India Should Shed ‘Autistic Approach’ and Take Greater International Responsibilities: Professor Buzan

February 12, 2015

New Delhi: Urging that India to shed it ‘autistic approach’ and take on greater international responsibilities to justify its ‘great power status’, Professor Barry Gordon Buzan, Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and honorary professor at the University of Copenhagen and Jilin University, today said that regional powers like India should get out of their ‘introvert mode’ for institutional reforms and form a ‘concert of capitalist powers’ to address global issues like environment etc.

Professor Buzan was delivering a special address on ‘Rising Powers in the Emerging World Order: An Overview, with a Reflection on the Consequences for India’ on the penultimate day of the 17th Asian Security Conference on ‘Asian Security: Comprehending the Indian Approach’ organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) from February 11-13, 2015.

Calling for a ‘world of responsible regional powers’, with a common vision for the international community, Professor Buzan said that India should decide if it wants to be in a group of ‘autistic powers’, under managing the global community, or be a part of responsible regional powers.

Heading into an international order “where diplomacy is even bigger than war”, India should be better ‘diplomatically equipped’ with a bigger diplomatic circle, to justify its status as a great regional power, insisted the professor.

Speaking on the emerging international order, the professor elaborated on the gradual transition of the world with ‘great inequality and concentration of power in the hands of a handful of nations in the 19th century, to an international order ‘with no super power’.

Delving into the history of super powers, Professor Buzan said that a handful of developed industrial nations had dominated the 19th century, opening a large power gap and creating an extremely uneven form of international relations. However, this extreme unevenness is now beginning to level out with the rest of the world now finding its own way of ‘coming to terms with the revolutions of modernity’, leading to a world where power is more evenly distributed. With this transformation the International system is heading towards a ‘world without super powers’.

Elaborating further, he said the current scenario has led to the emergence of ‘regional great powers’ like India and China, leading to a more ‘regionalised’ or ‘de centric’ world. “With almost all countries having capitalist economies, such a world is bound to have a narrow bandwidth and a more de centric approach leading to a more regionalised world”. Regions would be more prominent politically and even economically.

Such regional international setup is characterised by enormous regional diversity, relating to great powers in diverse ways, said the professor. This system is giving way to a ‘layered form of international relations’, with the role that regional great powers play at the regional management level on one hand and the role that they will play at the global level, on the other hand, he added.

Speaking further, Prof Buzan said that unlike the 19th Century, where only developed Industrial nations could become super powers, the great powers today are a different mix of developed and developing countries. This poses an interesting aspect where developing nations want the status of both a great power and a developing state. The emerging great powers like India and China should be willing to take more responsibilities to justify their great power status, he concluded.

Policy makers, scholars and security analysts, from both from India and abroad are taking part in the Asian Security Conference that concludestomorrow.