India in the World: Emerging Perspectives on Global Challenges (INDWORLD)

Led by Åshild Kolås

Sep 2015 – Dec 2017

​​​INDWORLD is a project under the longstanding institutional cooperation between the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in Delhi and the Peace Research Institute Oslo.

INDWORLD is a project under the longstanding institutional cooperation between the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in Delhi and the Peace Research Institute Oslo.

The IDSA-PRIO cooperation was started in early 2006, and promotes joint research, networking and scholarly exchange. The objective of the cooperation is the development of new knowledge and expertise on topics of mutual academic interest, within the fields of conflict management, mediation, peacebuilding and non-traditional security. Main activities under the cooperation are organized in subprojects, currently covering research on Nuclear Governance, Climate Change and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities - Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC), and Food Security and Globalization. The cooperation also facilitates academic exchange with a focus on research methodology.


Nuclear Governance

This subproject looks at the Indian role in global nuclear governance. India is a nuclear weapons country that also has a very ambitious programme for the expansion of civil uses of nuclear energy, in other words nuclear energy production. India has emerged as a responsible nuclear weapons country willing to take up international responsibilities to stabilize global security. India has already been active in international organisations for nuclear science management, and has joined several non-discriminatory international laws and treaties. As for nuclear weapons, India has been supportive of the idea of global nuclear disarmament. Over the years, it has also integrated itself with the global nonproliferation order. However, only five states are recognized by the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as nuclear weapon states, and these are also the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: the USA, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and France. Signatories agree not to transfer nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices and not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce a non-nuclear weapon state to acquire nuclear weapons (Article I). They also agree to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament (Article VI).

Three states—India, Pakistan and Israel—have never signed the NPT, of which India and Pakistan have openly declared their possession of nuclear weapons. India has long argued that the NPT creates 'nuclear haves' and 'have-nots' by restricting the legal possession of nuclear weapons to states that tested them before 1967. India has been clear on its 'No First Use' stance, and has also contributed to the nonproliferation agenda with an 'Action Plan for Ushering in a Nuclear-Weapon Free and Non-Violent World Order', presented by Rajiv Gandhi at the United Nations in 1988.

The U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement (or Indo-U.S. nuclear deal) is seen as a watershed in Indo-U.S. relations, in recognition of India's 'responsible stewardship' of nuclear weapons and of its international non-proliferation efforts. The deal required the amendment of US domestic law (the Atomic Energy Act of 1954), a civil-military nuclear Separation Plan in India, an India-IAEA inspections agreement and the granting of a waiver for India to access civilian nuclear technology and fuel from other countries by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). This waiver makes India the only nuclear weapons country that is not a party to the NPT but is still allowed to carry out international nuclear trade.

Considering India's constantly growing energy needs and depleting oil reserves, India is intent on developing its nuclear energy production capacity, as well as researching thorium as a future potential substitute for fueling its nuclear reactors. As debates on nuclear cooperation continue, a key challenge for India is to develop a coherent nuclear stance and global governance position, possibly by projecting a new nuclear disarmament plan. This subproject will study Indian debates and proposals on nuclear energy, the changing global nuclear order and nuclear security architecture.

Climate Change and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities - Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC)

This subproject studies contemporary Indian debates on the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibility and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC) and its development as a norm in climate change negotiations. India has actively supported the principle of CBDR as one of the cornerstones of sustainable development. Developed after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, CBDR finds its origins in equity considerations and equity principles in international law, and informs in particular the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol. CBDR-RC has two matrices: 'common responsibility' from the concept of a common human heritage and the duty of states to equally share the burden of protection of common resources, and 'differentiated responsibility' arising from inequalities in the material and socio-economic situations across states, their historical contributions to global environmental problems. 'Respective capabilities' is the ability of countries to deal with the problem in financial, technological and structural terms. Indian policymakers are interested in the relationship that CBDR establishes between the past economic exploitation of the global commons and the responsibility to mitigate the consequences of such exploitation today, and Indian publics are engaged with the issue via a vibrant domestic media. The novelty of CBDR is the emergence of the historical responsibility dimension. Another consequence of the principle is, for some scholars, that it entails a duty to participate in international efforts to address global environmental problems.

A key commitment that was agreed upon at the Rio+20 Summit in 2012 was to establish an inter-governmental process on sustainable development goals (SDG), to be decided by the UN General Assembly. However, in a world of increasingly scarce resources, the rising demand for energy from large emerging economies and the consumption-based life-style of the developed world has created debates in which India has taken an active role in many fora. Negotiations on issues of SDG are about competitive economic interests as well as the preservation of 'global commons', thus leaving notions of 'common' problems as increasingly interpretive and beholden to diverse actors with varied agendas.

While the CBDR principle is a generally recognized principle of International Environmental Law as supported by growing evidence of state practice, not all states see it as a legal obligation (opinio iuris). Notably, the United States has issued an interpretative statement at the UN Conference on Environment and Development, stating that the USA does not accept any interpretation of principle 7 that would imply a recognition or acceptance of any international obligations or liabilities, or any diminution in the responsibilities of developing countries. The same approach is shared by a number of other developed countries, while India and many other developing countries interpret the CBDR principle as an explicit formulation of responsibility. However, the practical implications of this responsibility, and how it could be measured and shared, are yet to be spelled out. The implications of the CBDR principle, and how they are currently debated in India, will be key topics of research in the present subproject. The aim is to develop new knowledge on debates in India about the principles of allocating obligations for mitigation efforts worldwide, especially among developing versus developed countries.

Food Security and Globalization

As a large agrarian economy, India has a key interest in global governance as related to food security. This subproject will develop new knowledge on the perspectives of Indian policymakers on the implementation of policies and legislation to secure the Right to Food, and investigate the dilemmas of Indian food security and food sovereignty concerns, especially how these concerns influence Indian positions in multilateral fora. With a focus on Indian concerns as related to the WTO regime and trade negotiations, we will also investigate Indian contributions to broader debates on North-South divides with regard to intellectual property rights in agriculture.

In India, food insecurity and malnutrition coexist with a rapidly growing and increasingly globalized economy. Self-sufficiency in food production has been a central policy agenda since India gained its independence, and an important goal as reflected in consecutive Indian Five Year Plans. The Indian government has repeatedly stressed the importance of placing food security on the agenda of international trade negotiations. India has taken a cautious view as regards open international pricing systems, as this would leave Indian farmers in a vulnerable position. At the same time, there is also a debate on how to modernize the Public Distribution System (PDS) for basic food items. The National Food Security Bill was tabled in late 2011 and subsequently referred to the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution. Its recommendations were presented in January 2013, covering issues such as the categorisation of beneficiaries, cash transfers and cost sharing between the centre and state. A revised version of the Bill was introduced to the Parliament in March 2013, giving legal entitlement to subsidised grains under the PDS to 67% of the population, 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population.

India hosts a number of powerful movements, including civil society groups and small landholders who promote the Right to Food and food sovereignty nationally as well as internationally. Food sovereignty implies a holistic approach to food, including the right to grow food, and the right to have secure access to healthy and affordable food, resources and entitlements. It further includes the right of peoples and countries to democratically determine their own agricultural and food policies. Food sovereignty includes the storage and exchange of home-grown seeds. Many 'food sovereignty' supporters view pressure from global markets as the key cause of increased reliance on pesticides and genetically modified seeds, and a reduction in the variety of crops produced. India has its own Patenting Act (1970) prohibiting the patenting of agricultural and horticultural plants, and Indian organizations have strongly criticized the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement for opening up for the patenting and private ownership of 'global commons' such as seeds and plants.

In recent years there has been recognition of the need for enhanced global governance for food security. In 2008, the UN set up a High Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis (HLTF). Since the 2008 food price crisis, food security has also become a main item of consultations at G8/G20 summits. In 2011 the BRIC countries adopted an action plan on "Making Joint Efforts for World Food Security". Similarly the IBSA trilateral forum has also focussed on finding solutions to the global food security challenge. This project will examine India's priorities and positions on food security in key multilateral fora.

Photo: CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture @ Flickr

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