India Isn't a Superpower (and May Never Be)

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 3/09/2012 01:58:00 PM
India The Next Superpower Cover image
It's once again time to feature an LSE IDEAS publication as I sometimes do. Although hosting Niall Ferguson was something of an event for us--he is in many respects a one-man travelling circus of his own--we now have another Phillip Roman chairholder in Ramachandra Guha. Although he is somewhat less well-known to Western audiences than the aforementioned economic historian, Guha nevertheless brings some unique perspectives on modern India. For a research centre that purportedly concerns itself with grand strategy, IDEAS is of course particularly interested in what's up with China and India as well as what role they will play in the future. So, just as we had US-China relations historian Chen Jian as the Phillip Roman chair a few years back, now we have Ramachandra Guha.He's been making the most of his time at LSE IDEAS by drawing much favourable attention to his, well, ideas [1, 2].

Once more, the press blurb describes the contents of our latest special report well by considering India's fitness for superpowerdom if there ever was such a qualification [!?]:
The authors argue that despite India’s rising power and wealth it remains shackled by weaknesses which include corruption and poor leadership, extreme social divisions, internal security threats and religious extremism.

The report – India: the next superpower? – features essays by nine experts which examine the nation’s economy, defence, government, culture, environment and society. While they acknowledge the country’s formidable achievements in fostering democracy, growth and cultural dynamism, they generally agree that its structural weaknesses mean that it cannot yet call itself a superpower or be considered a full counterweight to the influence of China (as some in the West have hoped).

And the headliner as suggested above is the contribution of Ramachandra Guha:
Some of the report’s authors believe that India should not even aspire to be a superpower while it has so many internal problems unresolved...[Guha] lists seven reasons why India will not become a superpower; armed unrest from the Maoist Naxalite movement, extreme Hindu religious chauvinism, the degraded quality of leadership, a trivializing media, over-consumption of resources and incoherent policy caused by political coalitions. He concludes: “We need to repair, one by one, the institutions that have safeguarded our unity amidst diversity, and to forge the new institutions that can help us. It will be hard, patient, slow work.” 

This publication should be of interest not only to India specialists but for those who are seeking to know more about international affairs in general. There are individual chapters which are also interesting in their own right aside from that of Guha available as PDFs on our website

Happy reading!