National Interest is one of the important concepts for a country in International Relations. As a whole, it is defined as "survival and security of a state". It mainly focuses on the country's ambitions in cultural, military and economic backgrounds (Lavy, 1996). Although national interest of a country has different dimensions, we consider security and prosperity as considered as the primary goals. The other dimensions include economic development, advancement in military operations and retention of country's culture in this modern world. The National Interest differs from country-to-country depending on their primary goals. National Interest is a process which prioritises the main problem in which the country should develop in. India is a country with a billion people population and has different dimensions of thoughts. The need for a particular state is of lowest concern for others. So it is hard and a complex job to prioritise the national interest for the people of India. In this essay, let us examine the history of National Interests and also the interests of India.
HISTORIC EMERGENCE OF NATIONAL INTEREST:
In the early 19th century, national interest was considered as important to that of a religion. This concept of National Interest was introduced by Niccolo Machiavelli but was first seen in practice during the "Thirty years' war" by the French Chief Minister to reduce the increasing power of the Holy Roman Emperor. After these incidents, National Interest became a dominant term in European politics. During the Congress of Vienna, the government practiced the new concept of balance of powers which resulted in balancing the national interest in many countries. The consequences of the balance of powers were devastating and resulted in the First World War, so this concept was replaced by Collective Security. The concept of Collective Security was not successful because United States did not join the League of Nations and the concept was not in the borders of National Interest (Byrd, 1996).
Realist and Neo-Realist concepts emerged during the Second World War due to the dominance of power in the world. League of Nations and its idealistic approach was considered as the reason for the formation of fascist states of Germany and Italy who were the causes of Second World War. Nowadays, the concept of National Interest is often related to policies which differentiate the idealistic policies. By differentiating the National Interest with idealistic policies, it paves ways for good foreign policy by relying on multilateral institutions. The term "National Interest" is used by many countries to prioritise the problems they had been facing in the past and also setting goals for future forecasts. These policies are more or like the ways or processes which have a positive notion for the particular country. Antonio states that "National Interest" and Law and Order are different from each other and have no importance when combined together (Byrd, 1996).
NATIONAL INTERESTS OF INDIA:
As the standard definition states that, survival of the state is important for the citizens to pursue happiness and prosperity. India adheres to the standard definition of National Interest. According the above definition, India's national interest should be framed taking into account its territorial integrity, economic competition from other countries and ways to reduce those threats. The foreign policy of a country also depends on the national interests for its improvement (Venkat, 2007) Considering the India's primary national interest as state's survival, security and maintaining strong relationship with other countries, India's national interests are
Energy security, deals with the prolonged desire of nuclear fuel and nuclear technology.
Securing unity and territorial integrity with China and Pakistan. During this process, India should maintain stability in government and peace for its fellow citizens. The conflict between India-Pakistan will be resolved only when the social-political changes occurs in Pakistan.
Improving influence among the Asian countries by providing security and military intelligence to the smaller countries.
Achieving greater freedom in the Indian subcontinent in trade and investment.
These national interests are set to change from time-to-time according to its fulfilment.
Territorial Integrity and Unity are considered as one of the important objectives to be fulfilled by India. The main aim in those perspectives is to settle the disputes of India's long borders on LOC (Line of Control) of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir with Pakistan and LAC (Line of Actual Control) with China. These borders of LOC and LAC are controlled by Pakistan and China respectively. The providence of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was invaded by Pakistan in 1947 and on the other hand, the China invaded the borders of Arunachal and Himachal Pradesh during 1956 and 1962. It is one of the important duties of a country to protect its current borders. So India should try for a best possible way to resolve the complex disputes with those two countries. India should consider implementing some strategies and tactics to overcome the problems in these regions because these are the primary concerns for India. Having fought many wars in LOC, Pakistan's army and ISI have been aiding in removing the anti-social elements from the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir providence (Parisar, 2010).
As India is considered as one of the fastest developing countries in the world, it should be well equipped in terms of defence and military operations. In order to keep up the momentum going, India should come up with some policies which are helpful in reducing the poverty. In order to achieve these goals, India should maintain a good relationship with its regional countries and also with other countries like the countries in Middle East, Central Asia, Indian Ocean regions and South East Asia. This makes meaning as to why India's stance on Non-Alignment serves as the core National Interest of the country (Parisar, 2010).
The importance of India's relationship with USA is important and cannot be undermined. Even though, USA had been hit by the worst financial crisis ever in the recent decades, it is still the most dominant super power in the world. India has always maintained a good relationship with US in the fields of trade, science and technology, security issues, energy security including nuclear and non-conventional energy sources. Secretary Hillary Clinton has also emphasized that the democratic political system of both the countries also serve as a binding factor for the close relationship. Political systems, values and other beliefs are considered as the important factors to maintain a close relationship with USA (Dutt, 2007).
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PROGRESS:
The first priority was given to the advancement of the social and economic sector after the independence in 1947 but due to the shortages in defence sector, the progress in those fields were reduced. There has been a continuous increment of economic growth over the past three decades and reduction in people below the poverty line. This change was only possible just because of the closing the gap of inequality in India. Essentially the main aim of the Indian government is to satisfy the progress in defence and development of the state as whole. Owing to a bigger surface area, free India did have a complex security situation which it failed to address it at full concern and allocating only 1.5 to 2.8 per cent of the GDP. As India is considered as one of the fastest developing countries in the world, it should look in reducing the poverty stuck people by improving the socio-economic conditions and creating more jobs for the people in the country. India is posed with the biggest challenges in the development of social and economic sectors because it should consider the development of the middle class by eliminating the regional inequalities and social imbalances and also have a close look at the overseas Indian population. As we step into the 21st century, there are some factors from the other countries which influence the political, military and economic behaviour of India. They are: United States is ranked as the super power in the world. Its policies of creating alliance in political, military and economic sectors with other major countries have increased their influence in the international arena. This has helped the power of many countries to be rising when compared to India; India has also been influenced by China as it is growing rapidly and it is represented as the second most powerful country in the world. China will continue to follow its current political policy and represent the most powerful authoritarian state in the world; Japan should also be considered in this context as it is a techno-economic super power. Its policy of undermining its military power should be taken into account; Another major power which should be considered is Russia. Even though, it has been struggling because of the political-social crisis and the collapse of the Soviet Union, it has advanced in the production of nuclear weapons and encouraged its military capabilities. These features make Russia to be addressed as an important country which can make changes to this modern world; European Union is emerging as a major power as it is coordinating its policies with the alliance countries. This process will turn out to be a successful venture for India in the coming years.
As we can see from the above factors that the world is turning towards the Asian land mass for its development. India has also inked in a historic deal with United States for the exchange of nuclear fuel and nuclear technology for the period of 10years in 2005. This historic deal will help reduce and fuel the growth of the industrialised India by 2020. This proves that the development in the coming years will be Asia centric (Nitin, 2007).
CHANGING SECURITY CONCERNS:
With advancements in the information technology and science, the world is ready for another military revolution. This revolution in the coming years could entirely change the nature of war as we know it in the present. India can be an important country which could play a role in ensuring regional and global peace around the world. The results of the cold war have not helped in reducing the mass destructive weapons and did not promote peace in many countries. In turn it made exclusive laws to retain these weapons for the protection of the super power countries to remain dominant over others. This has made the penetration of these mass destructive weapons to the small countries legally and illegally.
The security concerns at this instance are deteriorating all throughout the world. So India should be more focussed on monitoring and analysing the security measures that it has taken to ensure a secure environment. These steps are considered very important for India because terrorism has involved into a biggest problem these days and are penetrating in many parts of the world. India has also partnered many countries in fighting terrorism to ensure a secure India to all the people. They have been spending 2% of their GDP for their military operations and developments. All these factors are considered as important challenges that India need to take it into account when constructing its military operations in the future. India should work with the ASEAN countries to address the security measures which are useful for the Asian regions as whole. It should also work with Non Aligned Movement countries to defend and provide solution for the international community and also keep good relation with the major powers and main partners. India should provide a secure transfer of equipment and material that are important for India's defence program (Venkat, 2007).
Another major concern for India is that of its geographic location. India is placed just in the middle of countries which are well known for its arms trafficking's and narcotics. India is placed between North West Pakistan and Afghanistan and Myanmar on the other side. The military training camps which fight the holy war against the world in the regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan should also be considered as the major threat for the security of India (Raman, 2011).
The national security of India just cannot be taken for granted as it involved during the cold war's stages. The main reason for this is that of the advancement and sophistication of the weapons developed by many countries and the ways in which the wars are fought nowadays. The security that prevailed during the cold war stages only focussed on nuclear weapons and missiles but today the problems have become more complex and intense. There are many countries which have also opted out of procuring these dangerous weapons. Today countries have to build security measures which combat to the needs of political, economic and military needs in common.
DEMOCRATIC MODEL FOR DEVELOPMENT:
India is one of the biggest democratic countries in the world. Democracy proves to be an important tool to ensure that the benefits of the government are equally shared across the entire population without violence and exclusions. Democracy is also a process which guarantees rapid growth of power and wealth. In India, democracy has opened up to many peoples to stand for their rights. It is also stated that the other neighbouring countries after seeing the democratic model of India have ensured support and peace to all their citizens. For India, democracy should remain as a top priority in the future years to offer peaceful and proper guided country. Firstly, we need to recognise that the democratic model is never fast or easy as it is the complex combination of culture and policies. We also say that culture is not the destiny to get democracy. The countries with different culture, race, religion and different levels of development have promoted democracy and had been successful in it. In democracy, there is nothing which involves the cultural factors like "Asian values", "militarism" or "tribalism". India should promote and support democratisation by improving fair trade and investment from their citizens. The process of encouraging trade and bilateral investments also helps to improve democratic development. Political institutions should be given the power to enforce property rights to protect human rights and law. The main problem that comes into action is the corruption that takes place by the ruling party and others in power. These corruptions get unnoticed because of the fight in the corporate companies for corruption. The main strength of the present India is that of its well educated middle class population, it represents about 70 per cent of the total population. This advantage also creates new horizons for political movements and parties to establish a good government in the future. Trade also serves as one of the important issues for the development of the country, it not only helps us for the domestic economy but also for the foreign policy as a whole. Foreign cooperation with other countries, security developments and trade together helps India to be independent in the world. Promotion of democratic development is possible only when all of the above policies progress in the future (Bakshi, 2009).
Even though India has been trying hard to maintain secure environment, it has failed to do so because of the threats from the anti-social elements. India has also increased their defence budget and has also acquired some war-heads and combat aircrafts from other countries. Indian government is also trying to make the better use of people's money by updating their weapons and bringing confidence to the public as that of the Mumbai attacks. India as it goes by the roots, it takes democracy to attain peaceful and a secure country. As India is growing rapidly, it has to have a safe, secure and a stable neighbourhood. So India is ready to join and perform any security measures at the international level or regionally to bring stability and peace to the world. India should also provide security to citizens by reducing the riots in the country. It should also provide a secure environment and support for the people of India who live overseas. India owing to its multicultural society and a unique democracy has ability to be considered as an example to many other countries to live peacefully. India in the recent years has opened its economy to foreign investors and is also providing rebates for their establishment. This has in-turn helped to boost the Indian economy from the FDI's and reaped good dividends from the markets. All these rapid developments and investments are only possible if India enhances its security and defence in the coming years.