Carl Ho / Reuters Rajiv Gandhi's funeral following his assassination by a militant organization from Sri Lanka, May 24, 1991.

India After Nonalignment

India has cut a sorry figure in recent times. It is ailing internally, wracked by political turmoil, social ferment and economic stagnation. By the end of 1989, after five years in power, the Rajiv Gandhi government had achieved the dubious distinction of being on bad terms with all its neighbors. The successor minority National Front government (1989?90), led by V. P. Singh, managed to destroy Indian society more effectively than any enemy could have dared to hope, by pitting Indian against Indian. And the following transitory government of Chandra Shekhar floundered and flip?flopped embarrassingly in trying to respond to the Persian Gulf crisis. In the process it succeeded in alienating both Baghdad and Washington without winning any friends.

Not many outsiders would shed tears at the sight of a friendless and forlorn India. Indians might receive more sympathy if, instead of forever blaming others, they accepted responsibility for the consequences of their own actions in both domestic and foreign policy. A good beginning would be to recognize that the new revolutionary international times present India with a stark choice. It can persist with an inward-looking policy that marginalizes the country and slides it inexorably into increasing international irrelevance. Or it can take a good hard look at itself and at other former developing countries that have achieved success essentially by dint of their own efforts, and then chart a radically new passage to a brighter India.

It is for India to choose between the comforting familiarity of the old order with its corollary of economic incoherence and international insignificance, or the challenge of exploiting the opportunities opening up in the new world order. The latter choice would entail abandoning the bunker mentality induced by forty years of the Cold War.


A growing and vibrant economy for India requires a radical reorientation of policy away from controls imposed by a heavily interventionist state. Four decades of state?guided development have given India slow growth, rising unemployment and growing dependence on imported capital

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