India, Non-alignment and Emerging Global Governance
By Prof. (Dr.) Anwar Alam
India is a significant part of Rising Asia, which has attracted considerable international attention in recent years. Two decades of sustained economic growth along with its functional liberal democratic institution of governance has made India an emerging leading voice in matters related to the reform of institutions of global governance including the UN, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and other ‘global common’ issues such as ocean, air, space and Internet, security, trade and climate. This article attempts to highlight the emerging orientation and the policy shift in the Indian leadership towards the issue of its vision and shaping of emerging global political and economic order and argues that, contrary to the prevailing view, India continues to conduct its foreign policy within the broad normative order of discourse of non-alignment, which has served India’s national interest well, including its rising aspiration of becoming a global power. The article also reflects upon the domestic challenges and unstable regional dynamics that hamper its capacity to become a global player and share the responsibility expected from a global power.
Introduction: Contextualising the Argument
The issue of the relative decline of Global North/West (represented by the USA and West European countries) and rise of Global South/East represented by China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Russia (the BRICS countries) and other Asian powers such as South Korea, Turkey and Indonesia have been widely discussed in international forums, mainstream academia and media in recent years with a view to assess their impact on the sustainability of liberal-democratic values that supposedly underpins the West-led global order (Alexandroff & Cooper, 2010; Cox, 2012, pp. 369–388; Duggan, 2015; Kwon, 1995, pp. 65–88; Woods, Betts, Prantl, & Sridhar, 2013). In particular, India and China received greater attention in this debate (Messner & Humphrey, 2009; Tellis & Mirski, 2013). The moment of Pax-Americana with its doctrine of unilateralism, interventionism, pre-emptive strike and regime change, which had emerged in the wake of the disintegration of erstwhile Soviet Union (as evident from the US fiasco in Afghanistan, 2001, and in Iraq, 2003, and its endless unilateral counter-terrorism operation), could not sustain itself for long and seriously undermined its soft power. This in conjunction with the 2008 economic and financial crisis, which engulfed America and other Western parts of world, paved the way for G201 managing the world affairs and addressing the challenges of what is called ‘global commons’.
G20 is the first international forum at summit level outside the United Nations (UN) where the Global North has accepted the Global South as an equal partner in discussing emerging economic, social and political challenges of an increasingly globalised world. From G77, formed in the mid-1960s, embodying the principle of South-South cooperation following the UN Conference on Cooperation, Trade and Development (UNCTAD), to G20, signifying the principle of North–South cooperation and formed in the wake of the Crisis of East Asian Economies in 1997 at the finance ministerial/governor of National Bank level to address to the question of global financial instability, and later elevated to summit level in 2008, reflects a gradual march of the Global South to arrive at the centre of global politics (Saran, 2012).
India is a significant part of G5 (BRICS countries) and G20. While G20 is estimated to comprise around 90 per cent of the global GDP, 80 per cent of the world trade and more than two-third of the world’s population, the five BRICS countries account for about 40 per cent of the world’s population, a quarter of the world’s land area and a combined GDP (PPP) of US$24 trillion in 2015. The value of intra-BRICS trade was US$244 billion in 2015. Within this trajectory, India holds the sixth position within G20 at the level of GDP. Once characterised as ‘Hindu rate of growth’, today India’s economy has grown from a US$333 billion economy in 1994 to a US$2 trillion economy. Along with China, India has been dubbed as ‘Asian drivers of global changes’.
Does this gradual march of the Global South reflect an aspiration to reject the Western dominated institutions of global governance, particularly the UN Security Council with its veto provision and Brettonwoods institutions, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT, now WTO) and reconfigure an alternative approach to global order? Or does this merely reflect an aspiration for a meaningful reform of institutions of global governance with a view to ensure a greater participation of leading members of the South in structure of global governance? Where does India figure in this trajectory of march of the Global South, particularly in the context where India is one of the leading voices of the Global South and traditionally conducted its foreign policy within the structure of South-South cooperation but of late sees the support of the Global North, particularly the USA, as crucial in its developmental trajectory and in becoming a global player? Does India’s traditional policy of South-South cooperation and its increasing reliance on the North amounts a contradiction in itself?
More than BRICS and China, it is the economic rise of India since 1990, with its history of functional democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, constitutionalism and a responsible nuclear power, that finds reverence in Western capitals and, hence, expect India to abide by and carry forward Western liberal norms and values in the future revamped structure of global governance. Would India conform to the expectation of the North? Would India would be willing to give up its legacy of ‘non-alignment’, ‘independence’ and ‘strategic autonomy’ in order to acquire the ‘major power status’ and share the burden of global responsibility within the Western liberal tradition of global governance? What role is India expected to play in the emerging post-American world order, which is yet to acquire any definitive features?2
What is Global Governance?
A focus on India’s role in the global governance requires a brief elaboration of the notion of global governance. The concept of global governance has its roots in the World Bank’s prescription of ‘good governance’ in the mid-1980s, which meas- ured the ‘governing capacity’ of a nation as a criterion for the Bank’s loan, grants and economic assistance programmes. In particular, good governance refers to satisfying the following qualities by the aid recipient nation: willingness to encour- age foreign investment; high regard for the rule of law; determination to prevent corruption; and the ability to formulate and implement sound fiscal, economic, monetary, foreign currency and trade policies. Sharing this conceptual genealogy and evolving in the context of disintegration of erstwhile Soviet union and the onset of discourse and process of globalisation in the 1990s, the notion of global governance envisions rule-based, free-open-non-hierarchical-global societies through a collective, coordinated and cooperative exercise of all formal and infor- mal institutions, mechanisms, relationships and processes between and among states, markets, citizens and organisations, both inter-and non-governmental, government, management and administration capabilities of the UN, World Bank and other international organisations, various regimes, coalitions of interested nations and individual nations to effectively address the issue of global commons such the environment, Internet, human rights, infectious diseases, international terrorism, etc. that emerge beyond national borders. It further seeks to enhance the participation of developing countries in multilateral institutions with a view to democratising the multilateral institutions of global governance and achieving equitable growth, environmental sustainability, peace and security and reducing the digital divide in the world through the process of multilateral negotiations (Biermann & Bauer, 2005; Cable, 1999; Rosenau, 1995, 2002). India shares this vision of global governance and seeks an active participation in the structure of global governance both to promote herself and contribute to the common good of the world through the principle of non-alignment and multilateralism.
India: Living with Non-Alignment
Having laid down the basic parameter of global governance, a tentative answer to the questions raised in the beginning of this article requires an examination of the self-perception of India about itself; its perception about globalisation, the West and changing power dynamics in the world; its foreign policy orientation; and its developmental priority in the coming decades. India considers itself in the league of great power on account of its vibrant civilisation and past, geographical size, demographic structure, population, intellectual traditions, natural resources, history, technical manpower and tradition of religious and cultural diversities, multiculturalism, democracy, secularism, tolerance, etc. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India and architect of modern India, visualised India’s independence in 1946, a year before its independence, as ‘independence in action both in our domestic affairs and our foreign relations….as a free nation with our own policy and not merely as a satellite of another nation’(Nehru, 1983, p. 2).
In fact, the idea of ‘independence’, a ‘civilisational entity’, a ‘great nation’, ‘self-respect’ and ‘autonomy of decision-making’ is deeply rooted in the Indian state tradition and culture, but without necessarily underlying the power-dimension to these national-collective feelings. Nehru envisioned India as great power without the use of military power, which even led him to decline the USA’s offer of a permanent seat with veto power in the Security Council (made in 1955) in favour of China as Nehru did not look at the world politics through the prism of power-politics. This partly explains the birth and nurturing of the idea of the Non- Aligned Movement (NAM) imbued with Gandhian-Nehruvian moralism in the cultural environment of Indian society. From this point of view, the principle of non-alignment was not merely a response to the then prevailing bipolar structure of international relations or even an ideological justification for command or mixed economy at the domestic level, as has been conventionally discussed into the scholarly productions on Indian foreign policy and is expected to lose its relevance with change in the political and economic context, but was/is, in part, a non-powered civilisational search for its independent or autonomous existence vis-à-vis the power centred blocks of world order. As C. Raja Mohan commented in his recent piece, ‘for Nehru, non-alignment was about retaining the independence of judgment and freedom of political action’ (Mohan, 2016b, p. 13).
The debacle of the 1962 Indo-China War made India more realistic from a self- defence point of view, but without internalising the notion of hard power as guiding force in the conduct of inter-state relationship or international politics. Since then, India has augmented its hard power as evident from India acquiring the nuclear capability in 1974 and its further testing in 1998 along with massive modernisation of Indian armed (Land, Air and Naval) forces, which continues till date.3 However, notwithstanding the rapid modernisation of its armed forces, India is not perceived as a ‘threatening power’ in the global perception unlike other emerging economies such as Russia and China. Except for the adventurism of IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force) in Sri Lanka in the mid-1980s, the Indian government has not displayed the elements of interventionism and unilateral aggression either within its neighbourhood or outside. In its conduct of dealing with crisis situations, such as terrorist attacks on Parliament (2001), Taj Hotel in Mumbai (2008), Pathankot Air Force Station in Punjab (2016), and security forces in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir (2016), and many other situations percolated with involvement of other nations, particularly Pakistan, it has acted with a remarkable self-restraint. Its several limited strikes including the 19–20 September 2016 strike4 against Pakistan along the LOC (line of control) bordering Jammu and Kashmir state has been globally accepted as measured one.
This reluctance on the part of Indian political class to envisage the role of ‘hard power’ in international politics has led Sunil Khelani to call India as a nation that ‘lacks the instinct of power’(referred in Pant, 2009, p. 255) and another scholar to lament that ‘India faces a unique conundrum: its political elites desperately want global recognition as a major power and all the prestige and authority associated with it. Yet, they continue to be reticent about the acquisition and use of power in foreign affairs’ (Ibid.). For the same reason, there is a growing chorus of Indian scholarship that has called into question the relevance of NAM in the changed international context, castigated the Indian foreign policy for its lack of long-term strategic doctrines and demanded a display of a more power-centred approach in Indian foreign policy including a strong strategic political-military alliance with the USA. India’s thrust on ‘national consensus’ and ‘strategic autonomy’ while conducting its foreign policy has come under severe attack from a section of strategic community and scholarship who find the tradition of these notions as an obstacle in bringing India within the orbit of US-led global order (Lall, 2008; Mohan, 2009; Wulf & Debiel, 2015, pp. 27–43). The non-participation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 17th Summit Meeting of the NAM at Margarita Island, Venezuela, on 13–18 September 2016 has been perceived by the critics as growing irrelevance of NAM, India’s declining commitment to NAM and an attempt on the part of the Modi government to dissociate himself from a ‘Congress legacy’ and its ‘anti-Western tone’ in order to make himself more acceptable in the Western hemisphere (Mohan, 2016a; Pant, 2016).
Certainly the end of the bipolar, Cold War international system, demise of the erstwhile Soviet Union and process of globalisation in the early 1990s brought new challenges before Indian foreign policy and demanded re-orientation in adjusting with the new emerging global order characterised by the pre-eminence of one hegemon, that is, USA, in an otherwise increasing multipolar world with increasing diffusion of global authority, influence and power among multiple actors. In particular, it is the imperatives of Indian economic reform since 1991 that have impacted in re-orienting the thrust of Indian foreign policy towards developing a closer political relationship with the West (Malone & Chaturvedy, 2009). The various phases of liberalisation of Indian economy since then has made India the third largest economy in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, producing a growing middle class the estimation of which range from 50 to 300 million and the strong Indian diaspora that sends annually US$69 billion remittance to India (the largest in the world). It is this churning of India economy with an average growth rate of 6.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent since the mid-1990s that has fuelled the great power aspirations among various segments of Indian society—the fulfilment of which and the critical sustenance of Indian economy itself depends upon realignment of Indian foreign policy with the West in order to secure access to foreign investment, Western market, capital, technology, per- manent seat in the Security Council of the UN and membership in the Nuclear Supply Group (NSG).
As India moves to readjust its foreign policy orientations with focus on ‘eco- nomic development’ in the context of globalisation, the conceptual apparatus of NAM proved to be helpful, rather than an obstacle, in integrating the Indian economy into the West-dominated global political-economic order and forging close political association with the West without undermining the foundational notions of NAM: the aspiration to retain the independence in decision-making and to play an active role in international affairs without the politics of military alliance, if not political alignment, with a view to democratise the international system. Thus, a good number of scholarly works (Ganguly, 2003–04; Harshe, 1990; Khilnani et al., 2012), have demonstrated how the conceptual apparatus of NAM—with its elements of non-ideological, non-doctrinal outlook, multilateral- ism, pragmatism, gradualism, moralism, fuzziness, ambiguity, anti-hegemonic as against counter-hegemonic and a tendency to work with multiple orientations under multiple contexts—blends well with the process of globalisation and helped India in expanding and strengthening its ties across the divide of North and South and visualising its role in any reformed structure of global governance as one of balancers between North and South with a view to serve its own national interest and contribute towards international peace and security. It is this latitudinal elastic- ity of NAM that makes India to skilfully navigate and strike a balance between the aspirations and demands of the South and the dominations of the North during the process of negotiation at multilateral institutions of global governance, whether related to trade, intellectual property rights, security, climate, service, etc.
India: Strengthening Multipolar World and Multilateral Institutions
Speaking from this perspective, as outlined previously, and particularly in the light of the fact that centuries of tradition of diversity, pluralism and multicultural- ism has, to a great extent, shaped the state’s orientation to be receptive of multiple points of view, open to dialogue and negotiation and have pluralistic view of world, India will continue to prescribe a multipolar world order instead of unilat- eral world order, prefer to work through multilateral global institutions and employ a multilateral approach to the resolutions of common global challenges including the issues related to peace and conflicts. Part of this approach derives from India’s recognition of interconnectedness and complimentarily of the process of globalisation that binds North and South. Thus, Hamid Ansari, the current vice president of India, in his opening remarks at Mohammed V University, Rabat, Morocco, in June 2016, recalls the Indian experiences in accommodating diversity in a globalised world (Ansari, 2016).
India’s vision of a new international economic order that was proposed during the 1970s and the 1980s had this vision of recognition of complementarities of global economy, which gradually became reality in the form of the development of G20. This is the reason that India has traditionally emphasised the role of UN or other multilateral institutions in the resolution of conflicts or maintenance of global security or addressing the economic and social challenges of the world. Within the structure of UN, India has been proactive in providing peace-keeping forces to the various UN peace-keeping missions, having contributed 160,000 troops to 43 of 65 UN peace-keeping operations (Mukherjee, 2015).5 It is an account of its commitment to multilateralism that even though India is developing close economic, political and military ties with the USA and even came under US pressure to scale down its political relations by first voting against Iran in International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)6 and latter progressively reducing the volume of import of crude oil from Iran,7 it has maintained a safe distance vis-à-vis US conception of unilateralism, interventionism, regime change and pre-emptive strike and avoided the USA’s pressure to be a part of US-led coalitions, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria or in other parts of the world, in the name of fighting ‘global terrorism’, ‘finding and destroying weapons of mass destruction (WMD)’, ‘democracy promotion’ and ‘human rights’. On the contrary, it has always advocated a UN-mediated resolution of such conflicts. India has consistently refused to participate in such military mission which lacks the sanction of the UN. Though India is signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as adopted by UN General Assembly in 1948, unlike the USA, it is not in the business of promotion of human rights or democracy promotion agenda, partly due to the fact that its lacks the capacity to promote such values, its own poor record of human rights and it considers such discourses as an obstacle to its own growth and development, but more importantly due to its deep respect to the principle of state sovereignty and of non-interference in internal matters of the country.
For the same reason, India voiced its opposition to the manner in which the West misused the UN mandated resolution (2005) of ‘responsibility to protect’8 to allow NATO’s intervention in Libya and along with other BRICS members advocated the notion of responsibility while protecting. India remained critical of external military intervention in the Syrian crisis. Moreover, though it closely cooperates with US state agencies in the field of counter terrorism, it, unlike the USA, places more emphasis on political, rather than military, solutions to terrorism and does not subscribe the USA’s thesis of ‘good versus bad Muslim’ in its fight against terrorism.
India: Demand for Reform of Security Council
It is in the previously mentioned context that a part of reason for India’s vociferous demand of reform of UN, particularly the reform of Security Council, is to do with the strengthening of the role and function of UN, the legitimacy of which has been significantly eroded under the regime of Pax-Americana since 1991, in addition to the fact that access to veto power would lead to global recognition of India’s rising status and enhancement of its national prestige. Towards this extent, there is broad consensus within the BRICS countries to bring the necessary reform, if not upon the thrust of the reforms, or contributing more available resources with a view to strengthen the role of UN in international peace and security affairs, which has expanded from international conflicts to domestic turmoil, global pandemics, transnational terrorism and proliferation of WMD. Thus, China and Russia, the two members of BRICS who are already veto wielding powers, are hardly keen to support the idea of expansion of permanent members of Security Council, notwithstanding their declaratory statements for the same.
As a result, India along Brazil, Germany and Japan (G4) has formed a separate group to push the idea of expansion of membership of security council with prospect of their inclusion in any future revamped Security Council as permanent members with veto power. Also, in order to raise its international profile, India is actively participating in many informal international groupings in order to enhance its bargaining position and claim in the future reform of the UN but without any significant change in its foreign policy orientation. Thus, beyond BRICS and G20, India is strongly cultivating its ties with various regional forums such as G8+5 (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation), IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa), USA-BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) and G6 (Australia, Brazil, India, Japan, the USA and the European Union).
Thus, the emerging orientation of India vis-à-vis the issue of global governance of security in the light of its demand for reform of security council is not one of confrontation or contestation to the existing paradigm of governance of global security, as reflected in the gradual political assertion of China and Russia (evident from their collective veto on Libya, Syria, the rising profile of SCO, Chinese military incursion in South China sea and Russian’s unilateral military move in Ukraine and in Syria), but one of mediation where she along with other emerging countries can assume the role of responsible stakeholders and mediate between the entrenched positions of the Global North and South.
India: BRICS’s New Development Bank and Reform of Global Financial Institutions
India did not visualise the creation of BRICS’s instituted New Development Bank as steps towards replacement of Brettonwoods institutions of IMF and World Bank but as a necessary safety measure to bail out in case of any future balance of payment crisis or any other financial arises, the possibility of which remains high given the volatile nature of today’s financial capitalism. Thus, in the wake of the East Asian crisis (1997) emerging economies began to amass foreign exchange reserves to ensure their own financial independence in the event of adverse developments. The 10 members of ASEAN plus China, Japan and the Republic of Korea have created a multilateral fund with resources of US$120 billion (Woods et al., 2013, p. 4). In the Middle East, the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) now has about US$2.7 billion (Ibid.). The Latin American Reserve Fund (FLAR) that includes Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela now has about US$2.34 billion (Ibid.). The Republic of Korea had amassed over US$200 billion in reserves as the sixth largest reserves holder in the world (Ibid.). Unlike the other regional groupings, South Asian countries are the least eco- nomically integrated regions in the world and without any regional multilateral financial institutions to rely upon in times of crisis. It is with this purpose that India played a key role in formation of the New Development Bank with capital of US$100 billion, including US$50 billion of equally shared initial subscribed capital and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement of US$100 billion, which is designed to help protect the BRICS countries against short-term liquidity pres- sures and international financial shocks. While the New Bank will come into force in 2016, with its location in Shanghai, India managed to get first presidency of the Bank. The Bank aims to ‘mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries’ and differs from Western dominated IMF and World Bank in the sense all founding members of the New Development Bank have equal number of shares and equal voting rights without any veto power despite their financial con- tributions to the reserve capital pool of the Bank not being equal (China: US$41 billion; India, Brazil and Russia: US$18 billion; and South Africa: US$5 billion). The UNDP has noted this fear of emerging economies and concluded: ‘In finance, countries will want to diversify their exposure and insurance policies. They will seek to use a mixture of national reserves, bilateral credit lines, regional
arrangements and the IMF’ (Ibid.). A second reason that hastened the formation of the New Development Bank is the delay by the Western nations in reforming the decision-making structure of IMF and World Bank as promised by them in lieu of G20’s contribution of US$1.1 trillion to IMF in the context of the 2008 financial crisis that had engulfed advanced Western countries. In exchange, the IMF Governing Board agreed on a transfer of IMF voting shares to emerging economies. Brazil, China, Russia and India are the major bonds buyers of the total quota increase of IMF in the 2009 reform and their quota shares have increased from 3.996 per cent, 2.442 per cent and 2.751 per cent in 2008 to 6.394 per cent, 2.706 per cent and 2.316 per cent (Haibin, 2012, p. 5) respectively but without any corresponding increase in IMF voting shares. Though some progress has made related to the Financial Stability Board, financial regulatory policies, mutual assessment mechanisms, special drawing rights (SDR) or currency reform with inclusion of the Chinese Yuan in the basket of currencies which make up the IMF’s SDR, however, there is hardly in progress in terms of reform of IMF voting share till date. The final Communiqué of G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting 4–5 September 2015, Ankara, Turkey states, We remain deeply disappointed with the continued delay in progressing the 2010 IMF Quota and Governance Reforms. We reaffirm that their earliest implementation is essential for the credibility, legitimacy and effectiveness of the Fund and remains our highest priority. We strongly urge the United States to ratify the 2010 reforms as soon as possible. (Communiqué G20, 2015) It is this failure of promise of reform of global financial institutions by America- led Western powers that made the BRICS nations to be more suspicious of the continuous hegemonic role of the West in the structure of global governance through control over IMF and the World Bank. After all, the liberalism of Western dominated global institutions has mostly been experienced as instances of illiber- alism by majority of non-Western countries.
It is these considerations that led them to launch the New Development Bank, an initiative dubbed as ‘the Beijing Consensus against the Washington Consensus’. Notwithstanding such rhetoric that gives the impression that BRICS is a counter- hegemonic force to US-led Western hegemony and despite the fact BRICS model of development is more centred on the role of state in economic development, in contrast to IMF’s prescription of free market economy and downsizing the role of state in economic development, the BRICS initiative and institutions are only seeking a more effective, just and equitable representation of the South in the global structure of governance. As Manmohan Singh, the former Indian prime minister said:
[BRICS need to] expand the capital base of the World Bank and other Multilateral Development Banks to enable these institutions to perform their appropriate role in financing infrastructure development (…). As members of the G20, we must together ensure that appropriate solutions are found to help Europe help itself and to ensure policy coordination that can revive global growth…. We call for a quick achievement of the targets for the reform of the International Monetary Fund agreed to at previous G20 Summits. (Quoted in Shahi, 2014, p. 9).In this regard the UNDP report has also rightly noted that, ‘The global South is likely to use multilaterals more only if they are transformed into institutions seen as acting as much in the interests of the global South as in those of the United States and Europe’(Woods et al., 2013, p. 5).
India: Deepening Ties with South
Thus, for India, BRICS does symbolise the deepening of principle of South-South cooperation, but without any adverse implications for South-North cooperation in the field of economic development. In fact, since the economic liberalisation, India has strengthened its relationship with both South and North in political, economic and defence fields. Thus, since India launched its Look East Policy’ in 1991, India’s relations with the ASEAN countries are advancing rapidly. Within a decade (between 1992 and 2002), their collaboration has developed from a sectoral-dialogue partnership into a summit-level interaction. Under the India- ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA), ASEAN countries and India are expected to remove import tariffs on more than 80 per cent of traded products between 2013 and 2016. As of 2011–2012, two-way trade between India and ASEAN stood at US$79.86 billion, surpassing the US$70 billion target, and was expected to rise by US$125 billion by 2015 (The Hindu, 2013). Similarly, the bilateral trade between India and China rose from US$1.7 billion in 1997–1998 to US$74 billion in 2011, which was poised to reach about US$100 billion by 2015. Today, China has emerged as the largest trading partner of India in 2014, surpassing the UAE and the USA.
India’s trade with BRICS partners is about US$95 billion, whereas intra-IBSA trade is now close to US$20 billion. The ‘three-pillar approach’ (reforming global governance, technical cooperation and strengthening economic ties) of BRICS and IBSA provides India with a forum for consultation and coordination on significant political issues: fostering trilateral cooperation through 16 working groups operating in diverse areas such as trade, service, investment, health, media and information technology. However, the overall volume of India’s investment, trade and service is still very low in Latin American countries.
Trade with Africa has significantly improved. The trade between India and Africa during 2014–2015 stood at US$72 billion, making India the fourth largest trading partner of Africa. India’s partnership with Africa is based on skills- transfer, capacity building, and trade and investment at three levels—pan- African (AU), regional (SADC, ECOWAS, etc.) and bilateral (South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Libya, Kenya, etc.). At the Pan-African level, India has promised to cooperate with Africans in the spheres of food processing, integrated textiles, weather forecasting, life and earth sciences, agriculture and rural development. At the regional level, India is helping to establish institutions such as soil, water and tissue testing laboratories; regional farm sciences centres; seed production- cum-demonstration centres; and material-testing labs for infrastructure develop- ment. At the bilateral level, India and various African countries will jointly establish institutes for English-language training, information technology, entre- preneurship development and vocational training. In addition, India has provided concessional credit of US$9 billion to 40 African countries over more than 140 projects under the Indian Development and Economic Assistance Scheme (IDEAS; MEA, 2015). However, the deepening ties with Africa has also an element of competition with China with an objective to clip off the growing Chinese influence in Africa. The October 2015 India-Africa Summit at New Delhi, in which all 56 countries including 47 head of the state participated, was in part intended to contain Chinese influence and regain its traditional hold in the African continent.
India: Deepening Ties with USA and North
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 and onset of the economic liberalisation programme in 1991 in India also witnessed the qualitative transformation in the relationship between India and the USA as signified by the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement (2008), the process of which began in 2005 but has still not come into operation. However the non-implementation of the agreement has not marred their relationship from working together in other areas, particularly in the field of defence cooperation and counter-terrorism. The signing of the New Framework for India-U.S. Defense Relations in 2005 has led to burgeoning of defence trade and intensification of joint exercises, personnel exchanges, collaboration and cooperation in maritime security and counter-piracy, and exchanges between each of the three services. The latest in the series of military co-operations is the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), which was concluded between the two in August 2016. Moreover, as India has embarked on the modernisation of its armed forces in all three fields—air, land and water—for which India is expected to spend US$220 billion by 2017 and given the fact that India’s arms industry imports 70 per cent of its products, almost all Western powers including the UK, France, the USA and Russia have paid a visit to India to seal defence deals between 2011 and 2016.
The USA is fast emerging as the major source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in India, though the UK remains the largest source of FDI in India. In 2014, India received about US$11.92 billion FDI. To attract the Western FDI, the Modi government has swiftly moved to raise the FDI cap in insurance sector to 49 per cent and even opened the defence sector for foreign investment by 26 per cent. But more than a bilateral economic relationship between the two, Indian political leadership is keen to develop a close strategic and political relationship with the USA due to the following specific reasons: First, India is keenly aware that a positive relationship with the USA is crucial for securing a permanent seat with veto power in the UN Security Council, ending the nuclear apartheid imposed upon it since 1974 Pokhran Nuclear Test, acquiring membership in the NSG and for economic development of the country and acquiring a major power status. Second, India sees the USA as crucial partner in containing the rising influence of China in the region. In other words, India is increasingly concerned with the Chinese influence in Indian Ocean, South China Sea, Africa and even in West Asia and South Asia, which poses a threat to the regional hegemony of India and, hence, pushes India within the orbit of American influence. Third, the USA can exercise its influence on Pakistan to desist from supporting terrorist activities against India and help in the creation of regional peace and stability.
Fourth, and perhaps more important is that the Indian government is critically depended on the global security structure sustained by the USA, particularly in the Indian Ocean, notwithstanding the ongoing massive modernisation of India’s Navy. As the Indian economy is becoming increasingly export oriented, and its ever-growing demand for imported energy products (which is currently more than 80%), the safety of uninterrupted supply of oil and gas and of sea lanes has become a paramount factor in India’s national security. Nearly half of global seaborne trade passes through the Indian Ocean, around 40 per cent of offshore oil production comes from the Indian Ocean, and 65 per cent of the world’s oil and 35 per cent of its gas reserves are found in the littoral states of the ocean. A possible threat to safe passage of oil tankers or other seaborne trade due to either closure of choke points such as the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Aden, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Malacca or threat of disruptions of supply of oil and gas on account of inter-state rivalry in the region and non-state actors, such as organised criminals, pirates or terrorists, is very high, given the current nature of de-stability in the region. Hence, India increasingly now defines its security in terms of the entire Indian Ocean basin, its strategic frontiers stretches from the African coast to the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea and, potentially, as far south as Antarctica. India’s former foreign secretary, Shiv Shankar Menon, stated in 2007 that ‘as we move beyond southern Asia to India’s extended neighbourhood (…)from the broader perspective, we regard our security as lying in a neighbourhood of widening concentric circles’ (Quoted in Scott, 2009).
Though of late there is a tremendous increase in the joint military exercise between America and India in the Indian Ocean and the Indian government has entered into defence cooperation with many of Gulf States including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Oman, Qatar and the UAE (Pradhan, 2011), India does not have the requisite capacity to provide security in the Indian ocean on its own. Hence, despite India’s demand for representation in the global structure of governance, it would prefer, like China, to have a, what Raja Mohan calls, free ride on US-led global security for a long time to come in order to ensure its energy security and economic development. Partly for this reason, the Government of India today less prescribes the conception of land-based sovereignty and shares US perspective on ‘freedom of navigation worldwide’.
India: Balancing South and North in the Multilateral Negotiation over Global Common
Though the BRICS nations have achieved relative economic success owing to their adoption of the IMF-prescribed road of economic liberalisation, they have never internalised the idea of ‘free market economy’; rather, have retained the varying degree of role of State in regulating market economy while selectively privatising those sectors that attracted foreign investment and domestic private capital without having the adverse impact on the life situations of large segment of critical poor mass who were/are depended upon the State’s welfare support. Thus, in the context of India, Joseph Stiglitz has noted: India was one of the countries that resisted the wholesale deregulation movement that the United States had been exporting (…) [India] did it against political pressure (…) and now I think the financial markets are thankful that they did resist those pressures. The result is that India’s financial markets are in better shape than they would have been if they had engaged in the kind of wholesale deregulation that the United States engaged in. (Quoted in Shahi, 2014, p. 5). Thus, it was this perspective of ‘State’s role in market economy’, which is different from Chinese or Russian’s perspective of ‘State-led market economy’ that allowed India to play a balancing role between South and North in many of multilateral negotiations related to trade, service or financial matters. It may be noted that India, unlike other members of BRICS, is simultaneously a member of G77, G33 (Coalition of Least Developing Countries), G20 and G5 (BRICS), which makes the task of India in forging a balance resolution between South and North very difficult and at times it suffer from the negative perception of compromising the interest of the poor South (G77 and G33). Thus, in the immediate aftermath of the BASIC Summit in 2010, concerns were expressed that the four ‘advanced developing countries’ had broken ranks with the G77 and struck out on their own (The Economic Times, 2010). An Indian scholar, Chenoy, latter commented on India’s attempt to forge consensus between South and North as fraught with inherent contradiction:
India will be doing an awkward balancing act between these divergent groupings (…). It is not clear how high a priority India will accord to each of the different groupings and reconcile divergent mutual interests (…). One can only hope that India does not fall between two or three different stools (…). A mishap could derail the larger developing- country agenda on trade and reform of the global economic order. (Quoted in Ibid., p. 12)
However, notwithstanding such negative perception, India’s approach towards multilateral negotiations over the matter related to ‘global commons’ has been one of a ‘balancing act’ between South and North. Thus India has consistently maintained its and other developing countries’ right to ‘food security’, which was later brought under the National Food Security Act (2013) in India, and, hence, refused to agree with the WTO framework on liberalisation of agricultural products that attempted to take away developing countries’ right to subsidise its agricultural products, which is indeed very vital to feed the poor of developing countries. In India, the number of such poor is estimated to be 800 million. It is because of India’s consistent opposition that the WTO Ministerial Conference on Agriculture could not make any headway since the commencement of its deliberation in Doha (2001), which was later elevated to Doha Development Round due to coordinated work of India and Brazil. India even refused to sign Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) till the WTO Bali Conference, 3–7 December 2013, in protest against the failure of WTO to first guarantee the developing countries’ right to public stockholding of food grains, a political move that was considered by many a serious setback to India’s economic reform. However, following the successful Indo-US negotiation in 2014 that conceded that India and other developing countries’ right to food security and would not be challenged under WTO clause until a solution to this issue is found in exchange for ratification of TFA (Zee News, 2014),9 the General Council of the WTO adopted a Decision on Public Stockholding for Food Security Purposes, a Decision on the Trade Facilitation Agreement and a Decision on Post Bali Work to be ratified in the upcoming Ministerial Meeting of WTO, Nairobi 15–18 December 2015 (Sitharaman, 2014).
A second issue that has derailed the multilateral negotiation for almost two decades between North and South pertains to the agreement on climate change within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In these negotiations, all developing countries in general and China and India in particular have traditionally upheld the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibili- ties and respective capabilities’ (CDR-RC) as a basic rule for all parties under the UNFCCC and rejected any binding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction commitments as per the Kyoto Climate Treaty (2007). They further succeeded in shifting the climate negotiations from a legally binding framework to one based on voluntary commitments in the Copenhagen Summit (2009) and also demanded financial assistance and transfer of environment-friendly technology and capacity building from developed countries to developing countries in order to move towards clean energy and reduce GHG in a phased manner. Notwithstanding these gains, India along with Brazil and South Africa is adopting a flexible approach towards climate negotiation in view of three developments. First, Russia agreed to abide by Kyoto Climate Treaty (2007) and accepted the binding obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as it belongs to the Annexure 1 category of country. Second, China has sealed the climate deal with USA in 2014, though it was formally ratified during G20 Summit (September 2016) in Hangzhou. Third, the economic development of BRICS nations themselves have fundamentally changed since the adoption of UNFCCC in 1992. Accordingly, India moved from its traditional position of CDR-RC to ‘obligation of all nations’ in reducing GHG emission in anticipation of green finance and transfer of eco-friendly technology from the West, which became the basis for India signing on a five-year memoran- dum of understanding (MOU) on energy security, clean energy and climate change with the USA in January 2015 and reaching consensus in the upcoming Paris Climate Convention in December 2015, which was ratified by the Indian govern- ment on 2 October 2016. Similarly, India and the USA have a similar perspective on treating cyberspace and Internet as a primarily social and commercial activity that does not warrant state’s control, unlike China and Russia that considers them primarily as ‘state security space’ and ‘information security system’ and, hence, subject to state’s control.
In Lieu of Conclusion: Constraint for Effective Participation of India in Global Governance
Thus, India’s advocacy for greater visible representation of the South in the UN Security Council and greater voting power in the international financial insti- tutions—the IMF and World Bank—does reflect India’s aspiration to be recog- nised as a ‘major responsible power’ within the framework of non-alignment. Towards this extent, India does not consider itself as a ‘revisionist power’, which is seeking a replacement of existing global power structure, but an ‘accommoda- tionist power’, which is aspiring for sharing a space and to be accommodated within the global existing power structure. It is due to India’s NAM legacy and its sensibility to operate within and strengthen the rule-based multilateral institutions for global governance, as analysed in this article, that the West and international community is positively inclined to accommodate the concern of India within the existing international system. The diversified, multicultural, civilisational value of Indian society and Nehruvian-Ghandian moralism (despite its decline) in Indian foreign policy along with its measured, limited display of its hard power (such as the military exercise against the pirates in Indian Ocean in 2013 and more recently the ‘surgical trike’ against Pakistan-based terrorists along the LOC in 2016) has helped in making India more acceptable as a ‘responsible global power’. However two factors greatly constrain India from its recognition of great power. First, India, like other BRICS nations, is seriously beset with high levels of social and economic inequality, income disparity, high index of poverty, lacks of basic facilities and infrastructure, and recurring incidence of caste, linguistic, religious and class violence—all these seriously hampers the capacity of a nation to usher into a great power (Wulf, 2014). Thus, in 2015, India had the seventh largest economy in terms of GDP (nominal) but ranked 141th in GDP per capita income (nominal) (IMF, 2015). In Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perception Index, India was in 76th place out of the 176 countries; in the ‘ease of doing business’ index of the World Bank for 2015, it was in 130th place out of 190 countries; and in the 2015 Human Development Index of the development pro- gramme of the UN, it was in 130th place out of 188 countries. Second, a recogni- tion of India’s great power status and its capacity to play that role in international arena, to a large extent, depends upon its capacity to secure a ‘peaceful regional periphery’. Unfortunately, India has historically failed to achieve this objective due to active resistance of ‘nuclear’ Pakistan, deep distrust that South Asian small neighbours harbour vis-à-vis ‘hegemonic’ India as well as inter-connectivity of domestic politics of the region that creates obstacles for regional stability and peace. Moreover the all-weather relationship between China and Pakistan and increasing threat perception about rising influence of China in the region and surrounding area impinges upon India to seek a closer strategic-political-military relation with the USA at the cost of its image of regional hegemon. It is these combinations of internal and external factors that orient Indian foreign policy to seek a balancing role between the North and the South.
G20 countries include G8+ India, Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia, China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Australia, the European Union and Mexico.
This is the modified version of original draft article titled ‘India and Emerging International Order’ that was presented to the International Conference on ‘Istanbul Security Conference 2015: UN at 70 and Global Governance’ 3–5 December 2015, organised by TASAM and Marmara University, Istanbul, Turkey.
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The current BJP-led NDA government has projected the strike as a ‘first ever surgical strike’ against Pakistan-based terrorists in order to take political milege. However, both the director-general of military operations (DGMO) and the Indian foreign seceratry have avoided this expression.
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India had voted against Iran in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011 for failing to comply with its NPT obligations.
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The views expressed are authors own views and does not reflect of the organization
AUTHOR: Prof. (Dr.) Anwar AlamAnwar Alam is Senior Fellow with Policy Perspectives Foundation, New Delhi and currently a visiting Alexandor Von Humboldt Fellow at Albert Ludwig Freiburg University, Freiburg, Germany. His recent publications, among others, include Muslim Minorities in Europe and India: Politics of Accommodation of Islamic Identities (co-edited 2016). His area of research interests includes International Politics and Politics in West Asia.
Among his recent publications include Muslim Minorities in Europe and India: Politics of Accommodation of Islamic Identities (co edited, July 2016).Arab Spring: Reflections on Political Changes in the Arab World and its Future (ed.2014), ‘Emergence of Muslim Middle Class in Post-Independence India and Its Political Orientations’, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, vol, 35, number 1, 2015,The Roots and Praxis of Fethullah Gulen’s Educational Discourse’, Hizmet Studies Review, Vol. 2, No. 3, Autumn 2015 , The Arab Spring: A View From India’ in Routledge Handbook of the Arab Spring: Rethinking Democratisation, 2014, and ‘Islam and Violence’, GITAM Journal of Gandhian Studies. Vol 3. No 1, 2014. His area of research interests includes International Politics, Politics in Middle East, Political Theory, Religion and Politics, Political Islam, and Muslim Societies.