New Delhi: India is betting on Japan and Germany so all three can become permanent members of the UN Security Council. How sound is this strategy? Fairly sound.

All the three countries are some sort of outliers in their own regions. Germany is an economic powerhouse as the rest of Europe stagnates and declines. Its historical guilt of Nazism has been pushed too far by others to deny it a place in the power system equivalent to its political and economic weight.

So with Japan. China and South Korea have blocked Japanese resurgence in the past by harping on memories of Japanese militarism in the early decades of the 20th Century. For all that, Japan stepped out last week, authorizing troops’ deployment overseas. Japan’s opposition parties are stunned by this break from constitutional pacifism. But the US is supportive. China is condemnatory as expected.

India is an outlier in another sense. It has no history of militarism like Germany or Japan. But it is the stablest country in South Asia and an emerging power. While the only nuclear power of all three, it still finds no place at the high table of nations, and carries the sense of historical wrong that Germany and Japan do.

The India-Japan relationship is more publicized because of the personal friendship of the Indian and Japanese prime ministers. But there is a marked awareness in India of Germany’s outstanding value as a putative strategic partner. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given ample evidence of this. Germany is also keen for deeper engagement.

Both Germany and Japan find increment to their power blocked by jealous and frightened neighbours. India presents much scope to them as a military nuclear power with a decisive role to play in the Indian Ocean region. The issue is to take their relations to higher levels where each can assist the other in global advancement.

Separately, they would each find themselves blocked as before. So the search must begin for common areas of cooperation. As democracies, politics is a good meeting ground. There ought to be intense political exchanges spanning the entire ideological spectrum so that differences are narrowed and the positives strengthened.

These political exchanges must be complemented with economic cooperation. While it is good to have the market as a guide to economic engagement, friends must look beyond.

Germany and Japan should develop stakes in India’s growth and India in Germany and Japan’s renewed empowerment. On the success of these initiatives, active military ties can be built, including trilateral joint exercises. Such areas as intelligence exchanges can be explored as and when felt necessary.

The India-Japan-Germany initiative is an old one. It didn’t meet with the promised success for various reasons. There were spoilers in every region. The United States was not keen on India as a veto power. It preferred Japan from Asia. Germany was a shoo-in if Italy and more covertly France dropped their objections. They didn’t.

The US has changed its position on India to neutral. It wants India to do some heavy lifting seeing that the civil nuclear agreement brought few benefits to its economy. India under Narendra Modi is prepared for heavy lifting.

It has helped that India has advanced bilateral ties with Japan and Germany on its own steam. This must receive trilateral boost. As a bloc, there is greater success in stymieing opposition than separately.

The United States would also be more amenable when it recognizes the advantages of three democracies permanently joining the Security Council. It would bring demerit to the advance of at least one totalitarian power, China, which is seeking hegemony in the seas to its east and south. Russia which unexpectedly opposed India might reconsider.

It is a long haul. Text based negotiations are hard work. Indian diplomats would have to diligently remain at the wheels. All the brilliance and dedication of state power must be applied to the object of making India a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

This is not about prestige but power. Germany and Japan can play a large contributory role.

Editor’s Note: 1. The law must take its course in the National Herald scam investigation. The guilty must be punished. Investigating agencies and the courts have been lax thus far. If National Herald cannot be published again, Associated Journals must be nationalized, and its assets taken over by the state. The whole case speaks poorly of the Nehru-Gandhis.

2. Quotas need to be revisited but no government can dare. The Supreme Court suo moto must empower a commission to re-examine the quota regime for modification, improvement or dismantling. Quotas are killing meritocracy and talent.