x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

India's steady rise can be a leap for the world

As Barack Obama headed to India last week, US policy experts proposed that the president take "a bold leap forward". On Monday, Mr Obama jumped.

As Barack Obama headed to India last week, US policy experts proposed that the president take "a bold leap forward". On Monday, Mr Obama jumped.
Addressing India's Parliament, Mr Obama praised New Delhi's rise as a global power and anticipated the day when India permanently takes its place on the UN Security Council. "India is not simply emerging," he said to thunderous applause, "India has already emerged."
Mr Obama's nod was perhaps more symbolic than substantive; clearing a path for an Indian seat would take years of effort, and require the blessing of current members, including China, which has long opposed opening permanent membership to other Asian nations.
There are many reasons why providing India a permanent seat on the Security Council is in the world's interest. Overhauling the powerful UN body would give it more teeth, and make it a better reflection of the world's balance of power. It would also provide a counterbalance to Asia's other tiger, whose rise is seen by some as aggressive.
The first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, once told lawmakers in Washington that India shares western values of "world peace and enlargement of human freedom". Today those principles are backed by economic, political, and military might.
India has earned the right to stand among giants. Still, if New Delhi's emergence on the world stage is to be positive, India has work to do. The Centre for a New American Security, the Washington-based think tank that called for a "bold leap" from Mr Obama, has argued that Indian leaders must make concessions on defence and trade barriers, and strengthen intellectual property protection. New Delhi must also work to open markets to foreign investment, and foster regional stability. Kashmir clearly tops that list. Given these concerns, India's neighbours will need convincing that it deserves a seat on the Security Council.
To ensure that Mr Obama's bold talk is more than rhetoric, Washington will also have to press hard, while not upsetting regional stability. But on this and other issues, the efforts that the US and India make together can build global consensus and a more prosperous world order.