CHOGM: India’s Pivotal Role
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- India and its neighbourhood- relations
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
In News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), launched his Commonwealth outreach through a series of meetings with leaders of Indian Ocean Region, African, Caribbean and Pacific Islands.
- Plans to put India in the leadership position in the grouping where China is absent – part of India’s continuous outreach as key player in the Indian Ocean Region and Africa amid China’s inroads. It would help India strengthen its presence in areas where China is increasingly active, for example in Africa where India is building a development role, and in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere such as the Pacific and Caribbean where it could strengthen its relationship with the Commonwealth small island states.
- India’s focus at the meet is on common, fairer, secure, sustainable and prosperous future
- Announced a slew of funds for development and capacity building projects for countries in the grouping –
- Raising to £2 billion from £1 billion in the area of Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation
- Opening Commonwealth sub fund in India-UN fund as grants of $ 50 million for 5years
- Enhanced contribution for Commonwealth small state offices in New York and Geneva
- Training for cricket for 30 girls and 30 boys by BCCI.
India’s pivotal role at CHOGM – An Analysis
Opportunity for India to engage with other countries: Potential of CHOGM has not been realised yet – there is great value in this association. There exists great uncertainty and unpredictability on the global level – with China adopting a leading role. India is in a better position to shape policies today.
Relevance of grouping: If it has to survive, it has to reorganise itself. Britain has realised that India needs to be brought in, in a much bigger way. At a time, when India is expanding its global footprint, the argument of CHOGM being a relic of the past, does not hold true. India should take this opportunity up; and re-look at how India can engage with other players.
- Platform where its voice can be heard loud and clear
- As India occupies a significant position, Britain is very keen to engage India as its special partner. Britain is India’s gateway to Europe and if the ties are severed (post BREXIT), India’s bilateral relations with Europe might suffer, which India wants to persevere and promote.
Expectations from India:
- Reimagine and shape policies for CHOGM
- Opportunity of promoting our views that affect our interests at the international level
- India should concentrate on developmental activities in the LDCs and engage with them as it will be logistically easier
The Way Forward – Seize the Opportunity
India must not squander the opportunity presented by the renewed interest in the Commonwealth. India should take active steps to –
- Bridge the gap between developing and developed members of the forum
- India should provide the leadership that will make the Commonwealth an effective multilateral forum – platform to reach out to wide variety of countries at one go for further collaboration
- Give shape to a model of international co-operation and partnership distinct from that of China – decide and shape the rules of the game; removes one obstacle to meaningful discussions
- Leverage partner countries’ technology and financial position for trade and schemes like Make in India, Smart Cities, etc.
Head of the Commonwealth: Queen Elizabeth
Member-states: 53 (31 small states, many of them islands)
Population: 2.4 billion (60% under the age of 30)
Smallest country: Tuvalu (11,000); largest: India (1.3 billion)
GDP: $13 trillion by 2021
Commonwealth secretariat: Marlborough House, London
Since the London Declaration of 1949, which established the modern Commonwealth, India has held a pivotal position in this voluntary association of 54 independent sovereign states. It was India’s decision in 1948, as a newly independent Republic, to remain in the Commonwealth which influenced other Asian and African countries to join the organisation and which opened the era of the modern Commonwealth.
Since then, it was firmly established that joining the Commonwealth no longer necessarily involved continued allegiance to the British Crown. At the same time the word ‘British’ was dropped from the association’s title to reflect the Commonwealth’s changing character.