India’s pursuit of great power status is fraught with complex dilemmas that demand careful consideration. On one hand, the nation seeks to assert itself as a global player, leveraging its economic prowess and strategic capabilities. However, this ambition is tempered by the stark reality of widespread poverty and socio-economic disparities within the country. The challenge lies in balancing the imperatives of national development with the responsibilities that come with great power status. Striking this delicate equilibrium requires addressing internal challenges, such as poverty alleviation and inclusive growth, while simultaneously navigating the external dynamics of global geopolitics. The dilemmas faced by India in its quest for great power status underscore the need for a nuanced and multifaceted approach that reconciles domestic imperatives with international aspirations.
Tag: GS Paper-3: Indian Economy
Power and its consequences; India of 1991: Powers and Challenges; India of 2023: Powers; India of 2023: Challenges.
Even though domestic inabilities will continue to moderate New Delhi’s ability to influence the world order, being unwilling to be a ‘global rule shaper’ would be a strategic blunder.
Decoding the editorial: Power and its consequences
India of 1991: Powers and Challenges
- Economic aspect: A weak, poor, and deeply beleaguered country with a foreign exchange reserve of $5.8 billion and a nominal GDP of $270.11 billion.
- Of the 846 million population, around 50% were poor.
- Neighbourhood: Despite efforts to diffuse fears of a nuclear war, prospects of an India-Pakistan clash loomed, and violence in Kashmir was at its peak.
- Strategic aspect: The Soviet Union collapsed. It was India’s trusted partner.
- Strained relations with the United States further weighed on the country’s ruling elite.
- American officials kept a close watch on India and Pakistan and their nuclear plans, and occasionally travelled to the subcontinent to counsel the cantankerous neighbours.
India of 2023: Powers
- Economic aspect: India’s foreign exchange reserve has grown to around $600 billion.
- The reforms initiated after the 1991 economic crisis not only led to higher GDP growth but also significant poverty reduction.
- Ranked as the world’s fifth largest economy, India’s nominal GDP could soon touch $4 trillion.
- Neighbourhood: A war with Pakistan is not something Indian leaders lose sleep over. China has taken that place and there is a general sense of foreign policy optimism.
- Strategic aspect: It has one of the largest militaries in the world with over a hundred nuclear weapons.
- The U.S. is now one of India’s closest friends, and New Delhi enjoys strong relationships with several powerful states around the world.
- The Ukraine war brought renewed focus on India’s role in world politics.
- The U.S. and the wealthy West want India to be on their side.
- An embattled Russian Federation is doing everything it can to ensure India does not turn its back on Moscow.
- There are serious suggestions that India should mediate between Ukraine and Russia to bring an end to the war.
- India is a bridge between the north and south and east and west.
India of 2023: Challenges
- Despite being the fifth largest economy in the world, its GDP per capita was $1,947 in 2021 whereas that of Bangladesh, at $2,227, was more than that of India even though Bangladesh is only the 40th largest military in the world.
- A few days of rain crumble the infrastructure, even in the national capital.
- Regional, caste, ethnic and religious divisions run deep.
- The ease of doing business may have improved, but starting a business without a bribe is still not easy.
Domestic vs global governance:
- Reducing poverty is a task that is bound to divert attention from serious external engagements.
- When the political class gives scant attention to the country’s foreign and security policy, it is managed by career bureaucrats who usually do not diverge from precedents and avoid taking even remotely risky decisions.
- Without political will, foreign policy tends to be on autopilot.
- The presence of a weak economy also tempers the Indian elite’s appetite for external engagement.
- The political class can not allocate attention and resources to foreign and security policies if large sections of the population are living in poverty.
- The Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs (2022-23) observed that despite an increase in the overall budget allocation of the Government of India, the allocation made to the Ministry of External Affairs in percentage terms has witnessed a downward turn during the last four years and during 2022-23 it is only 0.44%.
India has no choice but to influence and shape the global order to meet its foreign policy objectives which would have significant impact on its economic growth, security environment and geopolitical and geo economic interests.
Source: The Hindu
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What are the primary dilemmas faced by India in its pursuit of great power status?
India grapples with balancing its aspirations for global influence against the pressing issues of poverty, socio-economic disparities, and other internal challenges. The struggle lies in finding a harmonious equilibrium between national development and the responsibilities associated with great power status.
Q: How do India’s domestic challenges impact its great power ambitions?
The socio-economic disparities and poverty prevalent within India pose significant hurdles to its global ambitions. Addressing these internal issues is crucial for projecting a credible image on the international stage and achieving sustained economic growth.
Q: What role does inclusive growth play in resolving the dilemmas of India’s great power ambitions?
Inclusive growth is pivotal in navigating the dilemmas faced by India. By ensuring that the benefits of economic development reach all segments of society, the nation can foster a more equitable environment and simultaneously strengthen its global standing.
Q: How can India balance its focus on domestic development with the demands of global geopolitics?
Striking a delicate balance between internal development and external geopolitical considerations requires a strategic and nuanced approach. Policymakers must navigate the complexities of both arenas to ensure sustainable growth while actively participating in global affairs.
Q: What are the potential consequences if India fails to reconcile its domestic challenges with its great power aspirations?
Failure to address internal challenges while pursuing great power status could undermine India’s credibility on the global stage. It may hinder the nation’s ability to effectively contribute to international affairs and fulfill the expectations associated with being a major player in the global geopolitical landscape.
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