India’s geostrategic hand (and how to play it)

September 14, 2012

I work within the theoretical framework of long cycle theory, in which the global economic system is conceived as a single unit in which there is one leading hegemonic power.  There have been five previous cycles in the modern period, and we are nearing the end of the sixth, in which the United States is the leading power.  I believe that India is destined to become the next world hegemonic power – although I believe that it will be in the 8th, not the upcoming 7th, cycle (I think the US will ultimately take a second term for the remainder of this century).

copyright EnerGeoPolitics, 2010

In many ways, India’s geography places it in an enviable position -as noted yesterday in the Keys That Lock Up the Energy World post, India physically dominates strategic shipping lanes like a dagger.  Also, like previous hegemonic powers, India has a relatively open political system and a growing, dynamic economy.  However, there are also numerous constraints that geographic positioning places on India.  In a post today at Eurasia Review, Dr. Richard Rousseau gives a detailed analysis of India’s geostrategic options and some opinions on how they should be approached.  From his summary:

India’s objective is to then become an independent powerhouse capable of ensuring the stability of the Asian continent, whilst maintaining as equidistant a position as possible between the various regional and global players. India’s special geographical location, which is at the crossroads of various cultural and religious influences, is connected to this aspiration. Yet another driving force in India’s yearning for a truly independent foreign policy is the rise in recent years of Indian popular nationalism. Political authorities are pressured in turn to seek to become an economic and military powerhouse in Asia. Such a popular sentiment is a reflection of India’s leadership within the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War, which meant that New Delhi was neither attached to euro-Atlantic pole nor to the Soviet camp, despite having been rather close with the Kremlin in its foreign and economic relations.

In an historical epoch in which the area from the Middle East to South Asia is the scene of strong competition between different regional and global players New Delhi will need to assess whether maintaining substantial autonomy, not only geopolitically but also economically, can be beneficial and efficient for the whole India and constitute a proper response to globalization processes inspired by the West.

As always, I suggest you read the whole thing.


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