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Approach:

  1. Intro expressing India’s potential as a great power.
  2. State the recent geopolitical developments.
  3. Possibility of India seizing the opportunity.
  4. Conclusion

Tony Abbott, Australia’s Prime Minister, had exhorted that “I see a democratic, free India going to be one of the world’s leading countries in the coming few decades”. Today, with the world’s third largest economy (in PPP terms), a vibrant free market, a remarkable soft power clout having openness to the wider world, and symbolised by a vast diaspora – India is no longer an emerging democratic superpower.

India is capable of providing the leadership that the world needs today, more than America can always give.

Geopolitical developments: two most significant geopolitical developments have presented India a ripe opportunity to take up more proactive role in global leadership.

  • Russia’s latest war is provoked by Ukraine’s existence as a free & independent country, which Putin wants to correct by restoring Greater Russia. It means, the Baltic states and Poland could be next in the firing line. Thus, it is a war of national extermination to which no free, democratic country can be indifferent. This has spurred spike in commodity prices and disrupted vital supply chains.
  • China is too nursing its grievances over its own “century of humiliation”, which it is planning to avenge by determinedly taking over Taiwan, to demonstrate that China is once more the ‘Middle Kingdom’. China is also a threat to the stable Indo-Pacific, trying to shift the balance of power in the region in its favour. It has also shown aggression in Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh & eastern Ladakh.

Can India seize the opportunity ?: US sees India as a pivot to counter China’s brutal & hegemonic ambitions in the region. As a fellow member of the Quad, Australia has stood with India in resisting Chinese aggression over the LoC in Ladakh.

  • It presents opportunity for India – a trustworthy trade partner – to substitute China in fellow democracies’ supply chains requiring manufacturing at scale, quality & price. India has done right in withdrawing from the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership deal. But, the new India-Australia trade deal’s ambition just to double trade within a decade seems too modest.
  • India has sometimes kept the West at a distance. But with 75 years’ of exemplary democracy, there is no reason for mutual wariness. A free and fair world order can only be established if it is based on values that democracies have in common. If the free world is to have a leader 50 years hence, that’s likely to be India.
  • As a country that has earned its freedom most honourably, India holds ‘freedom’ as the dearest. Due to India’s traditional friendship & goodwill with Russia, it is uniquely placed to appeal to it in refraining from encroaching upon Ukraine’s free existence and cease the blood-bath.

India should consider exercising the moral leadership of which it may be more capable than any other country. Being a great power most ready to put principle before calculations will only enhance India’s standing in the world.

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