An insight into India’s international economic relations
The book lays emphasis on the fact that national interests will override both geo-economics and geo-politics. It must be added here, when we talk of the “Asian Century”, West Asia, Central Euro-Asian and former Soviet Central Asian Republics (now independent countries, with the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991), are left out. Asia can be a true power to reckon with only if all of Asia is included in any geo-economic or geo-political discourse. BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multispectral Technical and Economic Cooperation) or SCO (Shanghai Cooperative Organization), or a truncated SAARC, cannot be a viable option, although, it may serve short-term political gains.
Against this back drop, this book assumes significance as some of these areas are covered in the book. The book consists of articles written over the past two decades, and the chapters give an overview of India’s bilateral and regional cooperation, and theoretical issues in international trade. Many of the articles are updated versions of articles, written in 2008, in a book, with the same title.
Talking about India’s cultural heritage in Southeast Asia as geo-political strategy, the book underlines that the Indian cultural heritage of Southeast Asia should never be misconstrued as the Indian cultural supremacy over Southeast Asia, as advocated by the protagonists of the “Greater India” concept. India shall at the most make use of her age-old cultural contacts with Southeast Asian nations, so as to foster a “symbiotic” relationship with modern day nations of ASEAN. The security and stability of Southeast Asia is integral to India’s geo-political interests. It is hoped that India’s re-engagement with Southeast Asia though “Economic Partnership Agreements”, as well as diplomatic overreach through participation in the “East Asia Summits”, will build on her rich cultural heritage in the region.
Throwing light on India and the European Union–Culture of governance, the book highlights that it is only through multiculturalism shared by both India and the EU that global problems such as terrorism, environmental degradation, reviving WTO talks and religious fundamentalism can be mitigated. The real success of both India and the EU are linguistic pluralism, accommodation of diversities and heterogeneities and above all functioning vibrant parliamentary democracies.
Deliberating on problems of international debts, the book points out that in India, despite increasing debt stock in recent years, there has been a substantial improvement, in external debt indicators. Debt service ratio declined from the peak of 35.5% in 1990-91 to 15.4% in 2001, and further to 13% in 2002-03. This implies that the country could meet its debt service obligations by less than one-seventh of the current receipts. The debt to GDP ratio, which signifies the external debt in relation to domestic output declined from 40% in 1991-92 to 21% in 2002-03. In a nutshell, it can be summed up that this book is timely addition to the literature on international economic relations.
By Ashok Kumar