The other day I happened to stumble across this line from an editorial in an Indian newspaper: “India’s eventual ascension to global superpower status is all but assured,
but it cannot be upset or offended if there are hurdles along the way.” Having been asked by Outlook to address “the new global role for India”, it would be difficult to sidestep all this talk of India’s impending superpowerness. It seems worth beginning at least by specifying what India’s global role is unlikely to entail.
Hubris can be a damaging thing. Countries that overestimate their power, including George W. Bush’s America, tend to fall flat on their faces. To be sure, India is highly unlikely to embark on any “wars of choice” in the near future. But New Delhi should be wary of any missteps in its relationship with China.
There are a number of influential hawks in India who not only predict a future confrontation with China but seem, at times, actually to will it. China is...