Extended South Asian Region - II
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Issue Vol 22.2 Apr-Jun2007 | Date : 02 Oct , 2011

“At the same time, India will play an increasingly international role. Its goals are analogous to those of Britain east of the Suez in the 19th century – a policy essentially shaped by the Viceroy’s office in New Delhi. It will seek to be the strongest country in the subcontinent, and will attempt to prevent the emergence of a major power in the Indian Ocean or South East Asia. What ever the day to day irritations between New Delhi and Washington, India’s geopolitical interests will impel it over the next decade to assume some of the security functions now exercised by the United States.”15


International politics arises out of the fact that the surface of the earth is divided very unequally from place to place, into political units that are independent and sovereign. Though all members of the UN are entitled to equality, they differ in location, area, population, political organisation, language, economic and cultural levels. They also differ in attitudes, aspirations, military strength, stages of development and political stature. Their relations with other states, whether close and friendly or adverse and hostile, vary both locally and at long range.

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Each state seeks, above all, to increase its economic well-being and ensure its security and survival. It is not an easy task in an environment where eternal and internal dangers underline the need for awareness and caution in state policy. History and geography mould the attitudes and policies of changes, even though these may be subject to sudden and unpredictable changes. Each state is a unique entity with characteristics of its own. It is helpful to try and discover its raison d’etre. Definition of national aspirations is a start point in any defining of national interests.

India is poised to achieve great power status. It needs to play its cards well otherwise the 21st century is Indias to lose.

The inter-locking mechanism of nation-states is now so delicate that events at one point can cause repercussions widely and remotely. Local events and situations can quickly acquire international interest and importance. (The “butterfly effect” explains that small variations of the initial condition of a dynamical system may produce large variations in the long term behavior of the system). Geographical analysis can offer more towards the understanding of international politics than just an appreciation of the facts of the location or situation.

Problems exist whenever states are enclosed within arbitrary boundaries, originally chosen by their imperial rulers and poorly supported by undeveloped economies. They thus face the dubious prospects of successfully charting their courses alone, in the troubled arena of international politics. The notion of ‘independence’ intrudes unhelpfully in an interdependent world.

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A major challenge to the international system is posed by the competition among different nations for land, resources and power. This challenge is as old as history itself. Survival of over-populated and under-nourished countries of the subcontinent, with any kind of self respect or honour, in the emerging world order will be so much more difficult unless they take note of the unifying factors and cooperate.

India is poised to achieve great power status. It needs to play its cards well otherwise the 21st century is India’s to lose.


  1. Amartya Sen; “The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity”; (Allen Lane, London; 205) p.152
  2. Andrew Gyorgi, The Geopolitics of War: Total War and Geostrategy” ; The Journal of Politics, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Nov 1943) pp. 347-362.
  3. The Economist – 3 January 1998
  4. Indian Ministry of External Affairs, Annual Report: 2003-04, p.1.
  5. Quotes from C. Raja Mohan, Crossing the Rubicon (New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), p.262: and C. Raja Mohan, “India’s Diplomatic Spring”: Indian Express, 22 March 2005.
  6. C. Raja Mohan; Foreign Affairs, Jul-Aug 2006
  7. As measured in GDP in Dominic Wilson and Roopa Purushothaman, “Dreaming with the BRICs: The Path to 2050”. Goldman Sachs Global Economics Paper, No. 99, October 2003, p.4.
  8. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, in his inaugural address at the Hindustan Times Leadership Initiative; Ed: Namita Bhandare: “India and the World: A Blueprint for Partnership and Growth”; Roli Books; New Delhi, 2005; p.23
  9. UN Monthly Bulletin of Statistics: Coca Cola – Forbes Estimates;
  10. Ralph Peters; Waters of Wealth and War: The Crucial Indian Ocean;
  11. Donald L. Berlin, ‘India in the Indian Ocean’, Naval War College Review, Spring 2006, Vol.59, No.2, p.59
  12. Bradford, John; “The Growing Prospects for Maritime Security Cooperation in Southeast Asia”, Naval War College Review, Vol 58, No. 3, Summer 2005; p.72
  13. Dr. Sengupta & SZ Qasim ed., “The Indian Ocean”, Volume 1, Oxford and IBH, 2001
  14. Nandkumar Kamat, “Goa: Marine Pollution Management Needed”, The Navhind Times, March 28, 2005, http:/ stories.php?part=news&Story_ID=03283
  15. Henry Kissinger; Newsweek: September 19, 1988
  16. Source: World Development Indicators database (http: Statistics for 2004; figures marked with + indicate data for previous years.
  17. The Military Balance 2005-2006
  18. ibid.
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Col Harjeet Singh

Col Harjeet Singh

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