An analysis of India’s strategic path amidst tectonic external and domestic shifts by an independent group of leading policymakers, analysts and thinkers
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Over the past several months Yamini Aiyar, Sunil Khilnani, Prakash Menon, Shivshankar Menon, Srinath Raghavan, Ajit Ranade, Shyam Saran and I had a series of discussions on crafting a strategy for India for the 2020s decade.
The core arguments of this report are:
- 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. There is an unmistakable trend towards multipolarity in Asia and the world, and it is in India’s interest to reinforce this trend. For this reason, the expansion of India’s strategic autonomy demands a re-orientation of its foreign policy towards mobilising the larger constituency of developing countries and emerging economies with which it has convergent interests and advance them through reinforcing multilateral institutions and processes.
- The authors believe that globalisation, which is the consequence of rapid technological advance, is here to stay, even though in some respects it may have stalled. Therefore, in order to enhance its economic prospects and improve the welfare of its people, India must maintain an outward orientation of its economy and avoid being pushed to the margins of the regional and global economy.
- India’s pursuit of an expanded regional and global role will only yield optimal results if it does a better job of managing its sub-continental neighbourhood, becoming a net security provider and a source of public goods. India’s domestic politics must not become a constraint on its Neighbourhood First Policy.
- As a densely populated tropical country, India faces an existential threat from climate change. While working towards a supportive global regime on climate change, India needs to reorient growth strategies to prioritise sustainability by leveraging advanced technologies.
- Another mounting challenge is in cyber space. 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.
- The increasing prospect of a collusive threat from China and Pakistan 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.
- While acknowledging 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.
- The authors subscribe to the vision of India articulated by its Constitution and believe that this is what 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.
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