India’s emergence as a superpower

Ahead of the Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi United State (US) visit showcased India’s emergence as a superpower by many fold. Here, The ‘global community’ witnessed that how Indian PM was welcomed and appreciated by top-up leaders of the US from Jam-Packed Stadium to United state general assembly (UNGA) at large. Further, The “Howdy Modi” event extravaganza at ‘Houston’ so meticulously planned and scripted became an powerful platform from where India’s foreign, domestic and economic policies would be defined and reaffirmed by the PM for the benefit of the entire world and an assertion made of India’s arrival as a superpower. Notably, The 2019 General Elections victory of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with a majority much bigger than what they got in 2014 parliamentary elections has largely impacted the globe.

Significantly, There are many path-breaking ways from the Houston event, popularly known as ‘Howdy Modi’, It established that the Indian diaspora in US and acknowledged by the American leadership as a powerful instrument of growth there, It is as patriotic to the country of its adoption as it is committed to bringing India and US together as the two largest democracies of the world with large mutual or National Interests. Thus, There are many determinants to believe that the country will now be able to hasten up with whatever remained to be done in the spheres of both economic development and national security.

Addressing the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, PM Narendra Modi exhorted the international community to stand united against terrorism, which he pointed out as one of the top challenges not for any single country, but for the entire world. However, The PM lamented the “lack of unanimity” amongst the member states on the issue of terrorism, adding it ‘dents’ those very principles, that are the ‘basis’ for the creation of the United Nations. Noting that India is a country, that has given the world, not war, but Buddha, Buddha’s message of peace. “And that is the reason why, our voice against terrorism, to alert the world about this evil, rings with seriousness and the outrage”.

The PM has ensured that US President with his barely concealed aversion to ‘Islamic extremism’ stood firmly behind India on ‘Valley’ after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution. With a telling effect the PM drew a parallel between 9/11 and 26/11 blaming it all on Pakistan, the breeding ground of terrorism, ‘Islamic radicalisation’ and faith-based militancy and brought out how this was affecting peace in the entire neighbourhood. Thus, PM Modi has reiterated India’s Pakistan policy, isolated the critics or so called ‘Intellectuals’ of India’s new steps towards Kashmir and convinced the international community that his first priority was to work for the development of all Indians and incessantly fight against the new global terror. Security issues is vital to India as well as US and both are committed to protect innocent civilians from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. Hence, Time has to come to take a tough stand against the terrorism.

Indo-US Ties

Meanwhile, Harsh V Pant, Professor of International Relations at King’s College, London and Head of Strategic Studies at the Observer Research Foundation attributed that, “Indian foreign policy is in a sweet spot these days. Wooed by major powers of all hues, it can afford to work with everyone, even if at times the pulls and pressures seem contradictory. This was even reflected at this Howdy Modi Event and the G20 summit as well in Buenos Aires in December 2018 where the National Capital of India managed to pull off two seemingly contradictory trilaterals. During that time, Narendra Modi met with Donald Trump and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe to underscore India’s firm commitment to make the Indo-Pacific a region for shared economic growth, prosperity and security”, The Professor attributed.

Importantly, India is the second largest buyer of Iranian oil after China. And Indian firms have already started feeling the pressure of US sanctions, reducing oil intake from Iran, though that is unlikely to come down to zero. Iran accounts for around 10% of India’s total oil imports, and International News agency named ‘Reuters’ attributed that Indian refiners reduced monthly crude loadings from Iran for Sep and Oct, 2019 by nearly half from earlier this year. On the questions of Russia and Iran, The country has indicated that it must keep its channel of communications with the US open, and Washington has indicated that it remains sensitive to Indian needs. But there have been no public spats between both on these issues – a sign of growing maturity in the partnership. Sanctions on India would be counterproductive to Indo-US ties by pushing India into a Russian embrace and “Jeopardizing Indian interests in the Middle East”.

As per the US president, Indo-US relations are stronger than never before. Indian-Americans are pioneering in medicine, founding new business and providing jobs to thousands of people. For instance, Thousands of Indians are working at some top-up American tech firms that are run by Indian-origin CEOs like ‘Satya Nadella’ at Microsoft, ‘Sundar Pichai’ at Google and ‘Shantanu Narayen’ at Adobe, among others. However, The Mega event comes against the backdrop of trade tensions between both rising after the US withdrew preferential access (GSP) for Indian products. But after India’s decision or corporate tax deduction a very positive message has been sent to business people across the world.

India Unveils Maritime Diplomacy

India was known as a reluctant maritime power in the Northern Indian Ocean Region. In spite of the dominant geo-strategic location, India refrained from demonstrating and unveiling its proactive maritime diplomacy to project power with an objective of securing vital national interests. If India does not create capabilities matching the strategic boundaries that extend from ‘Red Sea’ in the West to South China Sea in the East, the space will be encroached upon by China with an aggressive “String of Pearls Strategy” (backed by infrastructure development and Maritime Silk Route).

India has now realized that maritime diplomacy to “Go West” and “Act East” on land and ocean is vital to secure economic and military interests. But security alone is not an answer to the already volatile and polarised under developed region. Such strategy must be nurtured for long period since it takes time to fructify and develop capabilities. The beginning has been made and it requires continuous government focus and impetus. India must develop capabilities with a view to become a resident maritime dominant power but avoid competing with China till India is able to develop comprehensive maritime power that is able to project power beyond territorial waters of the Indian Ocean.

To strengthen maritime relations India has been assisting island countries such as Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius by providing aerial and maritime vessels for better surveillance of their territorial waters. The country has offered custom made ships and patrol boats for its maritime allies and partners. It offered $100 million in credit, a Dornier maritime patrol aircraft, along with assistance for strengthening the Seychelles coast guard in the Assumption Islands. India could expand maritime exercises to include Southeast Asian partners and Western African nations. The annual trilateral Malabar naval exercise, comprising India, the United States and Japan, takes place in alternate years in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

As per the Indian Navy, Two frontline indigenously designed and built Indian naval ships participating in exercise are- INS Sahyadri, a multi-purpose guided-missile frigate and INS Kiltan, a ASW (anti-submarine warfare) Corvette. In addition to ships, a P8I (Poseidon Eight India) Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft has also reached Japan for the exercise. While the US Navy, It is being represented by USS McCampbell (DDG-85), a Los Angeles-Class Attack Submarine, and a ‘P8A’ Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft. And ‘Japan Navy’ popularly known as The Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF), It is participating with its JS Kaga, a Izumo class helicopter destroyer, JS Samidare and Choukai, a guided-missile destroyers and a ‘P1’ Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

Moreover, This is a time for “Transforming and modernising Indian defence sector” to combat both, the internal as well as external threats worldwide. In this regard, The “INS Khanderi” is commissioned, carries forward the legacy of her namesake, a Soviet Foxtrot Class, which was India’s second submarine overall and was in service of the Indian Navy for 21 years. This is the first ship of Project 17A, the Project frigates is a design derivative of the Shivalik class stealth frigates with much more advanced stealth features and ‘indigenous weapons and sensors’. It is being built using integrated construction methodology. It frigates incorporate new design concepts for improved survivability, sea keeping, stealth and ship manoeuvrability and much more.. Historically, The first INS Khanderi was commissioned in December 1968 and pulled out of service in 1989. The submarine’s motto ”Akhand Abhedya Adrishya” indicates the unity of the crew, indomitable spirit and stealth of the platform.

Thus, Nilgiri and the other six ships of the Project will proudly fly the Indian Flag across the oceans, showcasing India’s shipbuilding prowess and would spread India’s message of peace and strength across the world. Today India belongs to an elite group of nations which is building its own Aircraft Carrier and Strategic Submarines’. Out of total 51 ships and submarines on order at various shipyards as on date, 49 are being constructed indigenously. This contributes to India’s target of building a five trillion dollar economy by 2025 and “70% defence indigenisation by 2027″. Indian Defence Minister Raj Nath Singh remarked that, Directorate of ‘Naval Design’ has designed over 19 classes of ships to which more than 90 ships have been built since then.

Globally, Malabar 2019 exercise also seeks to further strengthen India-Japan-US naval cooperation and enhance interoperability, based on shared values and principles. The exercise involves complex maritime operations in surface, sub-surface and air domains. It also focuses on maritime interdiction operations (MIO), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-air and anti-surface firings. Apart from these it also includes visit board search and seizure (VBSS) and tactical scenario-based exercise at sea. Thus the participation of Indian naval ships and aircraft in the trilateral exercise would significantly bolster strong maritime bonds of friendship between three participant countries and at the same time it would contribute towards security and stability in region, The research remarked.

India’s ‘Engage West’ Foreign Policy

Central Asia : The country has various millennia old historical, cultural and civilisational connection with Central Asia. For many instance, Brisk trade of goods, ideas and thoughts took place from India (and China) to Central Asia and beyond over the Silk Road from 3rd century BCE to 15th century CE. While Buddhism travelled to Afghanistan, Central Asia and Western China from India through the Silk Road. India became a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2017. In addition to the lack of direct geographic contiguity and connectivity, one of the important causes for the country underline to take full advantage of its historical and civilizational linkages with this region has been the inadequate interactions.

West Asia : India’s dynamic relations with West Asian countries signifies one of the bold initiatives of India’s foreign policy. The country today would be one of the very few, which has excellent relations with all countries of the region. India enjoys strong relations with Saudi Arabia as it does with Israel. India has robust relations with United Arab Emirates as it has with Iran as well. With other countries in the region like Qatar, Syria, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Turkey etc India maintains warm ties.

This West Asia is vitally important for India’s safety, stability, energy security and economic well-being. This region is home to about 9 million Indians who travelled to that region for better job opportunities in the wake of the oil boom in the 1970s. 70% of India’s imported oil needs and 90% of gas requirements come from West Asia. This dependence will only increase as the Indian economy continues to grow at 8% or more. As per the research, Indian diaspora in West Asia remits about 55% of the total inward remittances to the tune of about US$ 45 billion into the country.

Afghanistan: India and Afghanistan have a good relationship based on cultural and civilizational connections. It is not limited to only the governments in the National Capital and Kabul but has its foundations in historical contacts and exchanges between the people. Notwithstanding the late and uncertain start to bilateral ties after assumption of power by Ghani, relations have warmed and improved significantly over the last 4 years. Two longpending projects viz the Parliament building and the Salma dam (Afghanistan-India Friendship dam) were completed at rapid speed and handed over to the Afghan authorities, the first in December, 2015 and the second in June, 2016.

It has always been marked by high level exchanges. The frequency and regularity of such visits witnessed a sharp increase. Significantly, Bilateral trade crossed the US $1 billion mark. The two sides successfully organised the India-Afghanistan trade and investment also show in Mumbai in September, 2018 and strengthened connectivity, including through Chabahar port and Air-Freight Corridor. Under the New Development Partnership, both sides are implementing 116 High Impact Community Development Projects in 34 provinces of Afghanistan. Thus, Such investments are in areas of education, health, agriculture, irrigation, drinking water, renewable energy, flood control, micro-hydropower, sports and administrative infrastructure etc..

In the context of security, India is highly vulnerable to terrorism and security concerns, frequent terror attacks in India remains one of the important determinants in pulling its growth down, but it is not limited to India or few countries, now it has spread almost all over the world. Security issues today is a global menace, as inequality is there in every country, although in a different degree. Those who are dissatisfied with the authority adopt the method of violence to show their dissatisfaction. One more thing which can be seen today as a major cause of the same is religious intolerance.

For instance, Recent terror attacks in Sri lanka after the Pulwama attacks in India, and attacks on Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, frequent murders of bloggers in Bangladesh, the war in Syria etc. Even the most developed countries like U.S.A and Russia are also facing these kind of problems. Such wars not only affect the victim country but also its neighboring countries as they face the problem of unwanted refugees. Many scholars remarked that, These attacks are done purposefully to attract the attention of authority, their objective is to capture political power.

However, There is not a single agreement on ‘terrorism’ at international platform whereas there are number of economic, social and political agreement and this menace has not gain any place at international level, even what terrorism is? Who is a terrorist? Has not been defined yet. While every country has adopted a different definition of terrorism and terrorist, even some countries like ‘Pakistan’ supports terrorism at large. May ‘Terrorism’ and ‘Nuclear Blackmailing’ is gaining some momentum in International floor, so it can be taken as an opportunity by India to attract global attention towards this issue very seriously and so that the world could come at single conclusion and agreement about the same, which could help India end its vulnerability to terrorism and grow peacefully further.

In the absence of an agreement over the meaning of “terrorism”, what must be made clear is that there is no such thing as a “good” terrorist, and responsibility for the tragic loss of life and property as a result of this ‘good’ theory must be affixed on states supporting these claims. Although, Terror plots only come to fruition with the help of governments or agencies that, under the garb of ‘non-state’ actors, propagate “proxy wars” and use terror as a tool for achieving their Geo-strategic goals, The research says. Meanwhile, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval recently remarked that the government is capable of carrying out “retaliatory strikes” against any act of terrorism (I.e., ‘Surgical Strike’ against terrorism etc). Indian government is capable of dealing with any kind of internal and external threats. Officials have well decision-making ability for retaliatory strike according to suitable time and place.

A Kaleidoscopic Approach

In the recent literature titled, Whither INDIA in 2022? Edited by Ambassador Surendra Kumar, a diplomat by profession, He has never been unconnected with what goes on in India even while serving in different continents thousands of miles away. As per author of this book pointed out a ‘Kaleidoscopic Approach’ of maturing of democracy in a bewilderingly diverse India. For many instance like fault lines of governance, urbanisation, Trade and Industry, energy security, environmental challenges, national security, internal security and menace of terrorism, defence preparedness, future of India-US relations etc.

At Global level, The Country believes in adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International terrorism at the UN. In short, The concerned book deals with ‘dispassionate discourse’; Which highlights what deserves to be applauded and doesn’t shy away from calling a spade a spade, if needed. As per the Description of book, Contrary to Cynics, a lot has been achieved in India since independence, especially in the last 30 years. Yes, the point of view that the India should have grown faster like several other countries is a valid point.

However, Today’s the meaning of security acknowledges political, economic, environmental, social and human among other strands that impact the ‘concept of security’. In the most fundamental terms, the concerns for security of the lowest common denominator of every society, resulted in the development of the concept of ‘human security’. Hence, Today’s ‘internal security’ requirements have grown phenomenally. In the Context of China Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC), It is going to reduce the distance by 12000 km for china from middle east, which would benefit china for its energy imports from middle east.

For the Pakistan it would benefit it economically through various related projects, china is also going to develop Gwadar sea port of Pakistan which is rather underdeveloped. Despite all of this, Readers should be aware, however, The concerned book contains many factual data relating to the ongoing security issues, contemporary status, and the enquiry of government enhancement on National and International Security concerns such as defence, terrorism, Energy security, Menace of climate change and the changing prospects of Indo-US deals etc.

Make in India Mission

It aims at persuading indigenous and foreign companies to invest in manufacturing in India by making it an irresistible destination, both for capital and technological investments. To start with this, 25 sectors of economy have been identified and defence manufacturing is one of them. With a view to align and delineate DPP towards the achievement of the objectives of ‘Make in India’, an expert committee under Dhirendra Singh was constituted by MoD in May 2015.

The expert committee suggested that a conceptual ladder be evolved to correspond to progressive development of competence level in the defence industry, from the very basic level of repair and maintenance to the level of acquiring ability to design, develop, manufacture and test systems. The procedure has adopted a three- pronged approach to support ‘Make in India’ initiative – institutionalisation, streamlining and simplification of the procedure to promote indigenous design, development and manufacturing of defence equipment, platforms, systems and sub-systems; refinement of the ‘Make’ procedure to ensure increased participation of the Indian industry; and enhancement of the role of MSMEs.

In terms of Indian Defence Sector, Indian Air Force stands at number 4 in the list of strongest Air Force, the country gets placed in 7th rank in the powerful navies list and Indian Army again placed in 4th position at the best army rankings globally. Though, India is now the world’s largest weapons importer it is slowly becoming self reliant player. With sheer military size, India is now aggressively seeking a seat on the United Nations Security Council. It’s also a ‘nuclear power’ that has expanded its arsenal of warheads. Despite the strong displeasure among the powerful nations, The country has no intention of signing the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

In terms of science and technology, the Country have sent satellites into space some time ago, and have already launched some to Mars and the Moon.. Meanwhile, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh, on Sep 26, lauded India’s space program and assumed that the country is on the “verge of becoming a superpower”. Jitendra Singh, who handles the space portfolio as MoS, mentioned though India embarked on space missions late compared to the developed countries, it has gained significant ground in contemporary times. Behalf of the entire scientific fraternity that India is on the verge of being a “superpower” and the journey of India to the top has begun through the Department of Space.

In 2019, India piches as the ‘Investment destination’ for world under the Make in India Project. India’s growth and balance of payment has significant determinants that are rare to find anywhere else in the world. High-tech centers including Delhi NCR, Bangalore and Hyderabad etc, have given path to emergence of top IT companies like Infosys and Wipro. Besides, TCS, HCL, Tech Mahindra are among the global elite in their industry. The Union government is looking at investing ₹100 lakh crore in building new airports, railway lines, electrification, laying new roads and giving house to all, PM Modi explained while speeking at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum On September 25, 2019. Hence, The country are waiting for global investors here.

The country is currently the world’s 2nd largest telecommunications market with a subscriber base of 1.20 billion. As many mobile phone ‘Indian users’; almost nowhere is the telecom industry growing faster. While Indian Television sectors has more than 400 private TV channels and has an overall market size of around $22.5 billion. So India has top ‘professionals’ in every field and their number is rising by the day.. Despite all of this, there are a number of challenges which hold back the country. Some of them include degradation of liberal values, Naxal insurgency, trivialization of media, large scale corruption, instable politics due to multi-party governments.

Consequently, The subcontinent is also making world’s best strides in renewable energy sectors like Solar and wind power. Hence, The people of India have often dreamt that their country will become superpower and this belief is based on the ‘fact’ that for the past few years, there are great transformations such as social, economic, scientific and military aspects of the country. Many Political experts have also considered India as one of the top possible emerging superpowers of the world along with China, Brazil, Russia and European Union. Currently, only the US fulfills the criteria to be considered a superpower. Let us know further whether India is doing great job towards leading sectors across the world, including space sectors and understand how far we are from becoming a superpower.

About Author, “Trilok Singh”, Currently Studies Masters in Mass Communication and Journalism at International School of Media and Entertainment Studies (ISOMES), Film City, Noida; News 24, BAG Film Production. MA in Political Science, Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi. Currently, CEO at India’s leading platform such as Youth Darpan Media, IASmind (Education), & India’s Journal (Journal).

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