India’s Soft Power
India has been experiencing a steady growth rate in recent years that has been anchored on a fulcrum of an ever increasing growth curve precipitated by its soft power policy. These high rates of economic growth means that India has become one of the most attractive destinations for foreign investments as noted from the high return rates of over 38.6%. Observers have stated that these positive rates will continue to be observed in the years to come, arguing that the healthy economy has been due to structural rather than cyclical growth increases. Indeed, the rate of growth has been on an ever increase since 1991. The reason for this is not hard to discern, India embraces the doctrines of “soft power”.
According to Tharoor (2008), “India’s soft power is on the rise; for example, Bollywood films are enjoying a great international audience”. Soft power in this context refers to “India’s ability to manage diversity in the age of globalization has resulted in a rise of its soft power internationally, especially among the neighboring countries” (Tharoor, 2008).The domestic and social politico organization of India at the present states can be analyzed through an assessment of the governance and its civil society. The first instances can be viewed through an observation of the fact that India is the world’s largest electoral democracy. It should also be seen that the current administration has embraced the US-India strategic partnerships and has continued pursuing similar partnerships with Russia, China and the rest of the ASEAN countries.
An analysis of the present political climate in India would indicate that the government is stable and that the administration has so far been “adept at handling both the domestic and international affairs amicably enough” (Tharoor, 2008). It has been pointed out that the major challenges facing this administration are how to continue driving the economy and improve the social-economic indices of the nation. Observers have noted that this has so far been effective enough, albeit necessitating the injection of new initiatives. Thus, it can be deduced that most of the domestic issues would seem to be working. All the above initiatives have been pursued with a lot of vigor and zeal as India seeks to bolster its geopolitical standing and advance it’s economic and security interests. As Tharoor (2008) intones, “the international political drivers of the national powers of India are currently well positioned to propel the country forward towards the attainment of its regional as well as global political quests”.
India’s relations with China and the US and the possible impact on its policies
United states-India’s Relations
It has been noted that the “current relations between India and the US are currently molded on the convergences of joint perceptions of threats from terrorism, religious fundamentalisms, weapons of mass destruction and the US desire to maintain harmonious relations with India so as to better maintain peace and security” (Tharoor, 2008). These relations have been advanced especially following the post 9/11 as both countries sought to tackle terrorism, and promote global peace. It has also been noted that the India’s strong democracy, political institutions, economic resurgence, and the huge business and market potential has also played a big part in promoting the relations between the two nations that has witnessed a shift in the US perception of India.
Several convergences in interests between the two nations can more specifically be observed in several fronts. “The Indian -US cooperation on security matters have also increased positively since the year 2001 and took a turn for the better following the signing of the US-India Defense Relationship in the year 2005 to reflect common principles and shared national interests between the two nations” (Tharoor, 2008).
Many analysts view the continued India-US cooperation as thinly veiled attempts at containing the growing China hegemony in the Asian region although both countries have been quick to refute such claims. Nonetheless, both nations have performed joint military exercises and there have been an increase in the sale of military equipments to India from the US
The relations between China and India, or what has more popularly been referred to as Sino-Indian relations have, according to many analysts, been progressing at relatively steady rate in the recent years. It is seen that the bilateral trade and economic ties have improved significantly as the two nations seeks to find a solution to the contentious issues rather amicably. Indeed, associations on the international arena can also be discerned as the two nation’s strides to counter issues like terrorism, energy and maritime security. It would in-fact appear that the relations are headed for the better as witnessed from the visit of president Hu Jintao in 2006 that resulted in the signing of 13 agreements seen as an attempt to further future cooperation. However, few issues still remain contentious.
The major areas of contestation have largely come from China’s view and perceptions on the India’s look east policy and soft power. Several areas of convergence can be seen from the Sino-China relations, chief among them trade. It can be seen that the trade between the two nations grew by more than $11.4 billion in the first quarter in the year 2007, and it has been projected that the two will double their trade every year to reach a high figure of more than of $40 billion a year by 2010 (99).
The dominant issues of the relationship between the two nations of India and China largely stems from the border conflicts and the China –Pakistan relations that may well not be of immediate effect on the US parse. These have however extended to encompass the wider Asian-Pacific region where the two may well be at a variance, more so following the growing India’s influence, which is a direct attribute of its look east policies, soft power polices and the accompanying implications.
The future of the look east policy as synthesized from the China-US-India relations
The United States has been acknowledging the likely emergence of both China and India in recent years. However, China has not overtly acknowledged the growing power status of India. “As late as 1998, there was an asymmetry in mutual perceptions of each other’s geopolitical standing between China and India” (Tharoor, 2008). It is only in recent years that China is coming to terms with the fact that India is becoming a significant power as seen from the growth in national economy and increased multilateral partnerships with other countries, most notably the growing associations with the countries in the East Asia and Pacific, as a consequence of its look east policies, and the application of its influence brought forward by soft power.