June 19, 2017

From my notes ahead of speaking at a panel discussion on prospects for the liberal international order, at the 2nd Think Tank Summit in New Delhi.

The argument — The free movement of goods, services, people and capital are necessary for India’s growth process and hence in the national interest: to promote this India must further liberalise its domestic economy and act as a swing power in the international system.

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn on Medium.

  1. The threat to an open international system comes both from the Left and Right. The Left does not like Globalisation” and the Right does not like the term Liberal International Order”. Sometimes I wish the problem would go away if we stop using the terms Globalisation” and Liberal International Order” and call it something else.
  2. President Trump’s exit from multilateral preferential trade arrangements have received more criticism than China’s Belt & Road projects.Some people have convinced themselves that China-led initiatives like Belt & Road will somehow adequately replace a globalised world. They won’t. On the contrary, Belt & Road won’t even mitigate the damage; it risks locking countries into patron-client, mercantilist relationships.
  3. Needless to say, the geo-economic strategies of the US and China have intended and unintended geopolitical consequences.Few countries will rely on United States’ external commitments — economic or security. This will create instability and flux. Few countries will rely on China’s promises; will look for ways to hedge; this too creates instability and flux.
  4. While India does face serious risks to its future growth trajectory; we do have some opportunities: The case for domestic free trade is acute — GST is an imperfect first step, but we should work to remove internal restrictions on trade and business. We need Reforms 2.0. Externally, all the more reason for India to act as a swing power: achieve better relations with the US and China than they have with each other; don’t join any side but align on a case-to-case basis.
  5. The first step towards shaping an emerging world order is by being the change we wish to see. India must stand true to its liberal democratic ideals: of secularism, pluralism and liberty. If the US model is tarnished and the Chinese model is dubious, perhaps there’s a case for the Indian Model.
  6. The Indian Consensus of surviving, co-existing and prospering in the absence of an Indian Consensus may just be the answer.

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