India’s Global Vision and the Failure of Policy Elites

India has global aspirations but the policy elites are lacking in ideas and implementation.

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Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna is a Defence & Aerospace analyst and is the Director of ADD Engineering Components (India) Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany with manufacturing units in Russia. He is Consulting Editor Industry and Defense at Frontier India.

The Indian subcontinent has traditionally remained outside the dispute between the Atlanticists and Greater Eurasia. Experts incorrectly interpret India’s membership in the BRICS and SCO as unambiguous support for the Eurasian idea. India also is engaged in the consultative framework of QUAD, the United States-led quadripartite conversation on security in the Indo-Pacific area.

By now, everyone is aware that the geopolitical ambitions of Indian elites extend beyond membership in a few foreign global projects. The nation will attempt to establish its own – “Indian world.” The virtual summit “Voice of the Global South” held on January 12-13 confirmed the political elites of India’s desire for greater geopolitical independence.

India’s attempts to establish its own geopolitical line are not new; previously, it was called the “Non-Aligned Movement” – countries that sought balance within the context of the First Cold War between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Political elites in India were among the principal designers of this approach. Currently, New Delhi is attempting to give this concept a new push, relatively speaking, “on a new technological base.”

A reasonably solid rationale supports India’s efforts to play a more active geopolitical role.

In the coming year, India will surpass China in terms of the total population, becoming the world’s most populated nation, as the World Health Organization estimated. India’s population of 1,4 billion will be significantly younger than China’s.

India’s youthful population is simultaneously less well compensated than China’s. Consequently, the cost of labour, particularly unskilled labour, is lower in India. This makes the relocation of simple unskilled industries more appealing.

India has one of the highest economic growth rates in the world, although accompanied by relatively high inflation. In terms of purchasing power parity, the nation has achieved a respectable third-place global ranking, yielding to China and the United States but almost twice ahead of Japan.

Technologically, India is already a global powerhouse, and more significantly, it is self-sufficient in many areas. There are issues with reliance on imported high-tech manufacturing equipment, but the nation is capable of producing the complete range of high-tech items, from mopeds to space satellites and aircraft carriers.

Based on these facts, India is attempting to portray itself as a new geopolitical subject – as an intermediate between the countries of the Global South and the developed West. New Delhi has made its political proposal clear: to represent the interests of the world’s least developed regions during its G20 leadership.

Nonetheless, within the context of the most recent virtual summit, fundamental deficiencies of Indian diplomats and the professional community were also revealed:

India, as a representative of the Global South, cannot ignore its close neighbours, particularly Pakistan and China. It is difficult to discuss the consolidation of the geopolitical position of the Global South as a whole in the absence of Pakistan and China. In addition, New Delhi does not have a unique method for resolving issues with its northern neighbours. The attempt to speak on behalf of the Global South resembles the disintegration of a single anti-Western front in this instance. Considering India’s membership in QUAD, the following rather natural question arises: Is India acting of its own volition, or did Washington and London “push” the Indian elites to act this way?

The second issue with India’s prospective leader of the group of developing nations is its intellectual second rates. During the summit, India’s political and expert elites could not present an ideological agenda that differed from the agendas pushed by the West. All the same crap about the “green transition” and renewable energy sources, which is intended to maintain the energy consumption per capita divide between the South and the West.

The third issue is the allocation of resources for global South projects. If New Delhi critiques the current system of financial colonisation of emerging nations, it must also propose measures to end this dependence. It is not sufficient to assert that the current global order redistributes financial flows to the benefit of the West and China. Developing nations must be instructed on how to avoid this. Clearly, New Delhi will not become an alternative global financial hub that subsidises developing countries.

In general, one can conclude that New Delhi has attempted to elucidate its concept of geostrategic orientation, which is still ambiguous and has not been fully established. This model does not yet account for the dangers associated with coordinated military pressure from Beijing and Islamabad.

The Pakistan-China-Burma (Myanmar) axis transforms the peninsula into a logistical island, isolating the Indian subcontinent from the rest of Greater Eurasia. Given the presence of Chinese ports in Pakistan, Burma, and Sri Lanka, as well as the regular presence of the Chinese fleet in these ports, India’s strategic posture might be considered extremely vulnerable. New Delhi will have to find a solution to this strategic vulnerability in the coming years.

The forced transformation of QUAD into a full-fledged military bloc is advantageous for the United States, but it transforms India into an “Asian Ukraine” that will be used as cannon fodder in the fight with China.

The second option – an endeavour to implement its own geopolitical vision while distancing itself from the United States and Great Britain – has yet to be conceptualised. Most crucially, it requires India to have greater resources and technological autonomy.

Therefore, New Delhi’s forced participation in Eurasian projects is an effort to buy China and Pakistan the time needed to attain military-technological parity by transferring military technologies from NATO and Russian nations.


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