India in the Global Order

FGV’s collection of Pocket Books, “Entenda o Mundo” (or “Understanding the World”) has just received a new volume: “A Índia na Ordem Global” (or “India in the Global Order”), by professor Oliver Stuenkel. The book develops important debates on this country dynamics, such as its democracy, foreign policy and global integration through valuable contributions from the greatest thinkers of India: Jawaharlal Nehru, C. Raja Mohan, Gurcharan Das, Ashutosh Varshney and Shivshankar Menon. We have invited professor Stuenkel to comment some of these contemporary issues about India, from his new book’s perspective.


What is India’s role in the balance of power in Asia, considering the new global order? Also considering this multilateral order and the new groupings in which India is inserted, such as BRICS and IBAS, how does India encourages these initiatives?

Unlike Brazil, India is in a highly complex regional context. Geopolitical tensions and border conflicts generate a feeling of insecurity that affects India’s insertion in this global order in a profound way. As a result, India is now the largest importer of weapons in the world - including nuclear weapons - and most of its researchers on foreign relations study regional security issues, such as the relationship with Pakistan, political instability in Afghanistan and the border conflict with China. In this context, institutions such as the BRICS are important platforms to strengthen communication between India and China, two countries that will likely dominate the geopolitical situation in Asia in the following decades.

At the 69th meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations, a new resolution on the elimination of nuclear weapons in a global level was discussed. India, North Korea and Israel, among other countries, have voted against this resolution. What is the impact of this fact on the maintenance of international security?

For India, nuclear weapons are an international “currency” of strength and power. In its perspective, the possession of nuclear weapons is a requirement for achieving a great power status. Indian skepticism towards the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons) and to any attempt to limit its nuclear capability is fundamentally tied to the belief that, in the first place, nuclear weapons are crucial to the status of a great power, which India surely wants to become; and secondly, that the nuclear States are intended to prevent India to achieve this status. Moreover, India believes that Russia and the United States must seriously compromise with the reduction of nuclear weapons before countries with fewer weapons do. There is no consensus on the impact of this position, because, in general, analysts differ on how nuclear weapons can affect the maintenance of international security.

What are the main challenges for India in terms of foreign policy nowadays? And what should be the main strategies to overcome these challenges?

The key challenge in this context is to find out how India could, in spite of the barriers mentioned above, articulate a regional vision and defend its national interests, especially considering that the most striking element in the region is China's rise and the increase of its ambition to take over regional leadership. India’s response has been to keep closer ties with countries such as Japan and the United States to balance China's ascension.


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