Posted by: John Elliott | July 5, 2011

Could India jointly co-lead the Commonwealth and counter China?

Could India and Britain jointly revive the Commonwealth, not only to boost their own co-operation, but to form a significant international alliance of English-speaking democracies that span religious and ethnic boundaries? If they did this and brought the organisation’s other 52 member countries into an active association, could the Commonwealth emerge as a new influence in a world that will be increasingly dominated by China and sternly Islamic nations?

These ideas, which contrast with earlier suggestions (usually negative) about what to do with the largely ceremonial and British-dominated Commonwealth (logo, right), have been put forward by C.Raja Mohan, one of India’s leading strategic and foreign affairs analysts, in a book of essays by Indian and British writers.

Mohan has little time for the Commonwealth as it is now, saying it has been a “political bully that was incompetent at its best, impotent at its worst, and increasingly irrelevant on the economic front”. But he suggests that India should take over some of the leadership role from London because, as a rising power, it can influence the Commonwealth’s economic prospects, offering technical, economic and security aid to the smallest states.

“If Delhi and London don’t act together and decisively, they will soon find that China, whose commercial and strategic presence across different regions of the organisation has grown, will turn the Commonwealth into an historical footnote,” he says.

The book, *Reconnecting Britain and India , was launched last month at a reception in London’s Downing Street. It has been edited by Jo Johnson, a former Financial Times India-based correspondent and now a Conservative MP, together with Rajiv Kumar, secretary general of FICCI, a leading Indian business federation.

It marks the first anniversary of a heavyweight ministerial visit to India led by David Cameron. That visit achieved little in real terms, and Cameron has complained in recent months (with little effect) to India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, about British business problems in India, notably Vodafone’s mobile phone tax liabilities and Cairn Energy’s delayed sale of gas assets.

The book lists more points that are currently wrong with India than it does about faults in Indo-British relations. This is not surprising at a time when India’s reputation for relatively good top political leadership and governance, together with gradual economic reforms and sustained economic growth, has taken a beating under the dual leadership of Sonia Gandhi, who heads the current governing coalition, and the reticent Manmohan Singh.

India foreign policy

Jo Johnson and Rajiv Kumar, in a joint introductory chapter, argue that India’s government should shed its complacency about the benefits of its young “demographic dividend” and that the private sector can thrive “despite the government”. They touch on the foreign policy theme that lies behind Mohan’s Commonwealth idea when they say that India will have to shed its “historically evolved self-perception of being a member of the ‘have-nots’ and allocate sufficient resources to the design and execution of a foreign policy commensurate with its newly acquired status”.

Manmohan Singh writes, somewhat grumpily, about “there always being room for improvement” in bilateral relations, calling for closer attention (implicitly by the UK) to areas such as fighting terrorism, and British investment in India.

More has been said about Indio-UK relations at other events in London over the past week that have included a visit by S.M.Krishan, India’s foreign minister, and Nirupama  Rao, the foreign secretary. Unsurprisingly, Rao did not even mention the Commonwealth during a speech on India’s foreign policy at London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The last time that the role of the Commonwealth was debated in India was late last year when there was a row about whether Prince Charles, representing the Queen as the head of the Commonwealth, or India’s president, should perform the formal opening of the at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi – ultimately a compromise solution involved both people, but not before the future role of Britain’s monarch at the head of the Commonwealth was questioned.

I have found few supporter’s for Raja Mohan’s Commonwealth idea, but he is regarded as a serious down-to-earth policy analyst who would not idly fly kites, so I asked him (right) to expand what he had written. He acknowledges that the idea “is indeed new and does not have much currency at the moment” but says that, having studied foreign policy during the years of British rule, he sees it in the context of “the power calculus of a rising India”. 

“I believe if and when India becomes a great power, its foreign policy might look a lot like that of the [British] Raj in terms of providing security to weaker states and preserving regional order,” he says. “A rising India must consider taking over the leadership of the commonwealth at some point of time”. At a time when it is competing with China around the world, it could work with English-speaking leaderships of Commonwealth countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
 
This links with an essay in the book by Sanjaya Baru, editor of the Business Standard, who was Manmohan Singh’s prime ministerial spokesman. He picks up a statement made at Oxford University by Singh in 2005 when the prime minister (controversially) acknowledged that there are some “beneficial consequences” of the former British rule, and added: “The sun may have set on the British Empire, but it shines continuously on the world of English-speaking peoples, thanks to India and the Indian diaspora spread across all continents and all oceans”. Baru, who wrote the prime minister’s speeches in 2005, says that the two countries’ post-colonial relationship is remarkable for “the complete absence of rancour and obsession with past prejudices”. He notes that “the most powerful axis of this new world will, for a long time, be the world of the English speaking peoples”. Two hurdles There are of course two main and maybe insuperable hurdles for India to cross before it could be accepted as a leader of English speaking peoples, possibly through a rejuvenated Commonwealth. Firstly, the Commonwealth is moribund and inadequately led – in political terms by Britain and organisationally by a low profile retired Indian diplomat. Alongside its ceremonials, it has little more than some useful technical aid functions, and there seems to be little interest in changing that. More importantly, India is dreadful at handling diplomatic relations and it is surely inconceivable, at least at present, that it has the diplomatic skills needed to become accepted as a leader by other Commonwealth countries. India is generally known for ineffectual heavy handedness on the world stage, perhaps stemming from its “have-not” instinct mentioned above, and for bullying its neighbours (apart from the tiny kingdom of Bhutan, it has good relations with none of them though there are improvements currently with Bangladesh). Some individual Indian diplomats are of course admired, and the country does important work in the United Nations, including manning international security operations. But it hesitates to take firm lines, and rarely rises effectively to international challenges. Nevertheless, the ideas of trying to revive the Commonwealth, and unite English speaking peoples, as a new international force must be worth exploring even if, as seems likely, India fails to rise to the challenge. * Reconnecting Britain and India – Ideas for an Enhanced Partnership. Edited by Jo Johnson and Rajiv Kumar. Published by Academic Foundation, Delhi, with FICCI


Responses

  1. I think it’s the best idea for India and the UK; we have much to share with each other.

    The UK should leave the EU – which is made up of spectacularly mediocre countries with little potential – for a similarly powerful trade agreement (with the political and legal implications that entails) with the Commonwealth. We actually have a lot in common; historically, culturally, we all speak the same language (India has a massive amount of English speakers including native speakers).

    India right now is a third world country. Delhi, Mumbai are all full of slums and the conditions in the villages is dire – poverty is rife. It has enormous potential however. And the UK doesn’t make anything anymore! We rely largely on the City.

    The problem with the Commonwealth is it’s seen as an anachronism. It’s seen as being associated with the British Empire, which some people believe was exploitative. Having Britain in the frontline of the partnership makes it seem like the British Empire Mark II. So you may need more equal footing.

    Don’t reckon it’s going to happen though; unless someone reading this has the balls to set up an epetition?!!

    I’d sign it.

  2. west buys from china…….china makes profits…….china gives loans to the west out of profits…..west again buys from china from the loan money…….again china makes profits……and so on………….

    results in…………

    99% of toy making industry is chinese……..
    world leader in providing consumer durable products and what not……….

    the poverty elevation of chinese people has been done at a cost making western countries poorer……..hihihihihihihi………

    West has made its greatest compitator by allowing China to flood its products in each and every part of the world at a price 10 times lower than their own costs….

    What can a goup of nation do if one odd country value its currency 10times lower than its actual value…….

    it took 3 decades for them to understand that by making their capitalist only richer (not gen public)and buying unresonable cheap product due to foreign exchange difference and not just for lower labour cost has made china bigger stronger and monopolist nation……

    to be true India gives a damn about who is doing what……..because when we said about global warming in 70s they laughed,terrorism in early 90s they laughed…..when said about china in early 2000 they said we have to be competative……………..

    the day china starts to invent new products the whole of western economy will collapse……. because currently that is their only compitativeness at the global market….and preaty soon that barrier will be breached…….

    there is just one sollution………….still there is a chance for change……….revalue chinese currency……..a group of nations can talk they cant make a $10 american or british product sell when china is selling the same for $2.5…………………..

    outsourcing processes make your industry stronger……..outsourcing the whole manufacturing units…………..?

  3. Why must every solution involve confrontation? The role for India is too much for it to bear. It does not have the credentials. It has become another tool of the West. It will be used as a tool by the west. And the commonwealth? No one wants to be involved in a long drawn affair, led by the West. Everything the West(USA, Europe) touches, there is nothing but mayhem, death and destruction. No one wants the return of the West whether it is fronted by India or another. Leave the countries involved to find their respective solutions.

  4. Bottom line: India does not trust the west. Don’t confuse business deals with foreign policy.

    Regarding china: An open fight with india might never happen. India as a historical land of independent kingdoms has seen hundreds of empires rise and fall. Even the great alexander with his one nation mumbo jumbo disappeared somewhere into the history books. The foolish dragon too is destined to follow pakistan’s fate. India just has to try its best to disassociate its economy and itself with these neighbours and hope their collapse won’t hit home.

  5. India does not need to be a “world power”. It just needs to keep its powder dry, its borders secure, and its high savings rate. India doesn’t need to get into the business of acquiring hangers-on, courtiers, and spenders of its wealth. I think the one lesson that India should learn from the recent American experience is this – wealth attracts parasites. Wealthy nations attract hanger-on states who clamour for the chance to show their patrons how to spend their money (typically in a “let me show you what’s important” manner). After a while the wealthy host has been sucked dry by the clients and then the rats move on to the next gig. So, learn from the American example – keep your savings rate high and your wallet closed.

  6. @ Wombat I dont know where you guys learn about Indian society. Cast system is no longer a problem. We have already had “lower cast” PM and presidents. 30 % of the parliament seats are reserved for the so calle “Dalits”. Get you facts straight before commenting. BTW commonwealth is already a dead meat . I don’t know why the UK still has wet dreams about global hegemony. I do agree with some of things in the article. Indian complacency in foreign policy is a real mess. The reason why India has trouble with some of our neighbours is because they support terror and not because India bully’s them India will lead a new world order. But it will be an Indo-American order than Indo-British. UK won’t even dominate the EU. The french and the germans would. As fas as china is concerned its not just a bubble Its the Hindenburg. Trust me it llbust sooner than one might imagine.

  7. Given China’s rise, the UK needs to build a stronger relationship with India. These are indeed visionary lines, and the Commonwealth can play an important role… The UK and India are and will remain the stronger democratic nations within the Commonwealth (military and economically).

  8. This is interesting – but of course the article is correct in that the two main obstacles would be Britain’s reluctance to do anything about the Commonwealth and India’s lack of diplomatic skills. But it seems an opportunity to revive a bloc of
    English-speaking nations as some sort of counter to the Chinese.

  9. The legacy of non confrontationist attitude towards Britain by Indians introduced by Mahatma Gandhi has been lost by the leadeship over a period of time and the present leadeship is more reticent as you have spoken about Dr Man Mohan Singh.

  10. This post also appears on The Independent newspaper’s blog site at http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2011/07/05/could-india-co-lead-the-commonwealth/ where it has received over 50 comments so far today – here’s a selection – je

    Steven Bainbridge 5 hours ago in reply to adam
    at least China took several hundred million people out of poverty before they started trying to become a great power. India should concentrate on it’s own poor not the world.
    If we gave leadership to India we would wave goodbye to cordial relations with Pakistan, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh.

    RajX 4 hours ago in reply to Steven Bainbridge
    “India should concentrate on it’s own poor not the world”

    Red Devil 6 hours ago in reply to adam
    By the way, we couldn’t care less about this silly commonwealth thing anyway….. have fun with your little commonwealth, whatever it is.

    Red Devil 6 hours ago in reply to adam
    Perhaps you do not realise that India is also the country with the highest GDP in whole of the commonwealth…. growing at 9% a year at that……
    Sure there are a lot of poor people in India, but there are also a lot of rich people – many more than any other country in the commonwealth, including UK.

    ericskelton 6 hours ago
    In the early 1990s a pupil once showed me a computer game based upon a fictitious timeline (in which the First World war had not occurred). This pitted a space age liberal ‘Anglo-Indian’ Raj against a confederation of militaristic tyrannies loosely based upon the ‘Dreikaiserbund’ alliance of Hohenzollerns, Habsburgs and Romanovs. Perhaps we are destined to leave the EU as Russia joins? What had become of the USA I don’t recall.

    RajX 4 hours ago in reply to ericskelton
    Why look for a militaristic tyranny when the Anglo raj with Saxon foot soldiers itself was one? Or maybe you think that invading, occupying and looting countries of their wealth is very benign and not militaristic?

    ericskelton 3 hours ago in reply to RajX
    Whenever I criticise ‘Saxons’ I get my postings deleted! How do you get round the censor?

    Asif 6 hours ago in reply to ericskelton
    Sounds like a great game Eric (possibly a bit Michael moorcock influenced> As an aside its a pity that CIV and SIM have swallowed up the market for geo-political simulation games. Theres still nationstates on the web I suppose but the mid 90s had the terrifyingly good shadow president and even the ZX spectrum had Dictator and You are Margaret thatcher.
    On topic – I’d agree that Indian leadership of the Commonwealth is a non-starter until it gets good relations with its neighbours. Which the Rawlipindi military industrial complex aside should not be a challenge in principle if it acted in good faith – but in practice India has a an appalling reputation with its neigbours (wholly contrary to any nehruvian principles of global bortherhood) Witness Bangladesh – not content with trying to impose one sided trade, river sharing and transport agreements on an ostensibly friendly govt, India is busy building the world’s biggest wall around it and regularly shoots Bangladeshi villagers daring to cross the unnatural border.
    There is nothing wrong of course in the cheerleaders of this project trying to find mutual interests – but I suspect soe eof them are merely nostalgic for the times (barely more than 80 years ago) when british led Indian troops were serving UK interests in Iraq and China.

    Mark__A 7 hours ago
    Does America count as an English speaking country? Perhaps they don’t speak “proper English” to be counted as one?

    Jimmy_the_Cube 7 hours ago
    “Could the Commonwealth emerge as a new influence in a world that will be increasingly dominated by China and sternly Islamic nations?”
    What a load of fear mongering rubbish. The Commonwealth is completely irrelevant and it’s no wonder countries like Australia, Canada and New Zealand are in the departure lounge. Britain has studiously ignored them in favour of Europe for decades and they’ve gone and formed military and trade alliances totally independent of the UK & the Commonwealth. New Zealand, for example, was the first country to sign FTA’s with both China and Russia and recently hosted Chinese warships on a friendship tour (as did Australia). The reason these countries are fighting in Afghanistan is because of their alliance with the United States, not Britain.
    No-one in the UK seems to have the slightest notion of what happens in the South Pacific, or cares much either.

    Europeanonion 8 hours ago
    If it were to happen it would be not before time:
    to think that Germany went to war in 1914 to gain colonies against a background
    of its perpetual internal political discordance. We shamefully reneged on our
    Commonwealth to join Germany and her nascent dysfunctionalism, we gave up a
    thing to be admired, a twenty-four seven, global market place, just to
    ameliorate the political situation in central Europe. Today, if we were to rediscover
    the Commonwealth with India, it would be like a rebirth of the East India
    Company, that entity that was a private concern yet had a million men under
    arms at times and a gross worth that exceeded the British GDP. The fostering of
    such a relationship would be an escape pod from the Europe entanglement, a British
    future outside an ever more erratic and dark European adventure increasingly
    born down on by the central European powers and China.
    India, so many people to teach, so much technology to transfer, a good labour
    supply, so many opportunities for the university graduates currently on the
    dole in our own country; a place crying out for the civil and business
    practices of the British to compliment the energy of expansion in that place.
    There are so many things that would have a fillip from being closer to India. Surely
    there is a spur there to ship building and aeronautics.
    We are so fortunate that through our dalliance with Europe we have not
    completely alienated our Commonwealth. It is with a sense of hope and reconciliation
    that we join that young and industrious entity as a member and not its overlord.
    In the past our aid projects have been too diffuse and as a result we have
    actually changed little, brought but the smallest consolation. An association
    with India would be such a singularly positive step in the enhancement of one
    massive tranche of people as to signal the new arrangement of aid and
    co-existence for many others.

    srcgreen01 6 hours ago in reply to Europeanonion
    I like the division of labour in this vision of the Commonwealth: “a place crying out for the civil and business practices of the British to compliment the energy of expansion in that place.” In other words, India keeps making the money, while Britain gets to spend it. Hahaha! Nice try. Not going to happen. Had 200 years of that already. We’re a bit wiser now. You’ll just have to find another sucker – the Arab states maybe?

    Archie_TP 8 hours ago
    Interesting.
    Is there appetite to resolve consequences of Empire?
    If there was real intent such an arrangement would provide a more informed moral focus for this country – the current arrangements although quaintly ‘do-gooderish’, cause rather than fix problems.
    Or is there appetite to stick to what we know – acceptance of obscurity with lashings of muddle headed self-indulgence.

    Firozali A.Mulla 8 hours ago
    Given chance Indians are very clever and they will run anything it is the Brits whose attitude that stuns all. Do you know that Indians work 24 hours. See Dubai etc and you will note how they have built the city. Give them chance and of course the citizenship. What we do is get work and throw them out as soon as the contract is over. That is never fair. I thank you Firozali A.Mulla DBA

    VoodooQ 3 hours ago
    A better combo pack would see Canada & India as the world leaders. The UK is going down the Greek road of not being able to balance a budget.

    Red Devil 3 hours ago
    The Commonwealth may be important to the British, but Indians do not really care about it. We see it as a colonial British construct. India is today one of the biggest economies in the world as well as one of the fastest growing economies…. so would rather rightfully take its place in G-7 or G-8. (In fact it already is a member). Thats what really counts. Commonwelath is a useless body like the OIC (Organisation of Islamic COuntries).

    Brodric 53 minutes ago in reply to Red Devil
    Red Devil But you don’t mind taking a fair whack of British aid, do you? If you are at all Indian, that is.
    As one of the fastest growing economies maybe India and its wealthy citizens would like to take better care of its poor. That way, you wouldn’t be bothered by taking anything at all from Britain.

    Paul Scott 3 hours ago
    Seems like a good idea to me.
    By far the best way to help countries out of poverty is to trade with them, and the Commonwealth could be very useful if it was energised by new leadership jointly with India.
    We are becoming far too reliant on China, which given that it is a police state, with a potentially hostile Goverment, makes me nervous. It would be far better to develop trading partners in India & other English-speaking democracies.

    Agro Wombat 3 hours ago in reply to Paul Scott
    You do realise that Aussies, Canadians and Singaporeans would classify the UK as one of the “Poor” countries in the Commonwealth😉

    zochoten 3 hours ago
    The Commonwealth is made up of the counties that the British once ruled over and few in any of those counties, especially the none white ones are going to find it easy to forgive and forget. And what kind of foundation does that give?
    The idea is almost laughable if it wasn’t so frightening.
    Are serious politicos taking this idiocy seriously?
    Britain is burned out and directionless, though with delusions of Empire. Neither in Europe nor out of Europe and still puppy dog believing in a special relationship with the US. India is a growing economy, but only because it still treats its poor workers as something a kin to slave labour. Levels of corruption and ineptitude in India are outrageous, and obvious to anybody that has ever had the misfortune to ever try doing business there. However you mix it Britain and India playing at being the new joint masters of Empire is oil and water and will only be good for the arms
    industries as a whole crop of regional wars breaks out around the world.
    Of all the desperate grasps at straws I have ever heard of this has got to be the most ridiculous.
    Can you hear that funny noise in the distance; do you know what it is? All the Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders laughing. The Americans have been confused into a rare state of total silence. Europe has the good manors not to openly laugh at fools.

    Agro Wombat 3 hours ago in reply to zochoten
    Your right, I did have a laugh at this column.
    The sad thing about the pommies is that they don’t realise we actually look down on them (but with pity).🙂
    A workable “commonwealth economic union” would exclude the former colonies in the third world (because we have no historic connection with them)
    and it wouldn’t be run by the UK.

    RajX 4 hours ago
    I doubt if India can be classified as a English speaking country. Agreed that there numerically significant amount of Indians who know the language but they are still nowhere near being a majority in India. To classify India as a Hindi speaking country is itself not absolutely correct but it is getting there.

    pecan99 4 hours ago
    India cannot change her neighbours. India will just need to hope that neighbours take responsibility for their own actions rather than playing the blame game. Britain cannot change it’s location. Better for India to play key role with China, Japan, Korea, Singapore in developing Asia economically which will also help keep peace. Better for Britan to play key role with Europe and as a historic link to the USA.

    Agro Wombat 4 hours ago
    Utter bonkers
    The most corrupt politicians on earth (India) and the most incompetent politicians (UK) telling Canadians and Aussies how to manage their recession free economies ?
    John Elliot must be a republican.

    RajX 3 hours ago in reply to Agro Wombat
    By the way, you have more things in common with republicans than John Elliot. Like you, the republicans also beleive that global warming is a myth.

    Agro Wombat 3 hours ago in reply to RajX
    republican as in anti-monarchist:\
    (not US republican party, i doubt the yanks give two hoots about the commonwealth),
    Australia and Canada are both constitutional monarchies with a small anti-commonwealth republican movement.
    PS: And you’ve just proved why so many westerners complain about Indian call centre workers being unintelligible.
    people liked this. Like ReplyReply

    RajX 3 hours ago in reply to Agro Wombat
    Well, the Chinese communist bureaucrats stole $150 billion from their govt. I doubt if the Indian politicians can compare with that. They are still small time. Maybe we should add the Chinese commies in the mix too.

    harry_smyth 5 hours ago
    On principle this is a brilliant idea.
    Okay, there are certainly issues that have to be tackled, but in the long term India will mature in terms of income equality and leadership as its power develops.The partnership could be ideal: the UK has a wealth of technology and skills which would make it a valuable partner with closer cooperation with India, and the benefits to the UK of having a hugely powerful (the most powerful) albeit questionable democracy as a close partner are obvious.
    Taking the longer term perspective, this is an idea that should definitely be explored.

    minyacky 5 hours ago
    British interests would better be served within The Commonwealth than the EU.

    Christopher Haslett 5 hours ago
    Speaking of bullying, India’s main foreign policy goal is to bully its regional neighbours, some of whom are also Commonwealth members. How will that strengthen the Commonwealth? I see it breaking up pretty quickly if Indians are sitting at the head table every time.
    They also dislike blacks, which will alienate Africans, who, despite popular belief, are the strongest supporters of the Commonwealth.
    A multiracial community led by racists. Doesn’t seem to hold water with me.

    RajX 4 hours ago in reply to Christopher Haslett
    “They also dislike blacks”
    Ask Nelson Mandela and south Africans. While your country was cavorting with an apartheid regime, it was poor “black hating” India which had the courage of it’s convictions to not have any relationship with the apartheid regime and was working actively against it in all international forums.
    By the way, did you guys “love blacks” so much that you colonized most of Africa? You must be a highly refined moron to not even get the irony in what you are saying. You may possibly be a Pakistani which is the same as saying that you are a refined moron.

    Agro Wombat 4 hours ago in reply to RajX
    Indians also hate Fijians and Pacific Islanders, and also ethnic Malayans but most of all they hate the ethnic Chinese.
    That means 17 nations would quit the Commonwealth.
    Singapore (with a higher GDP/capita than the UK) would leave, Malaysia, Brunei, PNG and Samoa also.
    But the real hatred against the ruling elite in India is from the Dalit caste in India itself. Not even South Africa treated Africans like Dalits

    adam 6 hours ago
    None of the other countries would want to be led by India as most of them despise India. India’s GDP per capita is $1000 per annum the same as Pakistan. How can a country with so many poor people be the leader of the Commonwealth?

    RajX 3 hours ago in reply to adam
    Your GDP per capita figures are wrong. Your point that India and Pakistan have the same GDP per capita is also wrong. Check out the figures released by IMF and world bank. But I agree that India should not be the leader of commonwealth.
    By the way,
    “None of the other countries would want to be led by India as most of them despise India”
    Did you just pull that one out of your arse? Juvinile.

    Agro Wombat 4 hours ago in reply to adam
    Agreed, Britain really screwed up by colonising India.
    India is doomed to remain a third world hellhole because of it’s caste system.
    It’s the reason their society is riddled by endemic corruption and racism from top to bottom.
    When India has a low caste Dalit Prime minister, then maybe they’ll join the modern world. (But I can’t see that happening for a few thousand years)
    The UK should have colonised China instead,
    at least the Chinese understand what meritocracy and equality means.

  11. It sounds like an interesting idea. The major problem to me seems to be Pakistan which does not yet seem fit to form a triumvirate with India and the UK yet it would be difficult to gain legitimate approval for the scheme without it. The likely response to such a reforming of the Commonwealth would be that Pakistan would leave and relations would be soured. Is this desirable as an externality?

  12. It is worth reading Lord Curzons views on Indian foreign policy as much is still relevant today !

  13. I recently asked a senior Indian diplomat which posts does India consider to be the most important for its diplomats.
    Not surprisingly the response was : Washington and Beijing, in that order, plus the UN. The next most important being Islamabad, London , Paris , Brussels and Berlin. That London was still so high up seemed somewhat surprising to my respondent and so I asked if the Commonwealth Secretariat, being in London, had anything to do with London’s position; the huge trade and investment and the strong cultural and sporting links between India and the UK being the more obvious reasons. The response to my question was “yes”.

    I personally believe that the Commonwealth potentially should be a wonderful force for good and a generator for trade in this changing world, spanning so many countries, and cultures ( and not all have a UK heritage – Mozambique , Rwanda, the Cameroons and Namibia for instance) . The Commonwealth however needs to be led far more dynamically and with far greater vision than at present. India indeed could play a very strong role with Britain alongside an inner group of core drivers to incude for instance in alpha order: Australia, Canada, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa and a Caribbean nation. More nations should also be added to the Commonwealth. I am very glad that C Raja Mohan is thinking along visionary lines in his analysis


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