Strategic Autonomy or Global Leverage? India at the Crossroads
In global negotiating forums, explain Debiel and Wulf, the country has acquired a reputation as the ‘India that can’t say yes’, and this was demonstrated recently at the key point in the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference. However, this impression, say the authors, conceals specific strategies through which India seeks to safeguard its interests: on the one hand, marked bilateralism in relations with geographical neighbours in South Asia, and, on the other, institutionalized multilateralism within global forums. India thus jockeys with differing foreign-policy concepts and this sometimes irritates other BRICS members, particularly China: whereas within the non-aligned movement India was able, without fear of contest, to assume the role of a precocious ‘global player’, when it comes to the ‘rising stars’ club’ it finds itself ranking economically and politically alongside regional powers of similar status to its own. In the authors’ view, this makes the recent round of institutional innovation, launched in Delhi in 2012, all the more fascinating. This began with the ‘coup’ of the creation of a BRICS development bank and stabilization fund (the Contingent Reserve Arrangement—CRA), designed to support infrastructure projects, including those in other emerging economies. But at precisely the point where greater ‘strategic autonomy’ might arise as a result of a multipolar world, India finds itself having to entertain the notion of making concessions in order to be admitted to the world-shapers’ table. Rejection of the US dollar as the lead currency for the CRA would ensure a solid position for the renminnbi, and this, say Debiel and Wulf, ‘would demonstrate once and for all that China operates in a different league from India’.
See Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, 50–1 (2013), special issue on BRICS (online), esp.:
Siddarth Mallavarapu, ‘BRICS: Hoffnung auf eine gerechte Weltordnung’, pp. 9–12.
See also: Jean-Pierre Kapp, ‘Durchbruch für die WTO auf Bali’, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 7 December 2013.