The Post-Cold War Era: An Indian Perspective

01 Aug, 1997    ·   1

I. K.Gujral provides and overview of Indian perspective of post Cold War era

Nuclearisation and Globalisation

... the post-Cold War era has spawned a dichotomy within the international system. While today, the global system has to reckon with unimpeded power and authority centred around one superpower of which there is no equal in terms of pure military might-- we are also witnessing the emergence of multiple economic power centres that are beginning to assert themselves internationally with different perceptions and different goals.

... the post-Cold War nuclear doctrine has become even more irresponsible than was the case before. On the one hand, the great powers have declared that their relations are no longer hostile, and that their missiles are no longer aimed at each other and that the general level of animosity has been scaled down. But on the other hand, they continue to refine their military doctrines that would justify their retention of nuclear weapons. It is clear then that not much progress has been made to downsize nuclear weaponry, and moves on the NPT and CTBT appear to be shaped more by the technological preferences of nuclear weapon states rather than the imperative of nuclear disarmament.

...The globalisation of the economy is another important feature of the post-Cold War era. Closely connected with globalisation is the widespread emergence of market economies. It is no longer possible for nations or national markets to operate as self-sufficient units. [Although] a late-comer to liberalisation there is[a] growing integration of India?s economy with the rest of the world.

Regional Integration and Peaceful Neighbourhood

Globalisation and the rapid emergence of market economies all over the world, from Southeast Asia to Latin America, have resulted in the spectacular emergence of regional cooperation and integration. The process of regional cooperation has also benefited South Asia, which was perhaps one of the last areas to accede to this process of interaction.

There is good reason to believe that economic and technical cooperation among the SAARC countries may lead to cooperation in other areas. India, clearly, is aware of its responsibilities and of the key role it has to play in the development of regional cooperation.

... benign bilateral relations inevitably lead to acceleration of regional cooperation.

Indias neighbourhood policy is based on five core principles. First, in our dealings with neighbours ( Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka) we do not insist on reciprocity for any concessions we have made. Second, we will not allow our territory to be used against the interest of any country of this area. Third, we will not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries in the area, and would expect the others to observe this principle as well. Fourth, we respect the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of the other states of the region. Finally, we are determined to settle all our disputes through peaceful bilateral negotiations. If these principles of inter-state relations are assiduously followed by other countries of the region as well, our relationships can be recast in a friendly mould.

Towards New Partnerships

... The redefinition of the neighbourhood concept ... assumes vital significance as we try to reach out to potential partners all round us. Out strategy can be looked at as a set of overlapping net works. India within the SAARC framework is at the centre of this new network. On the Eastern Flank, the emergence of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a major centre of economic and political power has made it the most significant network of financial , technological and commercial resources into which India can integrate.

The second area of interest is Central Asia. Besides the historical links with the region, it is an important market for India?s goods and services. Central Asia [like Southeast Asia] is a source of inputs for the economy, and a significant factor is our Security. The third major network , in which India is actively involved, and which will formally be launched in 1997, is the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IORARC), bringing together countries from the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, the Gulf and Eastern Africa... it falls within the board framework of our foreign policy goal of building links with countries lying beyond our immediate neighbourhood. Many of these countries are also valued partners for dialogue and collaboration for the restructuring of the post-cold war international system. West Asia, on our western flank, is equally vital.

Non-alignment remains relevant in the Post-Cold War era and India continues to maintain its commitment to its principles. One of the most significant initiatives in recent years has been the G-15. Of which India is an active member. We view out participation in a forum such as this as a means to enhance our ability to exert a positive impact on the framework that governs international trading and the economic environment. The G-15 is virtually a microcosm of the Non-Aligned Movement and the G-77, and thus provides a forum to discuss the twin objectives of South-South cooperation and North-South dialogue, by bringing together the vast and varied development experiences of nations from three continents.

...A strengthened and viable United Nations system is also one of our major foreign policy goals.

...If we factor into this the information and technological innovations that are revolutionising the world and our day-to-day lives, it becomes readily apparent that we have begun to live, in "A World Transformed" as we head towards the 21st Century.

(Excerpt from "World Affairs? Vol.1, No.1, Jan-Mar 1997, pp:44-55 )