As India moves toward its seventh decade of independence, it faces a defining period. As the world’s biggest democracy with an economy among the world’s ten largest, India’s status as a re-emerging global power is now not just recognised but increasingly institutionalised: a seat in the G-20, increasing clout in international financial institutions, growing acceptance as a nuclear-armed state, and impressive peacekeeping credentials under the United Nations.
The five major emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) – have gained on the world stage and their presence is being felt in every multilateral institution. Among them India – the world’s largest democracy with a burgeoning economy and a long history of engagement with the multilateral order – is of special significance. For BRICS watchers in general and anyone interested in the future of India in particular, twenty-two scholars of international repute have produced one of the most comprehensive volumes on India’s role in the evolving global order: Shaping the Emerging World.
The ascendency of the Global South is reinforced in the United Nations Development Programme’s 2013 Human Development Report aptly titled The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World. In particular 40 countries, including India, made gains on their human development index scores between 1990 and 2012. Several factors, including integration with the world economy and enhanced South-South cooperation, contributed to the improvement in human development.
India has lost more personnel on blue helmet missions than any other country’s military. Although Indian officials argue that their country has been dedicated to the U.N. since the days of Nehru, their current attitude to the organization is characterized by a mixture of ambition and ambivalence.
For India, gaining admittance into the club of Big Powers epitomized by the Permanent Membership of the UN Security Council, is a bit like jostling in a crowd to get into an unreserved railway compartment. You do whatever it takes to get in, while those inside the compartment are doing their utmost to keep you out.
Diplomats are rarely dreamers or gamblers. The experience of grinding negotiations means that most ambassadors and their advisers dislike big ideas and unnecessary risks. But sometimes they have to take a gamble in pursuit of national goals.
The United Nations General Assembly met on 18 October to elect five new nonpermanent members of the Security Council. Although the winners will not begin their terms until January, the U.N. is approaching the end of two turbulent years in which three major powers -- Germany, India and South Africa -- have held temporary seats in the council, playing prominent roles in its debates over Libya and Syria.
Does the Elephant Dance? elegantly surveys key features of contemporary Indian foreign policy. David Malone identifies relevant aspects of Indian history, examines the role of domestic politics and internal and external security challenges, and of domestic and international economic factors. He analyzes the specifics of India's policy within its South Asian neighborhood, and with respect to China, the USA, West Asia, East Asia, Europe, and Russia as well as multilateral diplomacy. The book also touches on Indian ties to Africa and Latin America, and the Caribbean.