In­dia as­pir­ing to Be a Global Power

Global Asia - - BOOK REVIEWS - Re­viewed by Tae­hwan Kim

Is In­dia a global power? Two decades of growth has pro­pelled it into the world’s top ten economies, and it is nat­u­rally search­ing for a larger in­ter­na­tional role com­men­su­rate with its size. Alyssa Ayres, se­nior fel­low at the Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions, here traces In­dia’s bid for its “right­ful place” in the world.

Since Jawa­har­lal Nehru’s death, In­dia has been grad­u­ally mov­ing from non-align­ment to a fo­cus on “strate­gic au­ton­omy” and now to a multi-align­ment ap­proach to the world. Not only does it seek a larger role in global bodies, such as a per­ma­nent UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil seat, it is try­ing to build its “nat­u­ral” role as the pre-em­i­nent In­dian Ocean power. New Delhi is forg­ing strong part­ner­ships with Western lib­eral democ­ra­cies, the US in­cluded. But, Ayres ar­gues, it is do­ing so cau­tiously, as the Gandhi-nehru tra­di­tion of non-align­ment and non-in­ter­ven­tion lingers.

Is the world ready to ac­cept In­dia as a global power? Ayres sees the gap be­tween where it sits and where it as­pires to sit as never more ap­par­ent, as In­dia’s grow­ing ex­ter­nal power is cou­pled with glar­ing in­ter­nal weak­nesses. In par­tic­u­lar, the re­cent rise of ma­jori­tar­ian, ex­trem­ist Hindu na­tion­al­ism poses chal­lenges. If ex­clu­sion­ary iden­tity pol­i­tics in­ten­si­fies in In­dia, which is likely as rul­ing BJP politi­cians ex­ploit com­mu­nal con­flicts in up­com­ing elec­tions, what will be the outer face of its Hindu na­tion­al­ism?

Ayres sees the gap be­tween where In­dia sits and where it as­pires to sit as never more ap­par­ent.

Our Time Has

Come: How In­dia Is Mak­ing Its Place in the World

By Alyssa Ayres

Ox­ford Univer­sity Press, 2018, 360 pages, $22.15 (Hard­cover)

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