GRM 2010 GRM 2011

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Strategizing the Gulf in India’s Emerging Global Profile
Paper Proposal Text :
Strategizing the Gulf in India’s Emerging Global Profile
Girijesh Pant
Dean School of International Studies, JNU
The global geostrategic shift driven by emerging Asia provides India strategic space as driver of Asian growth to aspire to be global player. However, the Indian aspiration is predicated on its capacity to accomplish itself as a country of democratic polity with trajectory of sustainable growth. This alone could accrue India the ‘smart power’ to facilitate the making of multipolar world. This will also provide the status of ‘power balancer’ in regions looking for alternative to Washington’s visibility and Bejing Consensus. Apparently to scale up to global arena, India needs a responsive regional environment which is beyond South Asia. The Gulf is India’s extended neighbourhood and the interaction between the two has been quite robust and dynamic yet not composite. To move global space India needs ties with the region with strategic depth. However the transformation its relations with the Gulf will depend upon the perception of the region. The Gulf is transiting to post rentier phase. This necessitates structural changes having bearing on their external relations. India with historical linkages, cultural affinity and economic wherewithal can be facilitator to move beyond the oil era. However the region being intensely engaged with the western security complex is highly sensitised perhaps vulnerable to define the trajectory of change.
The external environment of the region is undergoing change. It is observed that the “There’s huge nervousness across the region” in the context of popular uprising in the Arab world. The nervousness is also caused by the American policy which might re-asses the support to the regimes when the tipping point comes. Obama did say that energy independence provides America more leeway in making of the Middle East of its liking. “ I think, gives us more freedom of movement to speak to the kind of Middle East that we want to see and the world we want to see." Moreover American credibility in the changing context is fairly low to provide legitimacy to ruling governments. Recognising the American posturing, the Gulf regimes have been looking towards the East not as an alternative but as diversifying mechanism to buttress their vulnerabilities. Leading Asian countries are perceived in this role. This is an important geostrategic shift that the region is going to witness. The moderating presence of USA could be strategic gain for the region or may turn otherwise, which could be detrimental to the Asian and the Indian interest. Asian response thus is going to be crucial. Ironically Asian presence is perceived more in competitive if not adversarial frame than as source of Asian convergence. Asian stake holders need to revisit their posturing to provide the region the strategic space that the Arab uprising will be pressing for. The five Asian countries- China, India Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, recognised by ADB as the maker of Asian century have the responsibility to contribute to the security interest of the Gulf countries. It may be pointed out that no single Asian country has the wherewithal to play the role.
The present paper is an attempt to map out the strategic significance of the Gulf region in Indian aspiration to emerge as global player. The central thesis is that a new convergence is emerging between the two reflecting the communion of interest in the wider context of reforms attempted by the Gulf regimes. It further argues that this convergence if converted into strategic depth could facilitate the making of the Asian century. The India-Gulf relations thus need to move beyond the framework of facilitating the conventional routes of promoting trade and investment flows by signing FTA, A more diversified engagement with thrust on inclusive structural interdependence in the areas like food security, energy transition and Joint knowledge platforms as bench mark could provide India and the region a win- win matrix leading to much desired strategic depth. .A few initiatives are discernible but they need to be the part of a strategic framework. The paper would be delineating on it.