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13 June 2024 – The Indian Express


Global Rise of India

  • India’s economic strength, military might, and demographic advantages have surely contributed to its rise to prominence in the world in recent decades. India has made a name for itself on the international scene by participating in multilateral organisations like the I2U2 and lending its voice to international forums like the G-20.
  • But ironically, this rise in prominence across the globe coincides with a worrying waning of its regional impact, especially in South Asia, where it was formerly very powerful.

What Are the Elements Driving India’s Ascent Across the Globe?

  • Economic Boom: The World Bank predicts that robust activity in services and manufacturing would propel India’s production growth to 7.5% in FY24.
  • This economic might translates into influence on a worldwide scale. Indian businesses, such as Tata Consultancy Services, are well-represented throughout the world.
  • Higher investments are drawn to economies that are doing well.
  • Strategic Alliances and Partnerships: India has actively sought alliances and partnerships with powerful nations, such as the US, Japan, and Australia in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad).
  • Through these alliances, India has improved its stature internationally and countered China’s increasing influence in the Indo-Pacific area.
  • Furthermore, India’s worldwide influence has been reinforced by its membership in multilateral institutions such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the BRICS.
  • India has taken the lead on the international scene as a result of its rise as a Voice of the Global South.
  • It is demonstrated by the African Union’s participation in India’s G20 presidency and the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration’s quick adoption, both of which were seen to be difficult accomplishments.
  • Growing Military Capabilities: India’s military has become more powerful both within and outside of the area as a result of its continuous modernization, indigenousization, and strengthening.
  • INS Sahyadri, LCA Tejas, and INS Vikrant are outstanding instances of India’s newly developed military prowess.
  • Defence diplomacy has gained momentum after India recently shipped the first batch of BrahMos missiles to the Philippines.
  • Strategic Autonomy: India is widely praised for its non-alignment and reformed multilateralism strategies. Examples include refraining from voting against Russia in the UNGA and offering humanitarian aid to Israel while upholding a firm diplomatic position with Palestine.
  • India also adhered to the “India First” policy, which is evident in its decision to prioritise strategic interest over Western concerns when purchasing Russian crude oil.
  • Technological Prowess: India’s technological breakthroughs in a number of disciplines, especially information technology (IT), space research, and renewable energy, have been instrumental in the country’s rise to prominence in the world.
  • India’s capabilities in the space sector are demonstrated by its recent accomplishments with the Aditya-L1 Mission and Chandrayaan-3.
  • Furthermore, India’s dedication to advancing renewable energy is evidenced by its leadership in the Global Biofuel Alliance and International Solar Alliance.
  • Soft Power and Cultural Influence: India has gained soft power internationally due to its dynamic democracy, rich cultural legacy, and large diaspora.
  • Globally, Indian movies, food, yoga, and spirituality have become increasingly popular.

What Are the Causes of India’s Regional Decline in South Asia?

  • Rise of China: India’s traditional sphere of influence in the region has been undermined by China’s massive economic investments, infrastructural projects through the Belt and Road Initiative, and diplomatic activities in South Asia. As a result, India’s strength and sway have declined relative to China’s.
  • Low Regional Trade: South Asia already has among of the lowest levels of intraregional trade worldwide. Between 1.7% and 3.8% of India’s total commerce has historically been with South Asian nations.
  • Perception of Indian Hegemony: India’s actions are seen by some smaller South Asian countries as an attempt by India to impose its hegemony over the region.
  • Because of this impression, there is suspicion and a willingness to use hedging, bandwagoning, bargaining, and balancing techniques to offset India’s impact.
  • Restricted Relations with Neighbours: A number of difficulties, like as border disputes, cross-border terrorism, and water-sharing conflicts, have negatively impacted India’s relations with several of its neighbours.
  • Internal Difficulties: India’s internal problems, such as internal political unrest and resource shortages, have taken focus and funds away from proactive regional involvement and have aided in the country’s slide in power within South Asia.
  • Take note
  • Defined by geography and ethnocultural elements, South Asia comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It also includes the southern portion of Asia.

What are India’s principal challenges with its neighbouring countries?

  • Pakistan: The main causes of friction between India and Pakistan continue to be the Kashmir conflict and cross-border terrorism.
  • Water rights from the Indus River system are distributed according to the 1960 Indus Water Treaty. Tension still arises, meanwhile, from disputes over infrastructure projects on the rivers and water sharing.
  • China: Although not officially part of South Asia, India is impacted by China’s expanding sway over the region. India and China have a long-standing border dispute that has not been resolved, especially on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • Numerous military standoffs and tensions have resulted from this, including the most recent standoff in the Galwan Valley.
  • India fiercely opposes China’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and String of Pearls Strategy.
  • Significant concerns have also been caused by China’s recently published “standard map,” which incorporates the Aksai Chin region and the state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of its boundaries.
  • Maldives: A campaign named “India Out,” which describes Indian presence as a threat to sovereignty, has recently gained traction in Maldivian politics.
  • This effort has raised questions about India-Maldives relations, in addition to a burden on tourism brought on by a diplomatic conflict and China’s growing sway in the Maldives.
  • Bangladesh: Of the 54 common rivers that India and Bangladesh share, only two treaties—the Kushiyara River Treaty and the Ganga Waters Treaty—have been signed by both countries.
  • For significant rivers like the Teesta and Feni, negotiations are still underway.
  • Furthermore, economic and refugee movement from Bangladesh to India is still a major problem that puts pressure on the border states of India and poses security risks.
  • Sri Lanka: There are issues with the relationship between India and Sri Lanka, including disagreements about who owns Katchatheevu Island and worries about border security and smuggling.
  • It also involves India’s concerns over China’s increasing influence in Sri Lanka, particularly through Hambantota Port, and the delicate situation involving the Tamil minority in that country.
  • Nepal: Despite recent improvements in relations, there are still some unresolved problems.
  • Boundary issues are included, particularly those pertaining to the Susta area in southern Nepal and the Kalapani-Limpiyadhura-Lipulekh trijunction area in western Nepal.
  • India has objected to Nepal’s announcement that a new Rs 100 banknote will be printed with a map showing the Indian regions of Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura, and Kalapani.
  • Because of the new Agniveer Scheme, Gorkhas are progressively straying from India forces and going to China.

What Actions Can India Take to Strengthen its Connections in the Region?

  • Development-Centric Diplomacy: It’s time for India to stop only lending money and start working with other nations on joint development initiatives that cater to their particular needs.
  • This might entail collaborative research in fields including disaster management, renewable energy, and agriculture.
  • Cooperative Security: India must encourage cooperative security measures and move away from a primarily military-centric approach to security.
  • This may entail cooperative counterterrorism drills, regional disaster response units, or a hotline for border management in South Asia.
  • Concentrating on Regional blocs: India should concentrate on forging closer ties with sub-regional blocs like SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) and BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical Cooperation) rather than attempting to rule the entire region.
  • Gaining traction in these smaller groups might have a ripple effect throughout the region.
  • Neighbourhood First Policy Revival: India has to take a second look at its Neighbourhood First policy and give priority to inclusive development projects that promote mutual trust through open communication and make use of digital connectivity for cooperative regional projects.
  • South Asia at the Centre of the Global South: By presenting the South Asian area as a key participant in the Voice of the Global South Summits, India can strengthen its diplomatic ties throughout the region.
  • India’s influence and collaboration in the region can be strengthened via this strategy.

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