“India is bigger than the world,” says a character in Jorge Luis Borges’s collection of short stories The Aleph. This affirmation, somehow enigmatic, but very much in the style of the Argentinian writer, fond of slipping from the real to the imaginary, could come true before our eyes. India has now acquired a global diplomatic and strategic dimension, which makes it an essential and necessary partner. Primarily in the Indo-Pacific area but also beyond.
For if India is perhaps “bigger than the world,” in the sense that, because of its size, its religious, linguistic, cultural and ethnic diversity, it represents a universe in itself that tends to reflect the rest of the universe, it does not cease to assert the pivotal role that it intends to play on the international stage.
As Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, a member of the Indian People’s Party (BJP), Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political movement, keeps saying, India has set itself the mission of becoming “one of the leading countries” in the world.
In the latest illustration of this ambition, the country has taken over the presidency of the G20 in December last year which will culminate in a summit of leaders of nations representing more than 75% of world trade in September in New Delhi.
India’s weight is further bolstered by the fact that it will become the most populous country in the world this year, ahead of China with a population of more than 1.4 billion, and that it has become the world’s fifth-largest economy in 2022, supplanting Britain , the former colonizer. “We are leaving behind those who have ruled us for 250 years,” a sarcastic Modi said.
This was the moment Modi, the popular and populist leader who embodies the dominance of the Hindu nationalist right in the political arena, had been waiting for. Since the end of the twentieth century, the BJP’s steady rise has accompanied India’s rise in the global geopolitical scene.
After being re-elected for the second time in a row in the 2019 parliamentary elections, the head of the government appears to be even more firmly entrenched in power as the BJP is well-positioned to achieve a third success in the next election, scheduled for 2024. Modi now has enough legitimacy to convince abroad of the importance of his country.
‘The world is one big family’
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Does nationalism go hand in hand with a rise in diplomatic power? Some people in New Delhi are convinced of this, starting with the Indian foreign.
In his book, The Indian Way. Strategies for an Uncertain World, Jaishankar extols the virtues of nationalist ideology for a great country like his by stating the following principles: “In emotional terms, nationalism obviously contributes to a stronger sense of unity. In political terms, it signifies a greater determination to combat sub-national and supra-national challenges to it. In policy terms, it focuses on how to maximize national capabilities and influence.”
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