India will be a leading power in the world only if it takes a “concerted effort” to achieve a multidimensional success in economic and military capabilities and sustains its democracy by accommodating diverse ambitions of the people, a noted US expert has said.
“In Modi’s vision, a leading power is essentially a great power. However, India will only acquire this status when its economic foundations, its state institutions, and its military capabilities are truly robust. It will take concerted effort to reach this pinnacle,” Ashley Tellis of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said yesterday.
Tellis said India’s current ability to expand its national power is handicapped by an overly regulated economy, inadequate state capacity, burdensome state-society relations and limited rationalisation across state and society.
He said India’s ambition to become a great power depends on its ability to achieve multidimensional success in terms of improving its economic performance, wider regional integration and acquiring effective military capabilities for power projection coupled with wise policies for their use, besides sustaining its democracy successfully by accommodating the diverse ambitions of its people.
“Even if India manages to undertake the myriad reforms necessary to achieve these aims, many analysis suggest that it will be the weakest of the major poles for decades to come, geographically located uncomfortably close to a powerful China,” Tellis said.
To become a leading power India should complete the structural reforms necessary to create efficient product and factor markets; create an effective state to leverage India’s capacity to build its national power and foster a strong relationship with the US, he said.
“If India maintains robust ties with the United States, even as it strengthens relations with key US allies in Asia and beyond, it will continue to gain indispensable benefits,” Tellis said.
Noting that India has lost too many opportunities to build efficient markets that foster innovation and accelerate long-term trend growth, Tellis said the government needs to redirect its activities toward producing better public goods, while establishing an institutional framework that stimulates private creativity and increases rationalisation across Indian society.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambition to make India a great power will mark the beginning of a third epoch in Indian foreign policy when its weight and preferences will determine outcomes in the global system.
Without a vastly improved presence in society and better extractive and regulatory capacities all of which require a more autonomous state India cannot accumulate material capabilities to rapidly become a great power, he said.