Written by – Sruthi Sadhasivam
INDIA’S STATUS IN VARIOUS SECTORS
Let us break the myth! India is no more an emerging power, it is a stagnant power. It is true that India was an emerging power, but today, it is characterised by a crippling economy coupled with a flawed democracy. But undoubtedly, India very much has the potential to rise to glory.
To be designated as an emerging power, a State needs to show some progress in economy, technology, environmental security, political influence, hard power, ability to use soft power, deft diplomacy, commendatory global image and a State’s relationship with its neighbours and Superpowers.
Since independence, it is in the year 2019-20, that our economy contracted at an unprecedented rate of 7.3% and witnessed only 4% growth rate. Our GDP is lower compared to even countries such as Bangladesh.
In digital readiness ranking, India stands in the 48th position in 2020 from 44th position in 2019 while China is nearly the technological superpower, performing extremely well in power grid cybersecurity, financial technology, biotechnology, surveillance technologies, (5G) wireless technology, weapons enabled by autonomy and artificial intelligence (AI) and many more.
The EIA 2020 disregards threats of climate change and further jeopardizes environmental security. In the Environment Performance Index (EPI) 2020, India ranked 168 out of 180 countries and performed worse than most of the South Asian countries.
Military Direct, a defense website had released the 2021 Military Strength Index where China occupied the 1st position followed by USA, Russia and India. It predicted that in a hypothetical conflict, China would win the war by sea, Russia by land and USA by air. The military strength was calculated based on factors such as a country’s defense budget, number of active and inactive personnel, total amount of land, sea, air and nuclear resources etc.
The data clearly indicates the frail state of India in the global stage. Furthermore, there are various other factors that is averse to the advancement of the country as mentioned below.
THE COLLAPSE OF INDIA’S SOFT POWER
Democracy, religious tolerance, traditional values and morals, secularism have always been the strong pillars that helped establish a favourable global image for India.
But under the Modi government our ideals and practices have lost all flavours. Democracy turned dark, secularism has no meaning in Modi’s India, normalisation of Islamophobia is the new normal in India and what not. By introducing the not so important legislations such as CAA, we unnecessarily angered Pakistan and Bangladesh. USA, especially the Biden administration is constantly warning us to mend our ways and stay democratic. The government is censured worldwide for its gross human rights violation and internet shut down in Kashmir. Further, Amnesty International was forced to halt its operation in India because of the enforcement directorate’s measure to freeze its accounts. Allowing divisive politics and encouraging hate towards muslims is not good for India in the long run. Further, arbitrarily arresting dissenting voices and the capricious use of UAPA Act diminishes the legitimacy of the state.
Even worse, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), one of the world’s biggest NGO has identified 37 leaders including PM Modi as ‘predators of press freedom’. In the World Press Freedom Index (2021), India ranks 142 out 180 countries.
Having said all these, can India still be called democratic? Just because the Indian parliament has bestowed some fundamental rights such as right to vote and freedom of speech and expression, can India be considered as a state that is governed by the people, of the people and for the people?
INDIA’S RELATIONSHIP WITH ITS NEIGHBOURS- OFFCOURSE, A FRAGILE ONE
Its true that we maintain close relations with the middle east countries, but we have grown extremely distant to our own neighbour countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. In a rare expression of friendship, Sri Lanka issued two coins to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Chinese communist party. Sri Lanka considers China as its sincere friend; it owes more than 5 billion in loans to the latter.
We promised to supply vaccines to countries such as Sri Lanka and Bhutan, but we faltered in delivering them vaccines due to vaccine shortage and surge in covid cases within our country. We failed to uphold our promises to our friends, while China has been extending loans to Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives.
China’s OBOR project is a strategic vehicle that runs with the oil of military interests using wheels of monetary gains. Thereby all countries of geo-strategic interests to us are trapped by this project of debt-trap diplomacy.
We do not have the financial resources to support South Asia or Southeast Asian countries like China and our economic policies such as Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat does not guarantee a financially progressive future for India.
In the time of cold war, it was Pakistan-US-China nexus but today, it is Pakistan-China-Russia nexus, and the latter combo is way stronger than ever before.
Our relationship with China post Galwan clash is dismal. We do not even have smooth economic relationship with Pakistan and the Pulwama attack and Kashmir issue further intensified the dissension between India and Pakistan. On the other hand, with CPEC, China has established a naval base in Gwadar that runs through POK region thereby posing huge security threat to India.
Post-independence, we had true friends such as USSR but today, do we have any reliable friends to look forward in the time of threats?
Russia literally brushed off Galwan clash as a bilateral issue between India and China even though China had occupied key areas in the region. Russia and China have engaged in joint military exercises for many years and have started construction of 4 nuclear power plants in 2 Chinese cities namely Lianyungang and Xingcheng. India’s vision of Indo-pacific and Quad alliance does not sit well with Russia and the latter shares a similar view with Pakistan on the Afghan crisis strongly differing from India.
Growing distant and allowing mistrust to brew in the mind of Russia and perpetual incrimination of Pakistan in the name of condemning terrorism is not conducive to strategic interests of India in the long run.
Do we have a clear-cut policy directive or strategy to tackle China? The fact is China is beyond reach for a wobbling country like India. Strong and strategic alliances, friendly or at the least sustained economic relations with Russia and Pakistan is of utmost importance to have a check on the rose dragon.
THE WAY FORWARD
Recently, our Health minister, Education minister, IT minister, Environment minister and many more resigned in the backdrop of mismanagement of second wave of covid pandemic. Symbolic tactics that too used in a belated time is a futile exercise. While it is impossible to compete with China in all spheres and rely on USA for defence technology but it’s possible to make clever use of China-US cold war and Superpower alliances to the best of our needs. Strong rational policies especially in the domain of maritime security need to be formulated and national priorities need to be clearly identified based on which the country need to approach the domestic and the global challenges.