India has emerged as the fourth most powerful country in Asia with its overall score declining by two points from 2020 in the Lowy Institute Asia Power Index. India fell short of the major power threshold in 2021 and is among eighteen countries in the region to trend downward in its overall score in 2021.
The institute noted that India exerts less influence in the region than expected due to its negative power gap score. India is ranked lower than Nepal and Sri Lanka in the power gap index published by the institute.
It performed best on the future resources measure, finishing only behind the US and China despite a diminished economic forecast for 2030 triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and the successive lockdowns. It finished fourth on the measures of economic capability, military capability, resilience and cultural influence.
“India is trending in opposite directions for its two weakest measures of power. On the one hand, it remains in 7th place in its defence networks, reflecting progress in its regional defence diplomacy — notably with the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, which includes Australia, Japan and the United States,” the institute said in a release, adding that on the other hand, India has slipped into 8th position for economic relationships, as it falls further behind in regional trade integration efforts.
While the most influenced country by India in the region is Nepal, New Delhi itself is most influenced by China, followed by the United States and the European Union. India engages in trade with these countries the most. “The two countries with the most potential to contribute to a regional multipolar order — Japan and India — have each lost more ground in 2021 than did China,” the report showed.
The report further noted that India is an underachiever relative to both its resources and potential. Its rise as a truly multipolar power — able to match China’s military and economic capabilities — will take a decades-long effort, “with no guarantee of success.” The country has boosted its resilience and military capability in 2021, yet the world’s third-largest economy has also been one of the hardest hit in comparison to its growth path prior to the pandemic.
“By the end of the decade, it will only reach 40 per cent of China’s economic output on current trends. India also lags in economic diplomacy, dropping one place to finish eighth behind Thailand in the measure of the economic relationship,” the report said.