Will India Continue to Rise Peacefully?

Will India Continue to Rise Peacefully?

The 21st century's great shift of power from West to East is not limited to China alone. The Asian century also belongs to India.

Already the world's fourth-largest economy, India has continued to grow swiftly even after the financial crisis, expanding at 8-9 percent annually. With more than 60 percent of its population younger than 35, it possesses the world's most potent demographic dividend. Its recent affluence has also increased India's appetite for military power. India's annual defense expenditure stands at $30 billion today, or 2 percent of global defense spending, making it the world's biggest importer of arms. From 2006-2010, India accounted for 9 percent of the global arms trade. After the Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear agreement, India stands as a de facto nuclear weapons state, and almost all Security Council veto holders have accepted India's candidacy for a permanent seat on the council.

Compared to that of China, few feel threatened by India's rise. The China-threat syndrome defines the new geopolitical reality. In fact, the rhetoric of China's avowedly peaceful rise suggests Beijing is wary of the negative fallout from perceptions of a hostile China. India's rise, in contrast, has been welcomed as a necessary counterweight to China and as a sign of an egalitarian world in the making. The absence of an official narrative on India's global trajectory suggests that even New Delhi's leadership believes that India's rise will be inherently peaceful.

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