India’s Rising Role as a Global Strategic Balancer

The Raisina Dialogue 2024, held in New Delhi, indeed reflected India’s commitment to engaging with the international community through diplomatic means. The three-day event served as a platform for India to convey its perspective on global issues and showcase its dedication to finding diplomatic solutions to world crises.

The theme of CHATURANGA, derived from the Sanskrit word meaning four components—Conflict, Contest, Cooperate, and Create—reflects the complexity of contemporary world politics. It acknowledges the existing realities of conflict and contest in a changing geopolitical order. The emphasis, however, is on transforming these challenges into opportunities for cooperation and creation.

In the context of global affairs, acknowledging the presence of conflicts and contests is a realistic approach. However, the overarching goal is to transcend these challenges and move toward collaboration and innovation. By fostering cooperation, nations can address shared issues and create a more stable and prosperous world.

Through such global dialogue, India demonstrates its commitment to being an active participant in shaping the global narrative. By emphasizing the importance of diplomacy and negotiation, India seeks to contribute to the development of solutions that benefit the international community as a whole. The event serves as a testament to India’s diplomatic prowess and its desire to play a constructive role on the world stage.

Participating in the 2024 Raisina Dialogue has provided me with insights into the underlying messages conveyed by the Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi’s popularity on the global stage, surpassing other world leaders, adds significance to the messages emanating from New Delhi.

In tune with Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, the Indian leadership has communicated a crucial point to major world powers—that dealing effectively with the complexities of the present global landscape is imperative for progress. Jaishankar emphasizes the four dimensions of conflict, contest, cooperate and create, asserting that these elements are driving the games that nations play in today’s geopolitical arena. The Raisina Dialogue, as a platform, is dedicated to deliberating on the risks, challenges, choices and outcomes associated with these dimensions.

Participants might question how fruitful the panels were in addressing the pressing issues of our time and whether the discussions were fair and comprehensive. These aspects can be separately evaluated and discussed.

Through latest global events such as the successful hosting of G20 and a strong presence in global forums, India has tried to give major three messages to the world.

Firstly, India has not merely emerged; it has already established itself as a significant global player. In 2010, during his visit to India, former US President Barack Obama remarked, “India is not rising; India has risen,” emphasizing the nation’s substantial progress. Over the past 14 years, India has become the world’s fifth-largest economy, surpassing Japan.

Secondly, India functions as a bridge and a global balancer. The strategic partnership between India and the US has grown significantly, aligning their approaches on various global and regional issues. Simultaneously, India assumes a leadership role in ‘Global South,’ unifying nations in the southern region to amplify their collective voice. According to Jaishankar, the developed Western world often overlooks the challenges facing the Global South, and India actively advocates for their concerns.

India holds a prominent position in BRICS, a bloc that aims to introduce its currency to reduce reliance on the US dollar. BRICS nations have initiated trade transactions in local currencies, challenging the dominance of the American dollar. Additionally, India is a member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), alongside the US, Japan and Australia, formed to address and manage China’s ascent as a formidable global power.

While India collaborates in regional and global blocs to counterbalance China’s influence, it simultaneously maintains issue-based relations with China. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping initiated informal summits, recognizing the significance of their bilateral relations.

India’s role in the Russia-Ukraine war and the Israel-Palestine conflict underscores its autonomy in decision-making. India has strongly asserted its right to determine its policies and actions in these situations, rejecting external suggestions. In West Asian and Eurasian conflicts, India has never sought advice from the West, reinforcing its commitment to independent decision-making.

In essence, India’s global positioning involves being a recognized economic powerhouse, a diplomatic bridge and a strategic balancer, playing a pivotal role in various international forums while maintaining autonomy in addressing regional and global challenges.

Thirdly, India serves as a global public space, exemplified by the inclusive approach taken during the Raisina Dialogue. Leaders from various continents were invited to engage in discussions on global and regional themes. India’s democratic foreign policy and status as the world’s largest liberal democracy has provided a common platform for individuals, regardless of their ideologies, economic status, or political systems, to openly express their perspectives. This inclusivity extends beyond heads of states, prime ministers and foreign ministers to encompass business leaders, thinkers, policy commentators and strategic analysts, who were given the opportunity to interact openly. Thematic sessions and business forums held in different corners of the grand venue facilitated both focused discussions and sideline meetings.

As the upcoming elections draw closer, Prime Minister Modi has been projected as a leader of global stature. The forums like the Raisina Dialogue have contributed to establishing Modi as a globally influential figure, garnering popularity not only within India but also worldwide.

However, it is crucial for Prime Minister Modi and Indian leaders to demonstrate their global exposure and stature in their interactions with neighboring countries. While the ‘Neighborhood First’ policy is in place, there is a need for it to be more action-oriented rather than limited to rhetoric. Jaishankar’s foreign policy approach is realistic, prioritizing India’s national interests. While it is understandable that every sovereign nation should safeguard its national interest, larger powers and economies should adopt a more accommodative stance, especially when developmental issues are at stake. Striking a balance between national interests and regional cooperation is key to fostering positive relationships with neighboring countries.

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