India is widely viewed as an emerging great power in Asia. The South Asian sub-continent is on the rise politically as well as economically. But India has to cope with several key issues to secure its new-found status.
India and China: partners or rivals?
The crisis-torn region of Kashmir has experienced one of its bloodiest summers ever. After a teenager was allegedly killed by Indian security forces violence erupted amongst young Kashmiris.
Kashmir has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan for decades
More than 100 people have died in the last couple of months in Indian-administered Kashmir. The disputed region has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan for the past 60 years, with neither side willing to give an inch.
After the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008, which was planned on Pakistani soil, diplomatic relations between the two sides cooled down. The peace process between India and Pakistan came to a standstill. Foreign policy expert Raja Mohan from Delhi says Pakistan has more than enough problems of its own.
"Right now, Pakistan is in a bad shape. Not only because of the floods. The civilian government has problems, the military has gained a lot more power," says Mohan, "So you have a situation where you have no single authority to negotiate to within Pakistan. So I don’t see any prospects for any breakthrough. Unless Pakistan itself stabilizes to some extent."
Arch-rivals armed to the teeth, also with nuclear weapons
The other mighty neighbor
And India has to solve its issues with Pakistan, says Raja Mohan - not only because both nations are nuclear powers. Because "there are no great powers which have significant problems with their neighbors. So therefore resolving the disputes with Pakistan is an important one purely from an instrumental perspective," he explains.
One might think that India has already enough issues to solve with Pakistan. But India also shares a border with China. Both are powerhouses in the region in terms of the size of their respective populations and economies. As economic relations between the two intensify, political conflicts are on the rise, especially as China becomes more successful and dominant.
It is a rivalry and partnership. "Since today India’s power sector has been already dominated by Chinese suppliers. China is playing a big role in India’s telecom industry," says Mohan, "We might even invite Chinese companies to build roads in India. So, on the economic side you see an expansion of the partnership. More on the political side, in terms of how we look at each other, more in terms of our boundaries our perspective role in Asia and in the world there is a problem."
China is also a close ally of Pakistan. And amidst all of this there is another player: the USA. In recent years the United States has tried to court India’s partnership, also to balance China’s growing influence within Asia. India is happy to deepen its relationship with the US, and is even warming up its old ties with Russia to fence China in. And all the time Indian policymakers are looking North, over the Himalayas, to see what Beijing will do next in the big strategic game in Asia in the 21st century.
Author: Kai Küstner / cvg
Editor: Grahame Lucas