Mainstream, VOL LIII, No 18, April 25, 2015
India: An Emerging Regional Hegemon
Saturday 25 April 2015
by Shatakshi Bhargava
South Asia, as a region, has always been a victim of political instability and economic disequilibrium. It is not hidden that political and economic affairs are interlinked amongst states. Nonetheless, the states have together contributed to regional development, India being the major contributor. Hence, not from now but decades, India has been tagged as a regional hegemon. It implies the influential behaviour of a state (in this case, India), the regional hegemon, the influence being exercised over the neigh-bouring states of the region (South Asia), a regional hegemony. The phenomenon revolves around security, stability and status.
‘India is an emerging regional hegemon!’ has been believed due to its effective medium and long-term planning that is helping India to become an economic power. Deregulation of diesel prices, raising natural gas prices and amendments in labour laws are some pro-business, investment-friendly and attractive policies yielding long-term gains. Initiative has been taken to boost the manufacturing sector which accounts for 16 per cent of the GDP. The ‘Make in India’ programme has been introduced to encourage India to become a global manufac-turing hub. Cautious fiscal and monetary plans have been made to strengthen the government and economy. The Prime Minister and Ministry of External Affairs in India have always made it a point to develop such foreign policies that bring prosperity by establishing strong international relations. The current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, a man of action, has left no stone unturned for the same. Bhutan, Brazil, Nepal, Japan, the US, Myanmar, Australia and Fiji have been recently visited by him. Therefore, India, by its constant efforts, is striving for such development and power.
But India needs to overcome its hindrances before it attains its predominance. China, even if it doesn’t belong to the same region, is one of the most prominent obstacles for India. China’s international linkages are strong, its economy is booming and it gains through its trade balance which can be a cause to keep India away from its powers. Another drawback which India faces is that there aren’t any significant short-term policies to boost Indian economy and lower its dependence. India is highly dependent on other states when it comes to trade and technical know-how. India still faces a huge trade deficit and will continue to face the same in the coming period.
Unless India becomes brave enough to tackle its hurdles, it would never be able to make it to the status a regional hegemon. The Indian Government must try to improve the execution and enforcement of its economic policies and amend them regularly as and when required. The economists must target the economy through short-term measures under normative economics. They should also introduce direc-tional derivatives so that policies and amend-ments can be made with respect to a clear aim and particular direction. Such steps would boost the economy and make it competitive in the external economic environment. Research and development sector should be provided with all kinds of support needed. Higher the technological advancement, nearer will be India to its objective. Policies must aim at appreciating the domestic currency under a flexible exchange rate which would mean higher investments and higher growth. India must also try to strengthen its relations with the nations already in coalition with and establish with the rest. It must actively participate in international forums and alliances like SAARC and BRICS. With great power comes great responsibility and also the other way round. It is important to take responsibility before such power knocks at the door.
But the most eminent step still remains unde-clared. India, if it works in collaboration with the Chinese economy, can even overpower the global hegemon. The collaboration would be strong enough to handle any kind of political instability and economic slowdown. In conclusion with this, it would be unjustified to say that the Indian economy is at its peak.India is a developing nation and its economy has flourished with many secrets to be unleashed.
The author is a student of BA Economics (Hons.), Kamala Nehru College, University of Delhi.