity as an advocate of a liberal international order. 

It needs to be seen whether the Barack Obama administration seizes this moment. The US president has already made his point, but it’s not clear whether his mandarins in the administration are ready to acknowledge the rise of India. That’s likely to require a jump into the unknown coupled with a historic overhaul of the international power hierarchy.

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