New Delhi, ‘Friend of the World’ (Vishwa Mitra): Expectations and Challenges

PM Modi calls India “Vishwamitra”. Picture Courtesy: Sansad TV

The new Vishwa Mitra tag, which New Delhi has been given in multiple global forums, could be indeed seen as a remarkable development and moral uplifter amidst a period of uncertainty, witnessed through hegemonic ambitions of great power players, border insecurity, passive time-biding of potential competitors and pandemics which propelled economic and geopolitical repercussions.

The incumbent government made a wise choice while supplying healthcare to smaller littoral countries in order to build up a positive image of a new global player, making soft power a new tool to gain political prominence globally. The main idea is to bring many countries under a similar umbrella through a sweet strategy instead of military force and delayed tactics benefiting other adversaries. The golden Vishwa Mitra Period of what Foreign Minister S Jaishankar reiterated at the Indian Ocean Region Summit may or may not be prevalent in the next five years, where future central governments’ ideological inclination might determine national and security interests.

Why is the Land of the Tiger a Vishwa Mitra for all?

Amidst these nine years, the incumbent government’s decisiveness in furthering assertiveness in foreign policy and the region has been favored by smaller neighbors and various stakeholders of the Global South, making these post-pandemic years a period of triumph. Despite different global circumstances and pressure to join full-fledged alliances, New Delhi’s commitment towards strategic autonomy may be essential in uncertain periods when adversaries passively strike and misguide countries in decision-making through coercion and persuasion.

Moreover, 2023 was a year of immense outreach and widespread global appreciation, whose roots could be seen through the G20 Summit being held in September, SCO, and a possible QUAD Summit, with New Delhi being the new chair in 2024. The summits have helped to establish a positive and progressive image among global participants, resulting in moving forward. Many of them are looking up towards India, where Quad partners- US, Japan, and Australia are even keen on New Delhi hosting the Quad Summit even though she has rejected the offer to join NATO and act in continuity towards being neutral, according to what Indian newspaper, The Mint iterated. From a foreign policy angle, New Delhi’s decisiveness has proved to be a game changer in her stature, which was sluggish in the past. However, it still depends on multiple factors coming up next year due to outcomes faced by the election of a new government.

The Indian economy, despite all odds, seemed to have seen some positive news as far as Ease of Doing Business is concerned, looking at the statistics of a Press Information Bureau Report in 10 years from a 142 rank to a 63 rank amidst the pandemic, which seems like an achievement where credit may go to clear consensus, leadership, and direction. Even a tough stance in her neighborhood and territory has paved the way for many global opportunities thanks to its strategic autonomy.

Moreover, the Modi Government has shown a lot of commitment towards the Global South in contemporary times with the provision of necessities that were lacking in these countries during the first few years of the pandemic through Vaccine Maitri and SAGAR initiatives. In the recent G20 Summit, there was an initiative under the Delhi Declaration that the African Union will be provided a level playing field in global politics and issues such as piracy, climate change, health, and hygiene to foster cooperation towards the 2030 SDG Plan, which may have been the most remarkable development the Global South witnessed, this year.

New Delhi has partnered with like-minded countries to establish a new economic corridor known as the IMEC, which spans the Middle East, Iran, and Europe. This corridor aims to promote greater economic integration and security interests among peripheral countries, indirectly presenting an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Despite buoyant global recognition, New Delhi from all corners where both traditional and non-traditional challenges such as substance abuse, climate change, state-sponsored extremism, poverty, and unemployment are very much prevalent. Many challenges are up for the new government, depending on the party getting elected through a popular mandate.

Future Challenges: Global Power Dynamics, Conflicting Ideologies, and Governance

In a country with diverse communities and ideologies, looking at the slow and indecisive cum biased functioning of institutions, a wise choice needs to be made among various stakeholders as well as organizational bodies to adopt steady approaches to ensure self-reliance, efficiency, and accountability in smaller sectors to further inclusive growth to achieve common universal goals- development and welfare, security in an uncertain global order. The goals and strategies adopted may determine New Delhi’s good image amidst different repercussions from internal politics and insecurity from diverse social and economic groups. Here, ideas of dissent and partiality are not vital to inclusiveness and prosperity. Furthermore, they are impediments to them and can hamper the real priorities that need urgent attention.

But the only question remains about the recent crisis in law and order in Manipur, which has created some bottlenecks in the local governments. The silence of the incumbent party could be seen as an advantage point for the opposition to mobilize weaker sections and incentivize them to oust the incumbent government through popular dissent and mandate. Here, the media refrained from taking crucial information; armed forces were patrolling intensively to keep watch on the movement of people, impacting their daily livelihoods and routines. Furthermore, a more robust, inclusive, and consensual approach is needed between numerous state and center bodies instead of only being selfish and brutish for power.

Furthermore, looking at India’s diverse multiparty system, it is difficult for a proper consensus to come if the Grand Old Party, Congress, comes and retains its position with other regional parties with conflicting aspirations. So, this party needs to have a clear approach towards development and not try to misperceive the minds of people unaware of their true intent regarding their lust for power while they are using class, caste, and religion to mobilize the weaker sections to propel anger and disparity, where even right-wing nationalism may be a root cause behind it. Then, if opposition parties do not understand the priorities, this golden period may seem uncertain and obsolete.

Regarding non-state actors such as NGOs, civil society groups impact the behavior and security of citizens. These institutions play a crucial role in the intellectual pursuit and research of academics and think tanks involved in policymaking and analysis. Henceforth, looking at emerging ideas.

Among these institutions, observed as essential bridges for higher government authorities, a prejudiced and populist mindset may not seem fruitful if a balanced approach is required in India’s security and foreign affairs. So, there are links and gaps that need to be seen and assessed from multiple lenses, whether it’s security, economic, or social development. Political favoritism between groups and parties has enmeshed universal and sustainable outcomes, essential in lowering the country’s financial or political costs.

Can Sustainability and Resilience be Achieved Amidst Political Confusion?

Sustainable development has been the core focus of global players to collaborate and engage in a multipolar world of multidimensional threats from the misappropriation of natural resources required for rapid militarization by rogue states, climate change, and vast usage of fossil fuels.

Further, the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals could be the focus of the future and current government, which is working towards promoting renewable solar energy in rural areas, which is a more affordable and clean option. The defecation-free level has reached almost 100 percent in rural areas, whereas, during the UPA era, it was about approx. 35 percent. This initiative to ensure hygiene living in rural areas seems essential for good health and well-being to control disease spread. Various loopholes and failures in essential issues such as health, employment, and migration amidst the pandemic should be noted by future governments so that the latter pull up their socks in a timely matter about the opportunity costs if the natural resources are diminishing due to environmental challenges and resource scarcity could impact livelihoods of smaller industries who are entirely dependent on those. These future ramifications will pave the way to leaving one’s village for another alien land with room for their labor and skills.

Many global factors are incentivizing stakeholders to choose India as another alternative in the future. Otherwise, it will stagnate without consensus and bridging amongst policymakers, private players, academicians, and government organizations. Knowledge and new innovative ideas should be the goal of a sustainably developed global entity.

Inclusivity in institutions is an essential aspect of a country’s character and image in an interconnected era. Efficiency, self-reliance, and resilience could only bridge the gaps prevalent in organizational frameworks. Corruption, labor alienation, and narrow-minded goals and aspirations shrouded the trustworthiness of institutions. So now, it solely depends on the citizens whether sustainability with an adaptive mindset is a better choice or sticking to old traditions and values even in a contemporary environment.

Vishwa Mitra about Leadership or Collective Efforts?

Vishwa Mitra is not about a personal image of leaders or parties; it is an incentive to nudge a goal aimed towards leaving no one behind through emphasizing universal cooperation, collaboration, accountability, creating an inclusive level playing fields in policymaking, idea generation, strategic planning for weaker or indigenous groups in society, who can play an essential role in nation building and equitable development. It is imperative for the leader to be true to his subjects and to ensure collective efforts among various stakeholders and individuals working towards universal development, cooperation, and education so that they are epitomes of strength in national character.

Author Bio: Vineet Malik is a member of the Consortium of Indo-Pacific researchers. He has completed his master’s in international relations from O.P Jindal Global University, India.

Disclaimer: Views are personal.


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