Interview: Dr. Jitender Kumar Sharma Director of Lexicon Management Institute of Leadership and Excellence

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Dr. Jitender Kumar Sharma holds Doctorate and MBA degrees in Marketing Management. He is working as Director at the Lexicon Management Institute of Leadership & Excellence, Pune.

He has rich experience in academia & Industry for more than three decades. He has served in the Indian Air Force for a decade and later transformed himself into a successful Corporate leader in ITES & Telecom sectors. He has been an academician for the last 15 years. His areas of teaching interest are Marketing, Retail, Customer Services, and Strategy. He follows, comments, and writes on International Relations, Geopolitics & Environment, Social, Governance, and Sustainability issues.

1. How Indian veteran diplomats can drive collaboration with India to put our nation in the global leadership avenue.

I would say that veteran diplomats are a powerhouse of knowledge about the countries they have served in. Their collective experience and wisdom can be exploited to usher India into strategic global leadership. They can be part of International regional think tanks and be ex-officio advisors to government agencies.

Strategically, they can be facilitators in driving economic, trade & political collaborations, especially if they have recently retired. Tactically, they know the tricks of the trade and the right levers in the power structure of those countries.

I know a few veteran diplomats through LinkedIn who are Fellows of different foundations and publish their articles on different geopolitical issues and incidents. I have observed that their geopolitical perspectives are very crisp and clear (as most of them write about the countries they have served before). Also, because they have dealt with the who’s who of those nation-states, the veteran diplomats may be still effective to get the support that India might need. Additionally, veteran diplomats can train and equip budding IFS cadre in handling strategic and tactical geopolitical issues as trainers/mentors.

2. Opportunities that come to India with the G20 Presidentship.

With 20 member countries on one platform, from the USA in the west to Japan in the far east, India is served with opportunities abound to position itself as a global leader. For ease of understanding, the G20 members are the US, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, China, Germany, Britain, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Italy, France, and Russia. & European Union (EU).

Additionally, agencies like International Monetary Fund, World Bank, the International Monetary and Financial Committee, and the Development Committee, would also be present.

G20 Presidentship is very opportune from the context of rapidly changing global order and power structure. The current rate of a spat between countries has kept the power pot boiling, with involved countries trying to exert and assert power.

To the world, India is more neutral than being aligned with any power, thus practicing its own independent foreign policy. This enhances the chance of India as G20 President to be heard & taken seriously, especially in the context of the Russia-Ukraine war and the global efforts to diffuse it. India can act as a bridge between West & East by exercising its influence and capabilities.

The good thing is that India understands this and has lapped up this opportunity. India has organized 200+ G20-related meetings in 56 different locations across India. This is a smart tactic to change the perception of India (being an underdeveloped nation and country of snake charmers). By doing so, entire India has showcased to the world its development with regards to people, demography, society, culture, diversity, economy, infrastructure, technology & political maturity as a democratic nation.

India can lead the initiatives and speak to WTO and IMF for low-income groups of nations regarding fair deals in terms of financial assistance, technology support, and lowering of tariffs. This should ideally involve liquidity and relief packages for underdeveloped nations in adopting Sustainable Development Goals.

The world knows how effectively India has led the world in handling COVID-19. India can lead the world by providing seamless technology integration with healthcare systems. This will reinforce India’s leadership.

3. Indo-American collaboration a legacy snapshot and why it is emerging ahead

India’s relations with the US have been tumults, stretching from World War II till now. Of course, it has been primarily governed by the situations and respective national interests. As a reward to India by providing its land for the main American air base to the US in fighting Japan, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, proposed for India’s independence which Churchill rejected. That was in 1945. This decade was marked by the US administration wanting to have India on its side, mainly to counter growing Communist China, but Nehru’s policy of non-Alignment was taken negatively by the US. Despite American advice not to recognize communism in China, India rejected it.

During the Presidency of John F. Kennedy in 1961–63, India was considered a strategic partner to counter the rise of Communism in China. Kennedy felt that if India did not develop and grew faster, it would be construed that the only road to development was the communist way. That’s the reason the US supported India in the India-China War of 1962.

India – US relations took a beating after the liberation of Goa from the Portuguese, which the US condemned but India did not care. Nixon administration brought in a tectonic shift towards Pakistan to counter India – USSR relationship. So much so, that the US sent its warship to support Pakistan during India Pakistan war of 1971.

During Vajpayee’s tenure, the US imposed sanctions on India for conducting a nuclear test. But between 2004 to 2014 India – US relations strengthened. In fact, the George W. Bush administration is known as the most pro-India.

Since 2014, India–US relations have significantly improved during the Prime Ministership of Narendra Modi, with a focus on cultural, strategic, military, and economic relationships. Both countries have identified areas of collaboration like healthcare, people-to-people contact, climate change, emerging technologies, space, defense, earth and ocean science, critical minerals, smart agriculture, bioeconomy, and 6G technologies.

In the current geopolitical context, India has emerged as a formidable strategic partner to the US. India is a part of the Quad Force and leading the way towards a new global order, with the common objective of containing the growing hegemony of China with its neighbors and in the South China Sea.

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