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India’s Role


Owing to its unique position in the comity of nations as a country that exists simultaneously in the third and first worlds, India is well-placed to communicate the woes of one to the other. While the developed countries have evolved over a period of centuries to their present condition, former colonies and oppressed nations have had to basically pull themselves up with their bootstraps after World War 2. The rapid advances in science & technology have meant that development processes have been in a state of dynamic imbalance and, in recent times, it barely takes a decade for a technology to become obsolete. As such, developing nations have a double challenge in keeping up.

Meetings like that of the G20 nations in Rome and Conference of Parties on Climate Change in Glasgow are attempts to overcome these inherent handicaps while facing global challenges. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address in Rome, for instance, needs to be seen in this context. He has offered to supply 5 billion Covid vaccines to the world’s less developed nations, but has also pointed out how the inherent bureaucratic barriers (rooted in the colonial mindset) have prevented grant of recognition to India’s indigenously developed Covaxin. Most of the time, the international organisations and groupings are used to protect economic, technological and political dominance.

Upcoming ‘outsiders’ like India, Russia and China approach this challenge in different ways. India is best placed in the sense that it has no ideological differences with the ‘liberal democracies’. Its strategic location provides it clout with all the major players, even if it sometimes is intimidating for nations with expansionist agendas, such as China. As such, international meets such as the ones underway at present need to be deftly handled. India has to protect and promote its own interests, also bat on behalf of the smaller nations and, at the same time, support the global agenda.

At the present, the three challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the consequent economic disruption and climate change need very much to be addressed in a united manner. Russia and China believe they have the advantage and can afford to watch from a distance. Owing to their committed dependence on fossil fuels, they do not want to have ‘targets’ imposed on them. Hopefully, the US and Europe will appreciate the Indian willingness to work with and for the global community. This is where PM Modi’s pragmatic approach will help improve the situation in very difficult times and should, hopefully, receive the cooperation of the other leaders.