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Updated: February 3, 2013 09:04 IST

We would rather be called re-emerging powers, says NSA

Sandeep Dikshit
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Shiv Shankar Menon. File Photo: R. Ragu
Shiv Shankar Menon. File Photo: R. Ragu

Labelling India, China etc. as emerging nations does no justice to their history, he says

National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon caused a bit of consternation at the Munich Security Conference when he pointed out that the Western construct of labelling India, China and other developing countries as “emerging nations” did not do justice to their history.

Speaking at the first-ever special session on “rising powers and global governance,” an accommodation to the economic rise of India, China, Brazil and other countries at the Security Conference, Mr. Menon felt he was not sure if this label fitted the description.

Contrary to the western discourse of calling these nations emerging powers, he pointed out that several others felt these countries were in the process of restoring the historical norm in the international hierarchy and distribution of power. “Re-emerging powers would be less condescending,” he suggested.

Along with Chinese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Song Tao, he sought to debunk the notion — largely inspired by Western history — that the re-emergence of these countries on the global stage would lead to conflict and dissonance in the global order. Such concepts were a result of the European experience since the Treaty of Westphalia — four out of five instances of reordering of the balance of power had involved conflicts of massive proportions. This led to the assumption that the rest of the world will follow a similar course.

Past experience and logic suggests that readjustment can be smooth. For instance, the redistribution of economic power over the past two decades had been peaceful.

“It is natural that those who worry about readjustment of power look to instruments of global governance to prevent it. The world suffers from a deficit of global governance. It is noticeable by its absence,” Mr. Menon said, while observing that though there were 300 multilateral instruments, their legitimacy had declined and effectiveness questionable. That is why military solutions were being implemented to check crises, whether it was in Libya or Syria.

“India realises that established powers were not going to willingly share power unless it became imperative in their self-interest due to unprecedented developments. This was human nature,” he reasoned, to keep such developments in abeyance as long as possible. As a result, no European power was laying down new rules of global governance nor were they projecting an alternative vision of a world order.

In the coming days, Mr. Menon suggested genuine global governance to face future challenges to security in areas such as cyberspace, outer space, food and energy.If Mr. Menon went against the flow, Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala too gave the organisers further food for thought by asking why Africa was not at the podium along with representatives from China, India, Singapore and Brazil. With one billion people, the African continent was as populous as China and India. While China would be facing an ageing problem, 60 per cent of Africa was under 30 years of age. Economic growth was five per cent annually and will continue to remain at that level in the years to come. Its countries were gradually becoming stable democracies and key topics at the Conference were about African countries — Mali and Egypt, she said.

“I support your view,” said Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen while Mr. Menon and Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguiar Patriota nodded approvingly.

Mr. Patriota felt “all have blind spots” and the Munich Security Conference’s focus on trans-Atlantic partnership was erroneous. All the participants were from North Atlantic, he pointed out while informing the audience about a recent meeting of trans-South Atlantic countries held in Montevideo, Uruguay, less than a month back in which 21 participants were from Africa.

“It is very fortunate some one raised her voice,” he said while urging sympathetic treatment to Africa which was still struggling to recover from the wounds of colonisation.


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This shock treatment was long pending. Thanks to NSA. This is THE message from India to the so-called "powers". I have seen, during my trips, to these "powerful countries" earlier. They have more beggars on streets of any city than any holy city in India. They experience more violence than Delhi. No one could walk on the streets after 10 PM in these "powerful countries". Then, why should we listen to them? We are RE-EMERGING powers and not emerging powers. We had fantantic peaceful societies in India even before these 'powerful countries" were even born!

from:  Sankar
Posted on: Feb 3, 2013 at 23:24 IST

Shivshanankar Menon's patriotic speech is not helpful in the Munich Security Meeting or for India. While the security of India is threatened by external threats from Pakistan and China at its borders and internally by the Maoists, Ravi Sankaran is more concerned about whether India should be called as a re-emerging nation instead of an emerging nation. If Ravi Shanker is thinking about the past rather than the present, India is a disintegrating nation with loss of its historical territories such as Pakistan, Bangaladesh, Pakistan Kashmir, Chinese occupied Aksai Chin, parts of Ladakh and Trans Karakoram Tract. India's security is threatened by China with territorial claims in Arunachal Pradesh and Demchok or New Demchok Sector; and territorial claims of Pakistan for Jammu and Kashmir, Junagath in Gujarat, and Siachin Glacier. Calling India on economic reasons as an emerging or re-emerging nation has nothing to do with national or international security at Munich Security Conference.

from:  Davis K. Thanjan
Posted on: Feb 3, 2013 at 21:26 IST

The comment of Vijayakumar is correct. But what has said the NSA is also correct. It's rare to see the NSA to be so accurate. Generally concerning the border problem is speech is more ambiguous.But in MUNICH he said what he had to said.The West has a tendancy to define international relations according to his own vision, we know the story so they say and repeat that countries like India, China and Brazil, are emerging States. What a strange term for countries like India and China ..whose story has been destroyed by invaders?But a further discussion will certainly appear in the coming years, which is a result of globalization, the mode of development of countries like India, China, or Brazil. This debate would be that eventually, India, China ....after all have only replicated the western way of life. But for the moment it's necessary to find a correct term. Re-emerging power is good, but not perfect.

from:  Mayoura Sougoumar
Posted on: Feb 3, 2013 at 20:52 IST

It is very funny statement. Because he has become rich he feels the whole country is rich. The Country India has to become rich to have power and then only can be called Emerging Power and join the elite club. It is like a very poor man living in hut moves to flat given by the slum clearing board and he feels very rich even though he and his family starves. First get that foreign exchange reserves to four trillion dollars and call yourself a rich country. India has only 330 billion which is already earmarked for the 10 nuclear plants to USA. The annual income is only about 60 billion , the expenses are about 100 billion . The debts are 69% to GDP and he and others are all barking loud claiming to be rich. Remember a poor man gets no respect from anyone or any country and should not even talk loud.

from:  daisydoe
Posted on: Feb 3, 2013 at 19:02 IST

For crores of Indians who go to bed on empty or near empty stomachs, would it
matter whether their country is an emerging, re-emerging or an already recognized
world power?

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Feb 3, 2013 at 19:00 IST

Congratulations Mr Menon for speaking with your deep knowledge of history and insight into international futuristic forces. Many intellectuals share this view worldwide but are muted to speak it out. The tide is turning and the west must find ways to harmonise the transition and weld into a composite mutually supportive beneficial evolution !

from:  Kunwar Raj Singh
Posted on: Feb 3, 2013 at 16:19 IST

its true that China, India & brazil should be termed as 're-emerging' nations. These countries have had civilizations even before west had any.Honestly,its time for a new global order

from:  sreenatha reddy
Posted on: Feb 3, 2013 at 12:01 IST

I think these people sitting at top enjoying important positions and power do not have slightest idea of being a normal Indian citizen. They are concerned about what other countries call India. I want to ask them what have you done not to be called as "Underdeveloped country". Even today when I walk on the streets of Delhi I feel any car or bus would run over me, if I travel in metro I am being pushed by commuters for whom everyone else is invisible except themselves, I see people on streets without clothes, I see middle class Indians engaged in any business who earned by cheating people for profit, If I go to villages I see people dying of TB or some disease whose treatment is available in cities very easily, forget about education. If I were you Mr. Menon I would not think twice before saying this but thousand times. I bet if asked to live like a normal Indian citizen these people from cream class would not even last for a day in our country.

from:  Ashutosh Vichore
Posted on: Feb 3, 2013 at 10:22 IST

Indeed, as Mr. Menon says, that is human nature. Over the the past few
millennia, except for the recent 2-3 centuries, oriental societies,
especially India, the land of milk and honey, and China, inward looking
middle kingdom, were the centers of learning,innovation, thought and
culture. It is intuitively obvious, at least plausible, that peaceful
stable and complacent (may be having corrupt elite) societies are
destabilized by aggressive, if not barbaric, invaders. The same is true
of the dynamic within societies. It is indeed high time to say what Mr.
Menon asserted. He deserves appreciation.

from:  Govind Mudholkar
Posted on: Feb 3, 2013 at 02:30 IST
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