, Volume 93, Number 1

Amrita Narlikar
India has for long been accused of having a nay-saying attitude in global governance. In this article, I assess the potential for change under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership. The first section provides a brief overview of India’s record in global governance. In the second section, I analyse the mechanisms whereby India may now become more able and willing to take on global responsibilities. In the third section, I investigate whether this more positive approach to global governance has in fact been borne out in reality. I do so by comparing trends in India’s negotiation behaviour across two issue-areas: climate change mitigation and multilateral trade. The two cases are interesting because both deal with difficult multilateral deadlocks. India, moreover, has historically attracted a considerable share of the blame for the recurrence of these deadlocks. I find that although India’s negotiating behaviour in the two cases shows some important differences of degree, there seems to be a qualitative and positive change in both in the same direction under the present political leadership. In trade, India has become considerably less obstructionist than before; in climate change it has adopted a dramatically proactive, value-creating and agenda-setting role. The fourth section highlights the risks and challenges that could still derail India’s evolving role in global governance. The risks are serious, but the article still finds enough evidence to conclude on a note of cautious optimism.

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