Former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon (right) speaks as academic Ajit Ranade looks

Paper by veteran officials says double-digit growth and less polarisation are the country’s best hope

India’s best hope for a successful foreign policy and national security is an economy growing in double digits and a less polarised democracy, says a new paper by senior former officials and analysts who warn that the development model is in doubt due to falling GDP figures.

The paper — “India’s Path to Power: Strategy in a World Adrift” — was released by the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi on Saturday, and dwells on the internal and external threats, challenges to the “Neighbourhood First” policy, and concerns about the position in a possible U.S.-China conflict, which they say is more likely now than in the past and could be triggered by events over Taiwan in the next decade.

The paper also critiques India’s ‘protectionist’ economic stance and climate change and cyber policies, and makes a detailed criticism on the state of democracy under the Modi government, which is likely to evoke some response from the ruling party.

No-Holds-Barred Contest For Power

“There is concern that Indian democracy is moving steadily towards ethnic majoritarianism, polarisation and divisiveness,” write the authors in the introduction of “India’s Path to Power”. “India’s vibrant electoral democracy appears to be morphing into a no-holds-barred contest for power…Indian democracy seems less inclusive today than at any point in its history,” they conclude, adding that the foreign policy is being driven by “domestic political and ideological factors” that have had a “perverse impact” on relations with Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Significantly, some of the paper’s authors, a list that includes former National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Prakash Menon, former special envoy on Climate change and nuclear issues Shyam Saran, academics Sunil Khilnani and Srinath Raghavan and analysts Yamini Aiyar, Nitin Pai and Ajit Ranade, had presented a similar work in 2012 entitled “Nonalignment 2.0”, that also made prescriptions for the previous UPA government’s foreign and security policy. Both Mr. Menon and Mr. Saran were in office at the time, and Mr. Saran subsequently served as Chairman of the National Security Advisory board during the Modi government’s first tenure.