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The plan of Modi is to make India the leading force on the international arena

On the principles of India's foreign policy at the present stage, one of the famous Indian experts Raj Mohan argues.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi traveled to the United States last week. His events included not only the UN General Assembly in New York, but also, for example, meetings with entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley. This trip of the prime minister coincided with a period when Indian diplomacy is increasingly talking about the need for a more active participation of the country in solving global problems. Therefore, now the main task for the Indian government is not only to achieve UN reform and a permanent seat on the Security Council. A seat at this table of honor alone will do little for India if it does not modernize the principles on which it bases its foreign policy.

The plan of Modi is to make India the leading force on the international arena
Modi has already redefined many of India's key bilateral relations, and he has a chance today to end the defensiveness that has dominated India's foreign policy in recent decades. Under Jawaharlal Nehru, India succeeded much more actively than its formal weight in the UN allowed to participate in a wide range of issues - from human rights to nuclear arms control. Without having a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, India nevertheless proposed projects for solving global problems. But to 1960-m Over the years, India's actions in this area have turned, as the diplomat Shashi Tarur put it, into "moralizing commentary" on current international issues.
В 1970-x India's attempts to play the role of defender of the interests of the entire "Third World" reached a peak, but its participation in resolving international issues became less and less constructive. Delhi set ever more ambitious global goals - such as the creation of a "new international economic order" - but the voice of India was less and less heeded. Some Indian initiatives - especially the establishment of a "new international information order" - directly contradicted India's basic political values, including its democratic order. It is not surprising that Delhi's speeches on this topic forty years ago coincided chronologically with the introduction of a state of emergency in the country.

To make matters worse, India's actions on the world stage have often been detrimental to its own interests. IN 1970-x и 1980-x Delhi, under the pretext of protecting the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty, opposed the spread of technologies that could strengthen India's international influence, in particular, direct broadcast satellites and cross-border information transmission.

This ineffective position of New Delhi in international relations was exacerbated by the weakening of India's economic influence. The situation changed only in 1990-e, when India achieved higher economic growth. But the era of reform coincided with the end of the Cold War, and this led to political complications for India. The rise of Western arrogance based on end-of-history theses has given rise to the notion that supranational institutions can replace sovereign states and that all problems in the world can be resolved through effective international intervention.

The new rhetoric of the West, which threatened to bring the solution of the Kashmir issue to the international level, made India nervous. At the same time, although Delhi understood the need for economic reforms in the era of globalization, support for structural change in the country was limited. Therefore, the adaptation to the new order was reluctant and slow.

The new realism that prevailed in Indian diplomacy after the Cold War recognized that one of the most effective ways to strengthen its position in the world is to improve relations with the United States. It was clear that Delhi would not be able to counter the "nuclear apartheid" policy against India with mere meek declarations of nuclear disarmament and its "impeccable conduct" on nonproliferation issues. India could only change its role in the global nuclear order thanks to a political deal with the dominant power in the international system. This was the essence of the historic agreement on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, signed in 2005 by then Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh and US President George W. Bush.

But persistent resistance to reform, poorly disguised xenophobia on both the right and left political flanks, and deep-seated suspicions of the West meant that it would be very difficult to overcome India's defensiveness towards globalization. Nonetheless, Modi's actions suggest some curious changes in India's approach to multilateral international issues, as well as in other aspects of its foreign policy.

After India initially rejected the 2013 Bali food security accords, Modi worked with Obama to work out a mutually acceptable compromise. Modi also hinted at the possibility of greater flexibility on climate issues - he highlighted the need to tackle climate change and India's commitment to constructive agreements in talks in Paris this year. And in terms of Internet regulation, India under Modi began to recognize the role of the private sector and civil society, whereas before it relied heavily on government intervention.

These changes fit into Modi's plan to make India a leading force in the international arena. However, any significant restructuring of India's approach to participation in solving global problems must be based on three general principles.

The first is to recognize that the country's involvement in solving global problems is indeed important for India's future growth and national security. The economic interdependence of India and other countries is growing: today the volume of foreign trade has almost reached 50% of Indian GDP. This means that Delhi should actively influence the international environment and participate in the creation of new rules. It may once have been a politically attractive step to shirk responsibility, but in the current scenario it can be costly.

Second, India should not treat multilateral diplomacy as a modest corner of foreign policy, only needed to utter moralizing platitudes. It should become an instrument for realizing India's national interests and expressing its ideals. Multilateral diplomacy can only be successful if Delhi finds a balance between these two imperatives.

Third, India must not forget that multilateral negotiations largely depend on the nature of the international political hierarchy. While it is important for Delhi to pursue its goals firmly, it must also demonstrate the necessary flexibility and strive for reasonable compromises. Today, unlike in past years, India has sufficient economic weight and a large market, which allow effective negotiations and achieve reasonable results, not only in line with its national interests, but also focused on the common good for the whole world.

The international community will likely be ready to accommodate India's special wishes on issues such as climate change and Internet regulation if Modi can embark on a path of pragmatic multilateral diplomacy. But the main challenge for the Indian prime minister is in his homeland: it has so far been very difficult to carry out reforms there and root out the old defensive attitude.

The original was published in English by The Indian Express on September 21st.

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