An article written by Teresita C. Schaffer on India’s global positioning, with considerations of the country’s role in the United Nations, the G-20, international nonproliferation, and climate change.
In early 1991, as the global structure of the cold war lay in tatters and India was starting to consider the role it would play in the new system that had emerged, the soon-to-depart Indian ambassador to the United States mused about his parting advice. “I keep telling my government,” he told the author, “if you want to drive on the superhighway, you have to get up to 100 kilometers per hour.” The decade that followed was a time of transformation for India, domestically and internationally. A more economically-driven foreign policy was the natural consequence of its accelerating growth. These trends, along with the collapse of the Soviet Union, thrust India’s relationship with the United States into a much more central position for both countries. But the ambassador’s metaphor was particularly apt in describing the coming transformation of India’s role in the world’s multilateral deliberations. Nearly two decades later, India has found the transition to highway speed surprisingly unsettling, but it is starting to find its stride.
Originally published in the Spring/Summer 2010 issue of the Brown Journal of World Affairs.Leave a reply