From John Elliott’s Blog: Riding the Elephant, July 5
Could India and Britain jointly revive the Commonwealth, not only to boost their own cooperation, but to form a significant international alliance of English-speaking democracies that span religious and ethnic boundaries? If they did this and brought the organization’s other 51 member countries into an active association, could the Commonwealth emerge as a new influence in a world that will be increasingly dominated by China and sternly Islamic nations?
These ideas, which contrast with earlier suggestions (usually negative) about what to do with the largely ceremonial and British-dominated Commonwealth, have been put forward by C. Raja Mohan, one of India’s leading strategic and foreign affairs analysts, in a book of essays by Indian and British writers.
Mohan has little time for the Commonwealth as it is now, saying it has been a “political bully that was incompetent at its best, impotent at its worst, and increasingly irrelevant on the economic front.” But he suggests that India should take over some of the leadership role from London because, as a rising power, it can influence the Commonwealth’s economic prospects, offering technical, economic and security aid to the smallest states.
“If Delhi and London don’t act together and decisively, they will soon find that China, whose commercial and strategic presence across different regions of the organization has grown, will turn the Commonwealth into an historical footnote,” he says. “I believe if and when India becomes a great power, its foreign policy might look a lot like that of the [British] Raj in terms of providing security to weaker states and preserving regional order,” he says. “A rising India must consider taking over the leadership of the Commonwealth at some point of time. At a time when it is competing with China around the world, it could work with English-speaking leaderships of Commonwealth countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.”