Role of India in Shaping Global Dynamics
India’s growth is not just an economic phenomenon; it is a transformation that will shape the geopolitical landscape of the 21st century. With its growing economic clout, strategic location, and soft power, India is poised to play a leading role in shaping a more peaceful, prosperous, and equitable world. — Dr. Sunita Dahiya
In recent times, the confluence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the ongoing Israel-Hamas war has set off a chain reaction worldwide, leading to inflation, hunger, and economic slowdown. Many nations find themselves grappling with debt and financial instability, while supply chain issues have prompted strategic shifts such as decoupling, friend-shoring, relocating, and de-risking. Concurrently, major powers are embroiled in prolonged conflicts of various intensities, witnessing a resurgence in nuclear concerns. Amidst this complex global landscape, India’s emergence has become a focal point of international discourse.
India, the biggest democracy in the world and a rapidly growing economic powerhouse, is getting ready to become more important globally. Because of its huge population, strategic location, and growing economic strength, India is going to change how the world works in the 21st century.
For the past 20 years, India’s economy has been growing at more than 7% every year, making it one of the fastest-growing economies globally. This growth has led to more international trade, investment, and technological progress, solidifying India’s role as a major player in the world economy.Now, India’s economy is larger than that of France and Britain, and it’s the fifth largest in the world, only behind the US, China, Japan, and Germany. Unlike these countries, India faced many challenges since gaining independence. It was poor and divided due to colonialism and religious differences. India also had to deal with natural disasters, unfriendly neighbors, sanctions, technology restrictions, and being isolated on the world stage. Despite all these difficulties, India overcame them with resilience, its democratic system, and hard work. It embraced economic reforms and technology at the right times, becoming self-sufficient in food, space, and nuclear capabilities. India reached a point of significant growth and development that makes it unstoppable.
India’s future looks promising and is moving forward quickly. The only question now is how fast it will continue to grow. The world needs to recognize India as a new and important player in the global arena.
India faced significant security challenges that hindered its growth for a long time. Pakistan was a persistent troublemaker, attempting to destabilize and harm India. Countering Pakistan’s threats and terrorism required a considerable investment of resources and energy. However, India changed its strategy at the beginning of the century, choosing to focus on its own development and ignoring Pakistan. The internal problems of Pakistan will likely keep it occupied for an extended period, freeing India from the burden of constant security concerns.
Another factor in India’s security landscape was China, viewed as a formidable rival capable of obstructing India’s progress. However, events in 2020, such as border tensions and the pandemic, boosted India’s confidence to face China. China’s demographic decline and aging population will diminish its power and potential, making it a threat but not a barrier to India’s growth. India is now prepared to take on global challenges.
India’s ascent is often compared to China’s, but it’s crucial to recognise that a democratic India cannot emulate an autocratic China, nor should it try to. India’s rise will happen on its own terms, shaped by its diverse culture, values, ethics, norms, and democratic traditions. Despite criticism, India’s democracy is robust, demonstrated by leaders campaigning in remote areas for local elections, reflecting the vibrancy of Indian democracy. Political parties, including the current ruling party, must deliver results or face replacement, emphasising a focus on competitive economics, growth, and social justice.
However, India faces its share of challenges, including divisive politics, ethnic and religious tensions, inadequate education, poverty, and energy deficiency. It remains vulnerable to climate change and disasters, with disparities in resource distribution. The world must accept this complex reality rather than confront or lecture India. The optimistic trend is that India is changing at its own pace, emerging as a potential economic superpower. While some areas have advanced, others lag behind, but the overall trajectory is positive.
Reports suggest that India’s rise may be seen as a threat, sparking speculation about the kind of power it will become. The answer lies within the people of India, not in international corridors of power. Every Indian government will adopt a geopolitical stance aligned with its people, circumstances, and interests, shaped by past experiences and future prospects. India’s ties with China will always be hostile until the border dispute is settled. Moreover, as per my estimate, the border dispute will not be resolved in this century at least. Therefore, the rivalry and antagonism between India and China will persist. In terms of size and scale, India is the only country that can compete with China. China is aware of that. Its actions and behaviour towards India have a clear motive of eroding India’s strategic confidence. Its aggression and assertiveness along the Line of Actual Control or in the Indian Ocean Region clearly show this intention. India is ready for this mentally and otherwise. It also understands that it has to deal with the Chinese threat on its own when the situation demands. It is working towards that firmly. However, it also recognises that China is too big to be restrained by any single country. Hence, a strategic partnership with the USA and other like-minded countries is essential. The outcome is QUAD. QUAD is the only group that can curb China and its growing influence in the Indo Pacific region and beyond. Similarly, if Russia becomes too close to China, India will keep some distance from it. In all this, one should also remember that India is a key member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. It gives India an insider role in countering/containing China on a platform that many see as the launch pad for Xi Jinping’s attempt to create a Sino Centric world order. India is the pillar for establishing and maintaining a rules based order.
Another significant factor to consider is that India is not aiming to be a dominant power. Its strength lies in earning trust from other nations. Recent feedback from ASEAN nations and Africa suggests that they trust India to make the right decisions. Even in the Middle East, despite internal differences among nations, there has been unconditional acceptance of India. The Indian Diaspora in these regions has played a crucial role in building trust for India. Additionally, Indian troops serving under the UN flag have contributed to this trust through successful operations worldwide over the past 75 years. India’s legacy of non-alignment further sets it apart, creating a unique level of trust in the Global South. Look at it from any angle, as India rises, it will be at the crossroads of critical geopolitical issues that include global food security, climate change, supply chain stability, maintaining global peace and a rules based international order. A rising India has a huge role to play in this scenario. India’s geo-strategic location, professional military, huge labour force, a vast consumer market and a stable political climate along with the genuine aspirations of its people make it a great stabilising power as it rises.
India’s growth is not just an economic phenomenon; it is a transformation that will shape the geopolitical landscape of the 21st century. With its growing economic clout, strategic location, and soft power, India is poised to play a leading role in shaping a more peaceful, prosperous, and equitable world.
Dr. Sunita Dahiya: Founder, AAINA Foundation