India’s Quest for Global Power


Dr Sahibzada Muhammad Usman

India’s aspiration to become a global power is multifaceted, rooted in history, and influenced by various ideologies and geopolitical scenarios. Let’s delve into some of the core ideologies and issues that play pivotal roles in India’s global ambitions. At the heart of India’s global ambitions lies an intricate balance of its domestic ideologies and international aspirations. The RSS, with its vision of Hindu-first ideology, intersects with the concept of Akhand Bharat, which further intertwines with the broader framework of Hindutva. These beliefs, while deeply cultural and historical, pose challenges when juxtaposed against the secular fabric of the nation and its democratic principles.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is a right-wing Hindu nationalist organization that promotes the cultural unity of India. Founded in 1925, it asserts a Hindu-first vision, emphasizing India’s ancient culture and values. The RSS envisions making India a significant player on the world stage with its cultural identity at the forefront.
The term ‘Akhand Bharat’ translates to ‘Undivided India’ and refers to the idea of a unified Greater India. The concept asserts that regions like modern-day Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and even parts of Southeast Asia historically belonged to ancient Indian civilization. Some interpret this as an aspiration to restore a lost territorial legacy.
Distinct from Hinduism as a religion, Hindutva represents a political ideology that advocates for the establishment of a Hindu Rashtra (nation) in India. While it celebrates India’s rich cultural heritage, critics argue that it sidelines non-Hindu communities and influences policy decisions that might target religious minorities.
A nation’s strength lies in its diversity. India’s rich tapestry of cultures, religions, and languages is its strength, but the treatment of minorities becomes a litmus test of its commitment to democratic values. Recent incidents of violence and alleged persecution have raised concerns, with critics pointing towards a growing intolerance. Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu Kashmir remains one of the most sensitive issues. While India claims it as an integral part, allegations of human rights abuses and suppression have made it a focal point of international attention. Peace in IIOJK is vital for India’s image as a responsible global player.
India’s neighborhood is fraught with challenges. From historical issues with Pakistan (the IIOJK issue as a significant bone of contention) to border tensions with China, India navigates a complicated geopolitical landscape. The aspiration to become a global power is not just about economic growth or military strength but also about fostering peaceful relations with its neighbors. From the icy terrains of China’s borders to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean surrounding Sri Lanka, India’s geography places it in an intricate geopolitical puzzle. China, as Asia’s other giant, plays a pivotal role in India’s international calculations. The rise of both nations concurrently is historically unprecedented and will define the Asian century. Their relationship, marked by competition and cooperation, will significantly shape global geopolitics. India’s rise is also about smart diplomacy. Building alliances, notably with major global players like the USA, Russia, and EU countries, can amplify its influence. However, these alliances should not compromise its non-aligned movement principles or its commitment to a multipolar world.
One could argue that peace agreements are the best way forward. They not only ensure stability but also enhance India’s global image. However, differences in civilizations, historical animosities, and territorial disputes make such agreements challenging. Some argue that given the challenges, India might be inclined to use force to assert its dominance. Nevertheless, this strategy has inherent risks. The potential consequences, including regional instability and the potential negative impact on India’s worldwide reputation, are noteworthy. In addition, this stance contradicts India’s enduring ideal of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” which emphasizes the interconnectedness of the global community. The global community has a significant duty to fulfil. It is essential to comprehend and actively involve oneself in India’s ambitions while ensuring that the pursuit of global influence does not compromise regional tranquility or domestic cohesion.
The trajectory of India’s ascent to the rank of a global power is marked by many intricate factors. The particular nature of this subject of study is attributed to its deeply ingrained ideology, historical complexities, and ongoing geopolitical obstacles. While the desire to attain worldwide dominance is valid, the methods used to accomplish this objective must adhere to principles of global peace and democratic ideals. The worldwide community carefully observes India, anticipating that the nation, renowned for its extensive historical and cultural heritage, would choose a trajectory that enhances its own development and makes constructive contributions to international society.
The writer holds a PhD in geopolitics and is the author of ‘Different Approaches on Central Asia: Economic, Security, and Energy.’