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Approaching India

At its peak, the British Empire controlled more than a quarter of the world’s territory, coining the phrase: the sun never set upon the British Empire. Out of the dozens of territories and viceroys that belonged to the empire, one colony was of such great importance that it was called the jewel of this global empire, India

Even before the advent of the British, India held great political and cultural significance, both as the end point of the eastward expansion of Muhammad's armies and as the founding place of two of the region’s largest religions, Buddhism and Hinduism

In recent years, India has become the most rapidly developing country in the world, growing both as a manufacturing and scientific powerhouse. No other nation has simultaneously mass-produced t-shirts as well as nuclear submarines

Although India has not received the attention it is due in recent decades, one notable piece of news has made headlines in the last five years: after having the largest population in the world for decades, China has finally been surpassed by India

Population size is critical to understand the power of a country. The reality is that the more people a country has to draw from, the larger its pool of potential military recruits. Population size also gives a country the potential to have higher levels of economic development.

A larger population means more workers, and more crucially, a greater pool for future CEOs, scientists, doctors and other occupations that strengthen societies. 

India also invests heavily in its people, funding education as a key to development. Education is often critical for upward mobility within Indian society, the success and educational achievement of the Indian diaspora in many Western countries is proof of that value's worth.

India is already a strong nation that will likely continue to rise globally in power and prestige. The question then arises: how should the United States strategically align itself with India? 

Perhaps the greatest strategic goal of the United States in the 21st century is the political and economic containment of China. There appears to be a bipartisan consensus that China and the U.S. have irreconcilable worldviews. Hence, it is in the United States' best interest to do everything in its power to limit China's global and political influence.

To achieve this goal, it would make sense to forge further alliances with regional players who share a vested interest in containing China. 

Fortunately, India has similar concerns about China. For centuries, India and China have had territorial disputes upon its northern border and it is reasonable to say that there is mutual resentment between the two countries because of these struggles. In the 21st century, there have been multiple armed clashes within the disputed territory between the People’s Liberation Army and Indian armed forces. 

India and China are also ideologically separated, with China officially adopting a Han supremacist Confucian ideology to buttress its waning commitment to the principles of communism whereas the dominant BJP party of India’s current president Narendra Modi adopts a viewpoint of Hindu nationalism

A society that pushes for the abolition of classes is bound to have disagreements with a society that sees the enforcement of a caste as sacred. 

During the first Cold War, India, like other former British colonies such as Egypt, chose neutrality rather than siding definitively with either the United States or the Soviet Union. As a result, they enjoyed the benefits of both sides wishing to court India to its respective alliance. 

In this modern era of a ‘Second Cold War’ we appear to find ourselves, the United States should make an effort to avoid pushing India towards neutrality once again. 

Unfortunately for the U.S., India has not shown much interest in catering to American interests and going directly against their long-time ally, Russia. While many countries have followed the United States' lead in boycotting Russian gas following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, India, once again, has chosen neutrality.  

What the United States must do is avoid alienating or outraging India, as Canada’s Justin Trudeau has done recently.

Due to the increasingly religious character of India’s current government, there will be strong temptations for the U.S. to condemn or sanction India, however, these must be avoided in favor of prioritizing strong political ties and working towards the creation of mutual security and aid pacts for the coming future.

Acknowledgment: The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the individual author.  

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