If India becomes one of the leading powers of the 21st century, as is widely predicted, how will it exercise its power and influence? The answer to this question is being shaped by four competing visions of India’s place in the international system. The oldest of these can be traced to India’s struggle for freedom, when homage was paid to the notion that India ought to serve as a counterexample to the West’s role in international affairs.
Foreign Policy & Security
Despite all the talk of an emerging “strategic partnership” between India and Iran in Washington’s policy-making circles, two recent developments underscore the tenuous nature of India-Iran ties. Tehran has taken up with the Indian government the issue of India launching an Israeli satellite, TECSAR, that many in Israel have suggested would be used to spy on Iran’s nuclear program.
With the India-United States nuclear deal facing an uncertain future, there has been a spate of analysis on the domestic opposition to the deal from within India. Security hawks and sections of the Bharatiya Janata Party worry that the deal may constrain India’s strategic options in the future. And for India’s Left the most disturbing implication of the deal is that it will bind India more closely to the US.
In two remarkable recent speeches in New Delhi, India's Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon underlined a significant shift in India's official discourse on its neighbors, especially toward Pakistan.
In a speech titled "The Challenges Ahead for India's Foreign Policy" and another which analyzed the enduring conflict with Pakistan, titled "India-Pakistan: Understanding the Conflict Dynamics," Menon identified the construction of a "peaceful and prosperous periphery" as a major national objective.
When President Bush signed the US-India Civilian Nuclear Agreement on December 18, 2006, a new era began in the US relationship with India. It marked the end of a quarter century during which the nuclear proliferation issue dominated the bilateral relationship. Now the two largest democracies in the world can develop a new agenda freed from the burden of the proliferation issue.