It seems a veritable habit of outsiders to affix the tag of ‘Great Power’ to India in an effort to advance their own agendas. In the 1950s, during the Cold War years, Moscow described India thus in the hope that it would relinquish its avowed non-aligned stance. It is now the turn of the United States and its allies in East and Southeast Asia to dub India as a great power. The reason: they believe adding to the hype surrounding India could inspire it to undertake a bigger role in stabilising the Asia-Pacific region, which seems perturbed at China’s growing assertion.
Realpolitik underlies the coining of the fancy labels that Indians seem to love. Since China’s rise is seen to mark the relative decline of America—manifest in its economic woes—Washington wants to create space for India to play a role beyond the confines of the Indian Ocean. Evolving international politics introduces new nomenclatures—Asia-Pacific is consequently now the Indo-Pacific, a term underlining the centrality of India in the new balance of power game. “The Indo-Pacific is the western Pacific plus India and mainland Southeast Asia,” Robert Kaplan, an American author-commentator of the Centre for New American Security, told Outlook. “It’s a term that allows American experts and policymakers to include India into western Pacific diplomatic, economic and military power calculations.”