India’s thinkers map out strategy for the decade ahead - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Tuesday 28 September 2021

India’s thinkers map out strategy for the decade ahead

On Saturday, they will release a document for public discussion on how India can manage strategic risks, while expanding – or at least retaining – its freedom of action


By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 29th Sept 21


Amidst rapid geopolitical change and economic transformation worldwide, what should be India’s strategic trajectory in the coming decade?


A group of the country’s most reputed strategists, historians, economists and generals have identified the most important threats and opportunities before India. On Saturday, they will release a document for public discussion on how India can manage strategic risks, while expanding – or at least retaining – its freedom of action.


“Critical decisions must be taken now to ensure that the coming decade sets the stage for India’s emergence as a front-ranking power in Asia and beyond,” stated a press release on Tuesday. 


“This would involve strengthening of partnerships with the US, Japan and Europe, which share India's security concerns and remain key sources of capital, trade and technology,” said the report. At the same time, “India-Russia relations will continue to be relevant in dealing with issues in the region and in responding to global challenges,” it stated.


The authors of the report, titled “India's Path to Power: Strategy in a World Adrift,” include former foreign secretaries, Shyam Saran and Shivshankar Menon; Ashoka University professors Sunil Khilnani and Srinath Raghavan; Yamini Aiyar of the Centre for Policy Research; former military advisor to the National Security Council, Lieutenant General Prakash Menon; and Nitin Pai and Ajit Ranade from the Takshashila Institution.


Many of them had contributed to writing a similar report in 2012 titled “NonAlignment 2.0: A Foreign and Strategic Policy for India in the Twenty First Century.” That report identified basic principles that should guide India’s foreign and strategic policy over the next decade. 


Core elements of the report


“The centre of gravity of the global economy continues to shift from the shores of the Atlantic to Asia and the ongoing pandemic is accelerating this shift,” stated a summary of the report’s key findings. “There is an unmistakable trend towards multipolarity in Asia and the world, and it is in India’s interest to reinforce this trend,” said the report.


In the military domain, the report sees an increasing prospect of a collusive threat from China and Pakistan. The report “demands a politically guided strategic approach that identifies, prioritises and develops pertinent forms of power, which are housed in structures that promote centralised planning and decentralised execution.”


With respect to “the China challenge,” the authors believe that India is the only country with the comparable area, population, history, manpower, and scientific and technological capabilities to not only match, but to surpass China as a parallel civilisational state.”


New Delhi’s pursuit of an expanded regional and global role will only yield results if it manages its sub-continental neighbourhood better. The report warns against the tendency for domestic politics in border states – such as Tamil Nadu and West Bengal – to spill across international borders into neighbouring countries.


“India’s domestic politics must not become a constraint on its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy said the press release.


The authors believe globalisation is here to stay, notwithstanding the on-going economic slowdown. Therefore, “India must maintain an outward orientation of its economy and avoid being pushed to the margins of the regional and global economy.”


The report acknowledged an “existential threat from climate change.”  India needs to balance economic growth with ecological sustainability, by leveraging advanced technologies. 


Another mounting challenge that must be addressed is in the cyber domain. “To become a credible cyber power and protect its growing interests in the information domain, India must draw on talent within and outside government to urgently develop offensive cyber capabilities,” stated the report.


Finally, the authors subscribe to the vision of India articulated by its Constitution and believe that a just social order must guide the country’s trajectory towards great power status. 


“This must be reflected in inclusive policies and in reducing inequalities, and delivering core responsibilities of health, education and public security to all its citizens,” says the report.


The foundational sources of India’s global influence rests on its identity as a political democracy anchored in a liberal Constitution, and its pursuit of economic advancement with social inclusion. “India’s innate cosmopolitanism derived from its extraordinary diversity is a unique asset in this historic endeavour,” says the report.

1 comment:

  1. Ajai, let's be honest. This is more bosh and nonsense. Manage strategic risk while increasing our options for action? What does this mean Every since we've taken to hanging around with the Americans, we've adopted their language. The Americans spend 4% of GDP on defense and have the military force and the political will to do what they have to have to do. (When they're not being super-stupid by wasting time and money on peripheral wars.) We, on the other hand, have reduced our GDP spending by more than half.

    I keep getting told by the same strategists and academics, some of whom are my friends, that we dont have the money. But we do have the money, its just that defense is not a priority, and we will pay the price as happened in 1962. The academies should study the doctrine of provocative weakness: weakness invites the sharks to attack us.


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