India: Can India become a great power? | The Economist
India’s lack of a strategic culture hobbles its ambition to be a force in the world
Mar 30th 2013 | From the print edition
NOBODY doubts that China has joined the ranks of the great powers: the idea of a G2 with America is mooted, albeit prematurely. India is often spoken of in the same breath as China because of its billion-plus population, economic promise, value as a trading partner and growing military capabilities. All five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council support—however grudgingly—India’s claim to join them. But whereas China’s rise is a given, India is still widely seen as a nearly-power that cannot quite get its act together. That is a pity, for as a great power, India would have much to offer. Although poorer and less economically dynamic than China, India has soft power in abundance. It is committed to democratic institutions, the rule of law and human rights. As a victim of jihadist violence, it is in the front rank of the fight against terrorism. It has a huge and talented diaspora. It may not want to be co-opted by the West but it shares many Western values. It is confident and culturally rich. If it had a permanent Security Council seat (which it has earned by being one of the most consistent contributors to UN peacekeeping operations) it would not instinctively excuse and defend brutal regimes. Unlike China and Russia, it has few skeletons in its cupboard. With its enormous coastline and respected navy (rated by its American counterpart, with which it often holds exercises, as up to NATO standard) India is well-placed to provide security in a critical part of the global commons. The modest power Yet India’s huge potential to be a force for stability and an upholder of the rules-based international system is far from being realised. One big reason is that the country lacks the...
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