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India slips to 4th place in Geopolitical Power Index

June 26, 2012 23:41 IST

India has slipped to fourth place with an aggregate score of 64 in the second edition of the biannual Geopolitical Power Index (GPI)TM 2011 (H2), behind top-ranked United States (80 points on a maximum of 110) and second-placed China (72), a press release issued by the Global Intelligence Review stated on Tuesday.

Britain (65) moves up a spot to third place with France (63) retaining fifth rank, it said.

GPI 2011 is a copyrighted dynamic index created by Global Intelligence Review, an independent Mumbai-based think tank headed by author and media publisher Minhaz Merchant.

Using a proprietarily mathematical model to analyse 11 parameters ranging from economy and governance to military and innovation, GPI 2011 -- which is updated biannually in January (H1) and July (H2) -- measures both the ability and potential of the world's ten most important countries, dubbed the G10 , to project hard and soft power globally.

As the overall GPI 2011 (H2) ranking demonstrates, the US is still the world's most influential nation. Its surgical operations to eliminate top Al Qaeda terrorists including Osama bin Laden underscore Washington's ability to project hard power across geographies. India's global influence, however, the study concludes, has waned over the past six months on account of misgovernance and corruption. The country's GPI 2011 (H2) rank has also dipped from GPI 2011 (H1) due to the government's timid foreign-policy leadership and ineffective counter-terrorism strategy.

In contrast, Britain and France continue to punch well above their geopolitical weight with proactive strategies in the Middle East and in global financial institutions such as the IMF.

"To create this first-of-its-kind index of geopolitical strength, countries were selected on the basis of their global economic, military and cultural influence. They were then ranked on a scale of 0-10 across eleven key criteria which constitute the ingredients of geopolitical power. Each criterion is based on five quantitative and qualitative sub-parameters with statistical weightages. These 55 sub-parameters and sub-indices with their specific weightages were analysed drawing upon a range of databases and our proprietorial methodology," Merchant says.

Explaining the conclusions of the study, Merchant observes that "GPI rankings are dynamic, not static. A country trends up, down or sideways. These trendlines are denoted in the accompanying chart by (+) or (-) markings; sideway trends are unmarked. For example, India scores a high 8(+) on population (outstanding demographics), 7(+) on economy (the world's fourth largest GDP of $3.75 trillion by purchasing power parity) and 6(+) on military (the world's third largest armed forces). But it does abysmally on development (3+), a reflection of widespread poverty, hunger and decrepit civic infrastructure though the (+) trendline indicates that high GDP growth is gradually having a positive impact on all three."

Besides getting a maximum 10 (-) for military power – with a negative trendline due to its overextended armed forces in Afghanistan, the Middle East and the Korean peninsula – the US rates 9(-) on culture because of the powerful worldwide influence American popular culture wields, from McDonalds and Hollywood to Google and Facebook. The US also leads the world in technological innovation (9).

China ranks high on economy (9+) and geography (9) -- on account of its strategic north Asian location -- though its ageing workforce gives it a negative trendline on population demographics (8-). Beijing does especially badly on governance (2) owing to repression of freedoms by the Communist regime, now under increasing pressure from cascading pro-democracy movements in the Middle East. China, however, scores well (7) on culture with its cohesive Confucian traditions.

India does poorly on governance, despite its prized democracy, with a score of 3(+), a dip of one point over its GPI 2011 (H1) score. Corrupt politicians, complicit bureaucrats and frequent terror attacks have shaken citizens' faith in institutions.

Though the governance deficit has dented India's international image, with foreign investment inflows displaying volatility due to policy ambiguities and moderation in GDP growth, the (+) marker in the GPI 2011 (H2) chart denotes a positive future trendline: pressure from the judiciary, media and civil society is increasingly enforcing government accountability, including proposed anti-corruption legislation. This has allowed India to stay ahead of France though slipping to fourth place below Britain in the GPI 2011 (H2) rankings.

In the emerging global balance of power between the US, China and India, the US remains the pivot. President Barack Obama has termed the India-US relationship the "defining partnership" of the 21st century. The GPI 2011 (H2) findings underscore this. The "triangle of power" between three of the top four ranked nations -- the US, China and India -- will play out over a range of volatile geographies: South-central Asia, the Middle East and the South China Sea.

India scores well on four key qualitative parameters: history, religion, society and diaspora. These are "soft" factors that subtly but significantly affect a nation's interaction with other countries. India's non-violent history, multireligious society and global diaspora (which takes Indian popular culture as well as ancient traditions to literally every corner of the world) are unique assets in India's ascent as a world power.

Germany climbs to sixth place with an overall score of 62 in GPI 2011 (H2). The recent visit to Berlin of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has deepened the relationship between the world's two largest exporters. Trade between the two countries is now $185 billion -- a third of total European Union trade with China. Germany does particularly well on innovation (8) and development (9).

"Not entirely surprisingly," says Merchant, "Britain despite its high budget deficit and declining standards in public life ranks third overall in the GPI 2011 (H2) chart behind the US and China and just ahead of India. This is largely on account of the lingering 'Imperial Effect' -- the ability to project military power worldwide, an influential diaspora and strong popular culture exported globally through the English language. But the trendlines on many of Britain's parameters are sliding terminally downwards. It is unlikely to hold on to third spot in future."

Seventh-placed Russia gets high marks for military prowess (8) and geography (9), with its land mass strategically straddling Europe and Asia, but low marks for governance in the shadow of Prime Minister Vladmir Putin's authoritarian regime which has stifled political dissent and damaged the economy.

Brazil and South Africa's final rankings (eighth and tenth respectively) bisect ninth-placed Japan which, despite high per capita income, is weighed down by a shrinking population, a stagnant economy and the long-term fallout of Fukushima.