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Speech by External Affairs Minister Shri Yashwant Sinha at The Ninth Field Marshall K.M. Cariappa Memorial Lecture on 'India and the Emerging World Order'

October 18, 2003

It is an honour for me to be here today, to mark the Infantry day Anniversary, and to deliver the Ninth Field Marshall Cariappa Memorial Lecture.

Field Marshall Cariappa, a great son of India, straddled two distinct eras; and was for the Indian Army an invaluable /bridge between them. He was the first Indian to be commissioned at the age of 19, the first Indian /brigadier, the first Indian to enter the Imperial Defence College in England, the first Indian Officer to enter the Staff College Quetta, the first Indian Major General in 1947 and the first Indian Chief of the Army Staff. His leadership and enduring imprint is evident even now.

At this forum today, I propose to share some of my thoughts with you on the emerging world order in the 21st century and the role of India in it.

Crystal gazing about the world order is at the best of times, a hazardous task. The ebb and flow of international relations has been a given constant, since the modern State system was conceived more than four hundred years ago. Certain tumultuous events, however, have a distinct impact on the contours of the world order and add clarity to our perception of it. At best, we can make comparisons, based on past events and point to discernible trends, which I propose to do today.

The end of the Second World War, the dawn of the atomic age, and the roll back of colonialism, beginning with our independence, was one major watershed in 20th century history. The victors of that War, sought to create a new world order reflecting their power equations and aiming to ensure collective security through the United Nations. The ensuing international compact lasted for nearly half a century though it struggled to mask major contradictions.

All this has changed now. This system was bound to fail as it was undemocratic and because it was becoming increasingly unrealistic. A bloc-centric paradigm, which informed every aspect of international relations, froze true progress towards the building of a durable world order for over five decades.

The Non-aligned Movement symbolised the articulation of a rational alternative, free from the politics of East-West divide. But the global reach of the Cold War ensnared the non-aligned too and enfeebled them.

The fall of the Berlin Wall symbolised the end of the distortions /brought about by the Cold War but failed to usher in the emergence of a genuine global order even in terms of the U.N. Charter conceived 50 years back. Instead, the world slipped into what has been termed, for want of a better phrase, as the post-Cold War period. This post-Cold War phase has been a mixed bag of new opportunities and persistent challenges. It carried on with the habits of Cold War power politics and the institutions continued with the legacies of the past. There was little interest or inclination to redefine or determine the structures that may endure.

Military power, backed by possession of nuclear weapons remained critical determinant of the power of nations. While the Warsaw Pact withered away along with its mentor- the Soviet Union, the slowly expanding NATO has been, for well over a decade, groping for a mandate which responds to the challenges thrown up by contemporary reality. State sovereignties that were sustained due to the exigencies of the Cold War, came under increasing pressure in the post-Cold War phase and the political map of Europe - which was the main theatre of Cold War- transformed itself, though not altogether peacefully.

By the end of the century, all nations recognised the unprecedented economic, technological and military pre-eminence of the United States -- which, as scholars observed, is without a parallel in human history. The sustained expansion and growth in US economy defied prophesies of ‘imperial overstretch’ made popular by one noted historian (Paul Kennedy) a decade ago. The US economy is larger than those of the next three largest economies put together. It spends on defence as much as, if not more than, the defence budgets of the rest of the world put together.

At the same time, one cannot ignore the ground realities of interdependence and globalisation. The lone superpower has had to constantly relate to the rest of the world to sustain its prosperity and in the process, to let others to prosper too.

It is important to differentiate between US power and unilateralism. It is not necessary that one leads to the other. Nor is it advisable that US power be countered by outmoded concepts of balance of power through countervailing military strength or confrontation -- the Cold War proved the utter futility of such confrontation. The US Secretary of State, Powell, in a recent speech emphasised the need for partnership to replace confrontation, and I have no difficulty in endorsing his view. India’s vision of a multipolar world is one of partnership and not confrontation.

The post-Cold War drift, which has continued so far, has also comprised many dominant trends. First and foremost, it was the malaise afflicting the UN system: lack of democratic functioning, virtual atrophying of the development mandate of UN, fragmentation of its disarmament agenda, subservience of the human rights campaign to political ends, and continued neglect of global imperatives on the environment front. UNSG's cry for the reform of all of UN's principal organs at the inaugural of the current session of UNGA gives an eloquent expression to the UN malaise.

What are the current realities?

The all-encompassing process of globalisation is marching on: trans-national linkages have shaped the world -- under the onslaught of dispersion and dissemination of technology, particularly information and communication, investments, /breaking of barriers to free trade, deregulation of economies, global concerts to meet environmental threats, big increase in movement of peoples across frontiers, pandemic diseases, narcotics and organised crime.

Old sources of trans-national conflicts which had been frozen during the Cold War have also begun to re-surface. Conflicts are being visualised about access to and transit of energy and water resources.

Skewed development in global economy has resulted in distortions too. There is so much food that farmers have to be subsidised for ensuring survival of agriculture in rich countries. On the other hand, famine and starvation are compelling farmers in the developing world to seek subsidies to help them just to exist.

In geo-political terms, there has been a steady diffusion of power and influence to Asia, with all trends pointing to this century being an Asian century.

Whatever the eventual contours of this world order, let me emphasise two points; unlike other eras and epochs, this one will be under far greater compulsion to be reflective of peaceful processes rather than of the victories in wars; second, that India is an indispensable factor in the ensuing global equations, and is poised to making its contribution once again.

In the political and social realm a great schism has come to endure between a near universal norm of democratic governance for sovereign states and a highly discriminatory, exclusive and prescriptive international order inherited from the last century's wars.

Since September 11, 2001, a global order beset with the trends and contradictions, described above, finds itself starkly confronted by international terrorism and its linkages with weapons of mass destruction. Even leading nations are today struggling to grasp the true dimensions of this threat.

Who is friend and foe in this battle against terrorism is a critical question to answer today. If foes were allowed to masquerade as friends, the forces of global terrorism will never yield.

The battle against global terror has led to compelling review of classical notions of state sovereignty. The international community has to find accepted ways to deal with States, which are incapable -- willfully or otherwise -- to exercise their sovereign responsibilities and therefore descend to becoming 'failed States’; to peddle proliferation for their own ends or to advance their collapsibility as the biggest reason to write off all their sins of omission and commission.

Non-democratic regimes, fostering values of intolerance, fundamentalism, extremism and its favourite child-terrorism are certainly not the building blocks of world order. In fact, they are, the biggest roadblocks to its attainment.

Democracies, which are particularly vulnerable to terrorism, also have a natural affinity to work together to eradicate that menace. Democracies also have a unique resilience and strength, which time and again it has been proven, enables them to prevail over forces of terror and disruption.

What is India’s strength today?

India is a microcosm of the globe because of its sub-continental size and a population accounting for nearly one-sixth of humanity.

India has shown to the world that she is conscious of its responsibilities as a Nuclear Weapon State and has refrained from /brinkmanship despite the gravest of cross-border provocations.

There is greater understanding of the compulsions behind our nuclear tests and a realisation that a secure and stable India will be an asset to the emerging world order.

India is the world’s largest democracy, and is one of the six fastest growing economies of the world ranking fourth in terms of Purchasing Power Parity. The economy comprises a strong middle class with rapidly increasing purchasing power - expected to be larger than that of the European Union in the future. Areas of strength in our economy are not confined to information technology and biotech but evidence is emerging of world class production in automobile sector, steel-making, space and other cutting edge fields.

There is an abundance of diverse natural resources, sound economic, industrial and market fundamentals with the second largest pool of scientific and technical manpower in almost every area of human endeavour. Our IT professionals create human bonds that are truly global.

India has now become a net creditor to the International Monetary Fund, which has established our credentials as a fiscally responsible State. We have also informed a large group of nations that we no longer require their bilateral aid.

The phase of liberalisation in India has entered its second decade. This is the phase of consolidation, backed by strong domestic consensus. We can take legitimate pride in our achievements thus far, while at the same time renew our determination, as a nation, that we will not allow this momentum to slip.

How does India visualise the world order? It is not easy to answer this question in full in a short time but certain basic points deserve mention.

The world today is different in so many respects to that of fifty years ago, when the United Nations, the GATT- the predecessor of the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF were born. The principal stakeholders in the globalised economy are far too diverse to allow simplistic prescriptions of "one size fits all."

The methodologies of the Cold War era are passé. A reformed multilateral system would need an enduring spirit of consensus building and collective decision-making.

The concept of multi-polarity some times is mistaken for a policy of creating poles in opposition to each other. These are prescriptions that have in them seeds for re-creating the confrontationist model of the Cold War. They do not serve India’s interests.

To combat current threats, there is a clear need to fashion responses that carry rule-based legitimacy, which would allow states to have a clear understanding of the boundaries of inter-state behaviour and norms of intra-state governance.

The internationalisation of domestic politics and economics on the one hand, and the domestication of international issues on the other is now a well-established fact of globalisation. It cannot be rolled back. But its content can be redefined, its processes better managed and its fruits more evenly spread. In assessing the aftermath of Cancun, we must redouble our efforts at reinvigorating the sinews of globalisation, and avoid any loss of momentum.

The conceptual template and institutional structures of managing globalization are themselves in need of reform. The NAM must rechannel its energies to accomplish focused tasks. G-15 or G-77 have to be result-oriented.

There is pressing need for sweeping and comprehensive reform of the international system as represented by the United Nations.

Reconfiguration and reform of the Security Council is essential, not just to reflect changed realities but also to manage the collective security challenges of the future. This needs to be followed by reform of the economic sinews of international relations.

Non-proliferation itself must discard outmoded concepts and redirect efforts on sources of true proliferation concern. Its success as a collective effort would obviate need for regime change to ensure non-proliferation.

If globalisation is the trend, then multilateralism is its life-sustaining mechanism, for no process will survive without a genuine spirit of multilateralism, underlined by the belief that global problems require global solutions globally arrived at. Otherwise, the world faces the risk of repeating the mistakes of the past.

India believes that it is well placed to both contribute to globalisation as well as reap its benefits. If in the last decade, we adjusted our internal reforms to conform to the needs of globalisation, the time has come to seek a reform of globalisation itself. This should be an inclusive process, creating a stake for everyone in its continued progression.

India’s constructive contribution to the globalisation process is well recognized. Our ultimate goal is to create equitable globalisation, which em/braces multi-polarity and democracy, creating space for all to live in peace and prosperity. The limitations of unilateralism are all – too - evident, the latest example we see in events in and around Iraq. There is a yearning for peace and prosperity the world over. Our concepts, our institutions and the manner in which nations relate to each other must change to meet this tide of rising expectations, or we risk being swept away by it.

Friends, I began this speech describing crystal gazing about the world order as a hazardous task. Let me however sum up with an effort to peep into the future.

It is my view that globalization will, in the emerging world order, intensify further. Technology will make the process of globalization even more inevitable. Nations will become more and more inter-dependent. Barriers to trade will gradually erode. Restrictions on the movement of physical persons, especially, skilled labour will ease despite the protests and resistance that we see today in certain parts of the developed world. There will be an information explosion. Nations will become more and more plural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious. The world will truly become a global village, with a high level of people-to-people and cultural contacts between nations.

Along with the emergence of the global village, democracy at the national as well as international level and peace amongst and within nations will be the principal characteristic of the new world order. I am confident that in the coming years, most nations will em/brace democracy reflecting international best practice. Though authoritarian societies may claim to succeed in fulfilling the minimum needs of people, they will fail to take care of their social and intellectual aspirations. Countries will inevitably discover that the expectations amongst their people can be met, physically and intellectually, only through a democratic framework. Similarly, the resistance to a more democratic international order will weaken. The penchant of some to deal with authoritarian regimes for short-term gains will also remain short lived. The promotion of democracy by organizations like the Commonwealth, the African Union, the regional groupings in South America, in ASEAN and through the Community of Democracies is already a reality.

I am equally convinced that peace will have to prevail in the world both in order for Governments to be able to meet the rising expectations of their people and because globalization cannot function in an environment of instability and violence. A day will also come when people realize that possession of weapons of mass destruction has become irrelevant and India’s long standing efforts for advancing towards universally recognized disarmament goals, especially, ridding the world of weapons of mass destruction, will be fulfilled.

I am confident that the menace of terrorism that stalks the world today will end with groups resorting to resolution of their grievances through the democratic framework. Disputes amongst nations will also be settled through dialogue rather than a clash of arms. Finally, a more equitable, international political and economic order, based on genuine equality of nations and their inevitable inter-dependence will emerge.

Friends, the views that I outline above are based on values inherent in the Indian civilization. India has always promoted those values internationally. India will therefore play a key role in the emergence of such a global order and its preservation.

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