3.10.15

Economic growth before super power status

.
.
.
.

Modi’s power drive

Gautam Adhikari and the Times of India blog

To play in the premier league, India must focus on economic growth
.

WASHINGTON: For any nation that has major power ambitions in today’s highly complex world, its foreign policy must, to start with, be structured on a dynamic worldview resting on a realistic appreciation of evolving relations among global powers; and, second, be steered by political, not bureaucratic, hands. Do India’s global strategy and policy direction meet the two criteria?
.
If we look at India’s dealings in its regional backyard, as well as in nurturing relations bilaterally with certain global powers, the answer would be a cautious yes. When it comes to stances and pronouncements in the global arena, however, India seems to be nurturing a hangover from Cold War era indulgences of the 20th century when India’s approach to the world was based on the wisdom of bygone times.
.

Regionally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given political leadership in improving relations with all South Asian nations with the exception of Pakistan. He seems to have a view of regional relations that may partially be to keep Pakistan sulking in a corner while India’s ties with other countries in South Asia become firmer. Critics of this approach to Islamabad say New Delhi should extend a hand of friendship and build close economic ties to thus bolster the efforts of the democratically elected government of Nawaz Sharif. 
 .
But it’s easier said than done.
.
Frankly, Nawaz Sharif has limited capacity to deliver on either friendship or economic ties. It’s Raheel Sharif, the army chief, who has the final say on foreign relations, including trade ties with India. He and his cohort have a view of Indo-Pak relations that doesn’t yet rest on bonhomie.
.

Bilaterally, India under Modi has done well to intensify the already growing close ties with the United States and in the Asian sphere with Japan and Australia. His frequent flyer miles can yield better bilateral ties with several major players, including some European powers.
.

It is on the global stage, in WTO or climate talks or the UN, that the problem manifests itself. To see the contrast between an India, the regional power that wants bilateral understandings with world powers, and an India that aspires to be a player in the premier league of international relations, look at Modi’s recent visit to the US.
.

On the one hand, he pitched India to Silicon Valley leaders as a terrific digital destination and then in New York squeezed in an hour-long discussion with President Barack Obama and his team on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. On the other, he initiated a meeting of the so-called G-4, or Germany, Japan, Brazil and India, a bunch of me-too nations craving for membership of an exclusionary world club that is unlikely to accept them.
.
Three questions: One, what are the realistic prospects of the five permanent members agreeing to make any of those G-4 nations a full member of the Security Council? As the G-4’s own statement acknowledged, “No substantial progress had been made since the 2005 World Summit when all the heads of state and government had supported the ‘early reform’ of the Security Council.” At best, the P-5 might agree to any one or two of the G-4 aspirants to be associate permanent members with no veto power.
.

Which raises question two: Why would India want to become a secondary member, with no serious voting right, of a club dominated by a group of powers who are not willing either to share their authority or to take in a member who may side with one side or the other of the US-Europe-China-Russia divisions within the council?
.

And three: Is India truly ready to take on the role of a world power that will perforce have to take clear stands on global issues and thus move from its age-old let’s-not-take-sides approach?
.

It might be worth asking such questions instead of blindly following the old bureaucratic track of taking high-sounding positions on the global stage.
.
Germany and Japan have managed to play in the premier league so far without Security Council membership. Why not study how they developed the chutzpah for that to happen? 

Might it be that they seriously concentrated on economic growth to achieve stunning success before they were called to play?