The Indo-U.S. nuclear deal was a major accommodation of India’s rising role by the developed world, but it is symbolic and the real acceptance would be membership in global institutions such as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
However, for great power status, India has to play a greater role and cannot do “diplomatic free riding,” experts say.
This is in the context of the developed world accepting the rise of powers such as India, China, Brazil and others, and accommodating them in the global power structures without generating friction.
“In the past, the great economic strength of rising powers led to great military strength, which encouraged them to engage in armed contest with established powers. It is yet to be seen if the current era’s rising powers will follow this historical pattern,” said T.V. Paul, Professor of International Relations at McGill University and President-elect of the International Affairs Association. He was speaking with The Hindu on his upcoming edited volume “Accommodating Rising Powers”.
“We are in a very critical phase in international politics,” Dr. Paul observed, stating that India could not aspire to be a global power by remaining in isolation. India has to play an assertive role in global crises that are unfolding. “A crisis is the big test for powers to arise and come out.”
The rapid economic growth of India, China and others is altering the world’s status from being unipolar to multipolar. “The key for the rising powers will be legitimacy,” Dr. Paul stressed.
“Global power means global responsibilities. We cannot say we want all the privileges and rights but will not do anything when a crisis comes. That will not give legitimate power,” he said.
However, China’s economic growth and rapid military modernisation has caused apprehensions across the globe and the U.S. has announced a “pivot to Asia”, relocating its bulk of its naval forces to the Asia-Pacific region in an apparent containment strategy and India has been termed the lynchpin of the strategy.
Stressing that ideological non-alignment has a limited role in today’s world, Dr.Paul said that India should take the lead. “India has to work not necessarily aggressively, but in a diplomatic way in creating a regime in South China Sea and other places in the world. It is setting the global order,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been proactive in pushing for multilateral cooperation across the Indian Ocean region and through the Act East policy in addition to others. Recently, the Malabar bilateral exercises between India and U.S. have been expanded to include Japan, much to the displeasure of China.
On the dispute in the South China Sea with several territorial claims for the resource rich region, Dr. Paul said the only way to resolve it was an international regime whereby we could tap the resources collectively. There were other examples like this where China was involved where common collective explorations were going on, he said.
Stating that there was a problem when countries wanted exclusivity over common territory, he said, “The key is to make them (China) realise that a lot can be done collectively.”