Essay Paper: India is a leading power, rather than just a balancing power


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Syllabus: Essay Paper (International Issues)

India is a leading power, rather than just a balancing power.

Prime minister Narendra Modi instructed to diplomats that India is no longer balancing power but a leading power, and also, it should move from mere influencing global order to whose weight and preferences are defining for international relations. Same ethics shared by then foreign secretary, present external affairs minister S.Jaishankar, in Singapore summit, about India’s position in global order and also said, India ready to shoulder global responsibilities.

Statements made by prime minister and foreign secretary reveals the changing nature of Indian foreign policy, also through lot of speculations to world scholars to ponder over. In this discussion many questions could crop up?? Does India is a leading power? Why India need to change from balancing to lead power? Does world ready to embrace new power? Is there any vacuum in multi polar world that India need to fill?? Can India claim lead power status as it has many domestic issues?? If so, what need to be done to make India lead power.

India as balancing power ………
After independence India has two options either to join USA block where India can benefit from USA help, capitalistic policies and open markets, and USSR bloc to continue socialistic principles, planning process, secure USSR help in defence and infrastructure sectors. But India created third option of non-alignment, maintaining equidistant from each other and taking policy stances based on merit and circumstances rather than biasness towards any bloc. In Korean war, initially north Korea attacked south Korea, India condemned north Korean actions, later on south Korea crossed 36th parallel, invaded north Korea, then India condemned west bloc and asked to maintain restraint. At the end of the war, both blocs’ appreciated the balancing nature of India.

By adhering to non-alignment, India acted as balancing power between developed and developing and underdeveloped nations. It fought against apartheid, colonial activities, neo-imperialistic designs, disarmament, reduction of warheads, motivating nations not to allow military bases of power bloc’s, helping newly independent nations to preserve their hard-won independence.

India’s balancing nature based on panch ashleel principles appreciated and adopted by world nations. In Congo crisis, Suez Canal crisis, Zambia independence …..India’s role recognized by UN also.
Not just in political sphere, but in economic, environmental, security aspects also India’s balancing role is phenomenal. Through g77, securing developing nations interest in economic policies, through basic, great role in climate negotiations, in g20 bringing the issue of terrorism, climate change and cyber security issues. In any multilateral institute whenever India is there, that institution got more moral power and resolved many issues diplomatically even in WTO’s agricultural subsidies issue.

India has a unique advantage to act as balancing power, as it has both capitalistic and socialistic features, developed features like modern economy but still poverty is there, high level technologies in space, defence but many conservative elements of spirituality and superstitions, primitive life among many chunks.

However, this balancing nature also costed India dearly. A friend to all is friend to none. During Indo China war, no major nation supported voluntarily, USA came to rescue only after Nehru wrote a letter, and, as a part of cold war rivalry. India lost many economic opportunities created by increasing global trade where Taiwan, south Korea, Indonesia benefited a lot.

Further India is called fence sitter, obstructionist, indecisiver, risk averser. This is also to certain extent as India abstained in many crucial international matters like Syrian, Crimea crisis.

By more focus on self-reliance, import substitution policy, Indian or Hindu growth rate stagnated at 3 to 3.5 %, where no major player takes India seriously.

Strategic restraint instead of strategic resolve in global issues makes India perceived to be soft and weak state. Thereby even Pakistan also showing its power to India through cross border firings, supporting non state actor attacks like Mumbai, Bangalore blasts.

With balancing nature, soft power developed through our democratic principles, spirituality, international arbitration through diplomacy, culture and cuisine, but soft power is considerable only with hard power. USA soft power like KFC, McD, Washington Post, matters because of its hard power. However Indian military capabilities are mostly defensive in nature.
Overall, comprehensive changes are required to move from balancing power to lead power. In the years, successive leaders took many steps to make India a lead power.

India is a lead power ………..

Indian economy is growing at fastest rate in the world, more than 7%, and steps are ensured to reach 5 trillion-dollar economy by 2024, per-capita income at 2000 dollars, and in PPP terms 3rd largest economy.

India sheds its colonial mentality of non-initiator by inaugurating international yoga day, international solar alliance, and proposed convention for terrorism …comprehensive convention on terrorism.

India also shed its tag swing state by taking firm decisions in Israel encroachments in Palestine, USA recognizing Jerusalem as Israel capital, ensured strategic autonomy although it is part of BRICS, RIC, and Quad and other USA based military exercises.

India as lead power can be understood in changing geopolitics from Asia pacific to Indo pacific, USA considering NATO ally status and major defence partner, membership in SCO, MTCR, Australia group.

India as lead power visible in its regional integration, protecting Bhutan in Doklam issue, south Asia satellite to provide communication facilities to neighborhood nations reveal the same.

Indian responsibility as lead power by shedding its fence sitter also conspicuous. Protecting regime like Maldives through operation cactus, helping nations like Nepal, Bhutan in democratic transitions, infra building in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan in post conflict phase, helping Bhutan and Nepal in foreign exchange crisis through RBI currency swap agreement.

In disaster management in Nepal, evacuation in Yemen, Libya, allowing refugees through default. Open policy, responsible contribution of NDC in Paris agreement, net security provider in Indian ocean and aborted 45 piracy attacks, blue helmets in UN peace keeping force highlight the Indian status as leading power in multi-polar world.


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